So, you’re in a foreign country, and suddenly, you’re amazed by something incredibly ordinary for the locals. It’s a classic case of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” We asked people from various corners of the globe to share their stories, and here’s what they had to say. From the bustling streets of the United States to the serene landscapes of Australia, and the historical towns of Europe to the vibrant cultures of South Africa, these tales of curiosity and wonder highlight the beauty of our shared world seen through different lenses.
Featured Image Credit: halfpoint /Depositphotos.com.
#1 Orderly Traffic in the USA
“I asked a colleague from India what he found most interesting since moving to the US and he said the orderly traffic. He did a mind blown motion and everything.”
In the hustle and bustle of life, we often take our daily routines for granted. But, for a newcomer, the meticulously organized lanes and courteous drivers on American roads can be a revelation. In many parts of the world, you don’t often see people waiting patiently at a red light or yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. The contrast between the chaotic traffic in some other countries and the smooth flow in the USA can leave a lasting impression, turning even the most mundane of drives into a magical experience.
#2 Raccoons in the USA
“Raccoons. Some of my co-workers are from Japan, and one was quizzing me about the best way for his sons to get to see a raccoon when they got there. “Visit a restaurant dumpster just before dawn? Tear open a box of kitten chow on the back patio?” “They like cat food?” “Yes, they like cat food and if you actually do that you will see 6 raccoons the following evening…” I understand that Japan later developed an invasive raccoon problem….so not quite the novelty.”
Raccoons are like furry neighborhood residents in some parts of the United States. For locals, these masked bandits are a common sight, often rummaging through garbage cans or waddling across the street at night. But for those new to the land of raccoons, it’s like entering a wildlife documentary. The fascination of spotting one of these critters in your backyard can be akin to a National Geographic moment.
#3 Koalas and Kangaroos in Australia
“The wildlife. I don’t think I’ve met a tourist who didn’t have “see a koala” on their to-do list.
But I probably wouldn’t consider them mundane, because I get super excited and really happy when I see a koala and I live here. “Mundane” would probably be kangaroos.”
In the land down under, the koala is a symbol of Australia, featured prominently on postcards and in tourists’ hearts. However, for Australians, they’re just another part of their beautiful environment. It’s the kangaroos that sometimes steal the spotlight in the mundane department. To them, kangaroos are like the deer of North America, grazing peacefully by the roadside without garnering too much attention.
#4 Aggressive Crabs in Japan
“When I went to Japan, all the rain gutters had aggressive crabs living in them. I thought that was the coolest thing ever!”
Imagine being greeted by fierce crabs when you’re just trying to take a leisurely stroll after a drizzle in Japan. While locals might see it as a quirky natural phenomenon, for someone from a crab-less region, it’s an unforgettable experience. Those unexpected encounters with feisty crustaceans can make you appreciate the marvels of nature in a whole new light.
#5 Monitor Lizards in SE Asia
“As a foreigner in SE Asia, I’m always very excited to see monitor lizards, much to the amusement of locals. In the UK, I kinda love how excited tourists get about Gregg’s”.
It’s always amusing to watch tourists’ reactions when they come face-to-face with monitor lizards in Southeast Asia. For the locals, these reptiles are part of the urban landscape. But to newcomers, the sight of a giant lizard ambling across the road can be both thrilling and comical. In the UK, however, it’s not reptiles but the thought of a good old pastry from Gregg’s that gets tourists buzzing with excitement.
#6 Old Buildings Everywhere
“Old buildings. 50% of the people in my city live in buildings build before 1800”.
Living among centuries-old buildings can be ordinary for many Europeans, but for visitors, it’s like stepping into a time machine. Those charming cobblestone streets and historic facades can transport you back to a different era. Even the most mundane stroll to the corner store becomes a history lesson for those not accustomed to such architectural wonders.
#7 Free Public Electric BBQs in Australia
“Free public electric BBQs. In Australia, at many beaches and parks, there are free BBQs. They are nearly always clean and work very well. Everyone uses them and cleans them after they finish cooking.”
A beachside barbecue is a quintessential Aussie experience. For locals, it’s just a way of life, but for foreigners, it’s a picnic in paradise. These free, well-maintained public BBQs are a real treat for travelers. The joy of cooking up a sizzling feast by the ocean without the hassle of hauling charcoal or gas cylinders is a delightful luxury that many from abroad find incredible.
#8 Guava and Passion Fruit in South Africa
“I married into a South African family…they are amused by how excited I, an American, get about guava and passion fruit flavored everything when we visit them. And the cheap, amazing, wines.”
Flavored with the exotic tastes of guava and passion fruit, South African delicacies can turn an American into a culinary adventurer. The way guava and passion fruit are woven into the local cuisine may seem mundane to South Africans, but for those from across the ocean, it’s like discovering the Garden of Eden.
#9 Opossums in the USA
“Opossums. In America, they’re big, light colored, and pink nosed, with a hairless skinny tail. The Indian workers saw one and ran over with their arms wide, exclaiming, “I just saw a mouse and it was this big!”
When you’ve grown up with a certain type of wildlife, seeing a new species can be quite exhilarating. For American folks, opossums are just another face in the animal crowd. But for those from different parts of the world, these marsupials may resemble oversized mice with their pale fur and hairless tails, leading to wide-eyed amazement.
#10 Enormous Parking Lots in the USA
“Our enormous parking lots. Americans don’t even blink at a 3 acre parking lot. The Europeans are astonished, every time.”
Parking lots the size of football fields are commonplace in the United States, but for Europeans, they’re a marvel. The sheer scale of these parking lots can be a jaw-dropping moment for newcomers. It’s one of those instances where bigger isn’t always better, depending on your perspective.
#11 Paying for Public Restrooms in Europe
“Paying for public restrooms.”
In some parts of Europe, the idea of paying for the privilege of using a public restroom can be quite puzzling for visitors. It’s one of those small cultural differences that can lead to quizzical expressions on tourists’ faces. After all, who wants to fish out spare change just to answer nature’s call?
#12 Fireflies in the USA
“Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are a magical sight for many in the USA. It’s not just a fascination for foreigners; even locals sometimes find themselves in awe of these enchanting creatures, finally understanding those references in fairy tales and Disney movies.”
Watching fireflies illuminate the night sky can be a heartwarming experience. For Americans, it’s a familiar sight that often goes overlooked. However, for someone seeing fireflies for the first time, it’s like living in a fairy tale. The enchanting dance of these bioluminescent insects can make anyone feel like they’ve stepped into a Disney movie.
#13 The Red American Cups in the USA
“My Australian cousins were visiting me in California. I took them to a house party and they got so excited about the cups. “Oi, they’ve got the red American cups!”
A simple red cup, often used at parties and gatherings in the USA, can be a novelty for visitors. It’s a symbol of casual American culture, and for those not accustomed to it, the excitement of sipping from these iconic cups can be a memorable part of their American experience.
#14 Hummingbirds in the USA
“Humming birds. I live in Palm Springs, CA and was visiting the Moorten Botanical Gardens when I overheard someone with a British accent say, “OMG is that a HUMMINGBIRD?” I wasn’t aware they don’t have hummingbirds where they live. They were just astounded and amazed watching it flit around, stop and hover, then move on.”
In some parts of the United States, hummingbirds are frequent backyard visitors. These small, iridescent birds bring a touch of magic to everyday life. To someone from a place without these agile flyers, seeing a hummingbird darting around, hovering in mid-air, and sipping nectar from flowers can be a truly mesmerizing sight. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the most incredible things are right in our own backyards.
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