Sometimes when we visit other countries, we can get a little overwhelmed by the local people’s customs or simply their way of life, especially if we come from a more conservative country. There’s even a term for that – culture shock.
Recently, Reddit user kkungergo asked people to share their biggest cultural shocks and they delivered. In less than a week, the user’s thread received thousands of answers, ranging from truly shocking to absolutely hilarious.
Check out some of the biggest culture shocks people experienced while traveling abroad in the gallery below!
Moving back to the USA I had reverse culture shock. How large our portions are, how fat we are, how high our standard of living is with such an incredibly low quality of life, the massive income inequality, the amount of homeless, the magnitude of our selfishness, how little we discuss art and science, and how we discuss things in a very competitive way so that there needs to be a winner or a loser in every discussion instead of finding common ground.
Image source: 2020isabadrash
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.
Image source: 0_1_0_2
I’m American and I had never left the country. When I traveled to Japan, I was seeing kids so often travel by themselves and leave their bags in places like at seats when they went to go order food, etc., without a worry of anyone stealing it. It was very surprising but also gave me a sense of safety I have never felt in the US.
Image source: littlebosleeps
Image source: zlta
I moved from Europe to USA. How Americans idolize their politicians. These are public servants, YOU PAY THEM! your taxes pay them, THEY WORK FOR YOU!
American here and I lived in the Netherlands for a bit. The first time I went to the doctor and he had actually read my entire chart beforehand.
Oh, and then the total for my visit was a few euro. That was a pretty big shock too.
Image source: 1000bugswritten
The sheer amount of nonchalant waste that Americans do took me off guard. They just… leave the faucet running or throw away food if it doesn’t look perfect.
Image source: fluffy_fluffycake
Holidaying in Tokyo and watching 5 year old kids walk themselves home from school and catching public transport…all by themselves.
Image source: -pewpewpew-
Coming from Europe, the public transportation in USA is absolutely rubbish.
Image source: lasseft
Had a business trip to rural Alabama as a fresh college grad. I’m Canadian and had never left Canada at that point.
The blatant, overt racism I found there was absolutely shocking. This was like 20 years ago, no idea if things have changed since… I remember thinking that if I wasn’t white I would be in legit danger most of the time I was there. We took our client out to dinner and he asked the host to make sure we weren’t gonna be served by a black person, like it was a casual request no different from asking to sit by a window.
Image source: dcmcderm
So I’m norwegian, but I went to New Zealand for a year. The culture shock for me was how open kiwis talk, and how there’s no such thing as stranger danger. And as a typical norwegian introvert, it took a while to get used to. I’d meet a stranger and they’d be breaking the touching barrier right away and start talking about their cousin’s rash and all their weekend plans. Even bigger shock returning to silent Norway.
Image source: kantartist
Image source: skyfelldown
Barefoot people EVERYWHERE in New Zealand. In Starbucks, in the mall, on public transit, walking down the street. No shoes, no socks, no [damns] to give.
That nudity was such a big issue in the US coming from Europe. I undressed to get into my swim trunks, all a matter of a few seconds, in the changing room and everyone looked at me like I had just murdered a kitten.
Image source: T-Max1893
When I was 20 I moved to Newcastle, Australia to study (Spoiler alert I didn’t study. At all). But before I went there I was told that in Australia they spoke English (Spoiler alert they didn’t. At all). Every single word is abbreviated, everything is different, everything has its own vernacular. Example:
Me, “Hey Shane, I’m going to McDonald’s, you want me to get you a breakfast burrito?”
Shane, “Oi Maccas Fair Dinkum mate! Had to ruck up early for the physio and me ute was out of petrol so stopped at the servo and asked the Sheila if they had brekky but noooouaahho just lollies so ive been getting aggro”
Dude, none of the sounds that just fell out of your head were words. Do you want a breakfast burrito or not?
Image source: Ask_me_4_a_story
I lived in Tokyo my whole life before this. First day going to college in the States, I went to the gas station to buy something. I had a lot of $100 bills with me because I didn’t have a card yet. The cashier literally told me, ‘You shouldn’t carry that many bills around. If I saw you with that on the street, I would rob you.’ I was like, ‘OK, thanks for letting me know?’ This was six years ago. In Japan, people normally carry/use cash for a lot of things.
Image source: 305_ps
I’ve been to Iran twice and they have this very elaborate and convoluted culture of hospitality. They say in Iran hospitality is an extreme sport.
So when you’re at someone’s house, you have to eat whatever they give you, and they will not stop offering, so you will be force fed until you’re sick. I found the only way to avoid this is to hold a full plate of food and pretend to be eating it.
If you compliment them on something, like a pretty painting on the wall, they will take the thing off the wall and give it to you to take home. Now this is where it gets convoluted, because they don’t really want you to take it. Yet if you refuse they will still act insulted. It’s all part of the show.
Image source: mostlyemptyspace
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 asked how you are, you’d get embarrassed and wouldn’t know how to answer.
Image source: lasseft
I’m a black South African, in my culture a woman doesn’t leave the house for about a month after she has a baby. This is to avoid things like infections, bad spirits and so forth for both mother and baby. Also for the first month she doesn’t do housework and must focus on the baby so usually family members come to live with them to help out. I was shocked when my English friend’s aunt was cleaning the house and going out to shop for groceries a week after she had the baby and she took the baby with her. Not to mention she allowed a stranger to touch the baby which is a big no no in my culture.
Image source: lola_92
Image source: yehboyjj
Dutch here. When we went to Canada, everything was HUGE. Big cars on big roads, big streets and restaurants and malls. I remember driving for what seemed like hours through suburbs, and I just kept thinking, ‘surely after the next turn we’re out of the city’, but the city just seemed to be endless.
At 21 I encountered people who took the bible as a history book. Including the creation in six days.
Blew my mind.
I was raised a catholic and we always were told that the bible contained moral stories, passed over through time.
Image source: —–iMartijn—–
In California, we have squirrels everywhere. Running around, climbing trees, getting run over.
We went to Puerto Rico for our honeymoon, where literal IGUANAS serve the same role. I’ve always been into reptiles and that was really cool.
Image source: blindfire40