Culture Shock

There were some experiences on our trip to London and Paris which were total culture shock from the United States.  I wanted to share because I think it might help some of you traveling abroad soon (that means you, Kady!)

First of all, dogs in London were treated almost like humans.  They were allowed wherever outside and did not need to be leashed.  The only signs around were “dogs must be under control” instead of “dogs must be leashed.”  There were tons of dogs running free in Kensington Gardens (the royal park) and people were totally fine with it.  We were walking along Notting Hill road, a very busy street, and a woman walking her dog needed to go into the convenience store.  She told her dog to sit, unleashed it, and just walked right in.  We sat there to watch for a while, and even though a million people passed, the dog sat like a rock until she returned.  I was pretty impressed.

Also in London, if you plan to dine in at a restaurant, be prepared to stay for hours.  It is a completely different dining experience than it is in the States.  They feel that you are paying good money for a meal and should be allowed to sit and enjoy it for as long as you like.  When you sit down, the waiters aren’t eager to get your order or even bring you a water to sip on.  In fact, you won’t even get a water unless you specifically ask for one.  And don’t even think about a refill.  It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere in restaurants, and they are fine if you come in to eat and sit there for an additional hour just chatting.  If you are in a hurry, it’s definitely better to order from the bar area.

{English breakfasts are kind of gross, by the way… photo via}

In both London and Paris, don’t be surprised when you see army men walking around with loaded weapons and a finger on the trigger.

They are on almost every street corner.

These cities were definitely not made to be handicap friendly either.  In any given day, you will probably need to walk a few hundred stairs at minimum.  Some of the subway stations were over 150 stairs underground and many did not have escalators.  Most restaurants and stores were three or four levels, with the bathrooms being in the basement, bars on the main level, eat in dining upstairs, etc.  And places like Montmarte in Paris were a hike just to get to.

{photo via}

A fair warning to those staying in hotels: washcloths are not something that the hotel provides for you like they do in the states.  I was pretty disturbed that in both cities washcloths are considered “personal items” that you bring with you.  {How are you supposed to let them dry before you have to leave?! I digress…} Kind of weird, but now you know to bring your own…

This is probably common sense to most people, but double check the conversion rate before you go.  I knew that the Euro was worth much more than the dollar, but for some reason I didn’t know the pound was.  I thought they were about equal.  Unfortunately, the pound was double the dollar while we were there, so we ended up paying twice as much as we thought we did for the first day.

{photo via}

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our trip to London and Paris and that these tips will help someone in the future.  Now tell me, have you ever traveled anywhere that was just a complete culture shock to you?

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2 Responses to Culture Shock

  1. Kate says:

    Those guys with the guns would have freaked me out! I had no idea it was like that… I didn’t know about the washcloth thing either, and it wouldn’t even have occurred to me that a hotel might not have them.

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