Expats experience culture shock moving abroad and back home – ‘we get depressed’

British expats discuss shop opening times in France

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British expats live all over the world and have to adapt to new cultures and lifestyles quickly. While some expat destinations may seem similar to the UK or well-known to Britons, culture shock can still happen.

Experts have identified some broad cultural differences that could cause culture shock.

Approach to rules and regulations, differing senses of time, sense of humour and communication styles can all be a shock for new expats.

Expatica reported they are five stages to culture shock.

Fascination was the honeymoon stage, when everything was new and seen as exciting.

It was usually followed by frustration, which could lead to homesickness.

One expat in Canada said: “The credit card system was quite a shock – how can people live on credit on a daily basis?”

“People buy, a lot, all the time, for any reason. There is no saving culture like in Europe.”

The third stage was “doable”, a rebound stage when expats may feel better about their lives overseas.

This led to the enjoyment stage, when expats may feel more at home in their new country.

Eventually, however, expats will get to a longing stage or “re-entry stage”.

Expatica explained: “This is only experienced by those expats who have returned to their home country.

“After years living abroad, your home country may occasionally seem new or even foreign to you.”

This later stage was explored by a website for English-speakers in France.

One expat said when she goes home, she “gets depressed visiting the grocery stores, there’s nothing to buy”.

Another British expat added: “When you go back to the UK now, all town centres just feel the same. Boots, Costa coffee, Superdrug, Pizza Express…”

Another Briton complained about having to drink tea all the time: “My bladder is no longer big enough for the average daily tea intake in the UK.”

Craig Storti, author of The Art of Coming Home wrote: “While expats are usually expecting culture shock and expect a period of adjustment, they often assume that going back home is different.

“They think they will adjust quickly because, after all, it’s home.

“But it’s a transition, just like going overseas is, and it will be a period of time before you feel readjusted.”

Culture shock for expats happens even if the destination is supposedly similar to the home country.

American expats in the UK, for example, may find British humour unfathomable or get frustrated at getting chips every time they wanted crisps, warned an American company helping expats.

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