4 Culture Shock Phases When Living In Colombia
Stage 1 of the 4 culture shock phases: You just arrived to a new country in which you plan on calling home for however long, you arrive with a positive outlook and probably see the quirks of the city as exotic and new. Before you know it, you’ve started to settle in and what started off as amusing is now a pain in the behind.
Have no fear, as this is part of the assimilation process until you adjust and master your way through the new city. In no time, you will not even bat an eyelash at what you thought was outrageous a few months back.
Here’s the 4 Culture Shock Phases you will most likely go through, and in particular in Bogotá, Colombia.
1. THE HONEYMOON PHASE
So you just arrived to the new city you will call home!
‘Bienvenido!’ the locals will tell you as you explain to them you’ve arrived just a few weeks ago.
This for me was so lovely to hear as I had never been welcomed by so many locals before (This would never happen back home as locals don’t want another immigrant ‘stealing’ their jobs as they like to put it).
In Bogotá, it’s hard not to feel the positive energy of the city, and hear salsa and reggaeton booming from the neighbors house on a Friday night. How refreshing! Back home was so much drearier!
The newness of your host culture might be a breath of fresh air at first. The chaos might seem exotic and charming, and anyways you don’t understand half of what’s going on as you’re still learning Spanish and just getting used to the local accent!
After a couple of months, you’re starting to perceive the quirks of the city in a different light and the novelty is beginning to wear off. Perhaps at this point, the traffic, public safety, language barrier and civism might be starting to get to you. That salsa and reggaeton your neighbors play until 4 am isn’t so charming anymore. You’re probably also comparing all the things you miss in your old home to your new one.
Chunky peanut butter back home was dirt cheap and so much better than the knock off’s available here!
As a matter fact, you probably noticed that all your beloved brands back home are three times the price and that you’ve had to substitute for things that just aren’t up to the same standard. Hang in there…
After a bit of time (6 to 12 months) you might finally be getting the hang of things and started to get used to the new culture and settling into your routine. Traffic is not the main topic of conversation anymore, as you now know what hours are best to commute, how to get there and how long it will take. You understand and know everything on the menu and have become a better negotiator in general as you have an idea of how much things cost. Things that shocked you at the beginning are now things you don’t even think twice about or bat an eyelash to anymore.
That guy running after someone in the Transmilenio screaming ‘ladroooon!’ or the police asking for a bribe instead of giving you a fine? Pffff, that’s nothing new!
At this point, you have fully adopted and feel totally comfortable in your host culture. You’re probably fluent in Spanish and salute your friends, now referred to as parces and maricas with a ‘quibo?’. You rumbea on weekends starting from Thursday, and of course, your idea of a great time is something along the lines of dancing salsa, drinking refajo and watching Colombia win another soccer game. Oh yes, and 7 tintos a day now makes part of your diet.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that by this point if you were to go back to your old home, you’d have a reverse culture shock!
Some people even go beyond this point into which they fully adopt their new home and lose a little piece of their old identity. However, most of the other expats go on to accept their new home while keeping their original identity.
At which stage do you find yourself in right now?
Do you know someone that’s going through one of these culture shock phases in Colombia?
Help them master their new culture by helping them see all the beauty and benefits there are of living in Colombia!