Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Surviving culture shock - what you can expect

When you live abroad (for longer than a few months) you will inevitably face some form of culture shock, which has also been described as feeling like a fish out of water. I've mentioned the term briefly before on this blog and I just thought I'd explain it a bit better and write about the different stages. I haven't met a single expat who hasn't gone through a rough patch after moving countries. It can be a real rollercoaster of emotions that first year!

  • The Honeymoon Phase
  • This first stage when you just arrive in a new country is overwhelmingly positive. You're seeing everything with rose-tinted spectacles and it's exciting and fun. Everything about my new country is wonderful! What a great adventure! I love it here.
    My first week living in Germany

  • The Rejection Stage
  • After awhile though you start to see another side to the place and begin to feel somewhat disoriented and frustrated. Why is it so difficult to fit in? I don't understand the language. No one gets me.
    When I was experiencing this, I started going back to Ireland as often as possible, which needless to say didn't really help me adjust to my new life here.

  • Depression Stage
  • This is the hardest. You will feel depressed, lonely and homesick. You start to idealize life "back home" and compare your current culture to what is familiar. I'm stuck here. Is this my life now? Did I make the right decision moving here? Some people give up when this happens and return home.

    I mention the rough patch in my second blog post (long commute, feeling homesick, not many friends here, finding the German language difficult.)

  • The Acceptance Stage
  • This is where you start to appreciate the new country and feel like you fit in and belong. Yes, I can do this! It's not so bad. I'm happy here. You are now able to compare and appreciate aspects of both countries. You start to feel at home in your new home. For me what helped a lot was when I started to really make more of an effort to integrate myself here, for instance taking German lessons, going to lots of meetups to make friends, getting to know the area.
    When I started to really settle in and look on the positives.

Some useful tips for fitting in as an expat here.

If you are living abroad, did you experience culture shock? How did you cope?

Expat Life with a Double Buggy

Monday, July 6, 2015

Surviving a heatwave German style #MicroblogMonday

We are currently in the middle of an extreme heatwave in Germany. Even Ireland is experiencing one at the moment, though a heatwave there is just like a lovely summer with weather around 26 degrees Celsius, and a nice breeze whereas here it is more like 35-40 degrees and unbearable!

Thankfully my office has air conditioning! It's interesting seeing how the Germans dress in this extreme weather. One guy at work wears socks with his sandals - keeping that particular stereotype alive and well! Others wear shorts and even flip flops. The girls at work mainly don summer dresses. Pretty much anything goes I've noticed!

In general German women don't tend to dress up much or wear feminine outfits. For instance, when they attend birthday parties or events they normally go casual in trousers and a nice top so it's been unusual seeing them all wearing pretty dresses now! It's a good way to keep cool in this weather.

At weekends the best option is to go to the local pool or lake for a swim, or hang out in one of the many beer gardens. We also recently bought a new fan for our apartment, which helps.

I'm hoping this Summer I might manage to get a nice tan. Right now I'm as pale as ever. That's the problem with having Irish skin! We go from white to pink. I have to always make sure to apply lots of sun cream and then maybe I'll get a light tan after a few weeks.

How do you manage to keep cool in a heatwave?