Here Are Some Of The Wildest Culture Shocks People Experienced During Study Abroad
"Pay-for toilets...There was nothing worse than having to pee like a racehorse and have zero coins on you."
If you've traveled abroad, there's a good chance you've experienced a culture shock or two.
Here are some of the replies (it turns out I'm not the only one thrown off by the public transportation of it all):
1. "For me, it was re-entry shock. After being so used to an efficient public transit system abroad, I came back to practically living in corn fields with zero public transport. I was frustrated by having to drive everywhere again 😅"
2. "The supermarkets in South Korea! Pure chocolate bars? Couldn't find it. The area with vegaburgers? Nope. Frozen and canned veggies? Barely there. Fresh veggies? Crazy expensive (just like the fruit!) and lots of veggies I missed OR never had seen before.
"That first visit to the supermarket had me almost in tears (and not of joy). Eventually, I found my way around (also shout-out to the food section on Gmarket!), but I was definitely worried in the beginning."
3. "I’ve grown up overseas for most of my life and just recently moved back to the US, to a pretty isolated town. The most shocking thing was just the ignorance and close-mindedness the people of my town express on a day-to-day basis.
"The majority of their families have lived here for decades, and they never have felt the need to travel or learn about other cultures. I’m technically American, but I’ve never felt so out of place."
4. "In South Africa, they drive on the left side of the road like in the UK. I never got used to looking right, left, right instead of left, right, left when crossing the street."
5. "Pizzas in Italy are not like pizza in America. They’re meant for one person, and they give you a fork and knife with which to cut it yourself. It’s hella good, but man, that one threw me for a loop.
"Also, no one has milk in their coffee after, like, 11 a.m."
6. "Not me, but a boy that had come from Europe for the semester. His eyes would bulge out of his head every time he’d walk into one of our houses and there were so many things inside.
"Apparently, in many countries in the East, they don’t fill their homes up with all this stuff.
"Another thing he’d constantly go on about is the drink sizes, and how he doesn’t need THAT much ice in his soda. Note, some Europeans don’t like ice."
7. "I was the first student from my country to receive a student visa in Kuwait. The Kuwait University female dormitories were heavily guarded, like a prison, 'for (our) safety as vulnerable females.'
"We had a 9:30 p.m. curfew every night where we had to sign our initials in this book in the presence of the 'ablas' (basically the female staff that worked there) and then were locked in the dormitory building. I had to get a letter from my Embassy saying 'for cultural reasons (insert name here) has permission to stay out after curfew tonight.' Even then, it was only a 1.5-hour extension to 11 p.m. We could stay out overnight with embassy permission, or if our husband/parents came to sign us out. Most of us were over 18. The boys' dormitory technically had a curfew to midnight, but it wasn’t enforced. Ours was. If we were late three times, then we risked expulsion from Kuwait University.
"I should also note that cafeteria staff were basically slaves under Kefala, and they had not been paid in months."
8. "I lived in New Zealand and Australia for a while, and something I had a hard time adjusting to was different cursing/swearing!
"They use the c-word very casually in both countries — it does not hold the same meaning or level of offense there as it does in the US. It took a lot of work to stop myself from flinching every time I heard it, though a lot of the AUS/NZ friends I made were nice enough to avoid it when I or other Americans were around."
"The US pretty much banned public smoking in the late '90s/early '00s, so imagine my shock when I moved to the UK for university in the '10s and smoking was everywhere."
10. "Studied in Barcelona for nine months, was a bit distraught by how late they ate dinner there (at, like, 9-10 p.m.)."
11. "Pay-for toilets. I mean, I get why they're a thing, but there was nothing worse than having to pee like a racehorse and having zero coins on you."
12. "The acceptance of children dropping their pants and going to the restroom anywhere and everywhere in China.
"Diapers are not popular, and baby clothes are built with either buttons or a slit to let a kid just go when they need to. Subway: acceptable, trashcans: acceptable, a bag in the middle of a restaurant: acceptable. Additionally, men going on the side of the road or in a bush in full view. I loved and miss my time in China (pre-2015), but these memories still make me laugh. I never saw this (aside from a drunk incident) in Japan or South Korea."
13. "Studied abroad in France; mostly in Paris, but the first couple of weeks were in the Loire Valley. THERE IS SO MUCH DOG POOP ALL OVER THE PLACE. NO ONE CLEANS UP AFTER THEIR DOGS.
"Nothing at all was done about it in the Loire Valley; Paris, however, had a poo-poo plan. Paris had Motocrottes. What is a Motocrotte, you ask? Literally a motorcycle fitted with a vacuum that sucked up the poop as it drove along the streets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVC0mThS32o — listen to the funny sound it makes when it sucks up the poop. After Paris, realized that the "Motocrotteurs" (drivers of the Motocrottes) sucked up only about 20% of all the poop on the ground; the fleet was discontinued, and they FINALLY started imposing fines up to 500 euros for people not scoopin' their own dog's poop. Some French cities still employ Motocrotteurs these days, but they're much rarer than they were between 1980 and 2000."
14. "I studied abroad in Argentina, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of red meat they eat."
15. "I grew up in Central America and went to university in Boston (so technically studied abroad). I was blown away by the fact that people calmly walked the streets at night and took public transportation.
"That restaurants closed so early (dinner was at 9 for me). How people dressed so casually (even for the east coast). Takeout is delivered in cars and not motorcycles!? CRAZY."
16. "I was a part of an exchange program and studied in Germany for a month. The "seniors" (really it was their 13th year), had a crazy tradition on their last day.
"They destroyed the school (not really, all fixable). They put paper all over the floors and flipped over desks, etc. The younger kids had to fix it all. They also spent their last day drinking (yes, at school!). They walked around with beer and water guns, squirting the younger kids. They would 'capture' the younger kids and write stuff in lipstick on their cheeks. It was good fun but definitely different than the US, especially drinking beer (or openly drinking lol)."
17. "When I studied in Germany and was at the music store, there was a 'Black' music section.
"All other music was categorized by type, but if it was by a Black artist, it went in that section. Similarly, at the club, they had a 'Black music room' that played hip hop/rap. This was in 2005, so not sure it's still done this way, but it was very shocking to me then!"