Whenever you travel to somewhere that feels new or unexpected, it's easy to experience a bit of culture shock. So members of the BuzzFeed Community shared the experiences they've had abroad that totally shocked them or made them say, "Whoa, that's different." Here are some of their stories.
1."While visiting Japan, I couldn't believe how clean the streets were. I realized that people actually carry their garbage home with them. There are almost no garbage cans outside in public areas."
2."I'm from Portugal where food is a huge part of our culture and meals last basically all day. When I moved to the U.K., lunch was a big change. Most people have a very light lunch such as a little sandwich or salad. Back in Portugal almost everyone breaks for at least an hour to enjoy a hot lunch. My British friends are still confused when I tell them I’m making lasagna or a hearty stew for lunch."
3."I was shocked that in Mexican pharmacies almost all drugs are available over the counter. Even antibiotics and pain medications, or drugs that require a prescription back home."
4."I was in Tokyo eating at a restaurant and at the table next to us, a mom left her two-year-old son at the table while she went to go order. He sat there nicely and quietly and even put on his own bib."
5."I couldn't wrap my head around how late people generally eat dinner in Spain. Even sitting down for a meal at 10 p.m. is considered normal."
6."In Germany, we saw young kids riding the train to and from school alone and going home for their lunch break. Kids don’t do that back on in the U.S."
7."In China, it was wild to see scooters used as transportation for everything. I saw Vespas loaded with large wooden logs or children riding on the back eating a bowl of rice as the mother zipped through traffic. I even saw a mother nursing a newborn as she drove."
8."I was visiting Germany and went to refill my water bottle at my hostel. The water fountain had two different spigots. I filled up my bottle and took a huge swig of it before realizing it was actually carbonated water. Free, public sparkling water!"
9."In South Korea, their convenience stores were heaven. Dining out in South Korea is pricey, but the meals served in convenience stores were so good, gourmet, and a lot cheaper. It's nothing like the convenience store food you'd find back home in the U.S."
10."Seeing naked people on billboards in Europe was a big change from what I'm used to. The USA is so prude when it comes to advertisements."
11."Visiting the U.S., I was mind-boggled by the number of calories in American restaurant meals. The Cheesecake Factory has a 2,000 calorie pasta! Holy cow, that's an entire day's worth of calories in one dish."
12."Ordering food from a vending machine at a restaurant in Japan was surreal. You order noodles from a machine, then you sit at a booth with a curtain, and someone delivers your food when its ready and closes the blinds. It was a strange experience, though not in a bad way."
13."Where I grew up, the tallest building within 50 miles of my house was the five-story hospital. Going to New York City and being surrounded by skyscrapers was pretty surreal."
14."I ordered French Fries in Belgium and the waiter drowned them in mayonnaise before serving them to me. There was no ketchup to be found. This combination changed my world."
15."I'm European and I was shocked by the sheer size of everything in Canada. I always knew North America had different dimensions, but it was wild to see it for myself. Everything from the cars, the roads, the portion sizes, even the sizes of refrigerators were huge. When I got back home, the roads in Europe felt more like bike lanes by comparison."
16."I was shocked to see that at McDonald's in France you can order both beer and wine."
17."The incredibly cheap price of beer in the Czech Republic. A group of us drank beer all night and our final bill was roughly $23 per person."
18."In my home country, I'm average height. In both the Netherlands and Finland I found myself looking into many mirrors where I could only see the very top of my forehead. I was so short compared to the average woman there."
19."The quality of the fast food in London is so much better than it is in America. I ate Pizza Hut twice on my trip there because it was so delicious. The quality of the cheese was amazing for fast food. McDonald’s was also pretty good."
20."Visiting the U.S., I was blown away by all the options at the grocery store. How many types of ketchup can one person possibly need?"
21."Big living spaces. I am from Hong Kong where the average flat size is around 300-500 square feet. If you are in an apartment or home that's over 1,000 square feet, that's super luxurious by our standards."
22."When visiting my brother who lives in Switzerland, I was surprised at the amount of independence that parents give their children. I'm from the U.K., where most parents wouldn't dream of letting a five year old walk to school alone. My brother and his wife are perfectly happy to let their kids walk to school unsupervised, and the route even includes train tracks."
23."I was in South Korea in the spring and it was raining constantly. The bus stop to the Myeodong airport has no shelter — it’s just on the side of the road. When it rains, somebody (I’m guessing the nearby store owners) leaves umbrellas for people to use as they wait for the bus. There were so many pretty umbrellas hanging along the railing and nobody stole them. They were just there for anyone to use if they needed, and that was a huge shock for me."
24."In Eastern European countries like Poland, pizza is served with ketchup or mayonnaise. I was not prepared for it."
Have you experienced culture shock abroad or experienced something away from home that made you think, "Wow, that's definitely different?" Tell us in the comments below.