Expats will always experience culture shock in Mexico, even expats arriving from Spain or Latin America can be “lost in translation”. Nevertheless it is very useful to speak Spanish to work and to manage better in every situation. It makes a big difference to know some words and be able to communicate.
We would recommend that you talk with other expats before arriving to Mexico and ask for the most frustrating issues they encounter in Mexico and how they overcame them so you get a global idea of how life goes in Mexico. Even if you can understand the words they speak, sometimes the meaning is uncertain. There is a word: “Ahorita” that nobody knows what it means. Literal translation of “ahorita” is now but it depends on the moment, it can be asap, later or never… only experience and time will help you to understand the meaning.
Traffic: Rush hour, protests, demonstrations, rain can make traffic to be a nightmare and errands can take longer that planned.
Communication: Mexican hardly say NO, even if they do not agree or can not do what you ask. This is time consuming and frustrating. You are expected to say “Gracias” and “Por favor” all the time. People do not talk aggressively and smile. It is an art how to discuss and negotiate politely.
Greetings: Mexicans hug and kiss. Men shake hands and hug at the end. Women and women-men shake hands and kiss on the right cheek.
Religion: Mexican are very tolerant but the country is predominantly Catholic.
Safety: For safety reasons things that are normally done in other countries are dangerous in Mexico. Walking alone at night, take a street cab, women going out alone, meeting new people in bars…
Food: Food is spicy, be careful.
You have to be patient with yourself and people around and things are not straight forward.
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