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19 Bright Siders Shared What They Would’ve Liked to Know Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

Traveling to another country can be quite a challenge, and not only because it involves getting to know a new place where people might speak a completely different language. Getting used to dealing with people whose culture is so different from your own can often turn your typical logic upside down, leaving you feeling confused.

Bright Side asked its readers to share anecdotes from their trips abroad, and we selected the best ones to make this compilation. Keep in mind that countries can be very big, and by no means do these generalizations speak about any culture as a whole.

  • In college, I had 2 Japanese classmates who simply took off their shoes during class. I think the fact that in Mexico we wear shoes, even in our bedrooms, is shocking in many places, as they might think that it makes your house dirty. © Andrea Picazo Galvez / Facebook

  • I was surprised when people who didn’t know you in New York would say, “Good morning,” and “Merry Christmas!” when they passed you on the street. © Silvia Saint-Claire / Facebook

  • I lived in a saltpeter mine where everyone greeted each other even though they didn’t know each other. When I went to the city, I kept doing that, so people looked at me in a funny way and couldn’t understand why I did it. © Graciela Hule / Facebook

  • I haven’t really traveled much, so only recently did I realize that not all countries have drinking water available just by turning on the faucet. I almost got into trouble because I forgot to buy bottled water when I was traveling abroad. I’m so used to the fact that you can drink the water from the faucet... © Nere Arias / Facebook

  • I was in a supermarket in Junín de los Andes with a friend of mine. I was standing on the side, worried and watching the motorcycles of a couple of guys who just left them parked there with the keys in the ignition before they entered the supermarket. I couldn’t believe that no one touched anyone else’s belongings there. © Ilce Falcon / Facebook

  • The first time we traveled to London we were very hungry and thirsty, so we went into a small café where there was only one table taken. We sat down and were brought a couple of menus. We chose and waited, and waited, and waited and waited for like, 20 minutes. We stood up and left, and were very annoyed and even offended, yet the waiters and the bartender were staring at us with a strange look on their faces. Then at the hotel, they explained that we had to choose what we wanted to have, go to the bar, order, and pay, instead of waiting for them to come to the table to take our order. © Sara Araya Moya / Facebook

  • I was in Costa Rica and didn’t know that the water from the tap was drinkable, so the first few days I didn’t want tap water. I was thirsty all the time and spent money on bottled water. © Maria L Santiago / Facebook

  • I’m from eastern Venezuela, and one day, while I was in a bakery in the United States, I asked a Mexican girl who was serving me in Spanish: “Can I please have that slice of torta with strawberries?” Without looking in the direction I was pointing, she said, “No, the tortas come with ham and cheese; there are others with meat, but you would have to wait for me to prepare it for you.” I told her: “No, I want the cakes you see there.” Then she replied, “Ah, what you want is a strawberry shortcake.” I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at the differences in names for the same things between countries sharing the same language. © Yuly Marquez / Facebook

  • When I was in Egypt, the driver missed an exit, so he reversed in the middle of the highway for quite a long distance (it wasn’t just a few miles) to take the exit. We were about 7 or 8 passengers inside a car that smelled like gasoline, which felt like it was a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. © Beatriz Beatriz / Facebook

  • When I moved to Germany, as many Mexican people have done, I was used to destroying or crushing soda bottles so that they could be recycled. And we did that even if the plastic was very hard. Then my boyfriend asked me to stop doing that to the “returnable” bottles. © Diana Schmucker Robles / Facebook

  • Being pregnant in Teruel, Spain, I had a craving for pizza, but the place was closed from 1 to 4 in the afternoon because it was lunchtime... © Aura PecoZirat / Facebook

  • In Colombia, when ordering something or asking for something at a shop, we say, “I’d like to be offered a...,” knowing that we’re not getting a gift, but that we’re actually going to pay for it. But on my first trip abroad, which was to Panama, the lady at the counter became hysterical and scolded me: “I won’t offer you that, it costs too much.” I had to explain what I meant and that it was just an expression, but she was still pretty mad. © Claudia L Monroy R / Facebook

  • In Colonia, Uruguay, when I stopped at the street corner, all the cars would wait for me to cross the street before continuing on their way. I could not believe it. © Alicia Lazzaris / Facebook

  • I was in Germany, and my friend was married to someone from Sri Lanka. They prepared typical food from there, and they’d eat it with their hands. I couldn’t do it, nor could I stand to watch them eat without cutlery. © Ximena Santos / Facebook

  • I am from Chile and I went to New York, and I liked how clear the streets were there. Even though streets here are not really small or anything like that, people use them to park, so there are entire rows occupied by parked cars, which ends up making the road a lot narrower than it was meant to be. © Francisca Jesus / Facebook

What was the biggest culture shock you’ve had while traveling? Feel free to share the stories of the places you’ve traveled to along with photos — we’d love to see them!

Preview photo credit Alejandra Ceja / Facebook
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