What was your biggest culture shock moving from the United States to Belgium or vice versa?
My biggest shock was almost as traumatic as discovering there was no Santa Claus. It was the discovery that French fries are not French, they are Belgian!
It was less of a shock, but a pleasant one, to discover in Belgium that beer can be produced in an almost infinite variety of ways and flavors.
The Belgians don't have French Fries. I mean in the USA, thousands of miles from France you can easily get French fries everywhere. But right next door to France in Belgium we asked for French fries and they said they don't have them.
A rude waiter said to us "If you want French fries go to France".
We went across the border to France but they had no French fries either. Just something called Frites Anglais, which seems to mean English Fries.
Europe is a strange place.
Mine was how great the beer was. I had not been much of a beer drinker in the US (mid-80s), having been used to the crap we had in the US back then. Having Belgian beer was a revelation, and got me interested in ‘good' beer.
In the 80s, I was able to pay all my bills (utility, rent, etc.) at my local bank by electronic transfer without the need to write and send checks by mail. It was entirely free. That was something that made me aware how backwards we were in some respects.
How wonderful the public transportation system was. I was amazed the first time I took the train (Intercity to Amsterdam), how the trains were on time to the minute. Something that I would never see in the US. And the trains were so modern, rode on rails that were smooth as silk, with no click-clacking over rail joints.
How wonderful it was to be able to drive at a decent speed (80 mph or above), on the autoroutes, and how many drivers knew how to observe the rules of the road (though the Belgians did have a reputation for being more unpredictable than the Germans).