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How to Handle Culture Shock in Mexico

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City
Credit: Martin Molcan | Bigstock
Harriet Murray Blogs for Expats In Mexico on Real Estate
Harriet Murray

If you’ve been living in this country for several months or longer, at some point you’ll most likely experience a degree of culture shock in Mexico.

Many times a very simple experience or interchange with the Mexican people or institutions can throw you into alienation, confusion or surprise from encountering unfamiliar surroundings. This is a normal reaction.

You can overcome the feeling by practicing patience and keeping a sense of humor. You’ll find that getting enough rest and physically adjusting to the climate goes a long way in helping you adjust your mental attitude so you can adapt to the Mexican culture and cope with your new surroundings.

Living in a new community is quite different from vacationing once or several times a year. Events will happen that you’re not prepared for, that will surprise you. Know that this is a normal experience, which happens to everyone, everywhere.

This same experience happens to people from other countries moving to the USA or Canada. After you experience living abroad, you’ll find that you can more easily relate to and empathize with this universal experience.

Previous to your own experience abroad, you may not have been able to fully appreciate the experience others were going through. If we had been more aware of the other person’s situation, we could have been more understanding and more helpful.

You may want to follow some of these steps to help you adjust to Mexico:

1. Compile a list of names of recommended doctors, dentists and hospitals.

2. Get a map of the city and walk, take the bus or drive around to find the stores and services that you will need on a regular basis.

3. Compile a list of phone numbers. Who do you call to report when your telephone or electricity is out of service? You’ll want to learn the telephone numbers or addresses of the electrician, plumber and carpenter. If you have pets, you’ll want to research the names of veterinarians and pet supply shops.

4. If you want to attend church or religious services, you’ll need to research what is available and ask for recommendations.

You should continue this process of sourcing to help you familiarize yourself with your surroundings and get comfortable with your new environment.

You should also learn Spanish. There will be many opportunities to find fellow Americans or Canadians or English-speaking natives and the temptation will be to speak just your native tongue. Relying on the English-speaking community can make your adventure easier in the beginning, but it can make it more difficult for you in the long term by developing a barrier to meeting and learning from other people who don’t speak English. If you only socialize with English-speakers, you’ll limit your experiences. You will not be living an adventure, but living in an expatriate outpost.