When people leave the comfort of their home and familiar surroundings to visit (or stay at) an unfamiliar environment, the adjustment period can be fairly intense, especially if the two locations are completely different, such as going from a small rural area in the US to a large Asian metropolis.
But we can also experience the uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety that comes with this change even when moving from one place to another within the same country.
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So when the question “What is the biggest culture shock you have ever faced?” was posted on Quora, people who have gone through it immediately started sharing their stories. We collected the most interesting ones to show you that sometimes, no matter how much research you do, there are things you simply can’t prepare for!
I would like to share my culture shock experience after I came to Germany from India in 2016.
(The incident is not exactly about me, but I witnessed this).
It was my 2nd day in Germany and I had to travel to the university for completing some paperwork formalities. I chose to travel by local public transport bus. It was peak hour time so the bus is fully occupied by passengers. I was standing in the bus and after 5 minutes the bus stopped at one stop. The driver got off from his driving seat, stepped down from the bus, and came to the middle door of the bus. The reason he came was to help a handicapped person to get on the bus by unfolding a wheelchair ramp
All people were there, nobody made any noise nor any angry faces. I was stunned by looking at the scene that happened. Because in my country I have never seen such a gesture by a bus driver to help a handicapped person and that too during peak hours in a crowded bus.
The second cultural shock was just after 5 minutes when I stepped down from the bus at my destination stop. I saw the same person crossing the two-lane road on Zebra Crossing using his wheelchair. All the cars (more than 8–10) stopped on both sides of the road. There was no noise, no horn nothing. After the person successfully crossed the road, vehicles went off.
This moment really gave me goosebumps, that how can people behave so nicely and show such gestures and follow rules.
Image credits: Sagar Shimpi
Plastic surgery in Korea.
I know it sounds quite normal as so many people now are doing it. It seems like not a big deal but allow me to explain a little bit.
What shocked me is how many Korean people obsess with changing very small parts of their looks. They can always point out something they dislike about their looks and usually, it is something that wouldn’t even be noticed by others.
One of my coworkers decided that she wants her forehead to look a bit more round so she spent over $5000 to take some fat from her butt (she’s skinny, the butt was the only place to take that fat of course) to put on her forehead. I heard the liposuction was very painful.
At first after the surgery, her forehead looked swollen and after two months, it looked exactly like her ‘original’ forehead. I mean, what’s the point of going through that much pain and money to get a change that is not noticeable?
Image credits: Zhen Yan
Castles in Germany
I have never actually seen such castles. These kinds of structures always seemed magical to me. When I saw that there were such structures in Germany, I realized that castles were not just fairy tales.I was very excited when I first saw it.I’ve never seen anything like this before. I felt like I was living in the middle ages.
Image credits: DARK
*Eating up the banana leaf*
My friend from MIT was going to Tamil Nadu with me. He was a complete American and didn’t know ‘Indian stuff’.
We went to one of the local restaurants and ordered a full set of meal.
In Tamil Nadu, food is served on a banana leaf. So when we went there, he was perplexed but didn’t ask me a question.
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When we had finished our meals, I told him to stay here and take care of our belongings while I go to the washroom, and then we swap.
While I was not there, he started chewing the whole banana leaf
Image credits: Yash Mehta
It was when I went to Iran.
I was at a hotel and having breakfast. I poured some tea and the sugar was nowhere to be found. So I asked the waiter for it and was waiting for the crushed sugar that I’ve been using my whole life. Instead, he came back with small cubes of sugar..
So I took one and put it in my cup of tea and started stirring to dissolve it. But unfortunately, my tea got cold and the sugar cube was still intact.
And that’s when someone told me that I was supposed to keep the cube in my mouth and just sip my tea over it. I never got used to that and was never given crushed sugar for my tea even when I asked for it explicitly.
Image credits: Shifa Mujahid
There’s a pop-On one side, every meal is potato based. On the other, it seems not a single meal is eaten without a tomato in the form of sauce, pizza, salad, etc.
I grew up on the potato side. Every day was a form of potatoes – usually roasted as a side with a form of meat. To switch things up, there were also boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, and so many more I can’t think of.
Then I crossed the line. Obviously I’d had tomatoes in the form of pasta sauce or marinara, but never to the frequency or variety that they have on the other side of the border (yes, I’m being dramatic. Bare with me).
culture line in Europe called the tomato-potato line.
It was like my taste buds had exploded. Every meal had a new flavor and depth that I had never experienced. The tomatoes were different too – better quality, grown near to the location rather than being shipped hundreds of miles. So much more spice and taste can be incorporated into a tomato based dish.
Though I may be biased, I then vowed to never stay in potato territory for food. I learned to cook, reducing my potato consumption to maybe once a month, and have since relished in the variety of foods there are to try from so many different cuisines.
Image credits: Rose Orvil
I am an Indian living in United States since last six months. These two countries are very different in many ways which we already know. I am going to write about the cultural shock I faced at personal level.
I was born with deformity in one of my arms so I definitely don’t look like a normal person. And, I grew up around people who inadvertently made me feel I wasn’t one of them. Going to any public places would make me so conscious as everyone’s eyes would be on me. They would stare at me all the time, would feel sorry for me, ask me questions. Sometimes I would not be in a mood to give any explanation, but would still do just because I don’t want to be rude. After all these years, I started living with a belief that anything of this would never change.
I moved to US, and, it’s been six months, not a single person has looked at me as something was wrong with me, not a single person has asked me any question about why I am like this, not a single person thought or made me realize that I am not normal.
I appreciate them for respecting every individual as they are. This has definitely made me a lot more confident person than I ever was.
Well what’s all the hype about a toilet?
As the airplane arrived in Narita Airport, I, customarily, for some reason, go to the toilets. (I dislike using the plane’s toilets when we’re near landing)
When I opened that cubicle, I nearly got disoriented. Random buttons in separate menu screens astounded me.
I mashed all the buttons and I realized that there was a heater, a bidet water sprayer when you have to take a dump, and on some toilets, they open automatically when you come in. They even have an option to play music to help you concentrate when… doing your stuff!
I literally said “OH MY GOD!” in the cubicles, and pretty much everyone knew that I was a tourist, but you know what? Screw them. Lemme enjoy my time with this gracious toilet.
I was literally in front of the Lamborghini of Toilets. Let me bask in all the glory.
EDIT: Forgot to mention that the music mainly masks the sound you make when relieving yourself or taking a dump
Image credits: Markkus G. Rossfeldt
I was in a nice hotel in Japan. I got in the elevator with a young Japanese woman. When the door opened, I waited for her to exit. She did not move.
I gestured for her to go. To my surprise, in perfect English she said
“In Japan, the man always goes first.”
I saw this custom in action, as groups of Japanese were men first and women following behind.
Image credits: Wayne O Evans
A month back I moved to Brussels. Just after checking into my guest house, I came out to see if I could buy anything to eat.
So, I stand on the side of the road near the zebra crossing. There were no crossing light signals, so I kept standing thinking I would cross the road when its empty.
30 seconds on the road and I see cars are piling up. I have no clue, WHY?. 1 minute and I start wondering.
Then I see the the person first in the line calls me up. I thought he might be asking for direction. I reach out to him, he screams something in FRENCH.
I reply: English?
He went on like: “Cross the road, you stupid!”.
I ran across the road, stopped and realised they were stopping for me so I can cross the road. Pedestrians first.
Well, I couldn’t blame myself too. Dude I am from India, I am not used to such respect on the roads.
I try that in India, I might never see the road again.
I lived in the Netherlands for a couple of years then and my Dutch boss invited me to her wedding. There was a beautiful ceremony in a romantic castle and after that we were served some tiny snacks and petit fours.
After that we took a group picture and then the wedding manager announced that those who have a fork and a knife pictogram in their wedding invitation could proceed to the dinner hall and the rest can go home and thanks for coming.
So there we were, hungry and stuck in the middle of nowhere. Until one of our colleagues called her husband to pick us up by car and bring to the nearest train station where we bought ourselves döner kebab.
I still don’t get it, why should someone treat their guests differently. If you can’t afford a wedding dinner for everyone, it’s perfectly ok with me. You can go for an intimate wedding with your family or close friends or just serve cake, I don’t care. But not treating your guests equally completely blows my mind even 20 years later.
Image credits: Anna Kesselman
While walking on the streets of Tokyo, I realised that the streets are cleaner than any place I have seen (except Iceland of course).
This was not the culture shock though.
I was shocked when I couldn’t find a bin on the street to dispose off the empty bottle of water I had grabbed.
One of the locals in the hostel told me that they have very few bins on the streets.
It amazes me how the Japanese are still able to keep the streets so clean.
I have been to quite a few places around the world but I am yet to see the Japanese level of commitment to cleanliness.
Image credits: Abhinav Pathak
I moved to the US after getting married. My husband and I went to a restaurant on the very first day for lunch. We parked the car and went inside. Without waiting I simply walked and took a chair for myself at a table. I could see everybody staring at me like I’ve done a big crime. I turned around and found my husband standing near the door and laughing. Out of embarrassment I stood up, placed the chair back in place and walked away.
So then I came to know that a designated person specifically asks us how many people are there to dine and leads us to our table. You should enter only with him and not grab a table greedily.
I am from India and getting the table norm is: You walk in. Scan the area like a hawk. Find an empty table (sometimes an empty chair also would suffice). Sit and order your food.
Right here in the United States. I am a white woman, born in 1948, raised in Ohio. When I was around 16–17 years old, I took a bus to Florida. When I got off the bus, I had to go to the bathroom, so I stepped into the first bathroom I saw that said “women.” I then left the bathroom and stopped at the water fountain for a drink of water. Imagine my shock when I turned around and found a group of people yelling at me and telling me to get out of town and saying I was a very sick person, etc. I had used the “colored” bathroom and drinking fountain! I had never heard of such a thing and to this day (52 years or so later), I still find it disturbing.
The biggest culture that I have really shocked is eating food with hands in India.
after washing your hands, you should eat food with your right hand.Indian culture, the left hand is commonly viewed as dirty and unsanitary, and therefore rude to eat with. Avoid serving, eating, or touching any of the food with your left hand.
and the other point is that Avoid letting the food touch your palms. Hold the food near the tips of your fingers when you’re bringing it to your mouth.
That is a good experience, If you travel in India don’t be afraid .Try it!
Image credits: Jack Ball
Yes. They have two faucets. One feels like walking on the surface of the Sun, and the other as they say, is your ex-girfriend’s heart.
You cannot have anything in the middle.
They do not combine in one pipe like in the rest of the world, so you have to alternate between the two, and see how it feels to have frostbites and 2nd degree burns at the same time.
Meanwhile a letter from UK arrives.
Bloody hell! My Hogwarts invitation!!
Firstly, we call them “taps” not “faucets”. We should know, we invented the language.
Secondly, a day may come when my Kingdom will work on improving the plumbing system to a more advanced technology, but it is not this day.
Also, my dearest Prince William has already delighted us with 2 perfect children, so we do not require your genetic material.
Image credits: Silvana Popa
First few days in Australia. Friends invite me to go to the beach.
Friend reminds me, “Don’t forget your thongs!”
“Wait, what?! Thongs?!”
Thongs in Australia:
Image credits: Peter Kennedy
In Norway I saw this
It is a common thing to put on train doors to indicate that this carriage will not have a conductor.
Coming from a less developed country this was a huge WTF for me.
You mark on which carriages tickets will not be checked???
It is like writing on it “Travel in this carriage for free! No one will check tickets here!”
Why would you make it so extremely easy for people to cheat??
Image credits: Rita Jóñer
Not the biggest but the most recent – I learned that Americans don’t tend to have electric kettles in their homes.
Every home in the U.K. has a kettle. (It may even be true to say that every home in Europe has a kettle, though I can’t absolutely confirm that.) When you move, the kettle is the last thing to be packed and the first thing to be plugged in at your new house.
The fact that some Americans don’t have kettles is the clearest possible indicator of the differences in our cultures.
Image credits: Clare Celea
Hello all, I am an Indian and I visited Pakistan 4 year ago. The biggest culture shock I faced in Pakistan was how nice the people were to me despite being an Indian. I visited Lahore with my grandfather (he lived in Lahore before partition) and the people would always ask if we were Indian (we were Sikhs so I guess they can tell by the turban). I remember the first time it was when we visited a dhaba and the guy came to take our order, he asked us if we’re from India and when we said yes these were his exact words: “Tussi sadda mehmaan ho, tusi muft ke liye hi kha sakade ho” (You are our guest, you can eat free). We refused the offer but had no choice. This happened everytime, I had heard many stories of people talking about their grandparents in Punjab (india) and talked a lot about their friends before partition from elders. People there were very nice, I wish I could go again if getting visa was not so hard. Aside from visa, the biggest issue was trying to understand the Urdu-influenced Punjabi, otherwise it was amazing experience for me.
I landed in Malaysia for the first time in 2010. After settling-in myself at residence, I called my friend who picked me up to catch up further. I told him let’s have tea and he took me to a local Malay stall that sells tea.
We ordered “Take away” and the guy hands me over this plastic bag full of hot tea with a straw.
I was totally shocked as to who drinks hot tea with a straw? Apparently, Malaysians. To top it off, some of the locals ask to add ice and call it ice-tea.
It was very shocking culturally experiencing it but I got used to it with time.
Image credits: Muddassir Masihuddin
In China, whether it is in movies, TV series, or comics, when characters need to cover their face, they always cover the lower half of your face. But the opposite is true in the United States
Image credits: Samuel Whyte
My mum was on her official tour. She went to a restaurant and ordered a meal with salads, fries, veg. sandwich etc. She’s a vegetarian
When her order came she found something wrong with her sandwich and called the person serving her.
She- What have you put in to this sandwich?
He- Ma’am, it has cheese, onion, FISH, etc, etc.
She- Fish? I ordered a vegetarian sandwich, isn’t it?
He- Yeah.. Fish eats green plants. It’s vegetarian.
Few restaurants in Helsinki consider fish to be a vegetarian food. My mom visits this country quite often and she is now always particular about non-fish vegetarian food.
Finnish people have something called non-fish eating vegetarian, which is unknown in India!
Image credits: Bhavya Bansal
The first time I went to China on business, I casually strolled down Nanjing Road in Shanghai surrounded by sophistication and passerbys wearing Chanel and Prada.
Suddenly, a woman carrying a baby, dressed top-to-bottom in brand clothing stopped, lifted the baby up in the air allowing him/her to defecate. I was so shocked that had to stop and looked at the scene in horror. The baby didn’t wear a diaper under the onesie but rather had a deliberately made opening.
Surely, I thought this to be the exception vs. the rule until I saw it everywhere across China — moms allowing their children to go on the street and picking up their poops like we pick up after our pets.
In China, it is socially acceptable for kids to urinate and poop anywhere on the streets. Sometimes, you just see a kid while walking, squat and go!
Image credits: Dino Dionne
When the first time I was stepping my feet in Germany, I was shocked when I saw how people drink soft drinks almost all the time..In the morning before work, my colleagues will drink a can of Coca-Cola, and every time we have a short break , again always Coca-Cola or other kind of soft drink.
And not forget to mention, Red Bull..this kind of energy drink it’s seem becoming everybody’s favorite drinks to pump their spirit..
One package of can soft drink contains 24 pieces..and its common when I saw some of my colleagues have it in their room.
Image credits: Martenz Vandreva
I had heard that London is very expensive. When I landed there, after couple of hours, I went in a local chicken shop (as they call it, it’s basically a fried chicken shop) to get something to eat. I gave the order and asked ‘how much’? The guy on the counter said “Three forty nine” and I thought “Oh My God, London really is expensive man… A chicken burger for three hundred and forty-nine pounds.” I said sorry, I did not bring the money and went out of the shop to stay hungry rather than spending 350 pounds on a chicken burger.
In Pakistan, we do not use hundred most of the times when we are telling the price. For example, if the price is 150, I would say one fifty rather than one hundred and fifty.
Later I discussed this with a friend and you can imagine what would have happened.
The burger was 3 pounds and 49p.
When travelling around Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam I saw how much people appreciate immaterial things compared to the UK. One night in Vietnam I stayed up drinking with friends and convinced them to come to the beach to watch the sunrise, thinking we’d be the only ones there. The beach was packed with families & the children played all around. When the sun came up the whole beach burst into applause. It was such an amazing moment & made me realise in England people are too busy to look at the sky and appreciate the beautiful things in life, and I vowed to not become like that again.
After landing in Copenhagen airport I was looking for a drinking water tap to refill my waterbottle.
I couldn’t find a tap around me, so I went to a security personnel and asked her.
Me: “ where can I get water? “
She: “ It’s there “
She pointed her finger towards a toilet.
I didn’t get her. I thought she didn’t understand my question or my accent. So I asked her again.
Me: “ I mean drinking water “
She: “Yes.. vand.. It’s there”
I didn’t dare to ask her again. I went straight to the toilet and searched the premises.
She saw me roaming clueless and came to me.
She: “ see mister, you can either buy a water bottle for 60 krone in the store or fill from the tap in the washroom. It’s the same water. “
Same water? Seriously?
I stepped inside the toilet and was shocked to see many people filling their bottles directly from handwash taps inside the toilet.
I know water quality in Denmark is great, but not to the extent that they supply that even to the toilets.
The biggest culture shock which I have faced was when I had been to Germany.
German toilets have a flat plate like structure unlike Indian toilets, so that your excreta waits on it till you flush. You can appreciate it before pressing the flush button.
Image credits: Nipun Jain
Dong chim or poop needle
Dong chim is a popular prank that is played all over Korea. It involves using your index fingers to poke someone between the bum cheeks with as much as force one can muster.
This bizarre prank is very common amongst the children of all ages and is treated as normal amongst the adults as well. It is believed to have originated in Japan where it is popularly known as Kancho which literally translates to Enema
In the above image – a statue in one of the Korean cities representing the most played prank in Korea.
This prank is not only popular in Korea but is also very popular in Japan and Taiwan.
This prank is so popular that even video games are made on the Dong chim. The players are given an option to poke their fingers in the bottom of – the mother-in-law, gangsters prostitutes, ex-girlfriends and ex boyfriends.
Just to know about it is kind of a shock. I feel lucky that I did not get a chance to experience it
Image credits: Sarthak Khatri
When I visited Germany and went to the local swimming pool. After paying, I was directed toward a door. I walked in and found myself in a big locker room. Thing is, it wasn’t the men’s locker room. It was a joint locker room. There were cubicles most people were going into to change, but some were changing right out in the open. There were separate showers for males and females, but while I was showering I witnessed several women, in their bathing suits, come into the male showers to talk to their male friends or family members as they were showering. Nobody batted an eye at this or found it unusual. Then, walking into the sauna area, everyone was naked, and it was mixed gender. I had heard that was how it was before this, but actually experiencing it was a bit strange at first.
I took a trip to Egypt. I chatted with a shopkeeper in Luxor. After ten minutes of pleasant conversation, he asked me if I was married. I said, no I have never been married. He said “You POOR woman! You have never been able to find a husband? I can solve your problem! Let’s get married! We will be a perfect couple.” I learned that this is normal, that American women will get marriage offers after a ten minute courtship. Egyptian men work fast. They let you know right away what they want. In the hotel, in Cairo, I walked down the hall and smiled at one of the employees. He sprinted over to me and wrapped his arms around me. I learned that smiling and eye contact with get women instant attention. Egyptian culture is different than USA.
Cultural shock in U.S!
I see girls with bare legs wearing skirts when its like -10C outside. I asked one – don’t you feel cold? She said no, cuz i am hot 😉
Image credits: Maiwand Asakzai
Visiting Maharashtra for the first time.
I’m your regular UP guy.
The girls here in UP have to stay alert and aware of their environment. Most girls don’t take a stroll here unless with a group of friends or if her male relative is accompanying her.
But the Maharashtra is another picture, I had seen young girls and women loved to take a stroll in the night at 10.00PM after they finished their meal.
The girls usually go alone, and they don’t have to worry about their safety. It was like Iiving in other part of world.
In my stay here in Maharashtra, I have seen guys are more respectful toward females.
Imagine, if you walked up to your crush and ask her out, she rejected you’ll be furious. But Maharashtra guys take a ‘no’ respectfully and let the girl. I had yet to met a guy who stalked the girl or harrased her because she rejected him.
Although, there are lot of castes here. People don’t love to have their caste badge displayed.
Everyone mix with everybody, people don’t stuck to their castes.
Parents don’t discrimate among their daughters and sons.
Maharashtrian girls marry later, as that of UP. (The girls are usually married here when they turns 19)
Average Maharashtrian girl marries at 24, and surprising thing they are not forced into marriages. Parents make sure, their child will got best education irrespective of gender.
I would like to share the cultural shock that my mother-in-law faced.
She recently visited us, here in Canada.
We took her for an outing on the other day she landed. As we stopped at a crossing, she saw a homeless, so she asked me for some change.
The homeless started to bless my MIL in English.
My mother-in-law closed the car window and turned to us saying, “wow, here beggars also speak English.” She continued, “if she can speak in English, why don’t she get a job?”
I had to explain her that in Canada most of the people speaks English. It’s just considered a language here, not like India where it is considered as one of the major skills.
For many Indian still speaking fluent English means that the person is qualified to get a decent job.
She also shared it with her friends on whatsapp.
Some of my family lives in Poland. I was visiting my aunt there and out shopping at Tesco. We went to the checkout line and I smiled widely at the cashier. She gave me a dirty look and then started yelling at me. My Polish language skills aren’t the best and I looked at my aunt in confusion.
She responded to the cashier, “Relax, she is just an American. They are a lot less miserable than us Poles.”
The cashier was not used to smiles and pleasantries and just assumed that my smile was because I was making fun of her.
I just visited New Delhi, India for the first time, and here are the things that shocked me.
India is not the best place to visit during a pandemic and here is why. People spit literally anywhere and everywhere. You will find spit literally at every step you take on the street. It is so normal that no one is bothered by it.
Uber drives just casually spit from the car windows. Similarly, street vendors would casually spit on the pavement while they are talking to customers. This applies to everyone; the random people on the street, people at the hotel, people you see outside the malls etc. For the most part of the trip, I remember feeling anxious all the time because I was too scared of getting sick. We needed a negative PCR to go back to our country and I could not really enjoy the trip because I was paranoid and freaking out all the time.
We also went to see Taj Mahal and you cannot enter with any kind of food or drink. They had a bin next to the entrance for this which was completely covered in red spit inside and out. The whole area was covered in spit as well. I honestly cannot understand how people can be so carefree at a time like this. Pandemic or not, it is just unhygienic and disrespectful to others walking on the street.
I am based in China. It has been a pleasant experience to live in China. However, cultural shocks do exist.
#1 Chinese people take shower in the night (not in the morning)
#2 Drinking hot water: how come restaurants serve hot water in June, the freaking summer season?
#3 People asking personal questions, like age, salary, house buying plans, etc.
#4 Finding relationship at the workplace is way too common
#5 Men are expected to buy house before getting married (and pay EMI for the next 30 years). Too much of gold digging in China
#6 Sex “only” after marriage is still very much common
#7 In many parts of China, men pay a heavy amount of money to women’s family before getting married
#8 Bragging is a part of the culture. If you don’t post your updates on WeChat, you are not enjoying.
in Budapest, walking on a road just beside the footpath. There was a car behind me and I was unknowingly walking in the middle of the road, until I realized and made way for it. The person didn’t honk even once and kept driving behind me at the same speed I was walking. Really? Hats off to their patience?
When I came out from airport in Ghana, A taxi driver suddenly stopped and started making sound “Tsssshh Tsss” continuously. I was shocked. In India , this is almost like teasing a girl. I felt bad and asked my husband to hurry up and go home as soon as possible. But then I came to know that Tssssss sound is used to call someone or to get attention.
A mother was breastfeeding her child without covering herself and no one cared. I was surprised. Yes , no one cares about these things. (Update as many people failed to understand: it raised respect for the people in my opinion. )
Shops close after 7 pm .Almost all shops are closed on Sundays because people go to church. Slowly, shopping mall culture is ruining the peaceful life here.
In local markets people don’t use weighing scale . Stuffs are sold by either counting or bucket wise.
I have a cousin, who is married and lives in California. She has a son and two daughters. A few years ago, their family visited Mumbai as the kids wanted to spend time with their grandparents. They had been in Mumbai for 4–5 days before I went to visit them at my uncle’s place. My cousin told me that she took the kids to Essel World, Nehru Planetarium, museums etc.
I personally like Essel World so I thought the kids must have also loved Essel World. So I asked the kids, what did they find adventurous since they had been here.
Their answer shocked me! And I am not making this up.
And they said unanimously
We loved the auto-rickshaw!
The boy explained further. Its the same words the american kid and his twin sister used to describe our cheap daily ride and it goes like this-
“Its so open. And there’s no seat belt. He drives so awesome. Oh! And the way he swerves the three wheeler through the crowd and the cows is so amazing. I so much wanted to sit on the front with him, but mamma didn’t let me”
I was speechless!
Marriage to Maternal Uncle and Marriage between first cousins
I am a Punjabi. For us, maternal uncle is just like father and cousins are brothers and sisters. We tie Rakhi to cousins. Even my mother’s cousins’ kids are my brothers and sisters only.
But when I got to know that marriage of a girl to her mother’s real brother is a common practice in some communities/families in south India, I was in utter disbelief and shock. Till date, I cannot digest this.
A little less shocking but still bewildering is the marriage between cousins.
More than awkwardness, such marriages have much higher chances to give birth to children with major defects.
EDIT – I did not write that I am disgusted by this practice. Every culture/community has their own traditions. I am a person who respects everyone irrespective of anything. I wrote, it was a SHOCK, since we never heard of it in childhood when we had little exposure to other communities.
I was in Singapore this Feb 2017. Our tour guide proudly asked us in the bus to look outside and tell us what they notice or see different than our country – India. Everyone looked outside, few minutes passed by and people shouted “Traffic police?”. She said, “Yes! We have no traffic police. Everything is monitored on the CCTV cameras. One of the reasons there is so much obedience in public”.
When I was doing my Masters, I was a TA(Teaching Assistant) of a professor.
Being fair, tall and handsome he had only 2 pigs in his life, nothing else.
One day I asked him why he is still single ?
He said, “I had a very beautiful wife. We were in love with each other.
She had 2 dogs. My pigs and her dogs, they never liked each other.
They used to fight each and every day.
In the end, we got tired and I asked her to give up on her dogs.
She asked me to give up on my pigs.
And this is how we got divorced.”
In Malaysia, whenever my family are out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, we order several dishes to our table and we share it amongst us with rice.
One day, my Australian friends and I decided to eat lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The waiter seated us and gave us the menu. Everyone took turns ordering their dishes and when the dishes came, everyone picked up their chopsticks. I grabbed my chopsticks excitedly and picked up some of the food and shoved it down my throat. My friends watched me in disbelief and I had no idea what I done wrong until one of them called me out.
Turns out, I expected everyone to share their food together. Except, everyone took their own dish and ate it themselves.
I was so embarrassed that my face was as red as a tomato!
Still today, I wonder how some of my friends are capable of finishing the entire sweet and sour pork dish themselves without getting sick of the taste.
In Amsterdam Decathlon shop, I saw an Orange headset. I love orange color and I wanted only that piece which was for around 14.99 Euros. Then I noticed its right side clothing was bit peeled off. It wasn’t that noticeable so I asked him I’d have this one. He said, “Sir, I’d look for another piece. This has a slight defect.” Pointing towards peeled cloth. He searched for several minutes, but did not find an orange piece. He then billed it and handed me. I saw the bill with 11 Euros. He said, “Sorry about the piece. Since there is no other available and this one you see has slight defect, we offered 4 Euros discount”. He smiled and I really didn’t believe him. I was so happy!
We were in the Restaurant of Malaysia and I was very hungry at that moment. So like in India i just shouted loud “Excuse me” and then all the people in restaurants turned on my side and gave a very skeptical look like I asked for their sister’s hand for the wedding (usnke behan ka hath mang liya ho).
Then the waiter came to us and explain very politely that you don’t need to do that, you just need to write the number on paper (which I used like tissue paper) which are in front of food in menu and just hit the button (there is button placed over the table) and then waiter come and took the paper with a smile means you don’t need even speak with the waiter.
Then I understood why they all gave me a weird look
In China, every kind of animal is eaten, like the famous joke *everything having 2/4 legs are eaten in china except chair and table*.
But know which is the most expensive non-veg, The testicle of the bull. It is one of the first choice of non-veg eaters.
Dogs head, boiled eggs in urine, fetus, bulls testicle, there is nothing they deny to eat. Just name it and it will be on your plate.
During a trip to Costa Rica I noticed something that I considered fairly remarkable. If you’ve been on a road (in a vehicle) in Costa Rica you know things can get fairly scary – the roads are narrow and as a visitor it seems chaotic and dangerous.
However, what astonished me was how drivers behaved when someone was walking along the road. My wife and I were walking from our hotel into the small town of Puerto Viejo along the road after it had been raining. There was puddles and pot holes everywhere and it was nearly impossible for drivers to avoid them. As each car approached, I braced for an inevitable tidal wave that would soak us, but it never came. Every single car that passed went out of their way to slow down and in some cases drive off the road to avoid splashing us.
In contrast the college town where we had just spent several years – drivers would go out of their way to hit the puddles and soak as many people as possible. I’m sure you can find examples of the opposite, but this one experience did a good job of encapsulating the general feeling of kindness and generosity I’ve experienced throughout the country when visiting.
Ok so I read many answers to this question. But most of them were which they encountered outside their native country but I encountered it within my country and that too just a month ago.
My aunt recently shifted from Delhi to Ahmedabad. So in my December vacations we went to visit her.
My aunt told me that in Ahmedabad before marriage the girl can go and live with the boy’s family (on special occasions like Diwali or New Year) for few days with whom she is going to get married.
Based upon her stay, the girl can make her decision if she really wants to marry that guy or not.
And this is practiced by majority of people over there before marriage no matter from which background you are.
Whereas in Punjab or Chandigarh nothing of this sort happens.
But this cultural difference wasn’t a shock instead it felt so good to know that such practices also prevail!
In my own country, India. Reverse culture shock?
After living in Japan for 2 years, I met my Indonesian girlfriend. Telling this to my parents was already a shocker (my father honestly couldn’t believe I could get a girl to like me).
Fast forward a few days, we are all having a nice dinner at this old woman’s house who happened to be immensely religious. Everything is great, finally the self-righteous religious talk subsides, she is still the lovely old woman who fed me great mutton biryani, but she had to bring up my love life.
Lovely old woman who fed me great mutton biryani: You should be careful son. Don’t end up with one of those foreign girls. Who knows what those girls are thinking
The son who can’t get a girlfriend: Um..
Not-so-lovely old woman who fed me great mutton biryani: Your mother has sacrificed so much for you. You can’t shame her by bringing in those girls from other lands into our community.
(Mommy is already looking down in shame)
The son who can’t get a girlfriend: Aunty…
Annoying old woman who fed me great mutton biryani: You don’t already have a girlfriend in Japan do you? You can have fun with your girlfriends but in the end you should come back and marry our own Indian girls.
(The biryani tastes bad at this point)
The son with the moral highground: I already have an Indonesian girlfriend. She’s a good person. I don’t think you can change my mind aunty.
Things get really awkward from then.
So, I land in Dubai with my wife and miss the connecting Emirates bus to Abu Dhabi. With the next bus being almost 2 hours later, we thought of taking the normal public bus from Al-Ghubaiba.
As soon as we came out of the metro station, we had to cross the road and go on the opposite side to hop onto our bus. Since the signal was green for the oncoming traffic, we stood patiently at the crossing for the pedestrian signal to go green. A moment later the car approaching towards us stopped before the zebra crossing to let us cross the road. We didn’t understand this gesture, since the signal for vehicular traffic was still green. Indians will understand this situation better, since vehicles at times don’t even stop after the signal goes red.
It was later that we were told that in Dubai pedestrians have a right of way.
Mind blown; culturally total shocked.
My biggest culture shock was in the United States after I had lived there all my life for 14 years. It was when I found out that these rice cookers are not very common to have in a house. Growing up half Fillipino, I had one at my house, and all of my relatives had one.
I remember it really well. It was Eighth Grade Spanish class, our assignment was to explain a recipe in Spanish, of course I was assigned to do chicken and rice. I remember going up in front of the class and reading my recipe to them. As I explained how to put the rice in a rice-cooker (in Spanish of course), I was met with many confused faces from my classmates. It was then I realized a rice cooker is not as common as a toaster or microwave to many Americans because rice is not a staple food for the average diet of people here. Was I embarrassed? Not at all, but I was really shocked because of how after 14 years of my life at the time, I had thought most people had rice-cookers in their homes.
In 2014 when I went to Saudi Arabia for work. I was at this gas station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia refueling my truck. I heard a call for prayer from the mosque. It was prayer(namaz) time. Everything stopped, they closed the gas station, and shops and went to pray inside the mosque. I asked my friend why they closed everything, he said the Saudi government is strict about their religion. Islam comes first in Saudi. This never happened in UAE and in India. I was surprised that they closed everything for 10 minutes. You cant work at the time of Namaz in Saudi, it’s against the law over there.
And you can’t go near the holy mosque in Mecca if you are non-Muslim. You will see boards 50km from the city. In case you go near the Mosque and they find out that you are not one of them. Then you may rest in peace.
I was hazed during training at a fast food restaurant.
He was “teaching” me how to wash dishes, and he had me stick my hand in the grease catch. Then he flipped a lever, and hot water seared my trapped hand. My eyes bulged. I cried out, yanking my hand free.
I turned to him like, “what in the world, dude?” and in response he pulled the sleeves up on his grimy t-shirt, revealing a nasty selection of burns and scars of his own. He said, “In a kitchen, everyone’s got these.” Then he snickered and walked away.
At that moment, I was sad. Not because my hand hurt. I sprayed my hand off with some burn goo, and truthfully, my hand just made me mad.
I was sad because I knew that at this monolithic fast food company there was no way for me to change the culture. Every person in that place stayed as mad as I was clutching my burnt hand.
Even if I trained 100 dishwashers and thanked a thousand customers, leadership baked disrespect and disloyalty baked into that company like rat dung in a pizza crust.
There was no respect for the intentional creation of culture in that restaurant, which is a great way to create a very caustic working environment unintentionally.
When I work, I want to be making things better — not only for the bottom line of the company but the experiences of my coworkers.
Not I, but my mother did. My mother has two daughters. It goes without saying that she worries about their wedding and dowry. We are natives of Uttar Pradesh where dowry in the form a cash, cars, jewellery, home appliances is a common exchange.
A few years ago my parents were invited to attend a Gujarati wedding. It was a two day ceremony in Surat, Gujarat. First day was Garba night and next morning the actual wedding procession. It was an arranged marriage.
1) Guests were not expected to bring gifts. Everyone just handed envelopes filled with cash to the bride and groom in the form of blessing.
2) Unlike the lavish North Indians weddings, breakfast was a silent and simple morning affair. Lunch consisted of dal, rice, salad, papad, paratha, puris, roti, dhoklas, paneer, aam ras and kulfi as dessert. While uttapam was the only South Indian and non Gujarati dish garnishing the menu.
3) The bride’s family did not gift items like bed, cupboards, car etc. Neither the bride was accompanied with multiple suitcases ladened with clothes and accessories for her in-laws and extended family. Out of curiosity when my mother enquired about gifting laddoos to the groom’s side as a mark of auspiciousness. The groom’s mother waived off saying they have already ordered one box of sweets and their family is not much into sweets.
4) The next morning the bride was back to her mother’s place unaccompanied by her husband to bid farewell to relatives and friend.
I find this culture shock more like fresh air from the usual rituals. It gives a glimpse that our society and its thinking is changing. Even though it is a painstaking slow process but we are on the right path. Mother can’t stop talking about them. And I, well, what can a girl secretly hope for.
My biggest cultural shock would be from the time when I lived in the state of Mizoram, India.
I belong to the nearby state of Assam but the cultural differences are way too different.
My father was transferred to Mizoram and so, we had to live there for 3 years.
My first shock was when I saw that all the shops and the entire town closed down by 6:00 pm in the evening.
The next day, I woke up in the morning to jog around the town and saw the town was alive by 6:00 am again.
After a few days, I got to meet the local people and I found out that everybody there had their dinner by 7:00 pm. This was another cultural shock as I was accustomed to have dinner after 10:00 pm.
They strictly believe in early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
The biggest shock which I witnessed would be how westernised their society was. Most boys and girls in our class sat together which was no way happening in my state or the mainland. Definitely not.
Nobody will be judging you if you walk hand in hand with your boyfriend, hugging and other romantic gestures were quite normal there. Try doing the same in the mainland or even in Assam and the police will be on you.
Oh hey, and lastly, the towns were clean and nobody threw garbage on the road. Something we need to learn from them.
Early English dinners.
Listen. Growing up in India, I’d never eaten dinner before 8 PM.
When I arrived in Oxford, dinner timings at the buttery (canteen) read 4:30 PM – 7 PM.
The first time I saw that, I legit went in expecting snacks.
But no, actual full dinner. At half past four in the evening.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished class, gone back to my room for a nap, woken up at 8 and missed dinner at the college buttery.
The fact that I love my 5 PM tea doesn’t help either, because I’m meant to be having dinner at 6. Do I take tea at 10 PM then? Does that work? What.
Things only get worse in the *summers because the sun doesn’t want to set even at 9 PM.
Thanks to England, dinner now confuses me. Lol.
I am an Indian who worked in DUBAI for 6 months.
Unfortunately, the holy month of Ramadan fell in between the time I was there.
The biggest cultural shock in my life is that during ramadan, no one is allowed to consume anything in public by law, not even allowed to drink water. And mind you, the temperature in a “CONVENIENT” 50 degrees centigrade.
Respecting one’s customs is a good thing but forcing people to crave for water in such an uncomfortable weather is not just a shock but I felt that the law was itself archaic and unscientific. So dont get fooled by the glitz and buildings, Dubai is still middle east.
I am not a muslim and still I was forced to follow such practice.
All the muslims are supposed to follow the ramadan style of fasting by law.
So “RAMADAN IN DUBAI” was my biggest cultural shock.
I am going anonymous because I dont want to get jailed at the GCC airports for badmouthing the region. Frankly I dont expect much rationality and a fair treatment from the judicial systems there.
One of the first things that I have noticed are the vending machines. In Austria (and in the USA) you usually find them in big department stores. But in Japan, they were everywhere.
Every 100 meters or so, we pass a white vending machine selling bottled Green Tea, Oolong Tea (my favorite), Pocari Sweat, etc. There are 2.7 MILLION vending machines in Japan – one for every 50 people. All of them consume more energy in a year than a nuclear power plant can produce running nonstop for 4 months!
Moved from India to Europe for studies and work 2 years ago. The following could probably also apply to a lot other countries in the world.
1. Paying rent to stay at their parents’
I’ve seen a lot of my friends paying rent to stay in a house owned by their parents. In India, what is your parents’ is also yours. There is no way I’d pay them rent.
2. Not calling their parents over phone everyday
A lot of my friends (not sure if it is common or if its just with my friends) call their parents once a week or once in a fortnight. If I don’t call my parents before, during and after work everyday, I’m probably dead to them. I also have to call my grandparents, sister, uncles, aunts (a list that could comprise of 15 people, atleast) every week.
3. Civic sense and self-discipline
Now a lot of fellow Indians might disagree, but one of the biggest shocks to me was the basic civic sense people and children (who probably learn from what they see) have. I’m hoping us Indians get to this level very soon.
P.S – I don’t know why but I swear, kids here seem to make less fuss about everything as compared to us. It’s probably because parents clearly differentiate pampering and spoiling kids.