People Share the Biggest Culture Shock They’ve Experienced in Another Country

Have you ever experienced true culture shock?

I’ve been to other countries, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so blown away that I was shocked.

But my brother taught English in China for a while and he said that was a huge adjustment for the first month or so he was there.

And a friend of mine went to India for work and said everything was so different: the sights, the sounds, the smells, all of it.

Maybe I’ll experience that one day…

AskReddit users shared the biggest culture shock they’ve ever experienced.

Let’s see what they had to say.

1. Japan.

“People in Japan love to stare at people who look different.

I’m a very tall black guy and had people looking at me like I was wearing a mascot costume for 3 weeks.”

2. They like to follow the rules.

“People in Germany actually expect every one to be punctual and respect deadlines.

It was so weird to me, when at my first party there, my friends were so shocked that I arrived one hour later than planned.

Whereas I was used to the fact that when “the party starts at 7PM”… It means it doesn’t start until 8:30PM.”

3. Utah.

“I went to Salt Lake City once and it was so weird.

Mormons are really nice to outsiders, but at the same time, far-gone religious nutters, so you’re getting this lovely guide to all the best bits of the city you neither asked nor paid for, and also simultaneously being preached to.

Very odd, and also the most American that entire holiday felt.”

4. Personal space.

“I’m from the USA and for me it was lack of awareness of personal space in Argentina. Don’t get me wrong I loved it there. But people don’t care as much about personal space.

Was sitting on the end of an otherwise empty bench all by myself while waiting for a ferry. Had my bag close to me so it wasn’t taking up needless space. Some women came over and sat ON the straps of my bag.

It wasn’t a small bench. There was plenty of room. But for some reason that I will never be able to comprehend, she felt the need to sit ON my bag. I had to get up and move elsewhere.”

5. Slums.

“Been living in Jakarta, Indonesia for almost 2 years now.

Its a beautiful city and it has amazing and glorious skyscrapers, yet on the other side of the city, you see slums in a dirty environment thats filled with a huge population living in poverty, with houses that seems like its about to collapse at any moment.

I knew slums and such existed but I never knew how terrible they actually were.”

6. Suburban wasteland.

“US Suburbs.

Compared to the German suburb I grew up it, it basically felt like a wasteland, without any playgrounds, cafés, restaurants, parks, doctors, pharmacists or anything beside other houses.

It felt like a prison because you can either stay at home or you need a car.”

7. City by the bay.

“First time I visited San Francisco.

That was a huge culture shock. The amount of homeless people and rich people living side by side.

Really reminded me of other third world countries. And a lot of it is manmade.”

8. Interesting.

“The entire Haitian district of Paris was a culture shock because of how unlike the rest of Paris it was.

They had open air markets put together with scrap, and our guide said that most of them were illegal but they had runners that would let vendors know if the police were coming.

He also said not to take too many photographs, especially of people because they DO NOT appreciate that.

That said, I didn’t hate it. It had lots of personality and was totally distinct from the rest of my trip, very memorable.”

9. Definitely different.

“I was working in Shanghai. Decided to get McDonald’s breakfast.

A cute girl sat next to me and started loudly chewing with her mouth open. Seriously, I thought she was messing with me.

Turns out that’s how everyone in China eats.”

10. Nothing to see here.

“Middle of town in Amsterdam.

Outdoor urinals with no walls.

You just lean against them with people walking by.”

11. Oklahoma.

“I’m from New Hampshire and spent a couple of years in Oklahoma for work. Christianity is such an ever-present part of life there. People bring up God in ordinary conversation.

When I checked out a local rodeo event, they kicked it off with a prayer. I don’t think I can convey how weird it was, since this relies so much on personal experience.”

12. Amazing and shocking.

“My first time leaving American was to India, I was alone and just landed after a 22 hour flight. My body and mind felt like I was dreaming, everything was completely different.

The way people greet you, the food, the car steering wheel was on the opposite side and I would always get in the driver side when using a taxi lol the taxi person thought I was weird.

My hotel room was an experience on its own, the outlets, the constant power outage, the bathroom was a room with a toilet and a shower head on the ceiling so when you showered the entire bathroom was soaking wet, even the toilet paper. The constant honking from cars and the cows, dogs and monkeys, the loud noise was hard to get use to.

But at the same time these things were absolutely beautiful. Everyday was a celebration with some kind of festival, seeing everyone in the streets enjoying life made my soul feel renewed. The river and prayer. The walks through the jungle and seeing wildlife was my favorite part of walking to my school everyday.

I can talk about India all day, it was amazing and shocking all at the same time.”

Now we want to hear from you.

What do you think is the biggest example of culture shock you’ve experienced?

Talk to us in the comments. Thanks!