12 Biggest Culture Shocks Americans Have Experienced Within the United States

You don’t have to travel overseas to experience culture shock because there are plenty of differing cultures within the confines of the United States! Some people think some states are so different that they may as well be different countries. Recently, men and women met in an online discussion to reveal the biggest culture shocks Americans have experienced when traveling within the country.

1. Humidity-Free Weather

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If all you’ve known is humid weather, encountering mild climates is a total shock to your system! “Believe it or not, for me, the air was a shock the first time I visited Wyoming after living in Louisiana my whole life,” confesses one man. “It felt like another planet. It felt like indoors, except it was outdoors. I could be outside for so much longer. Back home, the humidity hits you like a brick wall. I had no idea I was living in such a humid environment. To me, that’s just what air was.”

2. Housing Disparity

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Sadly, in many areas of the country, just a few city blocks separate the haves and the have-nots. It’s a sad state of affairs. I live in New England, and driving through South Carolina was both beautiful and extremely depressing,” reports one woman. “I can’t tell you how many houses I saw with roofs about to collapse and two old people just sitting outside drinking. Then, just three streets down, there’s a gated community with $700,000 houses.”

3. Bizarre Beer

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Amazing craft beer can be found in all but one U.S. state: Utah. Sure, Utah-brewed craft beer technically exists, but due to antiquated laws over alcohol content in beer, none of their brews top the 5% alcohol-by-volume mark. For fans of quality beer, this is heartbreaking! Utah makes it exceedingly difficult to feel a buzz when enjoying those ice-cold beverages.

4. Unfamiliar Dialects

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Every person who’s ever lived in the northeastern United States confesses the same thing when they first travel south: They are blown away by the dialects and accents of Southerners! While English is the official language of the United States, some residents of southern states seem to be speaking a different language entirely. 

5. Common Courtesy

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Depending on where you live in the United States, there are different rules regarding addressing your elders. Sometimes, it’s challenging to keep track! When I was in elementary school, my family moved from Indiana to Texas for a few years,” explains one woman. “My brothers and I got in trouble in Texas for not referring to our teachers by ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am,’ and we quickly learned to do so.”

6. Hawaiian Surf Culture

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Surfers worldwide tip their hats to Hawaiian residents: They will drop what they’re doing on any given day if the ocean starts calling their names. It doesn’t matter if they own restaurants or bars; it’s common to see signs reading, “Closed early, waves are good” all over the Hawaiian islands. 

7. The Permeance of Religion

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Some areas of the country are more religious than others. Therefore, for any non-religious person traveling through specific states like Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of churches everywhere! It’s one of the best examples of Americans experiencing culture shock within our own borders. 

8. Latin Flair

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One of the most incredible instances of culture shock is witnessing how other cultures influence cities and towns across the United States. I’ve been to South Florida, but the weight of the Spanish and Latin cultures in architecture, language, and street names in San Antonio was a minor culture shock,” confesses one woman.

9. Beautiful People Everywhere

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After years of living in Philadelphia, I’ll never forget when I first visited San Diego, California. Talk about culture shock: Every human I interacted with was exceptionally beautiful. Men, women, and even pets were good-looking! It was a culture shock, to say the least. Luckily, the beautiful people let me stay and live there for over ten years.

10. Population Shock

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Sometimes seeing large groups of people everywhere can be a tough pill to swallow when you’re from a small town! When I was in high school, I went on a class trip to New York City,” recalls one woman. “I was born and raised in a tiny town in rural remote Minnesota. All of my childhood family vacations were to national parks or other remote places. The sheer amount of PEOPLE on the East Coast was mind-boggling to me.”

11. Conversation Starters

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Anyone who frequents bars in the Northeast knows that most people like to be left to their own devices when enjoying an alcoholic beverage. However, that isn’t the case in the American South! Many people confess that some of their best conversations came at bars and restaurants when a stranger began randomly talking to them. 

12. Not Pumping Your Own Gas

Full-Service Gas Stations
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Not all examples of culture shock have negative connotations. Only a few Americans know that New Jersey laws prohibit drivers from pumping their gas at gas stations! Imagine being pleasantly surprised when you pull into a New Jersey gas station only to be greeted by a friendly person who proceeds to pump your gas for you! 

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