Culture Shock in Cambodia



Moving to Cambodia will be a discovery of many things about this unique country. One of these is the Cambodians' manner of everyday greeting. It is done with a bow while bringing both hands at the chest level. When dealing with foreigners, however, locals have been observed to adopt Western ways of greeting such as shaking hands. But among themselves, the bow is still the most perfect way to show a person that he is being recognized by another when they cross paths.

The locals are also fond of calling people with honorific titles such as "Lok" for males and "LokSrey" for females, followed by the person's name.  

Another thing an expat in Cambodia may find surprising is the seeming irrelevance of birthdays. Most are amazed to learn of this unique aspect of their culture, especially when people learn that older generations do not even know their exact birthdays. Locals pay reverence to the New Year though and call it Chaul Chnam.

Because Cambodians are very particular with hierarchy, it is best to research first on social gatherings and how this hierarchy is observed in the country. For example, during a meal, elder people should always be first to eat followed by the younger ones.

There remain many unique cultural traits among the locals even as they are slowly opening up to Westernization. For an expatriate in Cambodia, this can be both a challenge and an opportunity - a challenge because it is not the most comfortable country in the world to live in and an opportunity because living in Cambodia makes one a part of its journey towards the attainment of its goals as a nation.



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