PDA

View Full Version : Looking for culture shock stories



enslaved1
11-23-2010, 01:12 AM
For folks who have been/are from Europe, what type of culture shocks would an American experience? Big things, little things, food, drink, greetings, buildings, dealing with government, social expectations, the whole nine yards. Preferably eastern Europe, Germany, Switzerland, but any areas will work. I've got a writing project that has been bouncing around my head for a while that won't go away, and needs some fuel. Thanks in advance.

Thor
11-23-2010, 01:18 AM
Language barriers. Although they aren't as bad as in Asia, they still exist. Men walking down the street holding hands (and, no, they're not gay) Women doing the same. Toilets.... Italy had some of the squat over toilets when I was there. Same with Japan & the Middle East. Food..... most of it is vastly different than what we know. I don't care for too much German food. English food can be a little bland. In Italy, they served cold pizza at the sidewalk vendors. (It wasn't very good, either)

Gingersnap
11-23-2010, 10:00 AM
Well, it depends on where you are but the Germans, Swiss, etc., are real nature-lovers, if you know what I mean. In warm weather, expect a lot of nudity around bodies of water and expect total nudity in any kind of a sauna setting. This will include mixed groups and young children.

In Scandinavia (and I think this is still true in Germany), people appreciate a much more formal interaction style with strangers. People use (and want to use) formal titles with each other and the politeness expectation is about 40% higher than in the average American interaction. Regardless of how casual or slap-happy a Swede may be in the sauna or when out drinking, expect the formality to return outside those venues.

Adult Scandinavians dress better than most Americans would in the same situations. The American uniform of a tee-shirt, jeans/shorts, and athletic shoes is considered pretty juvenile for anybody other than a student or someone performing manual labor. They aren't going to point and laugh at you (to your face) but you will look out of place wearing that outfit. ;)

Rebel Yell
11-23-2010, 10:59 AM
Language barriers. Although they aren't as bad as in Asia, they still exist. Men walking down the street holding hands (and, no, they're not gay) Women doing the same. Toilets.... Italy had some of the squat over toilets when I was there. Same with Japan & the Middle East. Food..... most of it is vastly different than what we know. I don't care for too much German food. English food can be a little bland. In Italy, they served cold pizza at the sidewalk vendors. (It wasn't very good, either)

Worst pizza I ever put in my mouth was in Italy.

Big Guy
11-23-2010, 11:59 AM
In Germany the Police can fine you and demand payment on the spot, if you get caught jay walking and the police demand that you pay the fine, just pay it. It happened to me at the Munich air port in 1988.

noonwitch
11-23-2010, 01:17 PM
Grand Rapids to Detroit. Same state, very different places.

m00
11-24-2010, 01:40 AM
In Germany the Police can fine you and demand payment on the spot, if you get caught jay walking and the police demand that you pay the fine, just pay it. It happened to me at the Munich air port in 1988.

Sounds like Baltimore.

Zafod
11-24-2010, 12:09 PM
Worst pizza I ever put in my mouth was in Italy.

worst I ever had was in Russia

Lager
11-24-2010, 04:04 PM
In many European countries, shops close up around dinner time. There isn't this obsession about being able to purchase something at all hours there, as there is here. People prefer to do family things such as stroll the town centers or eat and drink out. When you sit down in a restaraunt, they will not bother you until you make an effort to ask for the check. They look at the dining out experience as special and will let you take your time. They also use the honor system and often just ask you what you had, and add it up right there. They don't automatically bring water with food, sometimes you have to ask, and specify tap water, otherwise you will be given sparkling or mineral water which you will pay for. Tipping isn't expected in most places.

They drive a lot faster and the fast lane is indeed for the traveling fast, they will make you aware if you are not moving fast enough.

Their toilets always seem very inefficient, but their windows and their transportation systems are very much the opposite. They don't put a lot of ice in their drinks either, from what I remember.

Gingersnap
11-24-2010, 04:18 PM
In Scandinavia, people in urban area use beater bikes a lot. Although they are trying to change the behavior, helmets are not the norm (even for little kids) and it's normal to see women in dresses or men in business suits riding a bike. The idea that a 3 or 4 mile bike commute requires special clothing or gear is laughable.

People also use bike trailers for bulky items (not kids, kids ride all over the bike). Only athletes ride expensive bikes or hipster fixies. Regular bikes all have fenders, racks, baskets, and chain-guards. Nobody would ever ride a bike that cost more than the equivalent of $75 bucks U.S because bike theft is huge there.