When traveling, there's always some expectation of culture shock. However, there's often one thing in particular that really hits you. Curious to know what that thing has been for Americans traveling overseas, u/Some_Chow asked, "What's one thing that made you go, 'Oh shit, we're not in America anymore'?" Here's what Americans across Reddit and BuzzFeed had to say:
1."In El Salvador, I went to a small city health clinic for a throbbing migraine and was seen immediately. No vital signs were taken, and no paperwork was done. The physician saw me and ordered two injections to be administered by a nurse. I was headache-free in 30 minutes. The charge: $5 each for the doctor, nurse, and medication."
2."It's changing over time, especially in bigger cities, but in Europe, stores are rarely open past 7 p.m. That was very hard for me to get used to when the earliest most stores closed pre-COVID was around 9 p.m."
"If I didn’t get to the grocery store near my university before 4 p.m., I had to catch the bus to go to the supermarket in town that closed at 8 p.m. The Walmart near my university in a small town in the US was open 24 hours."
3."In Argentina, it was eye-opening to see that most of the public restrooms had the handicap stall first. Of course, you wouldn't make the person who potentially has the most difficulty walking go the farthest for the accessible stall."
"Also, siesta was crazy. Our hotel was on the corner of a huge intersection. At least five large, main roads intersected there. It was crazy to look out the window at 3 a.m. and see the roads and sidewalks packed with people. I couldn't sleep because it was so loud, even though we were really high up."
4."In Portugal, while pregnant with my daughter, I learned that there are perks to pregnancy. There's special parking, you're allowed to skip the line (learned this at the car rental), and there's even a special line at customs in the airport!"
5."Last August, I went to Flåm, Norway, for 10 days. I got some pizza at a tiny restaurant in a tiny town. When I told the waiter I wanted nothing on it, he said, 'Nothing? Not even corn?'"
"I have been telling that story ever since I got back."
6."In Dublin, Ireland, my friend and I were trying to discreetly look at a map to find a tiny museum. An elderly woman stopped and asked if we needed help. However, she didn't know where the museum was, either, so she stopped a random guy walking by and told him, 'These girls are lost. Be a good boy, and take them where they need to go.' And he did! He walked us there, said goodbye, and went on his way."
"The entire time we were there, we were treated with a level of kindness and hospitality that we weren’t used to coming from strangers. It was great!""
7."I was gobsmacked when I saw a family of five on a motorcycle in Vietnam. There was a toddler wedged between the dad, who was driving, and the steering mechanism, and another toddler pinned behind the dad and in front of the mom, who was sitting sidesaddle and holding a baby in her arms."
8."In London, they include the tax in the listed prices on the menu. I went to a coffee shop and, while paying, waited to see how much the final price would be. To my surprise, it was the same as the price on the menu. When traveling in the US, you never know what the taxes will be as they differ by county."
"The other thing I noticed was the prevalence of 24-hour time. It took a bit of getting used to when buying a train ticket."
9."In Stockholm, everyone was so accommodating with my mother, who used a wheelchair, from cab drivers to shop clerks. One restaurant had no accessible entrance, so they let us in through the kitchen. At another restaurant, two hulking waiters carried her — chair and all — up the three steps into the restaurant. She never had people accommodate her that way in the US.
10."Both of my hotel rooms in Italy had no dedicated shower or tub — just a drain in the floor and a shower head mounted on the ceiling. It was manageable, but one bathroom had a clogged drain and flooded."
11."In Scotland, I couldn't figure out how to turn on the shower. Turns out, there's an electric switch to push outside the bathroom."
12."In Spain, while studying abroad, my host mom asked me when I wanted lunch. I said that 12–12:30 p.m. was fine for me. She looked at me, laughed, and said, 'No. How about 2–2:30 p.m.?'"
"Quickly had to shift my eating schedule to Spanish time."
13."In Saudi Arabia, out in public, most men wear white thobes, while most women wear black abaya dresses with hijabs and niqabs. It's not quite 100% (it varies depending on which city you're in), but it is unique. Privately, you can wear what you'd like. Foreigners, and even long-term immigrants, are not expected to conform."
14."In Turkey, I forgot my phone in a random roadside store, and when I went back for it a few days later, the owner immediately took it out of a drawer to return it. I exclaimed, 'Wow, I didn't think I would get it back!' He's asked me why not and then informed me that people had been calling me."
"Also, Coke cans come in all colors of the rainbow."
15."In Japan, many people used face masks in public even before the pandemic as a precaution to not make OTHER PEOPLE sick."
"The consideration the Japanese people have regarding other people's wellbeing is admirable."
16."In France, some bathrooms are a 'sanisette,' wherein the bathroom automatically sprays itself down with water to clean after someone uses it. We were on a tour of Montmartre, and I went to use a public restroom. It was a little oval building on the side of the sidewalk, and another person had just gotten out of it. Just before I went inside, my tour guide pulled me back and told me to wait a minute. Had I not known, I would have entered and been drenched!"
17."In India, I saw many whole families riding on one scooter."
"Mom, dad, little kids, and even infants all rode on one tiny Vespa. In every single case, only the man wore a helmet."
18."In Spain, we left a $15 tip after sitting at a table in a restaurant for six hours, and the owner chased us down to tell us we left our money."
19."In France, it's pretty rare you'll just sit down, have a quick meal, and continue with your day. Whenever I would visit family around France, I always had to remind myself of food customs. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so you take your time."
20."In Costa Rica, the eye doctor apologized that a six-month supply of contacts would cost me USD 30 since I wasn't on the national health insurance. It was the same brand I buy in the States for about USD 50 per month — with good insurance paying most of the cost. He said that if I were a resident, they would have been free; 'So sorry you have to pay the high out-of-pocket cost.'"
"I had lost my glasses in the ocean on the first day of visiting relatives for a few months in Costa Rica. They called the local optometrist and got me in the same day (since I'm super blind). We were on the West Coast, and the glasses had to be shipped from the capital, which would take a few days, but the doctor said I could buy contacts off the shelf from them right then."
21."In Madrid, they offer beer as a combo meal option at McDonald's. The BEST difference, though, was the free tapas — if you order a drink, they bring you free food. Even better? Really good Spanish wine could be had for two euros a glass. If you go bar hopping and eat all the free food, you can skip dinner."
"The one weird thing is that all these bars would be lit up like an American diner would be in the morning. I'm used to bars in the US, which tend to be very dark."
22."In Tokyo, Japan, I realized there was no trash anywhere, and it was just really clean."
23."In Iceland, I asked for a bottle of water. The guy just shakes his head and goes, 'You don't need that,' then filled me up a cup from the tap."
24."In Jordan, as a kid, my very first experience there when leaving the airport was witnessing a pickup truck driving the wrong way on a highway with a goat in the back."
Have you experienced any of these things while abroad before? Tell us what made you really realize you weren't in the US — or your home country — anymore in the comments below!