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21 people share the biggest culture shock they ever experienced while traveling.

21 people share the biggest culture shock they ever experienced while traveling.


Visiting another country can look so pleasant in photos. But in reality, landing in a new place can take some adjustment before it becomes fun.

A recent Reddit thread asked, 'What's a big culture shock you experienced while visiting another country?' The answers prove that the world is an insanely diverse place.

1. Those umbrellas wouldn't last an hour in the US.

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. - NobodyButMyself357

2. Driving in Florida is no joke.

Canada. I'm from Florida and I can tell you I was pleasantly shocked when I used my turn signal on the highway and people consistently allowed me to merge. - Icy-Pin-8226

3. People in Nordic countries will straight up leave their babies outside.

Was in Copenhagen and saw strollers outside of cafes. This seemed normal-it’s Europe, shops are small, strollers are bulky....until I realized THERE WERE BABIES IN THEM. Apparently it’s totally normal to just leave your kid outside and trust nobody is going to abduct them. The idea is the fresh air is good for the immune system.

Although Canada is relatively safe you’d definitely get arrested for doing that here! - etceteraism

4. Bigger is better.

I went to Canada (I'm european) and I was so shocked at the size of everything. I always knew North America had different dimensions but it's one thing to hear about it and another to see it. The cars, the roads, the meal sizes, the fridge sizes even 😀. The roads in Europe now feel more like bike lanes haha - discountedjelly

5. This just sounds shockingly nice.

Bells, it was the sound of the city that surprised me when I went to Amsterdam and for much of the city that sound was bells: bike bells, church bells, clock bells, tram bells. A constant background soundtrack of gentle ringing as you rolled through the city, or it rolled around you. It was broken occasionally by two stroke moped engines of course and annoying cars, but its the bells I remember. - ev_journey

6. Quiet people with small heads.

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.) - RoseyDove323

7. The US has a lot of armed dudes in uniforms too, to be fair.

Honeymoon in Jamaica. There were armed soldiers at checkpoints along the highway from the airport to the resorts. Also learned that due to the huge disparity in the value of the Jamaican and American dollar resort hospitality is one of the highest earning job sectors on the island. A single tip earned by a bartender would often surpass the daily wage of most other residents.

You were shuttled around to different pockets of beautiful beaches and lively entertainers, but if you lift your head up and took in the world around you the occasional time you left the tourist areas there was a stark contrast to how the average Jamaican lived. - Oclure

8. The curtain is somehow the most disorienting part.

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 - Northern-Nurse

9. European work-life balance is no joke.

In France the restaurants open at noon and close again at 2 until dinner time.

Everyone not a restaurant worker goes home for a 2 hour lunch.

I was a contractor in housing renovations there and in Canada before, where I would go to the Home Depot at noon or midnight because the lines were shorter. And get a mid afternoon snack.

Radical shift in scheduling a life and work combo. - vorpalblab

10. At least the food was good.

People in Japan love to stare at people who look different. I’m a very tall black guy and had people looking at me like I was wearing a mascot costume for 3 weeks. Food was amazing - nathanallan3

11. Legends only.

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. - asmeeks1

12. Wow.

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 😂. - Bhav2112

13. French people are serious about speaking French.

Was told French people ignore you if you don't speak French, learnt basic French, asked for directions in english out of habit and got ignored. - TheresNoFreeLunch

14. Well that sounds fun.

Riding motorcycles in Baja Mexico, our group of dual sport riders comes to a small military checkpoint (sand bags and automatic weapons) and all the soldiers want you to do a wheelie. - microwizard

15. Yeah, getting around the US car-free is not easy...

My first trip in the US was a conference in Florida. I was doing my Ph.D on a public research institute and was asked if I could try to reduce the costs. So I took a hotel away from the conference center and didn't rent a car. I mean Jacksonville is a big city, they must have a decent bus network

Well. Their buses aren't that bad. I love how you can put your bicycle on it and how they have a disabled-ramp. However, there is like one bus every 90 minutes… - Supernova-remnant

16. Sounds stressful.

Thailand. They used umbrellas to protect their skin from the sun for a 20 meter walk across a tarmac to board a plane. The umbrellas were provided by the airline and collected as people boarded the plane. I was aware that different cultures have different ideas about darker vs more pale skin but I hadn't witnessed that level of care before. - mcloofus

17. It doesn't get much fresher than that.

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. - ThatGuyFromOhio

18. This does sound totally different.

My first time leaving American was to India, I was alone and just landed after a 22 hour flight. My body and mind felt like I was dreaming, everything was completely different. The way people greet you, the food, the car steering wheel was on the opposite side and I would always get in the driver side when using a taxi lol the taxi person thought I was weird.

my hotel room was a experience on its own, the outlets, the constant power outage, the bathroom was a room with a toilet and a shower head on the ceiling so when you showered the entire bathroom was soaking wet, even the toilet paper. The constant honking from cars and the cows, dogs and monkeys, the loud noise was hard to get use to.

But at the same time these things were absolutely beautiful. Everyday was a celebration with some kind of festival, seeing everyone in the streets enjoying life made my soul feel renewed. The river and prayer. The walks through the jungle and seeing wildlife was my favorite part of walking to my school everyday. I can talk about India all day, it was amazing and shocking all at the same time. - KissingMyLips

19. It's a 'wasteland' all right.

US Suburbs. Compared to the German suburb I grew up it, it basically felt like a wasteland, without any playgrounds, cafés, restaurants, parks, doctors, pharmacists or anything beside other houses. It felt like a prison because you can either stay at home or you need a car. - HiopXenophil

20. Returning home can be the biggest shock of all.

I was travelling in South America for a longer period before corona. Arriving home (northern Europe) was the biggest culture shock.

People was extremely reserved and difficult to talk with. their biggest problems was packages arriving late, the food in the cantine at Work was not to their liking and their car was too big to park in the city.

Instead of just letting it go and enjoy everything else in life it was somewhat important to constantly remind others and themselves about all the minor nuisances in life. Haven't noticed this about my country before and it's still rather difficult for me to deal with. - HomieNR

21. Some cultures just aren't that into seasoning.

Not a 'big' culture shock, but when I asked for salt and pepper to put on my eggs, all the waitresses at this English café reacted as if I had just killed a puppy. Not lying wide-eyed stares of shock and horror, and my waitress literally asked, 'Salt and pepper, for what?'

Me, 'My eggs.' Her answer after a pause, 'Oh,' and she slowly walked off and returned reluctantly with salt and pepper. I felt like a monster. - Thorne628

Sources: Reddit
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