Culture shocks, they don’t always happen the way you expect them to. By definition, you usually experience them when going to a foreign country; a place you have never been before, a culture you’ve never experienced. Little did I know, I would experience a few upon my return to my home country of Canada.
As you may or may not know, I spent the last 3 years living in Budapest, Hungary. You’re likely thinking; well it’s Europe, it isn’t that much different. Well it definitely was, but it was a great experience nonetheless. I’ll be sure to write all about my experience in a separate blog post, which I’m excited to share soon. I came back to Canada in mid-September, I was excited yet I was so nervous about “starting over”. Although Montreal has always been considered home, I spent most of my “adult life” living abroad. So coming back had it’s challenges and unexpected shocks.
Being able to communicate.
Now don’t get me wrong, people in Hungary do of course speak English, but of course to a different degree. Communicating in stores, at the bank, at the doctors can be difficult. So coming back to a country where I can communicate in two languages I speak fluently was definitely a shock! It was strange using English to communicate while running errands, being able to read signs and packaging on products and the biggest one of them all? Understanding conversations that is going on around me!
The economy is very different in Hungary in comparison to Canada. Although I was earning a lot by Hungarian standards, it came nowhere near as close as the average Canadian salary. So traveling or coming back home was very difficult. Now, being back in Montreal, I am able to afford many more things and increase my savings every paycheck. I also can’t forget to mention that in Hungary, you get paid once per month, making it very hard (in my opinion) to budget. It was strange yet it was a great relief to be getting paid bi-weekly once again.
If you’ve ever been to Hungary, you may know that it is not very known for it’s customer service. In the 3 years I spent living there, I never could figure out what causes this. A lot of the times, it feels like you are bothering the salesperson or waiter, which tends to become very uncomfortable, almost feeling like a chore. So coming back to North America, where customer service is considered a huge deal, was a major shock to me. I did not know what to expect, or how to react sometimes. It took me some time to adapt and realize that this is the norm. Now, walking into a store or being served with a friendly smile is something I will never take for granted again!
I learned how to drive at the age of 16 years old. However, when I lived in Europe, I never once drove for many different reasons. The public transportation system in most major cities across Europe, are excellent. Places and even countries are much closer together. Canada on the other hand is massive, as you may know. Despite Montreal’s relatively good transportation system, everything is far away from each other. The city itself (the island of Montreal) is the same distance as Manchester to Liverpool. So after 3 years of not driving on a regular basis, it definitely took some getting used to.
Have you ever lived abroad? If so, what are some of the culture shocks you experienced?
Thank you for reading my first blog post of 2019, I look forward to writing many more this year!