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  1. #1
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    Default Anticipating the Culture Shock

    I have started a few posts regarding cost of living and moving to the DR. However, one of the biggest areas I'd like to address when moving is the impact of culture shock. I've been researching this and been given little bits of advice from various sources, but wonder if we could get our heads together, to collate this information.

    Examples of experiences when a past 'newbie' first arrived in the DR; misunderstandings; how they made true friends; how they and Dominican women dealt with men 'hollaring' at them; difficulties they found in leaving behind their own social standards/ behaviour; aspects of integration including the attempt to overcome the view that all Dominicans assume wealth, (in some perspectives I understand the view that this would be impossible) and so on.

    On the Living section there is a theoretical/ practical list of advice which is a good starting point, (I've pasted this section below- my comments to each point in bold) regarding overcoming culture shock, but could you experienced posters give some up-to-date examples of experiences, and expand on this advice please?

    What can I do to overcome culture shock?
    1. Recognize that you are in a cultural transition and be gentle with yourself.

    Ok. Good advice. And something to keep telling yourself when disorientated and feel the need to reject all that's unfamiliar.

    2. Reduce other tensions in your life. Find ways to laugh.

    Again good.

    3. Build your support system. Find friends who can listen and support (not just enjoin in your complaints).

    How? Difficulty in separating those genuine friends and those that seek cash or a visa.

    4. Learn the language of the host culture. Without this, it will be extremely difficult to reach the adjustment stage of feeling comfortable.

    Again. No problems with this advice and no need for expansion.

    5. Make every attempt to understand situations and relationships from the host culture's view without comparing it negatively to your own.

    Please expand with your knowledge. Social interaction regarding visiting friends, personal relationships, cultural differences, examples of 'situations' whereby an expat could 'put their foot in it', etc

    6. Increase your self-awareness of your home culture, your own values, basic assumptions, attitudes, and rules.

    Again, I would appreciate expansion with regards to this statement. Dominican values; what assumption not to make; varying cultural and class attitudes; any rules particularly?

    8. See a professional therapist to deal with some past issues that may be intersecting with the current transition, or simply to get perspective and clarify current issues.

    I'm sorry, but I disagree with running to a therapist and therefore will not be doing this. It's a personal perspective; everyone's different. I would prefer to gather the facts and rely on friends and experienced ex-pats/ Dominicans to gain support and understanding

    I'd appreciate any help and views, updated or otherwise. I will be a new resident and may be visiting the DR a few times for extended holidays beforehand, so if you could take the view of what it was like when you FIRST arrived as a resident, through to now, incorporating lessons learned, shared anxieties, advice given before and after arrival, that would be great.

    Warm regards,

    Cheryl

  2. #2
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    Cheryl,

    You seem to be doing all the right things about your anticipated move here. I respect the fact that you are preparing yourself for the impending culture shock.

    I have seen a few expats move here, blinkered by the beautiful beaches and constant sunshine. Once they start to settle, they then become aware of the many problems associated with a less developed country. The honeymoon period ends and frustration sets in.

    I suppose the main questions would be, what are your reasons for living here? What will you do? What are your interests? Are you coming alone?

    Those factors could depend on how you integrate here. For me, I think that the most important item on your list is number 4. Learn the language.

    I suppose that the next most important thing would be money. Depending on how much of it you have, depends on how the cultural differences will affect you.

  3. #3
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    You are definitely going about things the right way Cheryl. However whilst you can make so much preparation it will be hard for you to get everything right straight away. Just a few pointers would be:

    1. You need to divide Dominicans and ex pats - they are certainly not the same.

    2. I have no idea how you find good and genuine ex pats and those who are not to be trusted. I assume in the beginning do not trust anyone!!! All I can tell you is the largest un paid bills in my colmado are from ex pats. They also tend to practise more malicious gossiping. Eyes and ears open and mouth shut for the first few months would be my advice!!!

    3. Dominicans are unable to say no. Can you fix my electric? Of course i can. And then you find out they have no idea. Can you tell me how to get to xyz? You go down this road, turn right then left.......you end up in the middle of nowhere!!!

    4. Do not lend money to anyone - the chances are you will not get it back. Only lend if you can afford to lose it.

    5. Take a total chill pill when it comes to time. Be prepared to wait hours after the proposed time for a meeting or an appointment. Always carry a good book with you when you have to go to the dentist, doctor, immigration office.

    6. Always greet all Dominicans with a handshake - even if you have only seen them 10 minutes before!!

    7. Do not expect to make too many friends with Dominican women - even after 8 years I can count the number of Dominican female friends on one hand.

    8. Do not dress like a tourist. Especially in the local towns and barrios. I favour cargo trousers so I do not have to use a handbag.

    9. Try not to plan too much as it will all go wrong anyway!!! Live for the day and laugh a lot!!!

    Matilda

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    Nail on the head right there Matilda, spot on!

  5. #5
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    Hey Beeza- thanks for your comments. For the more detailed explanation as to my motivations for moving, finances, etc, see the threads I set up:
    1.) educational standards
    2.) cost of living- breakdown

    But be prepared to put 10-20 minutes aside to read ALL the postings as my plans have evolved with the advice given! Its interesting though.

    In short, I'm pretty conservative regarding material needs, not partying all night, I drink very little, etc... In short, I'm looking for the simple life- not to transplant my UK standard of living to the DR. (see cost of living-breakdown) I ultimately want to teach, and then once settled, do some volunteer work, (preferably with aduts- see educational standards) Yes, I'm coming alone, and NOT for a man!! lol... Been and done the sankie experience, and not bitter and twisted regarding this, more curious as to the motivations and ways to help/educate. My interests include: reading (varied, including law, equine, languages, culture, girlie fiction, non-girlie fiction, etc, etc), learning languages, horses (riding/sport/care) education, teaching practices, rock-climbing, very varied music styles, dancing, films, etc.

    I totally agree regarding learning Spanish. I studied to GCSE level, (English high school exam, if you're not aware- sorry, if you are) ... however, that was 13 years ago, (I am now 29) and so starting to re-learn the language doing private study for now, including text books, audio and cd.roms, but enrolled on a class to study spanish when I go to university this september. (My degree is English language with linguistics, combined with literature.)

    I hope this helps for you to respond, and thanks for your input so far.

    As always Matilda, your input is factual and informative. Thanks a lot. Some questions and comments, for you according to the numbered points you made:

    1.)I'd like both Dominican and ex-pat friends. Not to be too naive, but how do you go about making friends and in what way do you treat them differently? Feel free to state the obvious!!

    2.) Very good advice! Interesting re: largest unpaid bills from ex-pats and will try to keep schtum for the first couple of months... I'd kinda gathered about the gossiping!

    3.) Does this mean never ask a Dominican anything?! I'm only half joking on this one! lol

    4.) Yep- always had the philosophy that I'd only lend what I could afford to lose permanently. And, as I know you've seen/posted on my other threads, I wont have enough money to lend anyone.

    5.) This, by my own admission, is my worst character-flaw! I'm sooo impatient sometimes! I read a lot, so will carry a book at all times from the point I arrive! lol... Will have to learn patience on other matters...

    6.) This is exactly what I mean regarding customs and culture! Anything more like this, would be both helpful practically and interesting?

    7.) Never heard f this before, so excuse my ignorance/ lack of knowledge... Why arent Dominican women keen to make friends with other women? Is it just women or men aswell. (And I mean FRIENDSHIPS)

    8.) I hate handbags, so good advice re: cargo trousers... Dont they get a bit hot in that climate though?? What is 'normal dress' for dominican women?

    9.) I know... I really look like I want to plan to the last detail, dont I?! lol I'm just trying to avoid potential problems, that's all.... Lots of things may well fail, and I'll have to just deal with them as they come along, armed with my book, my savings and my smile... or anti-depressants! Only joking! I'd just rather collect as much info as poss to avoid as many surprises as poss, regarding newbies that walk in blind and face over-load... In their case: failing to plan, is planning to fail! I know what you mean though. When I was in Albania, the person who I went to see had a tantrum that I wasnt prepared to put up with. This resulted in my going to the capital city and being dumped in a hotel by him- big of him to visit me once a week though. I had to pay for the hotel, deal with scary guys walking around with guns, find suitable food on a budget, make friends, learn ebough Albanian to get around, (look it up- there's NO grammatical logic!), etc, etc... And I dealt with it and ended up having a fab time. (I only stayed in the hotel, crying for one day, before spending 3 weeks galavanting off, experiencing the culture, and making friends I still have to this day) The plan didnt work out at all... But I'm glad I prepared myself a little.

    Keep it coming! The posts so far have been great!

    Thanks again,

    Cheryl

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl** View Post
    8. See a professional therapist to deal with some past issues that may be intersecting with the current transition, or simply to get perspective and clarify current issues.

    I'm sorry, but I disagree with running to a therapist and therefore will not be doing this. It's a personal perspective; everyone's different. I would prefer to gather the facts and rely on friends and experienced ex-pats/ Dominicans to gain support and understanding
    And I agree with you, Cheryl**. Becoming an expat isn't an illness, it's a process. Because it isn't an illness, you don't need a therapist. The people who push that angle are a) cultural transition therapists who make their living that way & b) those who adhere to a Freudian model of psychology, emphasising pathology over normality. Personally, I believe behavioural psychology has more to offer.

    However because becoming an expat is a process, it takes time and there are no short cuts. I had an article published on the www on this over 2 years ago, but you might find something in it which is useful:

    Offshore Living News Offshorewave Culture Shock Revisited - Groping Towards A More Useful Conceptual Framework - by Ginnie Bedggood

    I won't elaborate on the points therein unless you specifically ask (don't want another accusation of being one of the 'three most boring humans on the planet' Not by you, Cheryl, someone else ).

  7. #7
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    Hey Lambada,

    Yup, I read a few of those articles before. Very well written, informative and funny. Will have a look at the link.. dont think it's one I've read so far. Oh, having probs locating a seller of that book?! Annoying me a litlle, actually. I'm in the UK. Let me know who else sells it for you.

    Warm regards,

    Cheryl

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