What Surprised People the Most After They Moved to a First-World Country?

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Moving to a new country can be intimidating. Many immigrants all over the world can attest to how hard it can be.

It’s true that some people deal with extremism and xenophobia, but the little things can also be equally surprising. One Reddit user posed the following question for a thread:

“People who grew up in third-world countries, what was the biggest shock for you when moving into a developed country?”

People gave all kinds of delightful answers about things many people in developed countries take for granted every day.

10. All Kinds of People

“This will possibly get buried, but finally an AskReddit I can relate to:

  1. Toilet paper. Toilet paper everywhere. You don’t have to bring your own to a public restroom because there’s one in every stall here in America, and it’s free.
  2. Restaurant service and food abundance. You asked for a medium well steak but was slightly over-cooked? You send it back to the kitchen and you get a new one cooked for you, and the server even apologizes for it!
  3. Black people. White people. Asian people. People with natural red hair. In my fifteen years living in a small town in Central America, I saw maybe two black people, a handful of white people, the one Chinese restaurant owner, and 0 red-heads. Now I get to see all kinds of people from all over the world, with different experiences and backgrounds. It’s kinda neat.”


9. A Clearer Mind

“Just how much of my mind was previously occupied by machinations of keeping my family alive. Like always subconsciously running through the drill of what to do in the event of an armed high jacking or house break-in, and being super vigilant around people and in various places, no matter the time of day.

I felt like at least 10% of my mental capacity has been freed up for other more productive thoughts like appreciating beauty and freedom, planning a prosperous future and trusting that the sense of security my family and I feel isn’t just a ruse.”


8. Giant Grocery Stores

“Grocery stores like Walmart, Publix, and Kroger. Huge and vast, have air conditioning, massive variety and tons of stuff I have never heard of.

Huge culture shock to me and my father in 2001 since we had no major grocery stores in Bosnia at the time.”


7. No Concrete Walls Around Houses

“I visited my cousins in the U.S once. I was suprised that your houses don’t have walls around them. There were only those fences at the side and back that pretty much anyone can jump over. Where I live the only houses who dont have walls surrounding them are those in compounds or subdivisions that have roaming security guards. Paid security guards not volunteers like the neighborhood watch kind of thing

edit: To the people asking I’m from the Philippines but its nice interesting to see that other countries carry this tradition practice.

edit: Not really a wealthy family but not really a from dangerous neighborhood. It pretty standard here to have at least a 2 meter tall concrete walls if you have middle income but those poor ones just settle with barbed wire.”


6. Almost No Theft

“How little theft there is. I was always told to always mind my bag and make it clear I’m holding it tight. Now I can freely leave it beside me, sometimes not even look! I’ve had friends leave a purse on a table in a restaurant and I made jokes about how easy it would be to steal it. Just a lot more relaxing in public due to less theft.

Another one is how less physical fighting in schools there is. From a young age I was always told ‘if someone hits you, hit them back harder’ but when we moved to UK my dad told me before my first day of school ‘if someone hits you, tell the teacher.'”


5. Different Assumptions

“I am from the USA, but I am currently in South America. Back home there are couples where if one texts the other and they don’t respond right away, they assume they don’t like them or that they are cheating or something. Here if you text someone and they don’t respond, you assume their phone was stolen.

I am attending a wedding next week in Buenos Aires and I needed to tell the bride something. She didn’t respond. After a couple of days I contacted her mother. Yep, phone stolen. Now she is trying to get in touch with people who are undoubtedly sending her messages.



4. A Working Postal System

“The postal system.

The logistics of delivering millions of letters to millions of homes on a daily basis is astonishing. Especially at that price.

The idea that I can send a letter across the country and have it reliably delivered the next or possibly even same day is truly impressive.”


3. These Tiny Things

“I grew up in South Africa and have been living in England for 20 years.

1.Cars stop when you walk up to a pedestrian crossing.

  1. Double glazed windows are really good at keeping the warm in and the noise out.
  2. I can walk around at night without thinking I’m going to get shot or robbed.
  3. There are only a few people on building sites and the buildings get built in a quick and organised manner.
  4. When things break – someone will come and fix it.

I could go on all day….

Edit: Wow, this thread has gone wild. Wish I could reply to all comments but there are a lot. These are just the humble observations of a SA guy living in North East England.”


2. So. Many. Lights.

“The lights. So many lights from street lamps, traffic lights, huge buildings lit up all night. Oh and the highways blew my mind. They were so wide and full of so many cars.

I was 6 and I’ll never forget that first drive from the airport to my new home in December. It was also my first time seeing snow.

Edit: I joined Reddit a few days ago and today I got some awards and coins I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with. Thank you! Also, I moved from a small Southern Croatian village (the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time, 1989) to Toronto.”


1. Things Are Cheaper!

“How much cheaper things are

The general feeling and expectation of safety

How most people follow laws and rules just as part of the culture, everyone isn’t always trying to get away with stuff. There’s always a few who break rules and etc but just the fact that lawfulness and orderliness are a cultural expectation is huge

How clean everything is – even “bad” areas are a lot of times nicer or cleaner than what I grew up with. There’s less graffiti, there isn’t trash everywhere all the time, and the rivers aren’t mostly sewage, and people even clean up after their dogs, there’s not just poop all over the sidewalks and everywhere

Being able to flush toilet paper.”


This definitely puts things into perspective for people who grew up in these conditions, right?

Have you moved from a developing country to a developed one? The comments section is open and ready for your observations.