KathyBou’s Blog

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Archive for June 2009

Culture shock +2

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Our company has been hiring a few more out-of-towners lately.   We’ve got one guy from Australia who’s been at work for about 3 months now and in just the last few weeks another guy from Italy.   Listening to these guys talk about the challenges of moving to a new place has made us realize just how much we’ve adjusted.

I’ve read, here and there, that culture shock has phases, the first being the honeymoon phase, where everything is different and cool.  In my experience, this one is short-lived because the next phase, aptly called the negotiation or distress phase, or you could call it “real life knocking”, requires big adjustments in your expectations and daily routine.  With this in mind, some aspects  seem to bug everyone that comes here but other things seem to vary quite a bit.

Shelter

Seems for everyone that comes here, the stress  first and foremost is about finding a place to live.  Finding an apartment in Germany, without speaking German, and with very little assistance from the company seems to be universal.  Which is too bad because this is a rough introduction to life abroad.  Another irritant in the same vein – German bureaucracy.  I won’t go into detail but it’s terrible and slow.

Public and transportation

The Australian guy seems to be distressed over the “pedestrian tax” as he calls it, which is people asking for money on the streets near his apartment in the ‘big city’ one town over.  This doesn’t phase D or I when we see it but I guess maybe we’re more accustomed to the practice?  The Aussie also seems to be irritated by the time it takes for public transportation.  Coming from where I do, where there is nothing much offered, I was more interested that it is actually possible than that it takes a bit more time.  Excluding the “strike season” in the Fall each year, I’m still impressed by it.

Water

When we first came here,  I was disappointed by the rain.  I didn’t want to be the Florida girl who missed the sunshine but I was anyway.  The first two weeks were beautiful but then it started to rain.  And it didn’t seem to stop  for the whole summer – the first whole summer D and I commuted to work by bike.  Blargh.

Food

D and I were both annoyed at the first by the lunch food provided by the Kantine, and still are to some extent.  For example, today’s menu  (the only meal served) was fried Schnitzel with jager sauce and fries.  Fried pork covered with fried potatoes with a small side salad drenched in mayo-based dressing. And believe me, none of us are chopping down trees during the day.  Add on top of this that the office does neither allow nor provide any refrigerators or microwaves to employees. Sigh…

It’s interesting to look back now that we are at least in the 3rd phase of culture shock, autonomy or the Everything is OK phase.  We still have our awkward/frustrating moments here though, and I’m sure there will be plenty more before we leave Europe.  If you want to read more about culture shock, here are some brief but informative rundowns:

http://www.esljobproject.com/esl_info/culture-shock.html

http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/files/14136.pdf

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Written by Kat

June 9, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Life, Travel, Work