“Why Can’t I Spell Elephant With an ‘F’?”…And 10 Other Culture Shocks

culture shocksReddit is such a wonderful corner of the internet. I can literally sit there and be entertained for hours on end. Reddit users are known for having absolutely no filter, so you can only imagine what could be said when you ask them about culture and race relations. The cross cultural stereotypes, inquisitions, explorations, and overall funny banter that happens is both an eye-opener on how we are perceived in other parts of the world and also a good opportunity to laugh at ourselves.

One Redditor, hop208, asked, “What things about Western culture in general do you find odd? There are many examples of people in the West pointing out things in other cultures that we find peculiar, antiquated, or odd. I just want to know what things Western people do that come off as really strange.”

Below are the most non-offensive, upvoted responses, but you should read the thread for yourself.


1) “The fact that you can spread peanut butter and jam on bread and call it a sandwich. Wut?” – Anonymous from Kenya


2) “I dunno if this is just a western thing, but having a mountain of purely decorative pillows on your bed that you take off before you go to sleep, and put back on in the morning. What?!

I don’t understand the point. Your bed looks fine without them. That’s like putting a whole bunch of purely decorative cutlery on your table and then taking it all off when you go to eat your dinner.”- super_dilated


3) “Oh, boy. I’m Korean and married to a Caucasian, so I had several minor culture shocks when I started getting to know my husband better.

  • Chargers. Like the things you place below dinner plates. I still have no idea what they are for.
  • Calling my in-laws by their first names. Very strange. But very nice. 🙂
  • Shoes inside the house.
  • My in-laws’ politeness and respect for their kids, and their consideration of their kids’ feelings. I grew up in a household where respect was given to the parents, and to the parents alone. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that my husband was coddled in some ways, but then I remember he is the man I love because of the way he was raised.
  • The importance placed on sports. My in-laws are incredibly into sports and will play pick-up football on the holidays when everyone’s together. They’re also all getting matching jerseys this Christmas. I thought this was something you only saw on TV, not in real life! Sometimes I feel like I’m on “The Wonder Years” when I’m over at their home. It’s kind of cool to watch; they’re just so classically American.
  • Cheese. On everything. So much cheese. And butter. I remember being very gassy the first several times I was invited to my husband’s home for food. 😛

The biggest culture shock to me, though, is how independent American children are, and the importance that is placed on kids “leaving the nest”. It seems that in America there is a stigma on adult children who choose to live with their parents. In Korea, kids have extremely close ties to their families and commonly live with their parents until marriage, even if they have stable careers. It’s common to share a futon with your siblings, even as an adult. It’s even common to share a room as a family and all sleep on the floor together. I had no idea this was considered strange until I was telling a friend of mine how my mom, dad, sister, and I all shared a huge bed together when we went on vacation. She looked at me like I was a pervert. But I love cuddling with my family in one big dog pile!”-  whiteram


4) “That little girls, about 2-6 year old and thereabouts, wear a female version of a bikini when they go out in the sun. Girls under 6 or 7 don’t have boobs, so the bikini top seems ridiculous to me. But that’s just me.”- cumnovember


5) “I was talking to an interpreter here in Afghanistan and he genuinely had a hard time believing that hitting your wife is frowned upon.” – Potential_Pandemic


6) “A large number of people driving around with a dead deer bleeding out in the back of their pick-ups. My most recent trip through Wyoming had me feeling like I was in a horror movie.” – wh1skeyk1ng


7) “You seem to have this separation between animal and food (which leads to a lot of vegetarians and vegans it seems), like you don’t want to think of them as the same thing.

And your insane, nonsensical language, why the hell can’t I spell elephant with an F? What would that actually change other than some stupid grammatical snobbishness?”- hamadubai


8) “Wiping your ass with only toilet paper after a poop. Really? Isn’t this a bit unhygienic?” – HurrrDurrrrrDerp


9) “I’m an American, but teach in China. My students hate that we drink ice water instead of hot water with meals” – jcast015


10) “What is up with sour cream? WHY do you want literally SOUR CREAM on your food??” – chowmander

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Jenn Nicole

by Jenn Nicole

Special Contributor from The Sevenology. Jennifer got her start writing bad poetry in middle school about unrequited love and fascination with natural phenomenon. In high school, she moved on to a healthy obsession with Harper's Bazzar, W, and Vogue magazine editorials and photo spreads. She soon moved into a career as a writer, stylist and digital marketing consultant for the fashion and entertainment industry. Follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter, or her own fashion and lifestyle site, TheSevenology.com.