27 Americans Share The Biggest Culture Shock They Had When Visiting Another Part Of The Country

27 Americans Share The Biggest Culture Shock They Had When Visiting Another Part Of The Country

1. Upstate NY

I visited Upstate NY from Texas. The thing that threw me off was the bottle returns. I asked the cashier what that extra charge was on the case of beer and she told me that I’d bring them back to the store, put them in the machine and get the money back. Always thought that was a cool concept to encourage recycling.


2. The South

The South is fucking slow.

I don’t mean dumb, I mean the pace of everything is just so slow. Everyone from the grocery store clerk, to the bank teller, to the waiter, to the bus driver, to even just people walking were going half speed compared to what I was used to up north.

Eventually, I got used to it but when my parents used to visit I could see the veins in their temples throbbing.


3. Colorado

How incredibly nice people are in Colorado. People just walking by or riding their bikes by you and always saying hi/asking how you are. I’m from Massachusetts, people are always in shock if you say hello to a random stranger here and they usually just have a rude response back such as ignoring you or just flat out looking at you like you’re crazy.


4. California

Liquor sold in grocery stores. I am from Georgia. I went to California to visit family/friends during my party days and was pleasantly surprised when I saw hard liquor being sold next to the fruits and tomatoes and I was able to buy on a Sunday.


5. California AGAIN

I’m from Texas and travel to California for work. I was shocked by all the warning labels of everything that could give me cancer. The most surprising one was at Starbucks.


6. Seattle

Louisiana native here. Visited Seattle a couple months ago to see a friend. Apparently saying “no sir” or “yes ma’am” is completely unheard of in the Northwest while in Louisiana we say it to elders/adults or just to anyone as a sign of respect. No one said “y’all” but instead said “you guys.” My friend (we met on the internet) was shocked that I had no Southern accent. He thought Gumbo was a type of shrimp… he was thinking of “jumbo shrimp.”


7. Louisiana

As someone from the Northwest who has traveled all of the continental US, Louisiana is the closest to a foreign country I have visited. I asked for directions at a gas station and heard not one word of recognizable English, or French for that matter in response. Also, no one had seen a tie dye before. Y’all got the best food, though!


8. Los Angeles

Moving from a pretty small US nuclear site town where everyone had masters degrees in hard sciences to LA. Lordy Lou, I love being in LA but there are some scientifically illiterate motherfuckers here.


9. Going to the countryside

You don’t have to go far for a culture shock. I lived an hour away from my dad growing up. I lived in a suburb, he lived in a foresty mountain with a town population of under 1000. Going up there was weird because everyone waved hello but where I grew up it was weird to even acknowledge other people existed. Someone waved to me and my sister and we both thought “why the hell is this creep waving at us we don’t know him”

After going up many times more I learned it’s just a completely different life style up there, people are friendly and now we find ourselves waving at other people more often.


10. Maryland

Wisconsinite here. Turns out that if you go to Maryland and ask if they have a Friday Fish Fry, they’ll give you the weirdest look.


11. Oregon

From Socal and visited Oregon…

You can’t pump your own gas. They do not have self-service gas pumps.


12. Massachusetts

Moved to Massachusetts from New Mexico. Everyone in Massachusetts is an asshole, at least until you get to know them. Some of them are assholes underneath too, though.


13. Montana

From Southern California, we visit our family in Montana. My moms family is in Eastern Montana, my dads family is in Western Montana.

Eastern Montana: You gotta wave every time you drive by someone, everyone is so much more easygoing, much nicer, all former or current farmers, and just overall a nice place. If you could describe where my mom is from it’s “Welcome my friend, come on in, make yourself at home, also here is a bible”

Western Montana: Maybe it’s just the town my dad is from but it’s a lot of “Yeehaw” kind of stuff. It’s a lot more depressing than Eastern Montana that’s for sure but way nicer than Southern California. Also lots of Canadians. I think there are more Canadian flags than there are American.

I don’t know there is a big cultural difference from West to East Montana. But compared to SoCal, Holy Cow!


14. The Midwest

I grew up in Ohio, moved to California, got married to a woman who’s never been further east than Arizona. Recently we were in the midwest a week.

My wife was mystified about how many foods gravy and/or chili can go on (all of them), how “quick trip to the store” can mean 1+ hour of driving and staring at trees, and why you have to sit down and stand up 300 times at arbitrary points during Catholic mass. There was also major food culture differences, Ohio piles on the portions.

My grandfather and step-grandma had told everyone all about how wonderful my new wife is but neglected to mention the bright purple hair with the back shaved in an undercut. Old ladies kept wanting to touch her hair, like it was gonna pop off or something.


15. Hawaii

From the North East, traveled to Hawaii this past winter.

I miss my Cousins. Very friendly people. Even if most were trying to sell me something, or I’d already paid for their services. They survive on their hospitality industry. Still, lot of average day to day folk were very friendly. HUGE homeless population though. And I thought we had it bad here in the Northeast. But at least theirs didn’t seem to be as drug and alcohol related as merely easy going living. I mean, yea few were strung out but most just were chill, tanned beach bums. I could appreciate that a little. I gave when I could.


16. New York City

Born and raised in small fishing town in Florida. Recently went NYC for a week. Jebus them some big buildings and people move like an ant colony but the people were actually very nice. The traffic didn’t seem like it ever moved so I don’t understand the point of owning a car. BUT I LOVED IT I can’t wait to go back.


17. Las Vegas

I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. For those who don’t know, Utah is overwhelmingly Mormon. It’s a very clean city, and even the “bad” parts of town are clean and safe. Everything is incredibly G-rated and you really have to search for “adult” things (liquor, strip clubs, smoke shops, adult shops, etc.) The first time I went to Las Vegas I nearly had a panic attack. I was a very uptight child and I had zero exposure to any adult oriented places. Seeing ads for escorts and strip clubs everywhere nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. It took me several years to let go of the stupid Mormon ideals I had absorbed, but even at 20 I still sometimes find myself getting panicky in less censored places. Utah really is a bubble, but you don’t realize it until you try to venture outside.


18. The South

I grew up in Central Illinois but live in the south now. Buying groceries was a huge shock. In IL you don’t talk to each other, rarely even to say the total. In the South, you have full blown conversions. It still makes me uncomfortable. I love self-check outs.


19. Idaho

Lived in LA since I was 18. When I married my husband we moved to a small sleepy town in Idaho.

Biggest culture shock in our lives. My husband was born and raised in New York City and moved to La. We lived in WeHo (west hollywood) together. Bustling city. Crimes. Homeless. Weed. Drugs. Rudeness. Cramp living space. Sketchy people. Expensive.

We bought a home that would cost millions of dollars in WeHo for only 350. Everything was so cheap. People were kind. There was no traffic. No cup of smog in the morning.

I thought we moved to a different planet.


20. Hawaii

I grew up mostly in the south and midwest but when it came time for college shipped myself off to Hawaii. That was by far the biggest culture shock I’ve ever experienced in my life, including time I’ve spent in actual foreign countries. Probably the hardest part was the fact that in Hawaii you are really tied to your ethnic identity so people were constantly making fun of me for being white or commenting on how white I am. It took awhile to get used to and to realize that it was actually okay to give as good as I was getting (racial humor is kind of a way of life out there).


21. Atlanta

Growing up in NYC I never really considered how early places close in other states, specifically restaurants. I remember visiting Atlanta and my dad and I had to drive around for over an hour trying to find something that was open after 10pm. Just a crazy, small little thing that never even crossed my mind.


22. The North

I’ve lived all over the US and the one thing that really strikes me is how different race is treated. I grew up in the south and while you might occasionally hear some crazy old white dude spouting some insanity, you also spend a lot of time around people of different races at work, school, in your neighborhood. When I moved up north it became much rarer to hear someone in person say something blatantly racist, but it also became normal not to live with/near or interact with people of  different races. The neighborhoods are drawn along strict race lines and interacting across racial boundaries feels… I’m not sure how to describe it… much more loaded?


23. Texas

Moving from Los Angeles to Texas, the overwhelming societal influence of religion on just about every aspect of life. The blue laws when I got here still prohibited a mind boggling list of retail sales on Sunday that far extended beyond the usual observations of alcohol.


24. Louisiana

Coming from a blue state in New England, it was weird seeing a Trump sticker on a Prius in Louisiana.


25. Tennessee

I’m from a tiny town in New England, but I went to college in the South and worked in Tennessee for a summer.

There is such a thing as “too nice” and Southerners are too. fucking. nice.

It’s considered rude where I’m from to talk to people you don’t know (beyond maybe the briefest kinds of small talk, like a remark about how long the line is taking). But goddamn, everyone in the South was so friendly. On my first day at my job, a guy on the bus chatted with me, asked me what I was there for, where I was from, etc. He told me which stop I should get off of and I didn’t see him again.

…at least not for another two months, on the second to last day of my summer job, when the same guy came up to me and started chatting with me about my job and how was I liking Tennessee and blah blah blah. I genuinely had no idea who he was at first and freaked out that this stranger knew so much about me before I realized he was the guy who had given me directions.

Two months ago. One time.


26. Milwaukee

I went to Milwaukee and the highway ramps had stop and go lights. I never saw something so absurd.


27. Myrtle Beach

When I was 20ish, during the height of the media orgy around the Iraq war, I went to myrtle beach. my parents are from the middle east, and I have a very middle eastern name, but I look like I’m straight out of Ireland. either way, I was like “I’m gonna show these bush supporters…I’m gonna tell everyone my name! hahah I’m so chaotic I can’t wait to bring southern society to its knees!”

No one gave a shit. Really disappointing.

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Eric Redding

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