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As a non-immigrant who's grown up in the United States, I simply cannot imagine coming here in the middle of my life.


People who depart their circumstances in a third world country and emigrate to the Western world must experience a relentless culture shock as they confront the need to adjust rapidly and make their way.

Some of the changes are horrible. But some are wonderful surprises.

Whichever way it goes, they are certainly nothing they would have ever imagined.

Redditor TheDinosaurKing777 asked:

"People who have left third-world countries for first-world countries, what surprised you the most about life?"

Plenty of people spoke to the way that basic needs are handled in first world countries. Their observations remind those who've grown up in the first world to not take it all for granted.

Just In Case

"There's toilet paper in most public bathrooms. My mom still carries toilet paper in her purse when she comes to visit me and we go out"

-- milanesaconpapas

Water to Blow

"Not me but from a friend: 'you have so much clean water that you even sh** in it' " -- ShredHeadEdd

"How else are you gonna clean up your sh**?" -- inckalt

"Or at work the other night I realized how privileged I was when I was closing my bar and melting my clean solid water with clean hot water, all for it to just wash down the drain." -- omgbbqpork

Capitalism: Making Seasons Irrelevant

"I'm 1st gen, but this is what my mom told me: 'You can get any produce you want here. You can eat summer fruit in the winter time. There was a snowstorm going on outside, but the grocery store still had strawberries and grapes' "

"So where my family is from, the produce available is only the produce in current season. You dont get to eat produce that cant grow where you live or if it isnt in the proper season. We take it for granted, but hey even in Alsaska you can buy Kiwis"

-- MedicalWelder

Stopping and Starting

"I've spent some time in West Africa. One thing that surprised me was talking to a very, very, very well paid employee of an oil company wanting to move to live in a not so great European country."

"Since he worked offshore he'd keep his job but didn't want to live in his home country anymore."

"When asked about why (I'm an immigrant myself), he asked me when was the last time I had a power cut at home. It would have been well over a decade then, it was an every day affair for him."

"Sometimes it's things that we don't even notice."

-- h2man

All The Things

"the fact houses came complete."

"I come from Brazil, there the houses come all empty when you buy them, no kitchen, laundry, anything. You have to buy everything. I'm not sure if this is changed or not since I've moved to America a long time ago."

"Another thing, safety. I almost died twice in Brazil and my mother couldn't use her cellphone or calmly walk out of a bank or even drive with her purse out in the next seat, everything had to be hidden or you could be robbed or even killed."

"Whenever I go to Brazil to visit I always get tense and I get panic attacks because of the violence, also didn't help the fact that I lived in one of the most, if not the most violent state"

-- griffinspells

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Others noted the legal and governmental differences they experienced.

Freedom to Insult

"How people can just openly criticize their governments without fear of repercussions. I always thought it was incredible that there were so many late night hosts who would talk crap about politicians and wouldn't be in any danger with the law?"

"If I tried even a fraction of what they said, I'll be having a very interesting time with the police."

-- mlyfen

Commonplace Bribery

"I remember being pulled over for speeding and my uncle who just got here was like just give him $5 bucks and I told him that's not how it works here, lol"

-- Freaking_Donk_2020

Well Thank God For This One

"my dad was very surprised the military doesn't force you to join or have random groups to kidnap for their own military groups! also my cousins were surprised helicopters can be used for things other than weapons!!"

-- Popular_Setting

Others captured how the more abstract, intangible elements of everyday life completely changed upon leaving a third world country to live in the Western world.

A Few Observations

"I'm not from a third world country but I spent a few years living in one."

"One thing that struck me when at home was how empty our streets are. Out in the suburbs where I live you very rarely see people walking about, over there people were always walking about no matter where in town you were."

"Fishing as a recreational activity was considered odd behaviour."

"Multi generational living was the norm."

-- stumpytoes

Peaceful Nights

"I've recently moved to Europe and what surprised me most was safety. It was surprising for me to see ladies walking alone at night (and I mean late night hours)."

"Another thing was that I'm now able to sleep at night without minding an a**hole breaking into my house and beating me to steal money I don't keep in my house for safety reasons."

"They still steal a lot of bicycles here, but I think I can put up with that."

-- BBQspitter

Choose Your Path

"Definitely the immense freedom and all the choices you have. Bored ? Just go for a walk in the park the cinema, the museum, the skate park whatever. No restrictions, no danger no dirty looks if you're by yourself."

"Hungry Go to a cafe and sit there, call a friend and go to the restaurant or even just pull out your phone and order delivery. Insane."

"Something else is the individual freedom and people minding their own business, how everyone rocks their individual style regardless of what other people might think. Where I come from everyone dresses the same, talks and acts the same etc .. everyone is constantly wary of each other and expecting the worse."

"So going to Europe and seeing people with crazy colored hair, trendy revealing clothes, smoking, walking their fancy dogs , riding their bicycles and, young people just hanging out, people smiling to each other and greeting strangers... just enjoying life and being carefree, I felt like I was in a cartoon. Needless to say, I felt really out of place and couldn't believe people actually lived like that ."

-- lotsofcheesepls

Palpable Air

"10yrs ago I arrived in Australia. The first thing I notice is the smell. It's so fresh, it's nothing like I ever smelt in the first 18years of my life."

"It smells like freshly showered - baked - bloomed flowers. I can't even describe it. It smells earthy good. I'm from the Philippines."

-- angel1492

Flipped Priorities

"How much of life is centered around working."

"In Latin America, family comes first. People work to live, they don't live to work. In the US, people will literally uproot themselves from their community and move across the country because their employer told them to."

-- Soft_Contest2038

Affording Mistakes

"You accidentally leave your things behind in restaurants/cafes and come back they are still there. And virtually zero petty crimes like robbery and pickpocketing. Super fast internet connection."

-- vinjie

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