Overcoming Culture Shock


Culture Shock is experienced by virtually every expat. But how it manifests itself is different from one individual to another. This is particularly useful, because sooner or later, the decision to relocate to a new country may be undermined by doubt. So know this, questioning your decision to relocate is perfectly normal. 


It is very different to live on an island than it is to visit an island. During the discovery phase, new residents are entertained by the new places they see, the new people they meet, and the new norms which slowly reveal themselves over time. 


It is important to embrace change. Roatan may be better than your home town in many ways. That much may be obvious since you chose to leave that home for Roatan in the first place. But Roatan Island can also be less desirable in a number of ways.


  • Roatan is part of the third world. 
  • Roatan is behind in its technological offering
  • Governmental and political foundations are different
  • There are many cultural and custom differences

Knowing how to embrace change and not focusing on weather the change is better or worse than what you had before can be helpful. What is helpful is to simply know that change is guaranteed and it should be embraced. So maintain a flexible mind set and be willing to adapt and embrace change as it comes your way. 


Building a new network and community on Roatan is paramount. And best of all, new expats won't have to give up your existing social network. Technology allows you to keep in touch with old friends from home but they wont get you through the acclamation process. You will undoubtedly have to grow and nourish a new set of friends.


  • Volunteering
  • Consuming local services
  • Attending local events

Members of established expat communities in Roatan have been through the relocation process and know all too well what new exapts might be going trough. And this can be the basis for wonderful new friendships. 



Island Time

There is such a thing as "Island Time" and nowhere is this more clear than in Roatan. Not only does it observe island time because of the influence of its latin culture, but it also an island. Islanders also are known for a slow paced approach to work and life. Understanding and accepting the realities of island time can help you assimilate into Roatan's community more easily. 


  • Don't be in a rush
  • Be Flexible
  • Be understanding
  • Remove your watch


Being in a rush or doing business at the same temp that you would conduct business elsewhere may do more to frustrate you than it will to get others straightened out. Life outside of Roatan can be managed by the clock, but on Roatan, few occurrences adhere to strict timelines. 


Allow amble room for tardiness and time delays in your daily agenda. For example, if you need your landscaping guy to start working on your yard at 10 am, you may choose to schedule him for 9 am instead. And even then, its probably a good idea to have a fall back plan. Schedule the work to be done a few days before you need it to be done so that you can reschedule an appointment as needed. 


On Roatan, we use watches for SCUBA and for knowing when the work day is over. Beyond that, the watch offers a round about time of when things may get done. So dump it, or stop looking at the minute hand. Many transactions and appointments on Roatan are set by approximate times instead of exact times. Few on Roatan will question you being five minutes late.