Category Archives: culture shock

Culture Shock. part 1

I can’t deny it anymore. Within 10 days we move out of Qatar to the Netherlands. 
We’re in transition mode;
The household is being divided in; what’s going to ‘suit case’, ‘freight container’ and ‘what to be sold’; The heart is out of the house, it’s not a home anymore;
Everybody is agitated and sad.
And we have to bid our farewells to people whom we know we’re not going to see anymore.

The transition stage is the first stage of a culture shock.
Culture shock is the anxiety and emotional stress when your physical surrounding and people change; When you come to live and/or work in different circumstances as what was considered normal, felt familiar and comfortable. 
It’s a process of change in your identity; process of letting go old values, expectations, behaviour and thinking patterns and adopting new ones.

Transition/detachment stage; 
The transition and detachment starts in the current country, when the decision to move becomes a reality and you’ve to start planning and thinking ahead; It’s the start of ‘letting go’ and saying farewells. You come to realise what you’ve got and what you have to let go.
For most people it’s a time of strong mixed feelings; Excitement (positive and negative) of the new adventures ahead and the grief of letting go.

For me, this time, this transition, I miss the excitement of a new adventure as we’re going to our home country. I know what to expect and not to expect.
Yet I already know I will have a difficult time to adjust again because it won’t be the same as I’ve got a lot of expectations and I’ve changed too. 
I do not have the curiosity and flexibility in my mindset to accept my new surroundings in the way they are now as they won’t be the way the were when I left.

I’ll miss the people, the friends, the community we belong to.
I’ll miss Qatar’ I love living in a country which grows and see changes for the better; 
I’ll miss the weather, the warmth and the sun. 
I’ll miss my freedom.

A look on multi cultural diner customs

There are a few features which we use to compare- and analyse multiple cultures. One of them is the difference between a collective- or individualistic cultures. 
It’s about preceding needs; the collective needs (the needs of the family, clan or group) or the individual needs (personal needs).
When you are aware of these distinctions, it’s great to see how these show in daily live and how they can cause some awkward situations.

Let’s go for diner.
Untill recently, in restaurants, I always made my own choice and ordered my own food. That’s how it works in most western restaurants but in restaurants with a collective culture you order multiple dishes to share and there’s one person who orders all, after decided what everybody would like to eat.

Knowing this, it makes sense why the chinese restaurants always have such big portions; A portion is to share and not for one person alone.
I always thought it was cheap to give more rice than anything else at the chinese, but now I understand that the rice is in portions to share with everybody, just like all the several other dishes.
There is less distinction between appetizers and main coarse but a choice between meats, vegetables, rice and different sorts of food.
In the individual orientated restaurants, the different coarses give a diversity in the food you order, in collective orientated restaurants it’s the selection of the dishes that gives the diversity.
Collective eaters will take more time to eat from the different dishes, as they don’t have more coarses with time between to wait and digest for the next dish.

I thought that my ‘bonus’ son was picky and didn’t like my food, he on the other hand was nervous because we eat so fast. 
We acknowledged that we had different customs and talked about it.
It’s so much easier to accept different behaviour when you understand.
And we found ways to mix and match our diner cultures. Buffet style diners works for everybody.
It’s so nice to be able to combine those cultures. It makes my live so much more divers and interesting, just because I can appreciate and choose between the advantages of diversity


screenagers culture shock


Usually  I have different cultures in mind -in the sense of nationality and background-when I’m writing about differences between cultures; how to acknowledge them, accept them and FeelGood with them. That’s my field of expertise.
Today I want to share another kind of differences and background, culture with you. 
The differences between older and younger generations. 
I’m not a pediatrician but as a mother of 4 children I feel like an experienced expert.
 My children grew up in all kind of different countries and with different schooling systems so I think I’ve got some divers comparison.

Although our children live in the same environment as we do, they have a totally different background end experiences then older people have. Because of the fast changing technology and possibilities more than ever.
As parents we can’t rely on experiences of our own youth anymore. Internet and globalization have changed our whole environment and not many things are the same anymore. While in the previous times people could rely on generations of experience in ways of education.

Because of all those differences I find that a lot of older people are condemning the youth and the way they deal with their society.
For example, all the negativity older generations have about how youth use their screentime.
“They’re always staring at their screens!” 
There are a lot of biases about the use of all different devices.

Nowadays Work/study is mostly done behind…. a screen; recreation, by playing games, watching television or reading is done ……..behind a screen; listening -even making music- can be done….. behind a screen; Social contacts….. behind a screen, organising your life-…….
Older generations grew up with a distinction and a clear balance in time and location between work/study, recreation and socializing. 
This distinction now is almost gone.
It’s a bit hypocrite to blame the youth for this. They just don’t grow up with that ‘good old fashioned’ distinction and balance. They’ve got a complete different frame of reference, a complete different reality of work/study, recreation and socializing.

I think it’s useless to condemn these new technologies as -be honest- we all use them more than we would like. 
And would you like to go back in time?? Not me! I love being able to show and share my photoos, have conversations with friends all over the world, watching my series while running in the gym, having my books with me without carrying all those kilo’s and killing trees for paper, Finding answers for all my questions. 
This is the ‘screenage’!

It’s like all culture shocks; deep personal values, believes and convictions are shown, we have to acknowledge and accept that and make it our own.
A lot of our values and convictions have to change to accept this new age.
People are not very good in changing values and believes. But we have to! We as parents have to guide our youth in this new age.
And it’s a big guess what’s the right thing to do as we have no similar experience or examples.
I’m honest about this to my children, I’ve got no clue. But I know the basic needs of every human. physical and mental health. So they must have physic exercise, even if they use an app for a training schedule, watching tv, or listening to music.
It’s the mental health I do worry about. The fact that there’s no distinction or balance anymore. Not only because the possibilities to focus are less but also to give the brain a rest.
The reaction of my child: “Oh mama, but I’ve got an app for meditation and yoga which teach me to meditate”….
Do trust our youth that our youth are good humans, the way how, is up to them, we can only keep in contact and guide them.



Yesterday we were on the souq. (The souq is a traditional version of a shopping mall or a market hall.)
In ‘our’ souq we’ve got a ‘pet’ section.
“And oh my heart broke”. The way these poor birds and animals are being treated; In the heat, in to small cages, animals which aren’t pets or are becoming extinct.
I would love to buy them all and give them a better live.
Now my children are already so wise that they know that we can’t take them to Europe as they’re forbidden, that the birds would die here anyway in the heat and that the merchants would acquire replacement immediately, no matter from where.
They’re soooooo wise and responsible and won’t have the good feeling of having saved that one big turtle and let it roam in our garden.

It’s interesting to see how people react differently on that animal souq;
A good friend of mine avoids the animal souq. Another goes on the barricades. Tourists come and amaze themselves and taking pictures. Locals buy there their chickens and other show birds, boys get a pet to teach them responsibilities.
The guys who sell the animals (which are not the merchants!!) have no clue how cruel it is for those pets in the perspective of us westerners, who won’t see animal tragedies in daily live anymore. In case they have some idea, it’s from western television from the petambulance series or pictures of animal abuse in the media, which are not great either.
Then you have the merchants who buy and sell the animals….. I would tend to judge them, but then again they’re only trying to keep up their responsibilities to their wive(s) and the rest of the family, which in most cases is not easy either as there is no social security at all.

I like that animal souq, not because of the animals -I’m to much of a softy- for that. But because all the mixed feelings that it triggers in me, it makes me aware of my own values/thoughts/ convictions/believes, which learns me to see things through in a different perspective. I don’t have to agree but at least I can understand and accept that the world is not always the way I would have liked it and that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. 
It’s a way of learning to enjoy our differences.

Moving, routines and habits

I’m very sorry I didn’t write my blog last week. 
We were moving house.
I’ve done it many times before, locally and internationally. 
The move it self does not nerve me very much. It’s physsically hard work as I want it to be over as fast as possible. I want to live and not being occupied by the boxes and the move for weeks. So it took me 4 days to pack the old home and making a new home. After that my body was tired, alright. But nothing a good nights sleep and some rest can’t fix.
No it’s the weeks and months after the actual move which are the hardest.
A move nationally or internationally is one of the biggest stress factors in life.

People build -concious and unconcious- a lifestyle and a have a picture in their brain of life, which is normal, good and safe; People build a routines, habits, behaviour which fit in that lifestyle. (That might not be the lifestyle they like or want, but what’s as comfortable possible in that certain special situation which is different from person to person).

When you move all those big and little routines, habits and behaviour needs to change.
The closer your move is the less you have to adjust, the further away you move the more you’ve to adjust and get used to and build a new sort of ‘lifestyle’.
This time I moved only locally, 20 km the most. But I moved from a rural green area to a busy business and building area. No more birds sounds, but traffic and generators. The kids are much closer to school and can walk to the mall, when weather allows. Morning traffic is huge so no quick early morning shopping. Where is a gym and how do the these machines work? Where is the doctor? and will it be a nice one as the one before? Can I find the toilet at night in the dark? When I cook on gas won’t the house explode? Oh dear the neighbours have small children where I have teenagers who seem to live on times when they might like to sleep?
They are just simple little things but I’m out of my comfort zone. I know I will grow into it fast enough this time and have a new routine and habits, who are not better or worse than my former routine and habits but just different which will fit better in this place.

So because of the morning traffic I started working early, when everybody is on their way, then go en route do my groceries etc., come back and start working again.
That is a routine which might work but now I find how hard it is for me to get back in the flow of the writing and focus again on the same topic.
I find it very uncomfortable and frustrating. The other hand is that I discovered and learned now that I need some time to get into the flow and that what I write in the early morning is different then the same topic later during the day.
It’s very interesting how the human brain works when emotions gets involved and how a big or a small culture shock can make you aware.
That’s probably why it’s my job and I developed workshops ‘culture shock, how to survive home sickness’ and ‘multicultural intelligence’