We travel to experience different cultures and expect certain things to differ. But we often forget to think about the minor differences.
Small Things That Cause Culture Shock
Some things that seem second nature to us are drastically different in other parts of the world. Users of the popular r/travel subreddit share the smallest details that actually cause massive culture shock.
In most parts of the world, pharmacies are drug stores where you buy medicine to help you feel better. Travelers to the US are shocked to find they can purchase unhealthy products containing alcohol and tobacco at our pharmacies.
Travelers from Western nations are spoiled with fantastic plumbing and are shocked to find that some societies use trash cans to collect soiled toilet paper. Flushing the paper would damage the pipes.
British folks constantly play down negative feelings, even when they’re in physical pain. One user said that when a British person says someone “feels out of sorts,” they could be suffering anything from a minor cold to a coma.
People in Mediterranean countries keep late hours. They regularly eat dinner after 9 PM, leaving tourists from northern regions starving while waiting for the restaurants to open.
It works well for night owls, though.
Many countries require all companies to pay employees a living wage; thus, no one relies on tips to make a living. When travelers from those countries come to a country like America, they’re shocked at how much they should give in tips.
Some countries have lingering infrastructure from before we mastered modern plumbing. Many sinks in England feature two taps, one for hot water and another for cold. You can’t have warm water.
America was built for cars. It’s apparent in every aspect of our infrastructure but comes as a shock to foreign tourists who are used to walkable cities.
Clothes dryers seem to be an American thing. American tourists are shocked at how often they see clothes outside drying on a line, even in wealthy areas.
An American mom was shocked at how people from other countries treated her children versus Americans. She said when she traveled abroad, people were friendly to her kids. They acknowledged their existence and interacted with them. In the States, she gets annoyed glances when she brings her kids anywhere, and people tend to ignore them.
The ever-efficient Japanese created vending machines for nearly anything you could ever want. Hot coffee, soups, and even booze all come from delightful vending machines.
Almost every developed country does public transportation better than the US. Travelers from the US are delighted at how easy it is to navigate foreign cities, then come home in dismay and crawl back into their cars.
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.