New expats in Europe may experience unexpected culture shocks

New expats in Europe may experience unexpected culture shocks

New expats in Europe may experience unexpected culture shocks

Europe’s selection of diverse countries is a smorgasbord of temptations for would-be expats, but working and living on the continent has its own shocks and surprises.

Every country in the world has its quirks, with the 27 European Union member states no exception. Discovering them is all part of the expat experience, with those brave enough to leave the familiar and immerse themselves in a strange land believing that culture shock is all part of the fun. Admittedly, getting adjusted to new norms can be tough, but it can be done.

If you’re heading to the Scandinavian country of Sweden, the first shock will be that no-one ever seems to smile. Swedes are always polite, but smiling at strangers is mostly unheard of, as is not minding their own business. Italy is famous for its romantic image, stunning countryside, delicious food and lively cities, but its bureaucratic set-up is a nightmare and its rejection of today’s digital world can outweigh its many positive aspects.

If you’re heading to the south of France and are uncomfortable in high temperatures, you’ll be appalled to discover the French hate aircon. They also revel in extended lunch hours, not matter how busy you are at the office. As in Spain and several other Mediterranean countries, everything shuts down for lunch. For techies, Germany is a digital nightmare, with slow mobile plans at high cost, but they’ve no problems with speed on their autobahns as there are no limits and they all drive like maniacs.

Timekeeping in Spain involves the obligatory shutdown for two hours at lunchtime, and siestas actually do happen as a result. The locals use time any way they please, with late-night dinners, kids staying up half the night and ‘afternoon’ appointments usually referring to 8 p.m. or later. Get used to it - it’s not going to change. Ever.

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