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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 RicaDid you know that culture shock is good for you? Honestly, I didn’t either.

The other day, I saw this article about culture shock by George Santayana and I thought it was awesome. Problem is that most of you are not in your 20’s anymore, so you don’t adjust as easily as an exchange student.

I’ve been through some culture shock myself when I moved to Costa Rica, but it’s been a while. The culture shock would have knocked me out if I wouldn’t have adjusted. Now I’m really happy I went through it because I still think Costa Rica is a grand 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 on into the world of surprise.

I’d like to get a bit further than that. I want to show you how to handle culture shock better, so your move to Costa Rica becomes a little easier. By adapting and do things a bit different, I mean the Tico Way, before you make your move, you’ll accept the new way of life in no time.

Taking cold showers

Unless you can purchase a suicide shower in your home town, you can practice taking showers without power. Just turn off your water heater 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.

Be aware that practicing cold showers every day might not be that great for your sex life, although most 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 on how to install a system that can do that for you.

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 the best, 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. It will help you learning patience, which will help to get used to standing in line.

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 expat forums like Costaricaliving and expat Facebook pages like Expatriates in Costa RicaGringo Expats in Costa Rica or  Expats Locals in Escazu Santa Ana.

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 as soon as you arrive is 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 the culture shock:

Learn Spanish

You can become another ugly American and by just speaking English to every local.

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

•    Hi guys, is there any provider in Costa Rica / San Jose that can get me unlimited data home wifi hotspot or modem without a need to sign 2 yrs contract? It seems impossible. 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

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Now you know why culture shock is good for you: you can just laugh it off and go on with your life in the tropics.

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. Contact us now.

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

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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