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Reverse Culture Shock | Philippines Trip 2023

Updated: Sep 14

Hey, you! 👋

Let's talk about reverse culture shock today.

When we got back to France from our Philippines trip, the Husband and I talked about this and we were surprised that nothing came to mind.

I initially thought I didn't have any reverse culture shock experience on this trip, but turns out I do.


A few months ago, I stumbled upon a video of a Filipino youtuber living in Canada. She had just gone to the Philippines after living several years in Canada ( In her video, she talked about several reverse culture shock experiences she had during her trip. This was something that I had never thought about and I wondered if something similar would happen to us.

I initially thought that we had none but as I sat down to write another blog post (click here to read it), I suddenly realized that we did indeed have our own experience of reverse culture shock and it happened on our first day in Cebu.

If you remember, on our first day in Cebu, we had lunch at Jollibee (click here for the post). After eating, we naturally started picking up after ourselves like we would do here in France. But we quickly realized that there was nowhere to throw our trash. We looked around and basically saw that people just left behind their mess on the tables.

In France and probably in other countries as well, when you eat at a fast-food place, it is culturally expected of you to gather your trash on the tray and throw it away in the bin. As you leave the place, nothing should be left behind on the table and that's when the employee will come wipe clean the table and eventually tidy up the chairs.

In the Philippines, you don't do that. You eat, then leave everything on the table and expect someone to pick up after you. I was shocked to see that some tables were really messy, with half-eaten food and sauce everywhere.

That seriously felt quite strange to us and we just picked after ourselves anyways. In fact; everytime we ate at a fast-food place, we would gather everything on a tray and try to clean our table as much as possible. All the employee had to do after us was throw our tray and clean the table.

They say "when in Rome, do as Roman's do", but this was one thing we just couldn't. And honestly, that's not something I want my daughter to get used to. I don't want her to think that someone will just come and pick her shit up after her.

What's funny about this all is as we were picking up after ourselves, I could feel eyes all over us, judging us, mentally asking "what the hell are you doing?" But naaaaahhh, again, this was one thing we just could not NOT do.


I thought I was done with this subject, but something else came up to mind as I was getting prepared to finish this post.

People in the Philippines are really really nice. Customer service is really something else in the Philippines. Is it because of the tips regularly given? Maybe, but that smile can't be bought and it isn't forced. A waiter smiling as he takes your order? How is that possible? I think I've been in France for too long (12 years already!) because the smiles threw me off at first. LOL. I'm not saying that everyone is like that, but come to France and you'll see how different it is here. In fact, French people know this about themselves. By the way and this is something I've experienced several times in France, but some of the best restaurant service experiences I've had in France were when the actual owners of the restaurants were handling the dining room / diners. True story.


Experiencing a reverse culture shock is a bit unsettling because these are things we grew up with and once upon a time, this was the standard we lived with and most likely followed. Which is why travelling has such a big impact of one's life. I strongly believe that not everything can be taught at school, the rest comes from the school of life. As you travel, you pick the things you are comfortable with, like picking up after yourself at a fastfood place or smiling wholeheartedly at a client at work.

Have you ever experienced reverse culture shock?

xoxo Elodie

P.S. This is the last post of the Philippines Trip 2023 series (unless I think of something else). But I will be talking further about these topics in the podcast soon. 😚

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