Posted in Daily life, Practical - Living in Australia

Living Abroad and Culture Shock

Culture Shock is the psychological disorientation that most people suffer when they move into a culture that is different from their own. It’s natural and healthy.

-Geert Hofstede-

For us the Australian life style has been very easy to adapt to in many ways. Always people there to give you a helping hand even if you do not ask for it. The easy going life style and having random chats with complete strangers on an almost daily basis. The international background of almost every one you meet.

Living in a new country comes with joys, opportunities and challenges. However one of the things that everyone is bound to experience is culture shock. Life abroad certainly has its ups but at times also has a few downs.

Christine Fisher describes the four stages, very nicely in her blog post about the four stages of living abroad:

  • honeymoon
  • frustration or ‘rage state,’
  • understanding
  • acclimatisation stage

Here is our version of how we are going through the different stages.

First winter – Honeymoon Stage

We arrived here in winter two years ago. Everything about winter was new and exciting. We were enjoying every bit of sunshine and were eager to get to know our new surroundings and went on hikes like these to the You Yangs, the 1000 steps and the Dandenongs almost every weekend.

I did see that winter had it’s colder days, but described it as: ‘Winter here feels like a bad summer day in the Netherlands. Which can also be unpleasant.’

That first year I was very positive about winter in Australia. I did realise that it gets very cold in the inside of the houses, but it did not seem to bother me too much.

“Hey, a new hill, cool. Let me jump over it!”

Second Winter – Frustration or Rage Stage

The next winter felt a lot colder and took way longer. It felt like it was raining a lot and it was hard(er) to get over the cold. In my blog post about our second winter I seemed a lot more bothered by the Arctic wind and the low temperature inside the house:

“it was 7.2 degrees in the kids bedroom when they woke up, that was the same as the outside temperature:

“It has never felt this cold inside our Dutch home”

Imagine what it will be if it is 2 degrees outside! It has never felt this cold inside our Dutch home where the temperature outside can drop a lot more.”

Third winter – Understanding Stage

If the temperature drops under 20 degrees it is considered ‘fucking cold man’ by the average Aussie. In the first year we laughed about it, but we have turned into Aussies now. It turns out that it is ‘fucking cold’ when the temperature drops, not when you are outside, but when you are inside and not moving. The insulation of most houses is not great and therefore the inside becomes the same temperature as the outside. This makes anything under 15 degrees freezing.

We still find yourself confused at times, but we are able to take these things lightly, finding the humor in them.

We still think it gets very cold inside our house and I am walking around as a Michelin man in many layers of clothing and I am even considering wearing a beany when it is almost 10 degrees outside.

It also felt like that first winter in Australia again, enjoying a beautiful winter day in the sun, while we were enjoying an afternoon in the skate park (hence the pictures) during the term break/school holiday, our third winter in Australia.

“Hey a high ramp, I just can not get to the rim, but that’s ok!”

Fourth Winter – Integration Stage

Next year the winter might be the year of true adaption. To stay warm in our house we probably still be hopping around as kangaroos in our sleeping bags, but maybe we need to get really adapted and embrace the culture by wearing that beany and buying a sleeping bag onzie. Yes, they really sell those!

“Then, just when you feel truly settled in, it will probably be time to go home….”




Mother, wife, explorer and loving the outdoors. We recently moved to Australia, so lots to explore here. We are keeping a blog about our experiences of moving and living on a different continent as a family.

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