Travelers Are Sharing The Biggest “WTF” Moments Abroad That Gave Them Serious Culture Shock

“Every time I visit the United States, I am taken aback by the sheer amount of it.”

If you’ve ever traveled, you’ve probably experienced some sort of culture shock — an event or situation that made you feel very far from home. So Redditor u/TeamDodgy asked, “What’s the biggest culture shock you ever experienced?” Here are some of the responses.

1.

“When I ordered French fries in Germany and the waiter drowned them in mayonnaise before serving them to me. It changed my world.”


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2.

“I moved to Italy when I was 10 and my mom would give me money to buy candy. The candy I chose had a not-so- insignificant amount of alcohol in it…which didn’t stop anyone from selling it to a 10-year-old kid.”


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3.

“Seeing beer as a combo meal option at a Spanish McDonald’s.”


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4.

“My husband is from Portugal, and when we visited I realized that a beer or a half bottle of wine is cheaper than a bottle of juice. Also, the food at rest stops along the highway is amazing. It’s not fast food, but a buffet of local favorites from whatever region you’re in.”


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5.

“I studied in France and I was shocked to see the cafés and coffeeshops turn into bars at night. They just switched the menu and went from selling hot cocoa to whiskey.”


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6.

“Getting shoved in a line in China with no eye contact or apology after. I was so offended at first, but then I realized everyone was doing it to everybody so I got over it.”


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7.

“My Italian culture shock was seeing locals bring their kids everywhere with them, including out to dinner at 9 p.m. Kids, even small ones, were well behaved, even when tired. I saw a few passed out on benches next to their parents after dinner.”


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8.

“My wife is Japanese, and on my first trip over we went to a yakitori restaurant to meet a few of her friends. Now I don’t speak much Japanese — and the man seated next to me spoke no English at all. He offered me a cup of sake, which I gratefully accepted. We said ‘kanpai,’ and drank the cup. Next, the man diligently refilled my glass and once again, I accepted and emptied the cup. He refilled it.”


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“We did this a few more times until I turned to my wife and said ‘I think this guy is trying to get me drunk! He keeps offering me more and more sake!’ She laughed and told me to stop drinking it. ‘If you drink it, he has to refill it!’ My efforts to be polite (finishing what was offered to me) were actually contrary to what was polite in Japan (leaving a bit of what was offered to show that you are satisfied).”

u/Dalivus

9.

“In Spain, they take siesta very seriously and actually close almost all shops, restaurants, and businesses. Everything just shuts down in the middle of the day.”


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10.

“Going to America from the UK and realizing almost no one has a kettle for making a cup of tea.”


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11.

“Visiting Mexico and watching all the locals walk around comfortably in long sleeves and long pants. The temperature was 95°F.”


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12.

“Walking into a Japanese convenience stores. They are amazing. My local 7-Eleven has sticky floors and gross looking pre-packaged sandwiches. The 7-Elevens in Japan are squeaky clean and have a great selection of gourmet, prepackaged lunches and dinners. Not only do they have a cold drink section, they have a special heated unit for hot drinks.”


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13.

“I had a roommate from Australia who was studying abroad in the states. We went out to dinner one night and I got mozzarella sticks. He couldn’t believe that in America we just deep fry cheese and then eat it.”


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14.

“Seeing the inequality in India. It blew my mind. In Delhi, you see people sleeping on the ground in dirt right next to mansions. Visiting the Taj Mahal was the most eye-opening experience. It is by far the most beautiful — perhaps most opulent — man-made structure I’ve seen on earth, but its surrounding by the saddest poverty imaginable.”


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15.

“How much beer is consumed in the Czech Republic and how cheap it is. You can’t even get a non-alcoholic beverage in a bar for cheaper than a beer. I did a little research and lo and behold, the Czechs have the highest beer consumption in the whole world.”


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16.

“In America, strangers smile at you when you make eye contact. Back in my home country, you might get beaten up for that.”


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17.

“America has drive-thru everything! There are drive thru coffee shops, drive-thru ATMs. Even drive-thru liquor stores!”


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18.

“Having to pay to use a public toilet in many parts of Europe. I am from Australia where there are free, clean public toilets everywhere.”


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19.

“The contrast between old and new in big cities in China. China is such an old country that you have ancient temples and monuments (some thousands of years old) located right next to hyper-modern shopping centers.”


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20.

“My friend and I were walking around Reykjavik, Iceland and we stumbled upon a stroller outside of a shop. There was a baby inside the stroller all bundled up, and there was no one watching this seemingly abandoned child. We walked up and down the road looking for the parent. Turns out, the mother was just in the store across the street. Crime rates are so low in Iceland and people are so trusting of one another that it’s perfectly acceptable to leave your unattended infant on the sidewalk.”


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21.

“Everything really is bigger in America. At Walmart, I saw the largest pack of M&Ms I’ve ever seen in my life. And it said ‘medium’ on the packaging.”


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22.

“I’m from the and have visited several places in the US. The biggest shock is how big the food and drink portions are. A regular sized meal in the US is easily enough for two people back in the UK.”


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23.

“I was visiting Toronto and I dropped my wallet in the middle of the city. About five minutes later a guy stopped me and showed me the waller and the ID inside. He had been stopping people trying to determine who it belonged to. Not one thing was missing.”


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24.

“The fact that you can drive for eight or nine hours in a single direction and still be in the state of Texas.”


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25.

“I was born in Korea and moved to US when I was 6. That’s when I realized for the first time that Americans actually eat things other than pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. I was shocked.”


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26.

“I visited Albania and there wasn’t a single chain store or restaurant. It was a strange experience to be in a large city and be completely unable to find a McDonald’s, Subway, KFC or Starbucks.”


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27.

“Going on holiday in Tokyo and watching 5-year-old kids walk themselves home from school or take public transportation without adult supervision.”


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28.

“Every time I visit the states, I am taken aback by the sheer amount and variety of food in US supermarkets. Compared to smaller markets in Asia, it’s a big change. I always think about how there are so many different types of produce, even things that aren’t in season. How on earth do they sell all of it?”


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29.

“Trying to cross the street in Vietnam. There are very few crosswalks, and in most places you look for a gap in the traffic and go for it. In Hanoi you just slowly walk into traffic. There are no gaps. You just maintain a slow walking pace and the traffic will part around you. It’s scary AF the first time you do it.”


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Have you had experienced culture shock while traveling somewhere new? Tell us in the comments below.

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