Culture shock

Expats experience culture shock moving abroad and returning home – ‘we get depressed’ | Travel News | Travel

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

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

Approaching rules and regulations, different senses of time, sense of humor and communication styles can all come as a shock to new expats.

Expatica reported that there are five stages to culture shock.

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

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

An expat in Canada said: “The credit card system was a shock – how can people live on credit every day?

“People buy, a lot, all the time, for whatever reason. There is no culture of savings like in Europe.

The third stage was ‘doable’, a rebound stage when expats can feel better about their life abroad.


This last step has been explored by a website for English speakers in France.

An expatriate said that on returning home she “gets depressed visiting the grocery stores, there is nothing to buy”.

Another British expat added: “When you come back to the UK now, all the city centers 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 consumption of tea in the UK.”

Craig Storti, author of The Art of Coming Home wrote, “While expats generally expect culture shock and expect a period of adjustment, they often assume that coming home is different.

“They think they’ll adapt quickly because after all, it’s their home.

“But it’s a transition, just like going abroad, and it will take some time before you feel rehabilitated.”

Culture shock for expats occurs even if the destination is supposed to be similar to the country of origin.

American expats in the UK, for example, may find British humor unfathomable or be frustrated with getting crisps every time they want them, a US expat aid firm has warned.