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August 12th, 2010 7:49 PM

Essential Skills for Expats 2: Flexibility & Patience

Topics: Living & Lifestyle

Written by: Mexico Insight

Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For a variety of reasons, which include bureaucracy, ceremony and cultural habit, some situations which develop in Mexico can appear quite frustrating to unwary foreigners. Sometimes it’s because one is “used to” things, especially supposedly simple things, happening differently (usually more quickly) than they might do here. Sometimes, the lack of something you really need or would very much like within a certain time frame can lead to frustration, inconvenience or even loss.

If you plan to live in Mexico, you’ll need to develop a certain degree of flexibility and exercise a generous helping of patience with yourself and with others; not just from time to time, but as a matter of course. If you are not of flexible character and cannot find the patience in yourself, you might find Mexico to be a very challenging place to live.

Many foreigners who have settled in Mexico and now make this country their home share stories about how they moved away from stressful lifestyles to find a more agreeable rhythm in Mexico. They tell how the process is almost cathartic—but only as and when they accepted how Mexico is and let go of once habitual demands which appeared to plague their thoughts. This narrative is epitomized quite well in Tony Cohan’s travel biography “On Mexican Time”.

Foreigners who come to live in Mexico and cannot find peace with how things are here usually begin to display impatience, frustration, anger and lack of general respect in formal or informal situations. Inevitably, these fall on “deaf ears” when dealing with most people. Furthermore, although Mexicans may not outwardly react to this conflictive behavior, the ultimate outcome in a situation is usually made worse for the hapless individual, through deliberate obstruction—or perhaps total rejection—of his or her wishes; not because it is impossible to fulfill them, but as a reaction to what is deemed impoliteness.

Remaining calm, allowing matters to take a natural course, being flexible with your plans and expectations, and exercising patience are noble pursuits anywhere you live, but in Mexico they are prerequisites. Being a foreigner in a foreign land means playing by your host’s rules. Given that there exists an estimated one million foreigners living in Mexico full or part-time suggests that the rules are not that difficult to adopt, and may indeed harbor some inner value.

To learn more about Mexican customs, read our guides to Society & Culture and Social Etiquette.

Foreign Native also writes many excellent articles with insights into contemporary Mexican culture and these provide an invaluable source of information.

Posted in:General
Posted by Craig Harrison on August 12th, 2010 7:49 PMPost a Comment

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