Growing up as a first-generation American, I've got the benefit of growing up with two very disparate cultures. There are the values and mores that are practiced in my house, like taking your shoes off before you go inside the house, having a bidet or some kind of butt-cleaning apparatus in the bathroom at all times, or a general distrust of the government.
Then there were the cultural values that my friends from school and characters on TV participated in. Things got only more variegated for me when I went to a private Islamic school that was predominantly filled with Palestinian and Egyptian students, who had their own familial mores they were trying to reconcile with their very Northern New Jersey way of life.
And while I've experienced my fair share of culture shock just visiting the homes of some of my friends, that did little to prepare me for some of the bouts of culture shock I experienced when traveling overseas.
And from this recent Reddit thread, it looks like a lot of other people experienced the same exact thing.
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, leaves 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
The house of milk and cheese.
I was in a small town in the Swiss Alps and there was a sign for fresh milk and cheese pointing to a house. We let ourselves into this empty unlocked house that was full of family photos. There was a refrigerator with a sign with prices and a little collection box filled with notes and coins. Unbelievable trust. Absolutely amazing milk and cheese too. - epigator
No turn signal stress.
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
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
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
Bells, it was the sound of the city that suprised 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 occasionaly by two stroke moped engines of course and annoying cars, but its the bells I remember. - ev_journey
Jamaican me crazy.
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
My British culture shock was drinking culture. Drinking in public? Hell yeah, beers in the park. Friday afternoon and school is out? Beers in the staff room, then head to the pub. I miss it. - racer_24_4evr
French restaurant culture.
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
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
It's not weird, you're weird.
Men saying hi to others kissing their cheek in Argentina. - arka_nia
When I visited Germany in the late 80s, I was amazed to learn that you could get a beer at McDonalds. Something about washing down a Big Mac & fries with a can of the local Pilsner seemed so wrong, I loved it! - Keefer1970
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
Non-Americans like our chattiness.
Muricans are generally super friendly and talkative with strangers. Thats pretty nice. - Basic-Cat
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
Slow-moving lines are fine in the USA?
According to my relatives who visited:
They found Americans' polite tolerance for long slow lines and cashiers literally moving at a snail's pace to be mind-boggling, especially given all the stereotypes of Americans being loud and pushy. - InsideOfKarma
American Public Transportation blows.
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
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
Everyone's packing at the Hoover Dam.
When I visited the US for the first time I took a tour of the Hoover dam, and it was quite scary that every guard had an automatic weapon. At one point while I was there someone stopped their car on the dam and got out, and immediately every guard was yelling at them to get back in and drive away. I didn't understand why until my parents explained that they could have had an explosive. It was an interesting experience, but that was quite frightening. - OddDiabetic