12 brave travelers share their most extreme moments of culture shock.

12 brave travelers share their most extreme moments of culture shock.

You don't need to travel to another country to experience culture shock (although if you travel far enough you almost definitely will). These Reddit users shared their most noticeable moments of culture shock and some of them were a matter of a different income level or small change in location. One thing though—anyone who microwaves fish should be charged with a crime.

1. In matty80's youth, he experienced what would become a defining moment in his life.

When I was a kid one of my mother's friends was a woman from a very tough background who had left her husband because he used to hit her and her children. She had three kids and was living in a two-bedroom council flat in a tough part of Glasgow. My mum met her because they were both doing part-time university degrees as mature students. She was studying to get a teaching qualification.

I became friends with one of this woman's kids when I was about 6 or 7. I'd go over to his house for the night sometimes and we'd generally wander around the local neighbourhood just doing what kids do. He always carried a rucksack and was always on the lookout for empty glass soda/alcohol bottles. If he saw one, he'd grab it and stick it in the rucksack. After a while I started bringing a rucksack along when I visited so we could double up on glass-bottle-carrying-capacity.

The reason he did this was that, in Glasgow back then, a sort of proto-recycling scheme meant that every one of those bottles was redeemable for 5p at any shop that sold them. They'd collect them, give out 5p per bottle, send them off to be recycled, and be reimbursed for their time by the local government.

We'd collect a bunch of these then, when we went back to the flat in the afternoon, my friend would proudly hand over a few quid in coins to his mother. He used to do this constantly and it meant - this being the 1980s - a decent little earner to help pay for a bit of the household expenses and so on.

I came from a family with a detached house in the suburbs that had two cars, two parents, two nice holidays a year, and no real worries when it came to money. Not rich, just lucky to be standard middle class. Meanwhile this woman was raising 3 children by herself while studying to become a teacher, in a tiny little damp flat in a bad part of town. She never asked her son to do what he did, he just took it upon himself aged 7 or whatever to go out and do it. It took me a while to understand what was happening but, once I did, I can honestly say it was one of the defining events of my life.

2. Kusinero had no idea parents could be so understanding and supportive.

My parents were the typical asian kind, hard to please and difficult to impress. When I graduated class valedictorian for 6th grade, my mother complained that i did not receive any other award like best in science or best in math...

When I fell down the ranks of top students (i was still in the top 10 though). My father told me that the reason he stopped attending school events was because he was ashamed of me.

When my elder sister got pregnant a couple of months before graduating med school, my mom stopped talking to her for a month. They lived across the hall from each other.

Unforgiving of failures... that was the kind of parents that we had.

When my girlfriend took her licensure exam for accountancy for the first time, she failed the test. I was with her when she told her parents about it.

To this day i still remember the shock I felt for what transpired that day.

We were seated in her dorm me beside my girlfriend and opposite us were her parents. She was finding it difficult to confess and when the words "i failed" finally came out the first thing her father said were "that's ok". Then my girlfriend started crying and her parents consoled her they were hugging and giving her words of encouragement, assuring her everything will be all right and that the thing to do is to move forward and try again. I just sat there watching them and feeling envious, thinking this is what parents should be doing for their children.

It came as a total shock to me this level openness and understanding.This kind of parent-child relationship was alien to me. I promised myself that if i were to become a father I would be like her parents.

I dont hate my parents though, they werent bad people, they just had ridiculously high expectations of their kids. My siblings and I had a happy childhood for the most part. Sometimes we would sit and talk about how crazy our parents are and laugh a lot :)


3. Listen to us, lasseft, all you ever need to say is "fine."

Recently moved to the US (9 months ago), and I am still not used to everyone asking me how I am doing. I am from Norway, and if the cashier ask how you are, you get embarrassed and don’t know how to answer.

4. As mozzimo has noticed, people eat food at all kinds of crazy times. But they all love food.

I am Thai, my collgueas are from Argentina and Spain. I eat lunch at 12.30hrs and they are shocked.

And the fact that for them lunch is at 16.00 is too crazy for me.

5. CDC_ witnessed something truly gross.

I grew up in a relatively poor neighborhood. Lotta rough shit going on there, but we won't discuss all of it. Suffice it to say, even at a fairly young age I was pretty sure I'd seen some shit.

In middle school I made friends with a kid that lived in the trailer park across town. The trailer park kids are a whole different type of poor. I remember the kid I was friends with as soon as I got there goes "let's go to the creek, Darius got his fishing pole back."

Ok... whatever the hell that means.

So we go down to the creek and there's this kid Darius and he's fishing in a creek and there's about 12 kids standing around watching him. Every so often he's catching a fish and handing it to one of the kids and the kid is taking the fish and running off giddy as hell.

He finally catches one and hands it to my friend, he and I skip off back to his trailer. My friend takes the fish... as is... puts it in the microwave, and then when the microwave beeps he takes it out and starts eating it with a fork.

I almost puked.


6. Japan is so orderly, as Raizzor learned.

Rock concerts in Japan:

You have a number on your ticket and everyone queues according to that number. Yes, they manage to queue of hundreds of people in front of a venue according to the order in which they bought their ticket. It's fair, if you buy your ticket early you can get the chance for a better spot and you have a chance to buy limited merch that is usually sold out after minutes.

When the venue opens, they call out every number and as soon as yours is called out you can go in. They do that every time. They do that at small venues with 20 people waiting and they do that at festivals.

Another thing, even after 2 days of festival, the venue is clean AS FUCK. Not one water bottle, not one wrapping paper or anything. I was at Summer Sonic, Fuji Rock and Osaka Met Rock... and it was clean everywhere.


7. Hand to hand, nose to nose, whatever greeting works. (via 0_1_0_2)

When a large Maori man asked to touch noses with me in greeting. The dude looked pissed until I manned up and was the first to touch noses. Then he had one of the best smiles I've ever seen on a mountain of a man. It lit up the entire cultural center.

8. They're both so crunchy! (via shorething0264)

Watching children in Mexico happily eating crickets like they were popcorn.
Also, 4 or 5 year old kids out at 10pm to sell gum.

9. The aptly named Reddit user eggshitter had a problem with the toilets.

Going to the USA and seeing that the water in the toilets is so full! How the fuck am I meant to shit without getting my arse wet?

Also NYC taxis will blare their horns at fucking anything. Pedestrian still on the crossing 2 seconds after the light goes green? Honk. Car in front of you gently brakes? Honk. Bird in the road? Honk. Bee in the car? Honk. The streetlights turn on? Honk. They’re super aggressive drivers


10. Theb1g had to stand in for an entire race?

Small town Oklahoma as a black man by myself. I was in a bar and was actually told "you know, you just changed my opinion about black people". It was by an older white guy who hadn't seen a black person in person since Vietnam.

Edit: that was what he said but he probably meant never spent time talking to any.

Edit: we had a long conversation before he dropped that nugget.

Edit: I took his statement to mean he hadn't dealt with a black person in any meaningful way but I wasn't going to argue semantics with him.


11. Everything is different in Japan. Did we mention how orderly they are? (via -pewpewpew-)

Holidaying in Tokyo and watching 5 year old kids walk themselves home from school and catching public transport...all by themselves.

12. Xabidar didn't have culture shock until he came home.

Weirdly enough, it was returning to America after spending years abroad in Albania. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, Albania didn't have any international food chains or restaurants, everything was local and (usually) tasted great!

I think what it was for me, was when I was going to Albania, I psyched myself up - I knew I was going to a foreign country and that things would be different; and they were. Most stores were no bigger than the size of my bedroom back home. Open air street markets were common and road-side shops were everywhere. Most people didn't own vehicles and walked or relied on public transportation.

But when I returned to America, I was just "going home" and didn't really think about it much. But after several years it was weird! The day after returning home, we went to a Costco. Walking around that place on that day was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Packages of food were HUGE and there was just so MUCH of EVERYTHING. We drove our cars everywhere and I realized my little hometown doesn't even have a proper bus system.

That was easily my biggest culture shock - and it was about my own.