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How to handle culture shock way before moving to Costa Rica

How to handle culture shock way before moving to Costa RicaWould you like to learn how to handle culture shock? Did you know that culture shock is good for you?

Honestly, I didn’t either.

George Santayana says in his article that you should try culture shock to keep the mind nimble, to kill prejudice and to foster humor. It’s a great idea and it’s fantastic for my business.

The problem with that is that when you move, and you are not in your 20’s anymore, you don’t adjust as easily as an exchange student. But that’s why our agents are more than just real estate agents.

I’ve been through some culture shock myself when I moved to Costa Rica. But it’s been a while.  I did learn how to handle culture shock over time. The culture shock would have knocked me out if I wouldn’t have adjusted. Now I’m really happy I went through it because, even after 39 years, I still think Costa Rica is an incredible place to live.

I’ll tell you my secret: I learned how to handle it.

Do you want to learn how to handle culture shock? Follow me then. Come, enter a world of surprise and fun with me, so you can keep the mind nimble.

The best way to adapt is to do things a bit different. From today on, you’re going to try to do things the Tico Way. That way, before you make your move, you’ll accept the new way of life in no time.

Taking cold showers

Many Ticos customarily take cold showers, my wife is one of those. Unless you can purchase a suicide shower in your home town, you can practice taking showers without power. Just turn off the hot water and take a cold shower. You will see that most showers in beach areas of Costa Rica have no hot water at all. In many areas of the Central Valley, you will find a suicide shower, which will give you just a trickle of hot water.

Be aware that practicing cold showers every day might not be that great for your sex life. For some reason, Ticos do not seem to have any problems with that.

If you like your showers real hot talk to your real estate agent or your home inspector. They’ll tell you how to install an instant heating system that will keep you a happy camper.

How to handle culture shock way before moving to Costa Rica
Rice and beans are an important part of the Tico diet

Eating habits

Throw your gringo breakfast out the window. Start eating rice and beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and get used to it. Make sure you eat them with corn tortillas. No more cornflakes, Canadian bacon, pancakes and syrup, waffles and whipped cream.

From Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit:

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
The more you eat, the more you fart
The more you fart, the better you feel
So let’s eat beans with every meal

I still hate rice and beans, not only at breakfast but at any hour. Your other choice is to have toast and eggs, whichever way you like them. The fruits in Costa Rica are also incredibly good, so you won’t’ starve to death when starting your day.

Standing in line

You really need to learn how to stand in line if you plan to live in Costa Rica. There are lines in banks, at every governmental office and even at the gas station when gas prices go up. We have lines at the grocery store because they open up only 2 check-out lanes out of 12. We have also lines at the toll on highway 27, mostly at peak hours.

Standing in line teaches patience, of which you probably have very little. Well, I got news for you: learn how to stand in line.

You can practice standing in line by calling Expedia help desk or any other online customer service at your convenience.

Learn to accept bad writing

The other day is a gringo asking about Escazoo on a forum. Well, Escazoo is not written with a double o but with a ú. Escazú. The ú is pronounced as a double oo. That’s why Washington should be written Whasington…Now go practice that for a while.

How to handle culture shock way before moving to Costa Rica
Learn to accept bad writing

Find other expats

You will find thousands of expats online. There are online expat forums like Costaricaliving and many expat Facebook pages.

The best way of not moving into a state of culture shock is NOT looking for other expats for everything you need. Go NATIVE! The best way to go native is to use your time before your move to Costa Rica well and learn Spanish. That takes us to the next step of getting the cure for culture shock:

Learn Spanish

You can become another ugly American and by just speaking English to the local population, without even trying to speak Spanish.

Or you can learn at least basic Spanish as soon as you can.  instead of asking on the forums questions like:

•    Hi guys, we’re trying to adjust to our new country as fast as we can. Any expats out that can help us? Thank you!!

•    Does anyone know a good cleaning lady? Must speak English, French, and Pachuco.

•    Where can a purchase a gas heater? I have been to every store in Costa Rica but I can’t find anyone who sells heaters.

How to handle culture shock way before moving to Costa Rica
Shhhh, don’t become an ugly American

Culture shock is good for you, you can just laugh it off and go on with your life in the tropics.

P.S. The best culture shock is the one you get when there is an earthquake in Costa Rica.

Choose a GoDutch real estate agent to assist you in your Costa Rica real estate purchase; we’ll give you the ultimate real estate experience. And, and you could read all the blogs on how to prevent culture shock. I’m sure that you will try to handle culture shock after this article. If you don’t, well, don’t complain…

When you’re ready to buy or rent property, then contact us now.

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog.


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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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