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Biggest cultural shock you have come across?

(732 Posts)
hibbledobble Mon 08-May-17 14:11:49

What have you encountered while travelling that was your biggest cultural shock?

I'll go first: in Poland I saw families/extended families living 10+ in a 2 bedroom home. The concept of having a bedroom or even a bed to oneself is seemingly unheard of. Everyone sleeps in different beds each night, and beds are often shared. Having visitors in this set up is no problem either: everyone just rearranges. Water also came from Wells, lots of homes had no bathrooms. Ovens were these metal beasts that were plugged into the mains.

Toddlerteaplease Mon 08-May-17 14:17:01

The state of public toilets in France and Italy!

tectonicplates Mon 08-May-17 14:18:28

There's plenty of people in London living ten to a room. It's been going on here for years.

Code42 Mon 08-May-17 14:20:11

Experiencing racism for the first time (yes, I'm aware this is a very "white privilege" type comment...).

Soubriquet Mon 08-May-17 14:22:18

Gotta be when I went to the Dominican and saw whole families riding a motorcycle

Dad usually drives with a small toddler sat in front of him, another child behind him and then mum on the back with baby in her arms. And no helmets

Katedotness1963 Mon 08-May-17 14:22:41

Shelf toilets in Germany.
Hole in the ground toilets in Italy.
Also in Italy the rubbish lying around, it could be weeks between skips getting emptied, they would be over flowing, moving with rats and could be smelt a mile away.
Overcrowding in the Naples area meant young couples had to plan alone time. There was an area near our house where they would park up, cover the windows with newspapers and do their thing. It wasn't unusual for their to be a dozen cars there. Tiny Fiats...

TheElephantofSurprise Mon 08-May-17 14:25:07

Public toilets in Ireland. Where the hell are they?

OP, where were you in Poland? I've heard of extended families living together but young marrieds were with parents while they saved up to buy a house outright rather than have a loan.

thenewaveragebear1983 Mon 08-May-17 14:25:50

Road safety in Italy, especially Rome and Naples

Great huge chunks of 'priceless' Roman architecture, collapsed pillars and statues etc just sort of heaped at the side of the road

How incredibly seedy feeling Amsterdam was.

BarbaraofSeville Mon 08-May-17 14:26:27

That mains gas isn't the norm in Spain.

Was staying with a friend that lives there (on a new build apartment complex on the coast in a popular residential area, so not remote) and went to get a shower only to find there was no hot water. Tells friend, who says 'the gas must have run out, I'll just change the bottle'. I had no idea.

Dowser Mon 08-May-17 14:28:48

Poverty in matanzas Cuba
Well quite a bit of Cuba actually.
I threw a £1 radio in the bin in a hotel and the porter saw it and asked if he could keep it.
I wished I'd taken more better quality ones and more stuff for the children of matanzas who clustered around our coach with nothing on their feet.
I think I had some spare biscuits which I gave to them.

Here we were in a state of the art luxurious coach with sound system, air con, fridge for our water and outside was a totally different story.

We went to a private house. Nothing at the Windows, well there was no glass in the windows. Barely any furniture. Dirt floors in places, thin Lino in others.
People were so friendly.

purits Mon 08-May-17 14:30:20

FGM and circumcision.
Why did anyone in the past think it was a good idea to chop bits off their DCs' genitalia and how does anyone today think it is a good idea to keep this 'custom' going.

Gallavich Mon 08-May-17 14:30:46

Public toilets without doors or even walls in between them in China

Houses in morocco having no shower. People nowadays tend to install showers (attached to big gas bottles) when they can afford it but lower priced modern flats are still being built without showers.

BitOutOfPractice Mon 08-May-17 14:30:53

Snake charmers in Morocco. I honestly thought they were just in films.

Chavelita Mon 08-May-17 14:32:42

In this country, the widespread idea that children shouldn't attend funerals for fear seeing a dead body and/or adult grief will traumatise them permanently.

OfficiallyUnofficial Mon 08-May-17 14:33:11

The difference between going to Singapore and it being pristine, really beautifully ordered and kept, where in my head it was "Asia" so would be chaotic.

Then going to Paris and being mobbed at Gare Du Nord by illegal cabbies trying to hustle me into some mans car, wandering the streets which were dirty and felt unsafe (bad area). Whereas in my head it was "Europe" so would be the same organised loveliness of Kings X.

Showed me just how disordered and probably bigoted my top line thoughts were.

StereophonicallyChallenged Mon 08-May-17 14:38:43

Australians didn't put any tobacco in with their herb grin made the spliffs smoke like shit <<shudder>>

ImperialBlether Mon 08-May-17 14:39:49

Seeing the shanty towns in Morocco - on the train from Casablanca to Marrakesh there were groups of houses near the trainline made up of cardboard boxes and plastic bags.

BarbaraofSeville Mon 08-May-17 14:39:56

Malta and Gozo's extremely relaxed attitude to health and safety.

No seatbelts or even a seat to oneself in vehicles - I once had to sit on DPs lap due to the transfer vehicle being too small for the group, others were on the floor.

Fire alarm in the middle of the night in the hotel and the hotel staff didn''t do much, never mind try to take a roll call and wouldn't call the fire brigade because it would have cost money.

Driving standards and road safety that make the Italians look like Driving Miss Daisy.

On the plus side, crime is very rare. On another holiday there, we wanted to use the luggage room on our last day and the hotel just said to leave the bags in the corner and the idea that anyone would take them was simply not on their radar.

ShanghaiDiva Mon 08-May-17 14:41:34

I live in China - so lots of examples:
whole family on a bike - Vietnam and Cambodia with only the adults wearing helmets
no doors on public toilets in China and when there are doors nobody locks them!
kids being held over a bin to do a wee. Have seen this in my local Ikea which has perfectly decent toilets - with doors!
kids having a wee on the floor in the supermarket - always avoid any puddles on the floor in a Chinese supermarket.
Split trousers and no nappies for babies
blowing your nose without a tissue - kind of firing out onto the pavement!
open defecation in India - adults, not children, in the middle of a busy pavement outside the metro stop
baby/toddler sitting on a passenger's lap in the front of the car (China)

Bostin Mon 08-May-17 14:41:38

Going to university. I had absolutely no frame of reference for the people I met and because I was ill equipped to deal with it I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Racism in Australia.

LordRothermereBlackshirtCunt Mon 08-May-17 14:44:08

The UK on 24th June last year. Watching the news with Neo Nazis being interviewed out and proud, reports of racist abuse across the country ("we voted to kick you out", etc). Felt like I'd woken up in a different country. I've traveled fairly extensively, and this was honestly the biggest sense of culture shock I've felt.

cjt110 Mon 08-May-17 14:44:44

Visiting Bangkok and it being clean. Despite ideas of it being a grimy dirty city, I can't recall seeing one bit of rubbish on the floor when we were there in Feb for a week.

KatherinaMinola Mon 08-May-17 14:47:28

There's plenty of people in London living ten to a room. It's been going on here for years.

Yes, tectonic! I was going to say the same thing.

Lots in South Africa - seening the contrast between the townships and the V&A waterfront within a few miles. Going to Stellenbosch and seeing very few non white faces, then onto Knysna and finding ourselves in a very British enclave with tea rooms serving scones and ginger beer, followed by a drive up the coast and seeing communities living in rondavels.

Also, sailing the Amaxon and seeing river communities trading on the river then suddenly hitting Manaus and seeing the Opera House!

user1491572121 Mon 08-May-17 14:49:23

Since moving to Australia

That we have no mains gas and need bottles delivered
That we have no central heating and nor does anyone else we know despte temps reaching below zero at night sometimes
That here, it's no effort at all to drive an hour to see a friend for a cup of tea.

A cup of tea! In the UK people can't manage that long for a day with meals included as part of the visit!

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