People Share What Cultural Norms They Were The Most Shocked By When Visiting Another Country.

One of the most amazing privileges someone can have is the opportunity to travel and broaden their horizons through experiencing just how other people around the world live. The following AskReddit users share their own personal travel stories and what they were the most surprised to learn about when visiting other countries.

Source available at the end of the article. 


There are virtually no driving laws in Lebanon- and if there are any, nobody follows them, and they aren't enforced. Everybody drives like a maniac. Traffic is awful, everybody speeds. When going up into the villages in the mountains, people zoom around the narrow roads like they're on the interstate. Like these are two-way streets, they literally have zero regards for any potential drivers going the opposite direction. It's like they drive as if they have a death wish.

We were vacationing there once, and I got hit by a car when I was crossing the street from Burger King to get back to my hotel in Beirut. I was about 11 years old. The guy who hit me got out of the car and started yelling at me.

Preskewl_Prostitewt

In Chile, tomorrow means next week. Next week means never. I'm already there means I'm thinking about starting to prepare to go out.

For a ten-minutes-early kind of person, that was jarring.

theartlav 

In Croatia, it's a standard expectation that you clean the street outside your house as part of cleaning your house (at least in the small towns I was in... I'm not sure about the cities). The cleanest streets I've ever seen, and a real sense of communal civic pride.

Ech1n0idea

Balinese funerals and how they celebrate death. I was sitting on the beach on my first day there and heard a crowd coming, carrying food, and playing festive music. I thought it was some kind of party or wedding until I realized they were carrying a corpse.

wel4real

In Armenia, cigarettes are communal because they're so cheap. If there's a pack on a table, anyone is welcome to take one.

s0lidsnak31

When I went to Bangladesh with my girlfriend last year, we went to the city her father grew up in before he came to the States. I remember at one point we walked past a station and seeing people climbing on the roof of a train due to the crowding, some in business suits, was quite an eye opener. After seeing that, I have never complained about riding the subway again.

afc8

In Jordan (and I'm sure most Arab countries) if you compliment something, it's considered impolite for the person not to offer it to you. I thought the warnings were an exaggeration until my friend complimented a waiter's watch, and the waiter had it literally unlatched, trying to push it into my friend's hands. Four is the appropriate amount of times to say no, and if you actually do want it, it's rude to say yes after fewer than three.

machiavellisbitch1

In the Philippines, a man with a shotgun was holding the door open for me and calling me sir at a convenience store in Quezon City.

_fups_

In Spain, there is no chit chat from the waiter. None of that "I'll be serving you" stuff that we hear in the US. Just "tell me." My introvert-self loved it. I tell you, food arrives, I eat.

whatawonderfulword

In Germany, how clean the bathrooms are. I've traveled frequently to Germany for business reasons, along with rest of Europe, but Germany takes the cake in terms of cleanliness. Every stay I had there, I found my bathroom to be absolutely spotless. I found their bathrooms to be cleaner than the rooms.

AdClemson

Despite my parents being Argentinean, we eat dinner at around 7 or 8 pm. You should have seen my face when I went to visit family and found out that it's the norm to eat dinner there at around 10 or 11 pm.

Radioactive-Sloth

Malta traffic. People don't stop their cars at intersections without traffic lights. They don't even slow down. They just honk and pray a 'Hail Mary' or something.

gardenawe

As an Australian, land borders with other countries are a fascinating and magical phenomenon.

raggamuffin5

Seeing a whole family (mom and dad and two toddlers) on a motorbike.

jimbolata

Haven't really traveled, but I was born and lived in Russia until age ten. I came to the USA and everything was a culture shock. The three main culture practices that I still struggle to understand after almost 20 years of being here are:

1.Being expected to smile at strangers and in pictures, like all the time. 

2. Asking how someone is doing upon greeting, but not caring about the reply or even waiting for one. (Why bother?) 

3. Having ice in beverages by default.

Creektree8

Being British, I am an expert on the art of queuing. Whilst a lot of stuff about India shocked me, the lack of even the most basic queue/line was a cultural norm that really shocked me. Instead, it was replaced with a cluster of chaos to get on every train, bus, ticket counter, post office, service counter. It was like survival of the fittest in motion every place you went, and it was bloody exhausting.

anothercuppaforme

Nap time is everything in Spain. Visited Barcelona a few months ago, and it was my first time in Spain. Couldn't believe when my friend told me that all of the shops and businesses were closed because it was "siesta time."

Love my naps and all, but that just annoyed me. 

hyperactivepotato

I'm American and have been living in Senegal for the past month for work. Horses attached to carts are just as common as cars or any other mode of transportation, and they all use the same public roads. You see horses parked outside of buildings all of the time. Absolutely wild to me how two modes of transportation from different eras coexist so effortlessly, and no one minds.

lizardp3rson

A friend of mine had moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for work. She and some coworkers were going to Starbucks for their morning coffee. They were so busy talking among themselves that they had forgotten that there was a male and female side to the coffee shop.

She walked in, with her male counterparts, and the entire store stopped and looked at them. It was at that point they realized, she needed to go to the other side of the store with the other women.

creatorofstuffn

In the USA, the tipping culture. People are expected to always tip at a minimum or certain percentage.

steven_falls

In Nigeria, the men hold hands with each other when strolling. Women hold hands with women, too. I found it shocking in a nice way. Like best friends can hold hands, and it's never a romantic thing.

calsurb

Sans Jos, Costa Rica.

The streets are arranged in a grid pattern, with numbered streets (North-South) and numbered avenues (East-West).

However simple it would be to navigate such a pattern, taxi drivers have no idea where things are relative to the grid. You have to say "I'm going 100m north of the courthouse" as opposed to "I'm going to this address" or "Take me to 5th Street and 1st Avenue."

Before we caught on, one of our driver's freaked out and dropped us off in the middle of our ride (to our destination) because our way of asking was 'dangerous.' We were two tiny 20-year-old girls. What the...?

insane_casimir

Paying to use the bathroom -most of Europe.

Hotdog1776

Bulgarian head nods.

In Bulgaria, an up-and-down nod of the head means "no" while side-to-side means "yes."

Pandasx

Source

Have you ever found yourself in an argument so stupid and/or pointless that you were sure you were being punked? Like you keep looking away from the other person to check your surroundings for places Ashton Kutcher and a camera crew could come popping out of?

You're not the only one.

u/Anti-hollowkid asked: What is the dumbest argument you've ever been in?

Brace yourselves, folks. Some of these arguments are breathtakingly bonkers. The sheer number of people who are willing to argue with someone over provable facts and what that other person likes or doesn't like is just ... stunning. It's stunning, you guys. Just not in a good way.

I Know What I Like

Giphy

My wife and I once argued over whether or not I liked mustard on my hot dog. I was for me liking mustard, she was against me liking mustard.

The argument lasted way longer that you could ever imagine it would.

- AardvarkAndy

A Stair Step

My brother and I argued if our staircase had 13 or 14 steps, based on an argument about if the floor of the second floor counts as a stair-step or not. We still have no solution.

- RazerWolf04

My dad is a stairbuilder and I spent many summers working at his warehouse, so I can clear this up. 14.

- Apples9308

Saturdays

My husband and I have this thing where we only say "I love you" on Saturdays. Every other day it's "I love you, but only on Saturdays." I don't know how it started, but it's been going for 11 years now.

We're both shiftworkers, so sometimes we have to stop and think what day it actually is. We had an argument recently over whether it was Saturday or not. I said it was Saturday, he said it was Friday. It was Monday.

- FormalMango

Iraq

I remember when I was about 13 my parents had an hour-long shouting match that ended with them almost getting divorced. The issue? Whether or not the nation of Iraq has a coastline.

My mother arguing that Iraq had a coastline, while my stepdad argued that it did not. This was back in 2004, and they are still quite happily married to this day. That incident is something they look back on and laugh about, and both of them admit it was really a pretty stupid thing to argue over.

- dontcryformegiratina

$40

With an ex:

"I owe you $80 for the bills of ours that you pay, and you owe me $40 for the bills of ours that I paid. Here's $40 in cash; we're even."

She did not understand this.

I literally had to go get another $40 out of the ATM, and hand the $80 to her. Then I had her hand me the $40 she owed me.

"Now how much do you have in your hand?"

She still didn't understand.

She somehow has a college degree.

- Speedly

Mini Wheats

When we were kids my brother and I got in a physical fight because he said I like mini wheats and I insisted I didn't. His argument was that I always sang the mini wheats song and I was deeply offended that he wasn't aware that it was just stuck in my head but I hated the cereal. I actually did like the cereal I'm not sure why I was arguing with him about it but I remember how genuinely angry I was.

- shicole3

Crayons

Giphy

I'll tell you about the only legal trouble I've ever been in, the fight that got me arrested. It started over whether we should return a box of crayons or not, and to this day I don't have any idea how it escalated to the point of the cops being called, but they were and I was the one taken in.

- CorrectionalChard

That's Unfair

My boyfriend insisted that when two people are in an argument and one makes a point so reasonable and logical the other one can't disagree with it - it's unfair. I tried, logically and reasonably, to explain several times why that is just winning the argument, proving your point thoroughly and is completely fair.

His answer was that I was being unfair.

- ShyAcorn

Pure Masochism

How the ch in masochism is pronounced. My friend caught me saying "masoKism" while he would say "masoSYism."

To be fair, he grew up speaking French, in which the ch in masochism is pronounced in "his" way. But he insisted that I was the wrong one here and that was just infuriating.

- argofire

Emailing NASA

A woman was adamant that looking at the big solar eclipse on the television was unsafe unless you were wearing glasses. She wouldn't believe us and insisted on emailing NASA to check.

- derawin07

A Non-Standard Ruler? 

I worked for a company that made signs. We had a customer ask for signs that were 7mm wide that were to go on a door. Our sign makers figured the order meant inches because 7mm is pretty small, so made them 7 inches. I got a phone call from the customer who went mad at me for making them the wrong size. So I put a reorder through for 7 mm.

Argued with the sign makers over it but they eventually agreed to do it after I shown them the order in writing. I even had the customer put her complaint in writing, reiterating the size they wanted.

7mm signs went out and a day later I get the customer on the phone literally screaming at me.

Cue the dumb argument - we ended up having an argument over how big a millimetre is, and obviously everyone in the office were laughing, but this customer just wouldn't accept it and said we must be using a non-standard ruler to measure.

Ended up being escalating to the sales department manager who refused to issue a refund. We still don't know what they actually meant.

- Lovelocke

This Unusual Vegan Argument

Was in a pub with a few friends, and some random Dude dropped an ear, and somehow figured I'm vegan. Well, people like him are the reason I usually avoid mentioning it. He came up to me and insisted on starting a discussion about veganism. He claimed that by the end of it, I would be eating meat again.

He listed some stupid arguments, I told him I was not convinced and then tried to keep on drinking beer with my friends. He followed me, and wanted me to "try to convert him to a vegan." I stupidly listed some of my reasons thinking it would make him go away. He told me he still was not convinced, so I was like whatever. Again, I really just wanted to drink beer with my friends.

That dude followed me all night and expected me to try make him vegan. Doesn't matter what I said, and all the reasons that for me are obviously good enough to be vegan. He'd be just like "No, that doesn't convince me, therefore your argument and how you life is stupid."

Didn't matter how often I told him that I honestly don't care; 5 minutes later he would come up to me again "I'm still not vegan, so veganism is stupid, all your arguments were stupid, now give me a good reason to become vegan!" At one point, I was literally yelling at him that I don't give a single flying f about what he eats and why, that it's in no way my responsibility to "turn somebody vegan" and in no way his business what I eat.

Honestly, for that dude, I would have bought a whole ham, just to shove it up his stupid annoying face.

- onlytruebertos

Monty Python

In college my roommate and I argued about a line in Monty Python & the Holy Grail. The scene with the Black Knight where the line "Alright, we'll call it a draw" is uttered. We argued about who said that line, whether it was King Arthur or the Black Knight.

It went on for hours longer than it should have because I was stubborn and refused to admit I was wrong.

- Skrivus

Albert or Arnold

Giphy

Whether Albert Einstein or Arnold Schwarzenegger would be more useful to have around during a Zombie apocalypse. How on earth would Albert Einstein come in handy!?

- Gerrard1995

Below Sea Level

I live on an island and when you go upland and you look out the sea looks like it's higher than or on the same level as the land. It's just a weird perspective thing because of the horizon. One day some kid says that it's because the island is under sea level.


I'm like wtf bro all of us would be with the fishes. He argues that no that's not true and if I just go upland I'll see. We then spend a good 5 minutes of my time arguing about it until I decided to leave this kid in his stupidity. He even said we shouldn't believe everything adults tell us and sometimes we need to think for ourselves.

This kid was older than me and was going to a good school. Lost my respect for him ever since then.

- -justforclout-

Tomash

Someone tried to fight with me over how to spell my name.

Now, my name is in a lot of languages with slightly different spellings. I would have accepted any of those spellings, but this one was just... Not even close. It didn't make any logical sense.


An analogous example is if my name was Thomas and someone was insisting it was spelled Tomash. And not just the name Thomas in general, but that me specifically, on my birth certificate, was named Tomash. I know how to spell my own name.

I swear to god, it went on for like an hour.

- TK-DuVeraun

Whales Are Mammals

I was in an online chat room one day, and we were talking about whales. I commented on how whales are mammals and the next thing you know, someone was arguing with me and trying to convince me that a whale was a fish.

- kawaii_psycho451

Microwaves

Stupid microwaves. Having a man child talk down to me about how microwaves work only for him to google it and prove me right. He slept on the sofa that night.

- sun_phobic

Shower Schedule

My friend keeps telling me that the norm is that a person should shower once a week. This has been going on for years. I'm almost convinced he's trolling me.

- LibrarianGovernment

No Balloons For Grandma

My cousin and I argued over a balloon going to Heaven. We were at his big sisters prom send off and he let a balloon go and it went high into the sky.

He then said this balloon will go up past space and go to Heaven and reach grandma (God rest her soul). And I was like no it's not and it's probably not even gonna reach space. Releasing balloons is terrible for the environment and kills/harms so much wildlife.

He got really mad and defensive and started telling me to google it and do my research and I'm like I don't have to google it you idiot. He was mad at me for a good week.

- Dskee02

Spontaneous Dolphin Existence

Giphy

How dolphins reproduced. It took me a few solid minutes of explaining to her that dolphins have reproductive organs and that they did not just pop into existence. The argument began with her saying she wanted to work with sea creatures.

Personally, I hope she was messing with me cause I lost a little faith in humanity that day.

- thebeststory

Male Chickens

I repeatedly had the argument with a friend over whether roosters were chickens. She was convinced that only the females were chickens (hens). We were 18 at the time.

- bee_zah

Lightning McQueen

Me and my friend were drinking underage, we ended up in an argument of whether lightning McQueen's eyes were blue or green. Somehow throughout the whole thing both of us never thought to straight up google a picture.

- 23071115

But ... Ice Floats

Waiter/Host here.

Woman wanted ice on the bottom of her drink.

Now read that sentence again and try to imagine arguing with that particular brand of stupid.

- FarWoods

Time Zones Exist

Coworker claimed that it was the same time of day and the same season on the whole globe. Had to get 4 coworkers to confirm to him that time zones do in fact exist.

- JustARegularToaster

Colorblind

My brother is colorblind. And he CONSTANTLY tries to correct me on what color things are.

"Hey could you hand me that red _____?"

"that's orange"

"no, it's red"

"orange"

"YOU CANT EVEN KNOW"

It is the base of our most common and heated arguments.

- droneb2hive

Andre 2000?

Giphy

I'm late, but I saw this question and instantly remembered that I was booted from a Facebook group because I called someone out on a lie that was not only bull, but extremely pointless. She was friends with the moderator and they made the case that my argument over such a little lie was more of a problem than the lie itself (though they didn't refer to it as a lie.)


The woman said that she used to babysit for Andre 3000 and that his name was Andre 2000 - but he changed it after the year 2000 had passed. This was so easily disproven it was ridiculous. Their debut album came out in 1994 and he was already going by Andre 3000 at that time.

The argument wasn't a huge long drawn out thing, but the fact that either of us were on Facebook at separate times meant that the responses were over a long period of time so this argument lasted a few days.

It was stupid.

- P1ST0L_Wh1PP3D

Stars Like Our Sun

I was arguing with my grandpa about stars he didn't believe that there are other stars like our sun. Basically he thought there is only the sun, the moon and the earth.

fox_boi2

Richard Nixon

I have a degree in history. I mostly focused on nationalism. Wrote a 50 page paper on it and Richard Nixon with around 50 100 sources. Looked at micro film for hours on end. Part of the paper focused on how Nixon being chair of the house committee of Unamerican Activities was used as a powerful weapon to use against political enemies. It also inspired Joe McCarthy. Have had people tell me I was wrong and Nixon was never elected to a position besides the president and Joe McCarthy came before Nixon. I stopped trying to talk history to people.


I also know quite a bit about the history of the Balkans its amazing how many Serbs refuse to believe Tito did anything wrong.

Wrote 100 page paper on nationalism in Israel. Its frustrating to talk about because for some reason a lot of people think Palestinian firing rockets randomly into Israel is ok but if Israel retaliates the people get up in arms over a targeted air strike that kills 3 people.

grumblecakes1

Balloon to Heaven

My cousin and I argued over a balloon going to Heaven. We were at his big sisters prom send off and he let a balloon go and it went high into the sky. He then said this balloon will go up past space and go to Heaven and reach grandma (God rest her soul). And I was like no it's not and it's probably not even gonna reach space.

And he got really mad and defensive and started telling me to google it and do my research and I'm like I don't have to google it you idiot. He was mad at me for a good week.

Dskee02

Binder Clips

I got into an argument with a co-worker over how we were attaching two pages of a letter together: small binder clips or paper clips.

He felt that paper clips would leave a "dent" in the paper when removed, but binder clips won't. He refused to staple them together. I felt that binder clips would also leave a "dent", so we might as well just use the paper clips.

It ended with him saying: "Do what you want [me], I don't care!" and storming off.

justantherredditgirl

Jewish

Once got accused of faking being Jewish. Why? I have no clue. We argued over the course of a month, any time I'd bring it up and she heard about it, she'd begin going after me for "faking it".

My mother's side is ethnically Jewish. Grandparents were practicing.

Aslkurloz

Nutella

Giphy

3 friends and I once got into an argument about how to pronounce Nutella. It lasted for about 3-4 months. It was hilarious how serious we took it, it'd get heated but never for real serious.

I think someone even called the company that made it to check, or that may have been for the Cheetos company. We were really bored in high school.

vault_tec_redditor

Lingerie Boxes

Late to the party, but there it is.

I'm a manager at a small store. We're only 4 working there, so my team and I grew very close and we joke around a lot. Once during a slow shift, my employee and I had an argument because we were looking at the lingerie boxes, and I thought that two specific boxes had the same woman on it, but she was 100% positive they weren't the same person.

Looking back, I don't know why it was such a big deal to us at the time, but we even called another employee who lives across the street to come and tell us what the heck was up with that. Turns out I was right, and she was pretty salty about it. It was a great night.

Meh75

Wicked Witch of the West

I almost got into an argument with an old girlfriend over Glinda the good witch from Oz. She insisted that Glinda was manipulating Dorothy to assassinate the Wicked Witch of the West and convince the Wizard to leave to create a political void she could fill.

I conceded the issue when I heard the whole premise because I thought it was too damn stupid to get worked up over.

weirdatwork2017

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Just the other day I legit got in an argument with my co-workers on why I don't like my butt being grabbed by anyone (I'm a guy). Seriously.

They went on about "I don't mind it. Mike and I do it all the time and we don't care." Yeah, that's nice dude, but I'm not you, and there's something called "Keep your hands to yourself" (which was taught to a good portion of us growing up). Just like how Karen wouldn't like it if I touched her boobs or her grabbing your crotch or frankly ANY area you wouldn't like being grabbed, keep away. In general, you should not be touching me in any areas after I've told you not to several times before.

So unless you're sleeping me or dating me, keep your damn hands off my toosh.

Frisby2007

Telekinesis

My best friend and I argued over whether or not telekinesis was possible. Her argument was that humans don't yet know what the human brain at 100% usage was capable of, and that telekinesis was inside the possibilities.

I said the brain does use 100%, just at different times.

We didn't speak to each other for four days.

dude_bizarro

Ghosts

How dolphins reproduced and whether or not ghost existed (back to back with the same person). It took me a few solid minutes of explaining to her that dolphins have reproductive organs and that they did not just pop into existence (the argument began with her saying she wanted to work with sea creatures).


How it shifted to the existence of ghosts is a solid and reasonable question to ask (I don't remember why). I had to then proceed to tell her that ghost hunting TV shows do not constitute as undeniable evidence.

Personally, I hope she was messing with me cause I lost a little faith in humanity that day. This was in high school SO... hopefully she was kidding.

thebeststory

Dogs and Chocolate

Giphy

I told this stupid woman that chocolate is toxic to dogs. She went on to tell me how a little bit will just make them hyper and then they will calm down. I told her to google it. Her and her bf shut right up. Now they have a kid. Good luck, Jeremy and Andrea. morons.

I should also add that this argument started because Jeremy was giving his tiny dog chocolate and I told him it was toxic.

KlutzyHedgehog

Is water wet?

My roommate and I have a recurring argument over whether or not water is wet l, and whether or not a person is considered wet underwater.

For the record, it is no to both questions.

SFCopperhead

Mission Trip

A kid a church telling me about the mission trip I went on. Not only was I not on that trip, but I had never been on any mission trip. We were good friends, so it's not like he would've mistaken someone else for me.

He insisted I was there as if an entire week long trip would just fall out of my memory. He even had stories of things we'd done together. I'm not sure if he thought I was lying, joking, stupid, or crazy, but I was pretty sure he was some combination thereof.

SirRogers

Dragon Tales

One time I got into a shouting match with my mom and little brother in the car. The issue? The names of the two-headed dragon from the PBS kids afternoon show Dragon Tales. I swore it was Zack and Macie.

It was actually Zak and Wheezie. I don't even remember why we were yelling about it.

MistalQueensglaive

Green Or Yellow?

When I was about 15 or so my mother and I spent about 20-30 minutes arguing about the color of a shirt. We agreed it was blue/green, but to me it was just a shade more blue, while to her it was just a bit more green.

Turns out, your eyeballs yellow as you age and hers were 24 years yellower than mine, so I think that skewed her color vision.

BugsRatty

Stars In Their Multitude

Giphy

I once got in an argument over whether or not a line from the song "Stars" in Les Mis says "...but mine is the way of the lord" or "mine is the way of the law".

I didn't even really care what he thought but he was so adamant and cocky that it got me heated. By the end of it we were shouting at each other and I had to apologize, which I think is what he wanted the whole time.

theedjman

Colorblind

My brother is colorblind. And he CONSTANTLY tries to correct me on what color things are.

"Hey could you hand me that red _____?" "that's orange" "no, it's red" "orange" "YOU CANT EVEN KNOW".

It is the base of our most common and heated arguments.

droneb2hive

Hot Water

About five years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) once had a very intense argument about whether or not hot water cleaned things better than cold water.

She genuinely believed that water temperature didn't matter. This is someone who has not one, but two masters degrees.

We argued for something like 2 hours, and we seriously almost broke up over the whole thing.

moniker5000

Biology Class

I had an argument with a girl IN THE MIDDLE OF A BIOLOGY CLASS in high school about how humans are not mammals. She thought a human was a human and we are not mammals because "mammals are animals and humans are not animals"

I tried explaining to her the difference between reptiles and mammals and how humans fall under the mammal category to try and educate her... but she just wouldn't listen.

I still have no idea why the BIOLOGY teacher did not get involved...

10d4plus8

Solid Or Liquid?

Some classmates and I got into a heated debate as to whether or not the human body could count as a soup, salad, or sandwich. The teacher got mad at us, but hey! All we were doing was watching a movie.

For the record, my logic lays with soup- Liquid contained within a solid, at a hot temperature.

ScreamingPotoo