When traveling abroad, especially for an extended stay, the term “culture shock” is used often.  People speak of the difficulty in language differences and the currency, but there seemed to be a lot of changes and differences that go unaddressed.

Upon walking into the airport in Prague, I was greeted by the new culture and of course noticed the advertising written in Czech, and not hearing English spoken around me. I thought I had met my biggest challenges and changes… Until I walked into the bathroom in the hotel.  There stood a contraption on the wall that resembled a shower head and faucet.  The only problem was a lack of a shower curtain, not even a rod for one.  I thought that it could not possibly be a shower without the curtain.

My mother was always very strict on keeping the bathroom clean, especially when it came to not getting water outside of the tub.  Trying to shower with no curtain became stressful quickly because all I could think about was the water pooling on the floor. When one makes it across the ocean and through foreign airports, a shower does not seem like it would be the biggest challenge in this new place.

Somehow, this became my first moment of realizing how big the world is.  Leading a sheltered life where one stays in the confines of the borders means that the culture in that country is all you know and kind of expect when abroad.  The different governments and languages are expected because that is what we learn in school and see on TV, but general differences in day-to-day activity go unnoticed.

It becomes so easy to become stuck in your ways and ideas when you have no clue there is another way.  Not having a shower curtain is not wrong or bad, but it seems that way when you have no clue anyone does it differently. In that moment, I became more prepared for the differences that awaited me on the trip.  Expect the unexpected has never been more relevant.


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