A Reddit user asked the community, “What was your biggest culture shock? and he got loads of really interesting answers on how everyone could perceive the culture of another people while traveling or meeting foreigners. So we thought we were going to share some of these big culture shocks with you, so you’ll learn a little more about our little world. Of course, it’s sometimes quite subjective, but it helps to put things into perspective.
1. A Dutchman who went to Canada found that EVERYTHING was VERY BIG
Big buildings, big cars, big restaurants, big stores, big cities… He felt very small in front of the immensity of the country.
2. Westerners visiting India are shocked by the poverty they face
In India, there is an unbelievable population density, there are people everywhere, and, above all, there is a lot of misery in the streets of the big cities (which are numerous). There’s even a name for foreigners who lose their minds over this culture shock: India Syndrome.
3. Europeans who move to the United States find that Americans idolize their politicians too much
It’s true that in our country we tend to end up hating them all, even those for whom we voted, whereas in the States they can defend their favorite body and soul and put up signs in front of their house for that.
4. Foreigners arriving in the United States are surprised at the number of drives that exist
They have drive thru for fast food places like us, but also for pharmacies, cafes, ATMs and even liquor stores. It must be weird, that’s for sure.
5. New Zealanders don’t care if there are birds in their buildings
A Canadian who arrived in New Zealand says he was surprised to see that there were lots of birds inside the airport and no one was paying attention. And it’s the same in supermarkets (which also happens sometimes in France). Finally, it’s not so bad like that, as long as they don’t make too much of a mess.
6. An American going to Japan is surprised that no one is afraid of flights
In Japan, you can easily put your bag on the street to do other things without worrying that someone will come and take it to run away. People don’t fly too much there, it’s cultural. And it’s great.
7. Conversely, a Japanese man was amazed at Americans’ distrust of theft
The Japanese, who are not accustomed to theft, walk around easily with large sums of cash. So when a Japanese Reddit user went to the States and pulled out a wad of cash to pay for a purchase, he was told to be careful and not show his money to everyone because he risked having it stolen. The guy didn’t think it was risky for him to have hundreds of dollars on him on the street at all, and so it kind of shocked him.
8. An American in the Netherlands was amazed at the good care he got from the doctor
The doc had read his entire medical file before examining it, and he got away with only a few euros to pay. It is sure that when one comes from a country where health costs an arm, that must shock.
9. Foreigners are shocked at the traditional Maori greeting
Traditionally, Maori greet each other by briefly cupping the other person’s nose and forehead. This kind of closeness can be surprising when you are not used to it.
10. Europeans are surprised at American puritanism
A European Reddit user says that at the pool, he changed into his swimsuit in the collective part of the locker room instead of going to the individual cabins. Everyone was shocked when, for him, it was normal. In Europe, we are a little less modest.
11. New Zealanders are often barefoot and it may come as a surprise
The Yannick Noah style, we’re not used to in our country (and in many others), but in New Zealand, they don’t hesitate. Given the state of our sidewalks in France, we are not sure we want to do like them.
12. A Norwegian is a little embarrassed that all American traders ask him how he is
In the United States, it is normal for a merchant to ask “How are you” to his customers. It’s even very common. In Europe, we are much less comfortable with this kind of attitude, which we will rather take as somewhat inappropriate familiarity.
13. A Norwegian (always) going to New Zealand is surprised at how easily people who don’t know each other talk to each other
Norway is a country where strangers don’t come too much to chat with each other. It even makes them a little uncomfortable. In New Zealand, it’s not a problem at all: someone you’ve just met can give you a pat on the back by telling you that his cousin has just bought a new car or bullshit of the kind.
14. An American finds that in France we talk about a lot of hyper taboo subjects
Talking about politics, sex or money at the table, with friends or even family, is not so shocking in France, but for an American, it’s much more delicate.
15. Aussies aren’t used to mozzarella sticks.
An American said that his roommate at university was Australian and that he hallucinated when he saw that they were eating cheese in frying pans. Like what we can have cultural shocks even for very small things.
16. A Canadian going to Puerto Rico is surprised to see iguanas replacing squirrels.
In Canada, as in England, there are squirrels everywhere in the parks. Like a lot a lot. Well in Puerto Rico, it’s the same but with the iguanas. We are the pigeons. Each his own.
17. Iranians have a very strong culture of hospitality
When you are invited to Iranians, you are treated like a king. They offer us a lot of food, make sure we never run out of anything and are always attentive, which contrasts quite a bit with our relatively sober welcome.
18. An American in South Korea will be surprised to be denied tips.
In the United States, leaving a tip is normal, and it is even automatic. In Korea, it’s quite the opposite: we don’t leave tips, and we even refuse them. So when an American is denied his tips, he may find it strange.