I experienced what I called culture shock (twice). Moved from California to southern England (1970). I thought I had accidentally gone through a time warp again. I was welcomed by almost everyone but also taken advantage of by some misfit women who assumed because I was American that I was also rich. I had to learn about children wearing uniforms to go to school, stores closing at 5 or 6pm and closing early for half a day during the week for a historical but more relevant reason. The class system, the public bar versus the saloon bar, and the people hoping to win one in a million in football (lottery) pools. When I got tired of being unemployed and learned to live on a fraction of what I should have been able to earn, I left and came to France (September 11). More culture shock but in an interesting and challenging way. Once again, I was well received (rural Brittany). I loved the pace of life, working to live rather than living to work in a competitive mindset across the Channel. Met people who never closed their doors. A friend bought a car from someone who had never taken the keys out of the ignition. I bought a little cabin on 2.5 acres for less than the price of a used Ford. A passing neighbor saw me struggling with a shovel and rake trying to spread 6 tons of gravel and later came over to lend me his mini digger. Bureaucracy. The French have made it a refined art. It took me 6 months to install a telephone, and that with the help of two different French-speaking neighbours.
Having to pay for a bank account. Having to pay extra to have a device delivered. (Where are those emojis when I need them?) This was all pretty baffling. French retail is unlike any other, and don’t get me started on “customer service”. Life here is compromise, not Nirvana. I love it, warts and all. I can’t think of anywhere I would be happier trying to live on the lowest old-age pension in Europe. Sorry. I have to stop the flow and let someone else try.