21 Travelers Who Encountered Eccentric Traditions Abroad
Traveling is an excellent means of immersing ourselves in another country’s customs and traditions. It enables us to gain valuable knowledge about how other cultures function, what they prioritize, and what makes them unique. Nevertheless, being in a foreign country is not always a smooth ride, and there may be times when we encounter unfamiliar and unexpected situations that can be way outside our comfort zone.
- A few years back, our family went to Japan for a family trip. We were in a restaurant, and my dad tipped our waitress while we were leaving. About 5 minutes after we left, we saw our waitress running down the street. She handed our money back to us. We were all confused, so my dad tried to hand the tip back to her. She wouldn’t take the money and ran back to the restaurant. We didn’t realize this, but tipping is considered rude in Japan. © memejeet / Reddit
- A large Maori man asked to touch noses with me in greeting. The dude looked pissed until I manned up and was the first to touch noses. Then he had one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen on a mountain of a man. It lit up the entire cultural center. © 0_1_0_2 / Reddit
- In Israel, the whole country turns into a pumpkin come sundown on Friday night and nothing is open until Sunday. This can stack with holidays, so it is entirely plausible that you can go 4-5 days without a single store or restaurant being open. Hope you stocked up on food — my first holiday in Israel I had nothing left to eat on the last day but 2 bananas. © credy / Reddit
- I visited the US when I was 14 and, up until that point, I thought people talking about portion sizes were joking. Also, this was the first time I’d seen Coca-Cola dispensers that had every flavor you could imagine, and I loved it. © RussellHobbsToaster / Reddit
- In Japan, the level of trust is incredible. I went to a convenience store with no staff. You simply pick your items, drop your cash into a box, and get your change. There is an open box of money in the middle of the store. © eternityinspace / Reddit
- Moving to Bulgaria from England. In Bulgaria shaking your head means “yes” and nodding means “no.” You don’t even realize how hard it is to reverse a lifelong habit until you try, and it’s really disconcerting. Also, if you screw up, you look crazy. Imagine asking someone if they want a bag and having them nod at you while saying “no.” © Destructopuppy / Reddit
- Barefoot people are EVERYWHERE in New Zealand. In Starbucks, in the mall, on public transit, and walking down the street. No shoes, no socks, no care. © skyfelldown / Reddit
- In the UAE, falcons are a huge thing. You can take your falcon on the plane if you buy him a ticket and he has his falcon passport. Not a joke, they actually have falcon passports. © editormatt / Reddit
- Being a foreigner in China, you get automatic B-list celebrity treatment everywhere you go. I spent a sick day hunched over on a park bench in a little city. Every 10 minutes, a group of giggling teenage girls would approach me. I gave autographs, denied invitations to the paddle boats, and respectably declined several requests for marriage and pronouncements of love. There’s nothing like being a park attraction and having a secretive cell phone paparazzi recording your sick day.
© thaaemis / Reddit
- I’m from Texas, and I went to Colorado to go visit some family. Their milk is delivered to their door... It’s a weekly delivery and you place your order of milk (whole milk, fat-free, chocolate, etc.) the day before, and the night of the delivery, you put the empty glass jugs in a cooler and set the cooler outside your door, and in the morning you have your milk. I was so amazed when they told me this that I wanted to order the milk, place the cooler outside and everything. I remembered the next morning so I ran outside to see if the milk was delivered. Also, best chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
© meeegsta / Reddit
- Everyone’s got some really interesting (and sometimes very serious) culture shocks, but when I came to Austria from the US to study abroad, I was just mostly shocked by mayonnaise being the most popular condiment and not ketchup. Also, having to PAY for ketchup at certain places. That was certainly odd. © therealjoshua / Reddit
- The first time I went to Finland, while we were waiting for our bags to come off the baggage claim, everyone was so quiet. There were probably 200 people and you could hear a pin drop. I wanted to get my wife’s attention but didn’t want to break the silence, so I just waited for her to look up at me and waved at her. © mbrown030 / Reddit
- I went to China and saw that some of the children had holes in the backs of their shorts. I asked the guide about this and she said that it was an alternative to diapers. The children will just drop a steamer anywhere and the parents will either clean it up or put a napkin over it. Another reason they do this is to give the children motivation to get potty trained. If they are seen in public after a certain age with a hole in the back of their pants, it is embarrassing for the child.
© SuperRedneck / Reddit
- So I’m Norwegian, but I went to New Zealand for a year. The culture shock for me was how open Kiwis talk, and how there’s no such thing as stranger danger. And as a typical Norwegian introvert, it took a while to get used to. I’d meet a stranger and they’d be breaking the touching barrier right away and start talking about their cousin’s rash and all their weekend plans. It was an even bigger shock returning to silent Norway. © kantartist / Reddit
- My girlfriend is from Spain and when I first met her friends, I was stunned... Normally, we Germans are quite reserved at the beginning, some would mistake it as being cold though. What I have seen and felt was one of the warmest and, at the first sight, the most uncomfortable welcome ever. It was like friends who haven’t seen each other for years and now they are finally together again. Simply wow! © q1w2e3r4t5z / Reddit
- I’m from England. I went to France once and was horrified to find out that they drink coffee instead of tea, and they eat pastries for breakfast instead of beans and various fried pork products. Never again. © SultanOfBrownEye / Reddit
- Malaysians make kissing sounds to get your attention, like snapping your fingers in America. I thought it was more equal to catcalling when I first moved there. © the_destroyer_obi / Reddit
- 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 10-minute-early person, that was jarring.
© theartlav / Reddit
- Nap-time is everything in Spain. I visited Barcelona a few months ago, and it was my first time in Spain. Couldn’t believe it when my friend told me that all the shops and businesses are closed because it was “siesta time.” I love my naps and all, but that just drove me crazy. © hyperactivepotato / Reddit
- When you sit down at a restaurant in Portugal, they bring you bread, olives, cheese, and a sardine plate. If you eat it, you pay for it. If you don’t touch it, they take it away and pretend it never existed. © BDMayhem / Reddit
- We stayed with a few families in Turkey. When dinner rolled around, everyone got their own spoon and ate directly from the same serving dish, even things like yogurt. Mom, Dad, Grandma, snotty toddlers. Everyone. Just one big familial petri dish. It was a stressful trip. © SomeNerds***Wife / Reddit