When I first went to Paris, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the city's architecture, its rich history, and the plethora of local pâtisserie options.
I was also extremely disoriented and not ready for the cutlure shock.
Maybe it was just the particular establishments, but I was berated for changing the position of my chair at a sidewalk café to face my lunch date. I didn't realize all chairs had to face outward towards the traffic view on the street.
Again, maybe I was unlucky with the restaurant choice.
At another restaurant, my coke was brought to the table in a can with an empty glass. No ice.
When I asked for it to be cold with ice, the server came back with a single ice cube perched on a spoon and proceeded to pour the can's contents directly over the ice cube on the spoon, which hovered over the glass. He then took said spoon away – with the ice.
I guess that's how they roll.
And yet, I wondered if the French visiting the states were appalled at finding "cold" beverages being diluted with the melting ice cubes in their glasses.
Curious to hear of examples of culture shock from strangers on the internet, Redditor FloridaLife96 asked:
You can expect cuisine to be a huge difference from what you're used to back home. But there's more to what your palate experiences when it comes to food experiences in America.
"Chocolate soft serve ice cream. I could not understand why we didn't have that in Norway as it had to be the best invention i the history of mankind. I was 8 BTW."
Portion Control, Or Lack Thereof
"The size of your popcorn portions when I went to watch a film. My whole arm could fit in the box." – Stapes89
"I bought a popcorn+soda combo and the soda was like 1L. Hurt my arm holding it. I don't know how anyone can finish 1L in one sitting. My family can't even finish a liter during dinner."
"I was on a trip to LA a few years back. We went to see a movie, and holy sh*t there are so many types of soda. Where I'm from there's 2 versions of a soda: sugar or no sugar."
"These crazy motherf'kers got cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, orange, pineapple, birch beer???, Cherry limonade, grape, Banana, fruit punch, peach, Mango, cranberry, lemon lime with cucumber and the list just goes on."
Contrasting environments were either pleasantly jarring or completely disappointing for these Redditors.
One The Road
"How on one side of a highway there can be a full-on ghetto, and on the other side of that highway there can be a relatively nice middle-class or even upscale neighborhood."
"Also, just how many police cars you see all the time."
"I was awestruck when on my coast to coast roadtrip we first entered the plains of Texas. You could see for miles and miles in any direction. It felt like you could see tomorrow's weather in the distance. Later I was even more awestruck at the sights of your country's deserts and the canyons, including a grand one."
"How unglamorous LA actually is, compared to how it is depicted in TV shows/movies."
"Hollywood is the absolute worst."
"When I first moved here I couldn't believe how different things were state to state. Some states are more different from one another than neighboring European nations are."
"The spaces between door and door frames in public toilets...I mean do you want to make eye contact with someone while sitting there ?"
Perceptions Of People
People say New Yorkers are rude. We're just direct and tell it like it is.
Some say Los Angeles is too slow. Maybe you're too fast.
How people engage in different parts of the country can be fascinating for sure.
"How open people were to start a conversation with a stranger(me). Where I'm from people are much more closed off. The restaurant food portions. One meal is equivalent to two or three meals for me The lack of proper public transport ( except in NY) The fact that a lot of people consider a 2 or 3 hour drive, a short drive."
People Are Direct
"How direct people are. Been to the US only once (NY, Queens, 2011) as part of a student exchange. People are straight to the point. Most of the times they are nice about it, while still being very concise. Love that. Also, how big everything is. From roads, to the campus, to the dorm room we were staying in etc"
Reactions To Accents
"The number of people who find a British accent difficult to understand (asking for water was a consistently humiliating experience)."
"You guys really are obsessed with your military."
"People in the military and vets get treated like celebrities. Unless they're homeless of course, then nobody gives a sh*t about them."
As a Japanese-American, I was blown away by how different things were even in my native country.
What stayed with me after visiting Tokyo was how clean the metropolitan areas were and how the locals respected cleanliness. Even more shocking was the absence of litter on the streets and sidewalks despite the lack of garbage cans in public.
People literally carried their snack wrappings or empty beverage cans with them until they were able to dispense them in receptacles found in convenience stores.
I look forward to being able to travel again and explore other worlds and learn from their cultures.
Florida has earned the unfortunate reputation of being the progenitor of the "Florida Man" – an individual who commits really stupid crimes.
Examples of ridiculous crimes include a man having sex while stealing a trailer; the man who sets off fireworks inside a Wendy's; and a man who was caught watching the solar eclipse while trying to steal a vehicle.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Florida's reputation is not helped by the fact that a state law allows easy access for public records – which include police arrests.
The numerous bizarre headlines leave many residents planting face to palm as non-Floridians endlessly mock the sunshine state.
Which leaves many like Redditor broseidon_13_ to wonder:
"Here in Italy it's 'Man from Naples,' usually. I don't wanna be racist, I love Naples and Neapolitans, but there are some weird 'Man from Naples' headlines lemme tell you."
"As somebody who leaves in Avellino, that is roughly 2 hours from Naples I can confirm you they are the italian 'Florida Man.'"
"Here in Kenya it is our Governer. This guy broke out of jail, started a taxi Buisiness, said he hates politics, and proceeded to become Governer."
"Finland here, Nokia man. They be always popping pills and driving a head on crash to a moped-car and say they thought it was a semi-truck. Taking over a cop car and flipping the bird..."
"Or maybe Vantaa man, but that's pretty Helsinki centrist imo."
An Estonian County
"Im estonian and we have a place called Idavirumaa witch means east viru land and people there are like florida man mixed with a russian and drunk finniah man."
The Hungary Man
"Hungary: it's Miskolc. This city is Florida and Alabama in one place."
"Oh no. Florida and Alabama in one place sounds like a degenerate nightmare.. I'm from the North Eastern US (New England) and I would 1000% rather be euthanized than live In Alabama or Florida. Specifically those two states."
"Every city has its equivalent. In Brisbane, QLD, Logan man is probably the most infamous. My father contacts around the Logan shopping centre, and has a story every other week of the police clashing with the locals. About two months ago, one tried to burgle a Hungry Jacks (Burger King), only to find that the restaurant, which was still doing drive through, was still staffed. Shocked, he ran over the road, stole a car and posted admit his cunning theft on social media, which the police just happen to monitor. This was all within 24 hours of him being released from prison. 'Logan man' is typically the start of a great headline in a Brisbane news feed. The Aussie slang for a lazy, willfully ignorant, possibly deranged miscreant is a bogan (and yes, bogan from Logan is a source of much mirth and many a derisive headline)."
Things "Polish Man" Would Do Or Has Done
"Polish man, it's pure gold."
"Polish man mistakes iron for telephone"
"Polish man finds a bullet in his head five years after party"
"Polish man electrocuted while peeing"
"Polish man tries to bury wife alive"
"Polish man tries to rob a bank with a spoon"
"Polish man dressed as Gandalf stops an upcoming train"
"Polish man decapitates himself during a macho contest"
"Polish man blows up house after his family goes to a picnic without him"
"Lost Polish tourist made fire to signalize his location, starts a huge fire in Montenegro"
"Polish man terrorises a village with a tank"
The French Conflict
"For people from Paris, it's people from anywhere else in France, for everybody else in France it's people from Paris and sub-urban Paris."
"In Denmark we got Brian, don't know why though."
"I'm old enough to answer that. It's due to a radio satire program with a character named Brian back in the 80's/90s. It became popular to an extend where it crept into everyday language. Like tuned golf GTI became a 'Brian-car' etc etc."
Coming to America is quite the journey... no matter how one gets here. There is always an immediate culture shock. You may even arrive here speaking the language but the way of life can be daunting for most. We a unique group of people. We can take some getting use to. The social norms and customs may always be a hurdle. Everyone is just always gonna do their own thing. When in doubt, ask for details.Redditor u/TrustMe_ImDaHolyGhst wanted to discuss with everyone what are some of the ways getting use to life in America can be tricky by asking..... Non-americans who moved to the US, what are some social customs that have been the hardest for you to get used to?
All ThumbsThumbs Reaction GIFGiphy
According to my parents, it was people giving them thumbs up.
In their country of origin, thumbs up = middle finger in the US. So they kept jumping thinking they were being flipped off by random people. Took years for them to get used to it and understand no one was trying to insult them.
Be Car Still....
A friend of mine is Russian. Her parents came to Russia and was still getting used to America. In Russia when you are pulled over by the police you get of the car and walk over to them. Her dad got pulled over and so he got out and started walking towards them. He didn't know you are supposed to stay in the car. He learned that lesson very quickly.
Edit: He didn't die they didn't even shoot at him. He did get arrested though.
Not hugging, kissing on cheek or handshake when saying hi to family. I'm from South America.
I was an RA when some Cuban exchange students came for the summer (Canada). They reeled me in for a kiss when they showed up and I was like WTF IS HAPPENING?! Just like hauled me right in aggressively. It was cool but totally took me a while.
I Wanna Dancethe muppets dancing GIFGiphy
I still don't know how to get invited to parties, so there's that.
Also the drug TV ads with the long disclaimers while showing video of happy people living their lives. Really weird.
What. The. Fudge.
Carpet everywhere. I thought at first I had that beige, slightly too fluffy standard issue carpet in my first apartment because it was cheap and in a sh!tty area. Moved to a nicer place, still carpet. Visited relatives who have a really nice 5BR house in the best part of town: the same carpet! Add to that what someone already posted, that people don't take their shoes off, I am still bewildered. And don't get me started on carpet at high traffic public spaces, like banks, offices, and even /airports/! What. The. Fudge.
Saying "hi how are you?" to strangers and nobody actually answering the question.
The size of food serving when going out to eat.
Thanksgiving and black friday.
And lastly, the fact that every form I have to fill out, they ask my race.
I guess these are not technically social customs, or maybe they are, but I find all of the above very strange. Ugh, I'll never get used to living here.
So many differences....
Sales tax not being included in the price (got pretty used to it after 4 years, but it still occasionally caught me off guard).
Tailgating on highway (even people complaining about tailgaters were themselves often tailgating).
Porch sitting, people sitting on their porch and watching passers by.
Distances (drove coast to coast, I thought it would never end).
Most men being pretty knowledgable about cars.
Drive thru ATMs, never stopped being funny to me for some reason.
The Metrics....season 3 episode 10 GIFGiphy
Pounds. Ounces. Feet. Miles. I could never get the hang of it. I just still don't even have a concept of how long a mile is, and I lived in the U.S for 3 years. I completely acknowledge that I'm dumb, though.
Younger Ppl calling adults by (just) their first name. I'm from the Caribbean so can't help but referring to ppl as Mr or Ms. Even if Im familiar with them.
I was taught this growing up, but I learned pretty quickly to drop it. So many people come from divorced families that assuming a parent had the same last name as their kid caused a lot of awkward situations.
A Woman's Way
As a woman when I first moved to the US, I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn't do my nails, or color my hair, or wear makeup like my friends did. The way I grew up, women who were not celebrities didn't do stuff like that at that frequency. I felt like maybe I wasn't feminine enough because those things seemed so tied to femininity.
Edit: To clarify, of course I don't think every single American woman is like this, it was just that I didn't know a single woman personally that did those things growing up, perhaps it's different now.
Not THAT Word!
Only lived there for five months for exchange. I'm from Scotland, and we use the word c*nt often as a term of endearment. You will know when it is NOT being used as a term of endearment, it's all about tone.
My first week in the country I went to a house party where I said c*nt casually in conversation. I'm not joking when I say everyone stopped their conversations and stared at me. One girl was properly glaring at me and then told me to apologize to the person I was talking about.
Cue my Australian friend starting to piss herself and the both of us having to explain to a room full of people that it wasn't meant offensively.
Not exactly the hardest social custom but I just thought it was funny.
No Broad StrokesGolden Girls Rose GIF by TV LandGiphy
My immigrant wife has had to learn not to publicly state any broad generalizations whatsoever about racial/ethnic groups. Such things are commonly said in other countries but are less acceptable in the U.S.
2 Countries in 1....
Don't need to be from outside the us. I'm from the south and going up north is a culture shock.
Everything in the south is so ungodly slow. Northerner here and the weirdest part of traveling the states is how in the south people seem to be really nice but kind of generic about it. In the north we're kind but it is more "let me help this guy out" instead of " oh this guy's cool I'm gonna be really nice". I've lived in the north for some time and I don't think I could ever live south of Nebraska because of the culture.
The importance of working, being "productive," and being in a position to continuously generate revenue. I am a medical researcher and have been doing this for about 15 years in the USA now. To this day it bothers me that I have to justify the need for my research in terms of healthcare costs. For example, when writing grants or presenting research proposals to higher-ups: "Pathology ABC impacts 100000 people in USA each year, and as a result of this patients suffer a lot." - this should be sufficient, right? Nope!
What I'd write instead is something like: "Pathology ABC impacts 100000 people in USA each year resulting in expense of NNN dollars to the healthcare system and additional losses of MMM dollars associated with missed work and productivity." If the research study involves athletes, you've hit pay dirt. Accounting for all those missed seasons, practices, etc. is such a strong selling point. It does not stop there though. Any study involving longitudinal follow up now more often than not asks patients to provide information about their work status before treatment and periodically up to 1, 2, 5, or even 10 years out.
This so that drug and device manufacturers can boast about how quickly their patients are able to return to work and being productive. It would be nice if the system incentivized genuine, intense focus on value of life and value of quality of life. I have worked in other countries before and do not recall having to pay attention to expenses in this manner. It may have changed within the last 15 years though.
How hard it is to make friends in the USA. It seemed pretty easy from where I came (Europe), but after 20 years in the USA, I still don't have friends here.
Unless you two absolutely hit it off during the first conversation. Then you're allowed to be best friends. If there's one thing about you that doesn't match their way of life, they are most likely to end it quickly.
It used to not seem that way growing up before smart phones and social media. I think those two things have ruined how people communicate with each other.
SCORE!!aggressive high school GIFGiphy
Town and school spirit are a very big thing here. No one takes high school sports this seriously back in my old school in India.
I'm from New Zealand.
Lack of vacation days.
Weird as crap health system tied to employment.
Otherwise it is a pretty easy adjustment.
The taking themselves seriously thing is very interesting and I agree. Nearly every American I speak to seems to have a really strong internal narrative, as if they and their lives are part of a movie/television show. I recognize this isn't the most useful way to describe this impression I get but it's also the truest.
Walking into someone's house with your shoes on.
And waving, everyone waves. Wasn't sure why. Did they think they knew me? Did they need help?
I think the waving is more a sign of goodwill in America. I do it a lot when driving or using a crosswalk to signal a thanks to the person letting me cross or pass them. I hope this helps!
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Very attentive customer service. It felt almost psychotic.
Oh trust me, as an American in the service industry... it's an act. We have to act nice to you or lose our job. Internally we could often care less how your day is going, and would often prefer you never came in.
Where to Begin?
My wife is an immigrant so I'll pass on a couple that she struggled with.
Potluck dinners. Inviting people over to your house for a meal and then telling them to bring the food just isn't culturally acceptable in her background. She understands how the variety of foods can be exceptional and the amount of food automatically adjusts to the number of people, but it's a cultural form of hospitality that runs counter to offering what you have to your guests.
The way many American families raise their children until age 18, then send them out the door to make it or beak it in the world. In many other countries, you never stop helping your children by paying for more education (Vo-Tech or college/university) and trying to avoid student loans, they always have a place to live free of rent, and are quite involved in everyday life of the parents, even if just by phone.
The way Americans are so informal in addressing elders and people with the title "Dr" seems disrespectful. Titles would always be used and first names are only for people of approximately the same age and background.
Women have many freedoms and professional opportunities that are not open to them in some countries. This is a good attribute of the USA.
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Let's be real--the USA is a weird place.
If you live here, you know. It's like 50 small countries all tied together by a loose governmental structure. That in and of itself is already weird.
But there's so much more to the story that even Americans really don't grasp. Those who have come in from out of the country have an entirely new perspective.
Here were some of those answers.
Not The Telly You'd Like
How your medical ads show an old guy living life well because of X-drug. He has the best time, the wife is having the best time and it's all because of the drug making things better.
The end of the ad is full of warnings about how this happy drug can potentially kill you and your family, nuke your dog and make cats impotent.
Recap the cliff-hanger episode of life in Alaska before another ad break.
I went to Seaworld with my mum when I was in my mid teens. Halfway through the show, the performer (Not the whale) asked everybody in the military to stand up and the whole crowd gave them a round of applause. They sat back down and the show continued as if nothing had happened. Couldn't imagine anything similar happening back in Blighty.
When we were flying between cities, I found it weird to look out of the side of the plane and see towns mid-flight. In Australia, once you leave the city's airspace the landscape is completely barren until you arrive at your destination.
Wholesome Holiday Content
Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas is over:
The weirdest thing is that Americans will ask what you are doing for thanksgiving. Are you going to your family etc... When you say no. They invite you to their home.
(I was a student, My family was thousands of miles away, and I'm happy that the local Cracker Barrel is open and looking forward to a meal there)
My Professor did that. Invited me to his home. I had a good time, but it was strange. I'm meeting his uncles and aunts. and one little girl threw a tantrum, I had to take her to calm her down etc...
It was weird. But also wonderful. In my country things like this would never happen. You don't bring a stranger to a family event.
But I'm thankful things like this happen here.
American that just traveled overseas. I went to a great bookstore in Edinburgh and the cashier asked if I wanted to sign up for a rewards membership. This led to a conversation about how their CEO or something just took over Barnes and Noble in the States. I stated the closest B&N to me is an hour away, and the other cashier jumped in, saying how easy it is to forget how far apart things are in the States. He was just kind of baffled and said it often blows his mind. I moved 13 hours away from my hometown and I still manage to be in the same country, which seems like a foreign concept for most Europeans. When, in reality, I could have moved even further away and still been in the US.
Too Much Of All
Everything in America is huge. I don't just mean the people or portion sizes, because we all know about that- but the roads, the buildings, the ceilings, the space between everything... America is gigantic. It just feels larger than it does here. I'm Australian but I've been to Asia and size-wise it's similar to Australia, and I've seen Europeans say the same about America. Everything is bigger.
Free refills. Went to a restaurant with my dad (both German) and all of a sudden the waiter took away my drink with another perfectly good sipp in it and I must have looked pretty shocked. It was only then when my dad explained to me that you guys have free refills.
All Around Largely Different
For me as British bloke who only travelled for 6 weeks in the US:
Your public transport is largely poor but everything is built for cars and your cars are big.
You advertise not businesses but personalities a lot. So it's not that KGH Estate Agents will well your property but MARY HUGHTON WILL PERSONALLY SELL YOUR HOUSE (with a big picture of her face).
Random people will talk to you. I'm a Londoner so it is different up north in the UK but especially when I got to the southern states people were so happy to talk to random strangers.
You guys actually sit at the bar in bars. When we go to a pub/bar, we'll go with friends and rarely interact outside of that group really. You guys jump up at that bar and just start chatting.
Where homelessness is visible it's bloody awful. San Francisco was horrible for this, me and my (now) wife ended up making a load of extra spag bowl to give to the homeless people outside our hostel because it was shocking to us.
If I think of anymore I'll add them but it's Christmas Day and I should probably talk to my family.
Different Social Cues
Canadian here, I was blown away by how weirdly social people are with strangers. Like some random guy I've never seen before just starts telling me his life story on the street. He is super normal, and doesn't seem crazy, just wants to talk to me for some reason. But then also, the dude at Wendy's is loudly threatening some 16 year old cashier in front of like 45 people. I got the impression the Wendy's guy was uncool, but the other guy seemed normal, and where I live I generally assume that a stranger talking to me for no reason is either crazy or high.
Making New Friends
I lived for a long time in different places around the world, and something that I really missed when moving to a new town was the lack of a US-style bar where it was easy for a stranger to meet people. Outside of the US, it is rare to find a bar where everyone just sits and faces the same direction, whether or not a sporting event was playing on the television. Instead, they have a more 'pub-like' environment, where everyone is sitting in groups at their individual tables.
This makes meeting new people extremely difficult. Think about it, with the "table-style" bar, in order to strike up a conversation with a stranger, you literally have to approach them while they are sitting at their own table with their own friends. It's almost impossible to not look like a total freak! In a proper "Cheers" style bar, you can just say some random phrase to the bartender and if the person sitting next to you wants to talk, they'll just join in on the conversation.
Basically, In non-US bars, if you aren't invited ahead of time by someone, you are damned to sit alone in some corner of the bar.
When Redditor TheNewOneIsWorse asked: "Non-native English speakers of reddit, what are some English language expressions that are commonly used in your country in the way we will use foreign phrases like 'c'est la vie' or 'hasta la vista?'" they probably didn't anticipate the responses they received. Information like this reminds us that we live in an ever more connected world.