When traveling abroad we look forward to new sights, new cultures, and new people, but often we don’t realize that a different culture doesn’t include luxuries that Americans often take for granted.
When you travel within the states and reserve a room you expect your own bathroom to be included with the room, this, however, is not always the case when traveling abroad. In fact, more often than not having a private bathroom is a special request, one you must pay an additional fee to obtain. So, when looking at accommodations abroad it is wise to inquire about the facilities, even in hotels or B&Bs you may find yourself sharing a restroom with another room or even the whole floor. It is best to be aware of this from the start than to get a rather rude shock when you find yourself waiting in line for a shower in the mornings.
If you are one of the many people who enjoys ice in pretty much everything you drink you will have a major adjustment to overcome when traveling abroad. Ice is not something most other countries supply with every beverage. In fact, you may be surprised to find that some drinks are not even kept all that cold. Ice is an American luxury that other countries just don’t take all that seriously and if you brave asking for it in a drink you are more likely to get a strange look than an iced drink.
As Americans we are used to walking from one air conditioned location to another, especially when the weather tends to be hot. We have even gone so far as to build air conditioned bridges to buildings to keep our comfort in unruly weather. However, when abroad, no matter how unpleasant the weather, it is rare to find an air conditioned location. The shops and even malls often rely on good old fashioned ventilation and may even go so far as to have a fan or two blowing, but it is very rare to come across a nice crisp air conditioned environment outside of the States.
It is well known that Americans have the largest personal space bubble of any culture in the world. We like a good few feet between us and even friends and even more room between strangers. We don’t like to be touched and will even go to lengths to avoid brushing up against someone in a crowded area. This can be very different in many other cultures. They don’t mind crowded conditions and often when speaking with you will come a lot closer than is comfortable for you. You will know this has occurred when you begin a small dance with them of you stepping back, them stepping forward, and so on. Until you have nowhere to go. They are not being rude or trying to invade your space, it is just that they don’t require quite as much space to be comfortable as you do. Try to be aware of the space you are comfortable with and give other people a little room to move within that space. It may be hard and a bit uncomfortable at first, but over time you won’t even notice and when you return home you might find yourself on the opposite side of the personal space dance.