"It's Shocking To Westerners": 23 Cultural Norms Across The Globe That Visitors And Tourists Have A Hard Time Adjusting To

Personally, I love learning about other cultures and the different customs and norms each culture has. I'm Asian, and I find it so funny seeing the slight surprise on some people's faces whenever I ask (force) them to remove their shoes before entering the house. My family provides house slippers specifically for guests, and if that's not hospitality, then IDK what is. So, when redditor u/AssignmentPossible25 asked the people of r/AskReddit to share a societal norm from their culture that other people would be shocked to learn, I was certainly surprised myself. Here are the most interesting and eyebrow-raising responses:

1."In Finland, we put our babies outside to sleep, even in winter and sub-zero temperatures."

A baby is sleeping in a stroller outside in the snow

2."My Catholic boss had passed. One of the younger Jewish employees was reading about the funeral arrangements and asked what the term 'viewing' meant. When I told him, he was absolutely mortified. He said, 'What do you mean the body is there in the room in an open casket?!'"


3."In most of Asia, it's pretty common to continue living with our parents even after getting married and having kids. Our parents help provide childcare during the early years, and in turn, we make sure to take care of them as they get older. This seems to be shocking to Westerners considering it appears to be commonplace to be on your own once you turn 18 over there."

An adult daughter is hugging her mother
Freshsplash / Getty Images

4."In Israel, when the alarm sounds on Remembrance Day, the whole country stops — cars and buses pull over on the highway, and everyone stands in silence. Every year, there are videos and pictures of people being confused and astounded by what is happening, especially on the highways and roads."


5."I'm Sudanese, and let me tell you that we have tea ALL THE TIME. There's tea in the morning, tea between the morning and afternoon, tea in the afternoon, and tea at night. Sure, coffee is available, too, but there is ALWAYS tea."

A person is making themselves a cup of tea
Peter Cade / Getty Images

6."Being naked in public is completely normal in Denmark. Nudity isn't censored on TV or even in advertisements, either."


7."Apparently, being friendly to strangers gives quite a shock to non-Americans. One of the top culture shocks non-Americans claim to have when visiting the States is how friendly and welcoming we are. Who would have thought."

A trio of friends are hanging out and laughing outside of a movie theater
Maskot / Getty Images

8."People are always surprised that in Vietnam you can buy anything you want and as much as you want from the local pharmacy without needing a prescription."


9."I guess I'd have to say slurping while eating. In a lot of Asian cultures, particularly in Japanese culture, slurping is a sign that the meal is delicious and that you're really enjoying your food and drink. Other cultures view it as rude or as having bad manners."

A woman is eating a bowl of noodles
D3sign / Getty Images

10."In Spain, we greet each other by kissing on the cheeks. Whether it's a man greeting a woman, a woman greeting a woman, or a man greeting a man, we all do it — even with strangers. When it comes to our elders, we talk pretty informally with them as if they are friends. We also eat dinner later than most people, like around 10 or 11 p.m."


11."In Italy, thou shalt not drink a cappuccino after 11 a.m."

A man is holding up his cappuccino
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Phot / Getty Images

12."In Malaysia, we don't use our finger to point at a person or an object because it's considered to be impolite. Instead, we use our entire hand to refer to a thing or person."


13."Being barefoot is completely normal in New Zealand. Many children walk barefoot to school (they have shoes, they just choose not to wear them), and you'll often see barefoot people in supermarkets or fast food spots."

A young boy is walking barefoot in the street
Mrs / Getty Images

14."I'm Icelandic, and in our culture, babies don't get named until after they're born. It's actually taboo to ask parents about baby names they might be considering. Until the naming ceremony, which is about one or two months after birth, everyone just calls the child various nicknames."


"This is a Jewish custom as well. We name the baby a week after birth."


15."In Australia, we have this drinking tradition called 'the shoey.' Basically, you drink beer from a shoe."

Race car driver Oscar Piastri does a shoey in front of a big crowd
Dan Istitene - Formula 1 / Formula 1 via Getty Images

16."At restaurants, it's common in Asian culture for relatives to argue with each other over who gets to pay the bill. Older people will say it's their responsibility to pay since they're the eldest, while younger people will argue that it's their responsibility to treat their elders. It's really this big ordeal, and Westerners never believe me when I tell them."


17."In Ethiopia, it's very common for platonic friends to hold hands in public. It's very sweet."

Two people shown as silhouettes are holding hands
Philippe Lissac / Getty Images

18."In Sephardic culture, we spit on babies or anyone who is precious to us to ward off bad intent. Nowadays, we mostly just make little spitting noises like pu pu pu and pat their heads."

A parent is holding their newborn baby
Tuan Tran / Getty Images

19."I don't know why this is shocking to some people, but it's pretty common in Indian culture to use our hands to eat."

A traditional Indian meal is being enjoyed
Katrin Sauerwein / Getty Images

20."In America, if you don't tip, you are JUDGED."


21."In the Netherlands, we have the most expanded lexicon for cursing. Like, we even have a Wikipedia page for it. We have curses and insults for almost every category, and there's even regional curse words as well. People say that German sounds angry, but wait until you hear a Dutch person rage."


22."In Brazil, it's completely normal and almost ritualistic to shower and brush our teeth three times a day."

A man is taking a shower
Maridav / Getty Images/iStockphoto

23.Lastly: "Here in Poland, on April 10th, boys can freely go around and splash water on girls."


Not gonna lie, I, too, would love to sleep outside in sub-zero temperatures. What are some societal norms your culture has that might shock other people? Have you yourself experienced a culture shock before? (I honestly think it's weird that you have to pay for ketchup from fast food spots in Europe.) Let me know in the comments!