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asia fried insectsMaybe it was the first time you found yourself in a city where you couldn’t read a single street sign. Or your first experience of haggling in a busy public market. Or the moment a local proudly offered you a heaping plate of fried insects or boiled lamb’s head.

That feeling of disorientation is the subject of this week’s Friday Free-for-All. We want to hear about your first — or worst! — experience of culture shock while traveling. Where were you, and how did you get through it? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

If you need a little inspiration, check out this story about culture shock in Morocco from our own Traveler’s Ed: Culture Shock: Outside the Comfort Zone.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

7 Responses to “Your Worst Case of Culture Shock”

  1. Christine says:

    Cartagena, Columbia. Soldiers with machine guns on every corner. Every house, store, establishment had bars on the windows.

  2. Living in South Africa where we have a turbulent recent history and extreme poverty living alongside excessive wealth, I see it in tourists’ faces when they arrive without having done much research. They expect dirt and mud huts but find highways and mansions; they expect a barefoot population but find designer labels and elegance. I could go on and on but suffice to say you need to come and see for yourself but be prepared for a wonderful culture shock that will leave you wanting to return very soon!

    • Tammy says:

      Francoise Armour, you must be white! South Africa has always had an extremely wealthy white population and it is only in the last 18 years that native Black Africans are beginning to acquire wealth, but the fact remains that while there are now more poverty stricken whites in SA than ever, there are still sprawling slums and extreme poverty amongst the blacks. Just because you choose not to see it or keep it well hidden does not mean it doesn’t exist.

      • Tammy, You misunderstand me. I did mention the extreme poverty and perhaps I should have been clearer in showing that I was referring to poverty amongst black people. I do see the poverty, everyone here sees it. Tourism, among other things, alleviates that and provides many jobs so we all work very hard to develop this growing industry.

        The point I was making is that many visitors do not expect to see the contrasts, nor do they expect the modern cities that we have here – and that is a culture shock for them.

        My point was not at all connected to race.

  3. Adela Dávila-Estelritz says:

    My biggest culture shock was in San Vicente de la Barquera in northern Spain. Everyone in Sapain had always been so friendly, particularly in the south (my husband hails from Madrid). However, in San Vicentr we would smile at people on the street and they never -I promise you this, NEVER- smiled back! Moreover, one evenig we were in the town center and I wasn’t feeling well. We walked into the nearest bar/cafe/restaurant and a lady was on the public phone chatting away. After about half an hour I approached her evidently looking ill. I pleaded with her to let me use the phone to call a cab… and she turned her back on me. When my husband intervened, her husband got up and he and her friends told us to buzz off. I’m talking about peple in their 30’s & 40’s! When we got back to Madrid a couple of days later, it was as if we’d retuned from a different country. We’ve been from the Caribbean to Alaska, from New Zealand to Norway, from Mexico to Fiji and Brazl, to name some places. Nothing like this had ever happened before… o since.

  4. Melanie says:

    England, after living in Albania for a year. I had become used to water in the house but no electricity, or electricity but no water. Going home to England to a carpeted bathroom and drinking water on tap seemed extravagant.

  5. I am from Latinamerica therefore I am quite open about emotions and facial expressions… I lived in Guatemala, Brazil, USA, Mexico and Canada and when I relocated in England 3 years ago, I wish somebody would told me about the invisible file in the pub, stiff upper lip and keeping to myself because it was a BIG CULTURE SHOCK.. it takes years to make friends and I regard myself as quite friendly… live and learn.. Im still here and learning :) I do love the history and now I got great friends ;)

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