Culture Shocks You Need to Know Before Travelling

Here's a list of some things you should know if you're visiting a new country
ByAriel Robinson Tuesday , 05 July 2016
Culture Shocks You Need to Know Before Travelling
Here's some things you should know before travelling this summer

Now that it’s summer, people will be travelling all over the world so we have a list of potential culture shocks that you may experience wherever you go!

  • One major culture shock for foreign visitors to the US will be the tipping culture, as you’re expected to tip for just about everything. After a meal the waiter will give you a bill with a ‘fake total’, which you’re then expected to add 15-25% mark up to.
  • South African guests visiting tribes or townships are often offered a cultural or locally known delicacy as a form of greeting and respect. This can range from insects to organs from sacrificed animals.

  • Clearing your plate in some Asian countries such as China is seen a sign that you’d like more food, which your host may find offensive or it could result in them simply giving you more food to eat.
  • In Japan, train commuters receive a barrage of recorded announcements telling them to switch their mobiles to silent or vibrate, referred to as ‘manner mode’.

  • India’s train boarding methods are incredibly different. Getting on the train involves furious fighting, shoving, scratching and clawing to get on to.
  • The distance at which we stand from someone as we speak has meaning. In the US for example, standing too close can signal familiarity or aggression. The English and Germans tend to stand further away, while Mexicans however stand extremely close.
  • In China, some toilets have lids, some have a lever you push, some you pull, while with others you have to balance and squat over a hole.
  • The sight of a packed pub sprawling out onto the roads is no shock to those who have lived in the UK for a while, but can be slightly intimidating to new residents.
  • The French greeting of kissing both cheeks can be a culture shock. The ritual is very important to French people, and holds a long-standing place in French culture.
  • Queuing is something Brits pride themselves on doing especially well. The golden rule of queuing is: don’t ignore the queue.
  • For a Westerner travelling in countries such as South Korea it can be an eye-opening experience to see not just the odd homeless person but groups of 50 to 100.
  • In countries like Greece, travellers may be surprised to find signs saying not to flush toilet roll down the toilet, instead a bin is provided to deposit used tissue paper. This tends to happen where the sewage system hasn’t been upgraded in years, such as in Athens where historical finds tends to slow construction.

  • People travelling through Japan may be shocked when they notice the lack of overweight people, with only 25% of Japanese people classed as obese, compared to 66% of Americans.
  • In Poland it’s not a good idea to let yourself get desperate for the toilet. It’s possible you may find yourself in a situation where you’re bursting for the toilet, just to find out you need top ay first and don’t have change on you.
  • Travellers in Bulgaria will find the way they generally interact with people is different. Nodding your head means ‘no’ and shaking your head means ‘yes’.


Are you going to any of these countries or have you experienced any culture shocks? Make sure to visit for more fun facts on travelling and more. 

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