People Break Down The Biggest Culture Shock They've Experienced While Traveling
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Traveling is great!

It'll be even greater once the world decides to open back up.

Barring the worldwide pandemic that has many of us trapped at home, there was once a time when we could travel wherever we wanted. Usually that meant stirring adventures, spectacular sights, and a gaining of the knowledge that you really don't know as much about the world's cultures as you imagined you once did.

Reddit user, u/F-M-B-R, wanted to hear what blew your mind overseas when they asked:

What's a big culture shock that you experienced when you visited another place/country?

Clash Of Personalities

If you've spent your entire life never once traveling, you might be really surprised to find yourself like a small fish in a much larger pond. You've not learned the skills to adapt, to be polite, to go with the flow of conversations, and that will stand out immediately when you travel.

Introverted? We're British.

I went to England (I am American) and I am a quiet introverted individual, but in England it was so much easier to pass as outgoing and warm (because the British are more reserved in general than Americans are). And they don't force themselves to smile when they don't mean it as much as they do here. I remember being shocked when my boyfriend's mom thought I was outgoing. At home everyone thinks I'm too quiet even when I am trying my best.

Also the default hat sizes were smaller than they are here. None of the hats I tried on fit me. I almost busted up giggling when I then looked around at the strangers in the gift shop and realized they all have smaller heads than me. Then IL that Americans have big heads. (Or the British have tiny heads.)


Caffeine For Breakfast? That's Cute.

I visited Košice in eastern Slovakia. I went for breakfast in the main square and ordered a croissant and cappuccino. As I'm having my breakfast, two obviously respectable middle aged women are sat on the next table, having the sort of conversation respectable middle aged women have, both drinking pints of lager at 9.30am.


It's Time To Rest

Slower pace and stores closing in the middle of the day.

Italy, France.


Everything is shut 12.30 until 3.30 here. For some reason I find it super annoying. I tend to like going out at that time of day when it's not too hot. Luckily the supermarkets are open and really quiet so when I need to do a big shop I go during those hours.


Eggs? Egg.

My husband and I (Americans) stayed at an Airbnb in Venice with a Venetian man. He was wonderful and made us feel very at home. One day he asked what I like for breakfast. I said "usually we have eggs" and he looked at me like I had 3 heads. The next day he said "I got you AN egg" and pointed at it as if he had no idea what to do with it. Apparently it's not normal to have eggs for breakfast in Italy. His whole business was hosting tourists in his home, so I also thought it was really funny that eggs had never come up before.


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We Certainly Like Our Shooty-Pow-Pows Here

Militarism in America. It was perfectly fine to sing: 🎵"I may never march in the infantry, ride in the Calvary, zoom o'er the enemy, but I'm in the lord's Army" 🎵 In SUNDAY SCHOOL, with EIGHT year-olds.

That would not fly in Germany.

That was the most cheery children song about marching to WAR that I've ever heard.


Even America Can Surprise People Sometimes

According to my relatives who visited:

They found Americans' polite tolerance for long slow lines and cashiers literally moving at a snail's pace to be mind-boggling, especially given all the stereotypes of Americans being loud and pushy.


I use to run a social group for the international students when I was in college. I still remember one of them disappointedly saying "Where are all the fat people?" The media had convinced him that every American was rotund and it never occurred to him that it could be a misrepresentation.


The Care And Consideration For Others

Most countries are not America.

This is simply scientific fact. Because of this it means the way they treat their citizens is going to be radically different than the way we treat ourselves here. Nothing against living here, but there does seem to be a strange sense of individualism amongst us, doesn't there?

A Trustworthy Nation

I was in Myeodong, South Korea in the spring and it was raining. The Myeongdong bus stop to the airport has no shelter, it's just on the side of the road, but when it rains, somebody, I'm guessing the nearby store owners, leave umbrellas for the bus goers to use, which the bus goers use and leave hanging on the railing when they board the bus. There were so many pretty umbrellas hung along the railing and nobody stole them. They were just there for anyone to use and that was a huge shock for me.


Also the street markets there. One vendor had all the cash of the day in a big plexiglass box, notes sorted by denomination. When I bought something, he pushed the entire box over the counter, expecting me to put in my notes and take the change out. Anyone could just have grabbed this box full of money and make a run, incredible.

So much trust, so little crime.


You'll Never Want To Use A Public Restroom Anywhere Else Again

Is Japan's common technology and disability [accommodation] really this far ahead compared to the US? Those bidet ads are justified.


All The Little Things

Then there's the little things, the ones you couldn't see coming, that make you wonder why we don't do things like that here. It'll be a little bit of convenience, or public safety, that stands out the most when you travel abroad.

See You Later!

Went to Mexico for a month with a friend a few years back. We didn't stay in a resort, but in a little village in the mountains in the heart of Mexico where he grew up. It all was really a huge culture shock, but I think the thing that really caught me off guard was something I noticed the first day I was there. Instead of saying "hi" to other folks as people walk by, they say "adios!" I was really surprised that everyone was walking around saying good-bye to each other as they passed by. Apparently, if you say "hola" to someone as you're walking by, it's because you're stopping to actually talk to them.


I Want THAT One

I entered a restaurant in Beijing in 2007, and the lobby was lined with cages and aquariums, holding various types of animals -- ducks, chickens, fish, snakes, and the like -- and you pointed to the animal you wanted to eat, then they took it to the kitchen, killed it and brought it to your table for lunch.


In some areas without refrigeration this is how you can be sure your meal if fresh.

Went to a Chinese restaurant outside of Bangkok that did the same with a pig when we ordered a pork dish.


Ever Gotten Warmed Up Bottled Tea From A Vending Machine? You Haven't Lived.

Being in Japan, seeing vending machines everywhere and even ordering food at a vending machine in a noodle restaurant. Then you go sit at a booth with a curtain in front of you and they pass your food through the curtain and then close the blinds. Strange but not a bad experience. Just different. Also the jet lag of an opposite time zone can be brutal


Good Luck Crossing The Road

I'm from India and the traffic rules here are non existent. I was in Norway during a student exchange and when crossing the road, cars would stop to let pedestrians cross. I always heard about it and knew that it was common abroad but when it happened to me I felt so respected 😁. It was only after a month I could let go of the reflex of seeing a car stopping. It was such a nice feeling 😂.


Always have an open mind while traveling abroad. People doing things differently than the culture you're used to isn't an excuse to think they're wrong. They have their own way of doing things that's worked perfectly fine for them, so keep an open mind, open ears, and be ready for a beer at breakfast.

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