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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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...?


Paying to use the bathroom -most of Europe.


Bulgarian head nods.

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



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