10 Funny Situations That Can Only Happen When You’re Abroad

One of the first things you might experience when you’re in a different country is culture shock, especially if you go somewhere very different from where you live. For example, people that have been to Chile say that people there are not very serious about time or responsibilities. For example, “tomorrow” might mean “next week,” and “next week” may turn out to be “never.” When you go to a different country, you sometimes end up finding yourself in really funny and unexpected situations.

We at Bright Side did a search online and found a lot of these stories. We hope they will put you in a great mood. They might also help you avoid similar situations.

  • When I was 25, I backpacked through Europe. I chose an island in Greece to live on for one month (Naxos). My goal was to live like Robinson Crusoe — I wanted to live off the land. There was only one problem. I never caught anything... I spilled all my water... A Greek farmer and his wife invited me to their hut. There was retsina (Greek wine), bread, and some freshly-made, warm goat cheese on a wooden table. In return, I helped them with their sheep and their cheese. But the local food caused some stomach problems for me. I couldn’t explain it to the couple: I didn’t speak Greek and they didn’t speak English. I went to the pharmacy. A crowd of people was watching me point at my butt and say something in a language they didn’t speak. Anyway, I managed to buy a laxative. I returned home to the couple and showed them the pills. And the woman laughed and showed me that she had the same pills in her drawer. Before I left, I bought a translation book the last few days I was there. I did it because I wanted to say goodbye to them in Greek. So on my last day, I said, in Greek, “I will never forget the kindness you showed me, and will always remember you.” We all had tears in our eyes after that. © Jeremy White / Quora

  • A guy from Russia I know went to Edinburgh for a few weeks and took his sister with him. She’s an English teacher. I thought it would be a cool experience for an English teacher to go to England for the culture, the sights, and the language. But on the third day, she Skyped me and told me she wanted to come back home. I was like, “What’s wrong with you?” And she said that they only had eggs for breakfast and she wanted some other kind of food... chidi / Pikabu

  • When I studied abroad in Italy, I found a pizzeria in Venice that advertised “American style pizza.” Turns out it was a pizza that was COVERED in French fries. It was delicious. © swagdaddyfinch / Reddit
  • On a visit to Athens, I stopped for a light meal at a sidewalk cafe. At the next table were 2 American girls. One of them has recognized my accent when ordering my meal, and seemed quite excited to tell me “You’re from Scotland!”. Assuming that they had, at least, visited Scotland or had an interest in my country, I replied “Dundee” (my home town) in a tone of voice that was part question part explanation. One of the girls looked a little quizzical but responded with “And Dundee to you.” We all 3 then looked at each other for a moment as we wondered what we were talking about. In an attempt to break the unexpected embarrassment I asked whether either of them had ever visited my hometown. A pause followed as the girls looked at one another, then it dawned, the first of them said, “I am soooo sorry! When you said ‘Dundee’ I thought that was the Scottish word for hello.” © Johnfrancis (John) Evans / Quora

  • I was an exchange student in Japan. Someone told my host family that American kids drink tons of milk. When I arrived at their house, they showed me their fridge filled with “Sno” brand milk. They had also bought me yogurt and ice cream to make me feel at home. I’m lactose intolerant. © pirateperson / Reddit

  • I was on a train from Prague to Budapest. I’d just had an encounter with thieves previously so I was extra wary. Plus I didn’t have travel insurance coverage for about a week. Before the trip, I’d read somewhere on the internet that on the train in Eastern Europe many bad things can happen, like someone could pretend to be the train conductor to ask for my ticket. About half an hour into the trip, the train conductor came into the compartment and asked for my ticket. I duly passed it to him. I watched him inspecting my ticket, and was expecting him to give it back to me when the guy said nonchalantly: “I am going to keep your ticket and return it to you before we reach Budapest.” I said: “How do I know you’re the train conductor?” “I’m the train conductor.” “Yes, you are. May I see your badge?” — I read somewhere that when this happens you should ask to see a badge. “No, I don’t have a badge.” “How do I know if you’re the train conductor if you don’t show me your badge?” The guy showed visible annoyance: “In this country, train conductors do not have badges.” At this point, somehow, I already had the ticket back in my hands. To my dismay, the guy proceeded to wrestle it back from me. We wrestled back and forth for a while until I turned to the other guys in the room and asked them if they had given their ticket to the guy. They said yeah they gave it to him but added that they weren’t sure themselves if he was the real train conductor. 10 minutes later, while looking for the toilet, I saw the guy sitting in a room with a sign that says in bold “Train Conductor.” Oops. © Ryan Phung / Quora

  • In parts of Ireland in my grandparents’ time, it was considered rude to accept food or beverages from a host the first time they were offered. The exchange was supposed to go something like: “Will you have a cup of tea?” “No thank you, I won’t, I won’t trouble you,” “Ahh you will sure, go on,” “Ahh I will so, if you’re making one for yourself.” When my parents first went to America, they were shocked to find that people didn’t do this, so instead, it went: “Would you like a cup of coffee?” “No thank you, I won’t trouble you,” “Okay!” “Wait! I did actually want coffee!” “Then why did you say no?” © bouquineuse644 / Reddit

  • I was visiting Germany while doing an internship. On the very first day of university, I went to use the restroom. When I went near the bathroom, on one door “Herren” was written and on the other door “Damen” was written. There were no other images. I had just begun to learn German and knew that many words in German sound like they’ve been derived from English. Since “Herren” seems to be derived from “Her” and “Damen” from “Men,” I went inside Damen. I used the washroom and kept using it for more than a week. The whole time, I was wondering why they didn’t have those “standing” urinals for men. It was after a week that I learned that “Damen” actually stands for “Her” and “Herren” for “Him.” Luckily I never encountered any women inside the “Damen” washroom whenever I used it. © Shobhit Puri / Quora

"Gentlemen" / "Ladies".

  • My dad and his friend were visiting Vietnam a few years ago and they went to a restaurant and ordered what they thought was a normal amount of food. Shortly into the meal, they noticed that the whole restaurant staff were clustered at the kitchen door staring at them. They had never seen anyone order so much food for 2 people. © sennalvera / Reddit

  • We were on a cruise down the Nile River and Luxor was one of the places that we visited. While we were in the Temple of Hatshepsut, a middle-aged man walks up to us, looks at my mother, me, and my father, and just says, “I’ll give you 100 camels for her.” My father just looked at him, with his eyes wide open, “Are you serious?” “I’ve never been more serious in my life.” “You don’t have enough camels for me,” my mother said. The guy just laughed and pointed into his shop, and that’s when we realized what he meant —he had T-shirts with camels on them and the whole 100 camels for my mother took a whole other turn... We just had a laugh and I bought the T-shirts in the end. Well played, middle-aged shop owner, well played. © Lara Novakov / Quora

What funny and strange situations have happened to you when you were on a trip to a different country?

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