From used money sold at half price to pushes on the subway, from the ban on chewing gum to “unofficial” time zones: the small, big cultural shocks that await you around the world.
1 CULTURAL SHOCK
Cultural shock is the feeling that you feel after leaving a family environment to go and live in a place with different habits. Many people experience a cultural shock not only when they move permanently to another country, but also simply traveling, in the presence of behaviors and lifestyles different from their own. For example, how would you stay there discovering that?
2 WRONG PRICES IN THE UNITED STATES
In the USA, the price on the label of a good is not the real one. The price tags – by law – do not include taxes. This is because each state and city has its own taxes: the so-called sales taxes, which are calculated by multiplying the price of the goods purchased by the percentage rate provided by the state in which the transaction takes place. The sales tax, when foreseen, is generally between 1% and 11% and is discovered when paying.
3 THE “UNOFFICIAL” TIMETABLE IN CHINA
China is a vast country, the third-largest behind Russia and Canada. When the Communist party came to power, the whole nation was forced to a single time zone (+7 hours compared to Italy): a political move to instill unity among the Chinese people, but which has many drawbacks. For example, in the westernmost areas of the country, the sun often does not rise before 10 am and some people are forced to use their “unofficial time” to keep up with the light of day.
4 CHEAP BEER IN BELGIUM
In Belgium and the Czech Republic, beer (sometimes) costs less than mineral water. They are two European countries where beer is renowned and linked to ancient traditions. The wide diffusion means that in many bars a mug of beer can cost less than a 50 cl bottle of mineral water, often imported.
5 THE SOUTH KOREA BATHROOM-SHOWER
The biggest and most frequent trauma that could possibly affect people is entering a bathroom and not finding a bidet. But in South Korea, there is not even a shower cabin! In many homes, especially older ones, the whole bathroom is a shower stall, meaning that the floor has a water drain and the showerhead is usually connected to the sink or is located between the toilet and the sink.
6 THE THRUST IN THE TOKIO METRO
In Tokyo, the crowd in the subway is such as to require … a push. Yes, a push! The volume of people who can crowd the trains means that some employees of the local transport company have the task of getting on the docks at peak times, to physically push passengers into the cars, so that they can close the doors despite the crowd.
7 TIKKA MASALA WAS INVENTED IN GLASGOW
One of the most famous dishes of Indian cuisine, based on chicken and curry, chicken tikka masala, would have been invented in a Scottish restaurant. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 2009, the city of Glasgow officially claimed copyright. The issue is a bit debated, not everyone thinks so, but for lovers of Indian cuisine, it is a nice shock.
8 CHEWINGUM IS ILLEGAL AND FORBIDDEN IN SINGAPORE
It is forbidden to import it, it is also illegal to chew it: it is one of the many rules related to the sense of cleanliness of the Asian City-State, where in some cases the penalty for those who are dirty also includes whipping.
9/10 EXPIRY MONEY IN INDIA
Banknotes in India have a limited duration. Not more than a year, according to statistics, and often end in tatters. Once the shops start to reject them because they are ruined, they still have a parallel market: but the value also drops by 60%, and some banks pay half of them.