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01-23-18 11:34:44 AM

Jul - General Chat - Experiences traveling abroad New poll - New thread - New reply
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FieryIce

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Posted on 07-24-13 09:25:45 PM Link | Quote
So I bet many of us like traveling and seeing new places so I was wondering who here has had the opportunity to leave their home country and what have your experiences been? Culture shocks? Indigestion after trying the local cuisine for a bit? How long where you there? Any pictures? Was there a language barrier? How were you able to handle it (if at all)? Did jet lag adversely affect your first couple days there?

If you haven't traveled abroad then talk about interesting things about your home country (or home state if from the US) that you think would surprise or impress tourists, especially if you're not from the US as most of us are and might be curious Also talk about places you would like to visit and what in particular attracts you to that place.

I bring this thread up because I am traveling abroad for the first time in my life in just 20 days from now. I am going to China and I will be staying there for 11 months; I will be doing a lot of traveling around China and trying to experience everything I can! I have been learning Chinese for about 2 years now and my language level is about Upper Intermediate on the CEFR scale, so I am not expecting any kind of language barrier whatsoever, allowing me to experience the local culture as much as I want. Over this long process of learning Chinese I have made several friends from China (and a couple classmates from Georgetown University are currently there!) so I already have people to hang out with while I'm there.

I was born and grew up in Puerto Rico, so coming to the mainland felt like "going abroad." It's been 3 years now though, so I can't really remember what kind of cultural shocks I experienced; there was certainly not a language barrier or problems getting used to the cuisine, although some people might remember me complain endlessly about the cafeteria food at my college and my cravings for rice.
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Posted on 07-24-13 09:39:30 PM Link | Quote
We (my family) tend to always go to Corsica during summer holidays. It's not really a foreign country, but it has its own culture and all, and it's a nice place for vacation.

Otherwise, we've been to Sardinia in summer 2007, and sometimes before we went to Spain for a short while. We haven't travelled to foreign countries aside from all that.

Sometimes we talk about going to USA. I'd be all for doing it.
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Posted on 07-24-13 09:42:32 PM Link | Quote
I went to London several years ago (August of 2007)... it was a pleasant visit; jetlag I don't remember as being too much of a deal, we spent the whole trip on our feet though and would have had to walk it off anyway.

Culture shocks? My family had trouble with the food- we ended up mostly going to ethnic restaurants, mostly Mexican because I have a picky sister. (I was later told by a British friend of mine that no proper British person lives in London anyway so it's a bad place for English food, not sure if accurate ) So we went to London and ate Mexican food. Woo!

In general England isn't much of a culture shock to a Northeastern American, though (especially since we didn't drive)- I'm sure there are more interesting possibilities than mine...
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Posted on 07-24-13 10:11:42 PM Link | Quote
Not exactly much of traveling, but I've visited friends in Canada a few times this past year since moving to Ohio (I lived in California until about 8 months ago, which is obviously quite far from Canada ). Not really that much different from the US other than a little bit of accent.

*continues being boring*

I am saving up for a trip to Tokyo sometime next year though, so I'll post about that when that finally happens :V
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Posted on 07-24-13 10:31:44 PM Link | Quote
The only foreign country I have been to is my parents's home country of Italy, more specifically in Benevento (the closest residential block of towns to Naples). The last time I went was over 5 years ago, so I can't remember everything in detail, alas :/ Let's see what I can remember...
  • Cafes with ice cream and pastries galore were scattered all over the place! Packaged ice cream is pretty much dominated by Unilever's Italy brand "Auguri" (which uses the Good Humor logo)
  • The main tourism targets in the general area that we went to (apart from Naples itself) are the Palace of Caserta and the castle in Montesarchio (I don't know if it has a name); if you go to the Caserta prepare for lots of walking (in the courtyard)
  • The time period around August 15 (the day of the Assumption of Mary) is a major celebration here (for that reason). In Montesarchio there was a several-day-long festival with street vendors, carnival rides, and other festivities.
  • Piracy was the norm for getting CDs and video games: all my cousin's PS1 games and all the music CDs I wanted were pirated, the word they used was facsimile. I have no idea why, and I wasn't too happy about it (I preferred authentic stuff). I ... actually did not call it piracy at the time, not knowing it was that =P I don't remember if DVD movies were also pirated, but I did have access to a few DVDs in one relative's house.
  • Television: you have a bunch of channels, beginning with the RAI triad (like the BBC triad) and moving on in other ways. I forget if everything was digital or analogue but it was clearly over-air (i.e. not satellite/cable). Teletext is still a thing. One day, I actually did run into SpongeBob, Pokemon (I remember the details of this one episode but no one I've told it to in the English-speaking world knows anything so I'll get to it later), and Hamtaro....
  • Mentos in playing card deck-sized boxes! I need to get one of those boxes again...
  • More TV: music video channels are still a thing. There were several different genres being represented there, but all of it was music made recently (at the time).
  • Pizzas are small (think like big chain pizza nowadays small) and made to order (you can get a cookie pizza with Nutella spread if you want). There was one place with a humorous placemat showing a caveman trying to bite a wheel and deciding to use it as a pizza tray instead but I can't find it now.
  • Here's one song that was popular at the time and whose CD I had a copy of when I came back (this guy's stuff is generally good); I don't quite remember other popular songs from the time but you can use that one as a time reference for searching
  • Meal structure is typically breakfast in the morning, then a giant family dinner-sized lunch midday, then some quick cooked thing late at night. This wasn't unusual to me as one of my aunts here does the same thing in their household (I didn't know they had actually brought that tradition over though!), but it might surprise you.
  • Breakfast cereal offerings (I remember this specifically for some reason, possibly because in an even EARLIER visit I remember a box of American cereal promoting some toy based on Hand from The Addams Family) and sodas, and possibly some of the other stuff I don't remember, are the same. We went to a supermarket once in the trip I am talking about; I forget what it was called.

I can't really remember much else right now, but it was great, and I'm not sure when we'll be able to go back. (One of my parents have gone on occasion when someone on their side of the family dies, but that's about it, and I'm especially not sure when we can go back now since we run a restaurant of our own...)
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Posted on 07-25-13 12:11:14 AM Link | Quote
I moved from China to the US in December 2009, which is the home country of most of you guys here. There was a language barrier; I couldn't even understand the classes. It seems to be okay now, though.
About food, it's hard to find good Chinese restaurants in the US. Even fast food like Mcdonald's and KFC is not as good as those in China. Originally I thought the US had many great places to eat burgers and sandwiches, but after I came to the US, I was disappointed about the food.
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Posted on 07-25-13 07:09:23 AM Link | Quote
I went to France on a school trip and it was awful. The hotel we stayed at was just full of roaches. Ugh.

I've also been to Shetland, just north of Scotland. A very nice place. My dad's uncle (my great uncle? Gruncle?) lives there and we all went fishing. Nothing beats eating fish you caught 5 minutes ago.

The only other place I've been to was Lanzarote, which was nice, until we were burgled. Happily, we were able to recover my mum's bag, which contained our passports, and the thieves left my GBA alone; one of the bonuses of still using a worthless device.
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Posted on 07-25-13 01:58:42 PM Link | Quote
A couple of years ago I spent two weeks touring northern/western Europe during the summer (mainly Scandinavia, Germany, and the Netherlands). Visiting Europe was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and I still hope to go back sometime soon outside the realm of "organized tourism"(?). Norway is gorgeous during the summer.

When I was there I learned that Holland and Germany are both quite popular among foreigners who decide to complete some or all of their post-secondary education abroad, and a lot cheaper than the extortionate tuitions of most American public universities. For a while during college I had been seriously thinking about studying abroad for some time, though I didn't really know where, and after I found about this I really started kicking myself for not knowing about (and taking) the opportunity. I probably could have spent a few years somewhere like Berlin, Rotterdam, or Nijmegen instead of Florida, and have come out of it a lot happier, but I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

I've also been to the Caribbean a few times, but I don't have a lot to say about that other than the usual bougie beach resort crap. I'm also pretty sure Canada doesn't count as "abroad".
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Posted on 07-25-13 02:09:26 PM Link | Quote
I had a chance to visit Australia on my own, or to go to DIDNEY LAN with my family when I turned 13. I chose Disney, I feel like that was a waste.. So unfortunately I have never been outside of this country.
FieryIce

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Posted on 07-25-13 02:13:09 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by devin
For a while during college I had been seriously thinking about studying abroad for some time, though I didn't really know where, and after I found about this I really started kicking myself for not knowing about (and taking) the opportunity. I probably could have spent a few years somewhere like Berlin, Rotterdam, or Nijmegen instead of Florida, and have come out of it a lot happier, but I guess hindsight is always 20/20.


You could still do grad school abroad if you have plans of doing that! I am doing an undergrad year in China, and there's a good chance I might also do grad school abroad!

Originally posted by Nicole
So we went to London and ate Mexican food. Woo!


That's terrible! You should be ashamed. Now I wonder what London cuisine is like...

Originally posted by andlabs
Pizzas are small (think like big chain pizza nowadays small) and made to order (you can get a cookie pizza with Nutella spread if you want). There was one place with a humorous placemat showing a caveman trying to bite a wheel and deciding to use it as a pizza tray instead but I can't find it now.


Even though it sounds deadly, cookie pizza with nutella spread also sounds gloriously delicious. How was the other pizza? One of my teachers in High School loved Italy and raved about their pizza in general.
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Posted on 07-25-13 02:27:37 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by FieryIce
Originally posted by devin
For a while during college I had been seriously thinking about studying abroad for some time, though I didn't really know where, and after I found about this I really started kicking myself for not knowing about (and taking) the opportunity. I probably could have spent a few years somewhere like Berlin, Rotterdam, or Nijmegen instead of Florida, and have come out of it a lot happier, but I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

You could still do grad school abroad if you have plans of doing that! I am doing an undergrad year in China, and there's a good chance I might also do grad school abroad!

I thought about it briefly when I was still doing undergrad, but I don't really have any incentive to continue past a bachelor's in CS (unless I wanted to go eventually from industry to academia for some reason, which I really don't).

I figure I could still study abroad if I ever get tired of computers for the last time and decide to blow four more years on a brand new degree, but I'm not quite financially secure enough to consider trading in my entire career just yet...

Originally posted by FieryIce
Originally posted by Nicole
So we went to London and ate Mexican food. Woo!

That's terrible! You should be ashamed. Now I wonder what London cuisine is like...

My parents decided to go out for Chinese food one time. In Madrid. The conversation with the staff was about as comfortable as you'd expect
FieryIce

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Posted on 07-25-13 02:33:48 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by devin
Originally posted by FieryIce
Originally posted by devin
For a while during college I had been seriously thinking about studying abroad for some time, though I didn't really know where, and after I found about this I really started kicking myself for not knowing about (and taking) the opportunity. I probably could have spent a few years somewhere like Berlin, Rotterdam, or Nijmegen instead of Florida, and have come out of it a lot happier, but I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

You could still do grad school abroad if you have plans of doing that! I am doing an undergrad year in China, and there's a good chance I might also do grad school abroad!

I thought about it briefly when I was still doing undergrad, but I don't really have any incentive to continue past a bachelor's in CS (unless I wanted to go eventually from industry to academia for some reason, which I really don't).

I figure I could still study abroad if I ever get tired of computers for the last time and decide to blow four more years on a brand new degree, but I'm not quite financially secure enough to consider trading in my entire career just yet...


Yeah, there's not much of a point in going to grad school for computer science if you'll just be doing programming work and not teaching, I guess. So why not do the next best thing and work abroad?

There's a pretty high chance that I'll work in China after graduating at least for a couple years.
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Posted on 07-25-13 02:45:25 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by FieryIce
Yeah, there's not much of a point in going to grad school for computer science if you'll just be doing programming work and not teaching, I guess. So why not do the next best thing and work abroad?

I'd love to some day, given the chance. Also given me magically not being too lazy to move outside of the state. Also given any European firm actually wanting to hire and relocate Americans for some reason :V
FieryIce

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Posted on 07-25-13 03:17:06 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by devin
I'd love to some day, given the chance. Also given me magically not being too lazy to move outside of the state. Also given any European firm actually wanting to hire and relocate Americans for some reason :V

Oh that's true, the European economy is not really doing that well at the moment. :/ Oh well, you could luck out and find a job where you can telecommute! Then you can move wherever you want at ease!
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Posted on 07-30-13 02:04:06 AM Link | Quote
I've taken a few trips up to Canada, but really nothing of any real interest. Twice to New Brunswick and once to Quebec city itself on a French Club trip. Aside from the gratuitous French, nothing really felt all that different.

Unfortunately, my money situation and my lack of passport really halts things as far as a trip goes. I'd really, really like to see England someday, perhaps even Australia and Japan. I just hope I can make enough money one of these days to be able to do such nice trips. As it is, I can barely afford myself.
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Posted on 08-06-13 01:35:34 PM Link | Quote
Many years ago, back in the days of my youth (or just a few months ago, to be more accurate!), I went to Germany to visit my parents. A journey on a train one night was the most memorable moment of that abroad trip.
My dad was being really annoying, taking photos of me over and over, and I was really tired, so I stuck my middle finger up at him when he next pointed his phone at me, and he took a photo of that! He's got that photo as his screensaver now, of me swearing. Honestly, why does he like that?
What had also happened on that journey was that a bunch of teenage drunkees got on the train, and instead of fighting (although it did seem like they were going to at first), they sat in their seats and burst out singing (in german, so I couldn't quite understand what they were saying), banging on the tables like drums, and pretty much enjoying themselves. It was really entertaining, although it was really sad to see the alcoholic choir leave the train.

I'm abroad right now, taking a holiday in Lithuania, staying in a natural hotel (made by planks of wood), by a huge lake. I'm going to take my son for a swim in there tomorrow morning.
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Posted on 08-11-13 03:34:59 PM Link | Quote
I drove from Washington up to Canada - The main changes were that hockey was sudden playing on every TV, the speed limits were atrociously low, and there was a Tim Horton's on every corner.

I don't think I'm really the "culture-shock" type, but I'd have to go to a real foreign country to really know.

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Posted on 08-12-13 02:48:47 AM Link | Quote
I'm actually a fairly seasoned international traveler.

When I was much younger, I got to go to plenty of places in the general Asia-Pacific area due to my father's work being supportive of Family holiday and as such it was fairly painless for him to bring me along. Got to see a bunch of countries, been to Malaysia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bali and whatnot. That was always fairly interesting.

When I was in High School I did a summer exchange to Japan for my School Holidays, spending about 2 months in Japan. It was a pretty fantastic time, and it was quite a culture shock for a while.

Finally, in between my undergraduate and my postgraduate studies I went backpacking around Europe for about 3-4 months. That was great, got to see the UK and some of the more western European nations.

For reference, being Australian there was still a fair culture gap between all of these countries compared to home.
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Posted on 08-13-13 06:28:49 PM Link | Quote
In all honesty, the fact that my family is too poor to even go to a nearby city should be evidence enough that any trip longer than 50 miles is like traveling to another country to me. :U

I should say though that I did experience some level of culture shock when I lived in San Francisco. I guess it has to do partially from going to suburban life to urban life, but SF overall feels much safer and has an amazing transportation system (meaning, being able to go anywhere). Chicago, on the other hand, while I like it, there are some areas/neighborhoods that aren't safe to walk at night (and in some cases, probably not at all (I mean, one average sized Chicago neighborhood alone had more murders in a year than ALL of SF)), and while the transportation system is fairly extensive in the city itself (which is also unusually huge), a lot of people live outside the city limits aka Chicagoland, and it becomes much more of a pain in the ass to get anywhere.

Plus as far as I could tell, the big social issues of SF were the homeless problem and the rent problem, whereas here, it's major problems in violence and gang activity (and, which may be part of the more noticeable problem, the poverty and education problem in the city proper). I mean, people in the suburbs here will literally shit their pants if a crime happens in their respective town.

Okay I'm starting to fucking ramble but I guess the point is that SF seems like a much friendlier and accepting place where getting to anywhere is a breeze whereas Chicago has some pretty mean streets and if you're trying to get somewhere outside of the city it's such a large pain in the ass that you're expected to have a car.

Okay even shorter SF feels so much more of an open and accessible city than Chicago for a number of reasons and I guess I'm not used to that?
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Posted on 08-13-13 07:03:09 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Gabu
In all honesty, the fact that my family is too poor to even go to a nearby city should be evidence enough that any trip longer than 50 miles is like traveling to another country to me. :U

I should say though that I did experience some level of culture shock when I lived in San Francisco. I guess it has to do partially from going to suburban life to urban life, but SF overall feels much safer and has an amazing transportation system (meaning, being able to go anywhere). Chicago, on the other hand, while I like it, there are some areas/neighborhoods that aren't safe to walk at night (and in some cases, probably not at all (I mean, one average sized Chicago neighborhood alone had more murders in a year than ALL of SF)), and while the transportation system is fairly extensive in the city itself (which is also unusually huge), a lot of people live outside the city limits aka Chicagoland, and it becomes much more of a pain in the ass to get anywhere.

Plus as far as I could tell, the big social issues of SF were the homeless problem and the rent problem, whereas here, it's major problems in violence and gang activity (and, which may be part of the more noticeable problem, the poverty and education problem in the city proper). I mean, people in the suburbs here will literally shit their pants if a crime happens in their respective town.

Okay I'm starting to fucking ramble but I guess the point is that SF seems like a much friendlier and accepting place where getting to anywhere is a breeze whereas Chicago has some pretty mean streets and if you're trying to get somewhere outside of the city it's such a large pain in the ass that you're expected to have a car.

Okay even shorter SF feels so much more of an open and accessible city than Chicago for a number of reasons and I guess I'm not used to that?


I feel like my experience of Chicago has been completely opposite to yours, really. I do not live close to the Loop but I am on the northern side of the city (Logan Square) and the streets feel really safe (I was out with a friend till a bit past midnight with no scary situations at all). Public transit is fairly extensive over here with several bus lines within 5 blocks of here and a subway line going downtown and to the airport just a 10 minute bus ride away.
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