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Help! I have been Culture Shocked

By Tháng Tư 24, 2019Tháng Ba 1st, 2022No Comments

Coming from America, I have noticed many cultural differences while being in Vietnam. There were a couple of big ones that have stood out to me.


One of the biggest cultural shocks for me was the popularity of smoking in Vietnam. It seems like everyone does it starting from a very young age. It was shocking to see smoking allowed in so many public facilities. Smoking is a common thing in America for the older generation, however, smoking in most public facilities is prohibited.


Another culture shock for me was the liveliness in Vietnam compared to America. During the weekends in Vietnam, roads are closed down and there is a festival for 3 days. Everyone brings their kids to the festival and there are thousands of people on the streets. In America, we rarely have events like this. If you go outside, you will only pass a couple of people roaming the streets. Everyone in Vietnam seems to live a lifestyle outside and around the lake. It is enjoyable to see the Vietnamese community coming together every weekend. There are also night markets every weekend which attract a lot of people as well. We don’t have many night markets in America. Even if we have markets in America, bargaining is not a popular concept. In Vietnam, every item seems to be negotiable. In America, people get angry or find it disrespectful to value down the products. In Vietnam, it is a part of the culture to keep pushing for the lowest prices and walking away if you don’t get what you want. I felt bad doing this when I first got to the country, however, after many weeks of going to the night markets I feel comfortable bargaining. I realized the stores charge significantly more for tourists and for people who seem naïve.

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I was also shocked about the driving in Vietnam. There are no rules of the road here or speed limits that people follow. The lanes are not existent and there is not really regard for stop lights. In America, the rules of the road are very strict. Everyone must follow the speed limit and obey to the rules about driving. Many people get pulled over by cops if they are driving recklessly. In Vietnam, cops only stop someone if they are not wearing a helmet. The main mode of transportation in Vietnam is Scooters, whereas in America we mostly use cars. It was very scary crossing the road for the first week I was here. The cars don’t stop at the crosswalks so it is very hard to get to the other side of the road. In America, there are stoplights and crosswalks which are obeyed so it is very easy and safe to cross the road.

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The food is very different from American food. People in America love to eat salads and chicken is a popular type of meat there. There are also many options at restaurants that are accommodating to vegetarians or people with dietary restrictions. I was shocked at how much the cuisine in Vietnam revolves around solely meat. There is meat in almost every dish here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most restaurants don’t serve vegetarian options in Vietnam which surprised me. Street food is also very popular in Vietnam. In America, we don’t have any street or roadside food.

Overall, I was very shocked by some of the differences between America and Vietnam. However, I go to India often and I notice many similarities between Vietnam and India. Southeast Asia as a whole has a different culture than America. I love Vietnam’s liveliness and will miss it when I go back to America.

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