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A lot of times, we get so caught up in our own lives, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. If you’ve only ever lived or spent time in a first world country, you might not understand just how different life can be in a third world country.

AskReddit users offered their real life experiences living in or spending significant time in third world countries.

1. I never thought I’d take a crosswalk for granted:

“I was in Egypt while it was under Mubarak, and I remember trying to contend with traffic in Cairo.

I had to ask the police officer who was standing there if the drivers obey the lights or the road markings.

He told me that those were there to make the roads look nice!”

– IVTD4KDS

2. I’ve gotta remember this one: 

“I walk with my cellphone hidden in my pants because it’s extremely common for you to get robbed.

I’ve been through a violent robbery while dinning, and very few people I know haven’t been through similar experiences, multiple times even.”

– alulugrace

3. And this:

“I learned this trick from a friend: a gang member tried to rob him, he told him to give him his cell phone, so he took out his fake cell phone and threw it as far as he could.

The gang member went after the cell phone and my friend used that moment to run. The gang member realized what was happening, but it was too late.

My friend managed to get to a store with security guards where they helped him and called the police.”

– EpicAlmond

4. Start clipping those coupons:

“Argentinian here.

You just go to the store expecting everything to be 5-10% more than the last time you went.”

– Alzusand

5. This is actually pretty similar to how Midwesterners give directions:

“I’m American but have worked in 70+ countries over the last 12 years. So let’s discuss Nicaragua….

There are no addresses. None.

Trying to get to your hotel? You’ll get a description of the general location using the rising or setting sun, lake shores and other prominent land marks which may or may not exist! Then the distance from that landmark in a unit of measurement that hasn’t been used for centuries. (The vara…which is about 2.5 feet).

It’s truly amazing that anyone gets anywhere in Nicaragua.”

– TinKicker

6. This sounds pretty scary…

“Having a sh*t ton of deterrence mechanisms around your house.

Burglar bars on all the windows, trellis doors on your front door and then probably one in the bedroom hallway.

Keeping your door locked. If you don’t have a fence you’re just asking people to break in and murder you.

South Africa.”

– liam_eras

7. I’m starting to feel the same way:

“I’m Canadian, and I’ve visited my South African in-laws twice now.

One of the biggest culture shocks for me was having to be locked up so tight.

Being able to safely be in an unfenced backyard or take a walk by myself at nearly any time of day is a luxury I no longer take for granted.”

– JByrde76

8. So much for man’s best friend:

“Stray dogs, which some of them are hostile, are everywhere.

It is not possible to roam in the streets around sunrise when they walk in groups or during night, without risking yourself being attacked by dogs.

I moved to Europe now but I am still unreasonably nervous around leashed dogs that people are walking.”

– hardware26

9. The next time you get annoyed while waiting in line to place your order, remember this:

“Having to stand for hours in bread lines, then for hours at the petrol lines, then for hours at the cooking gas lines, then coming back home to find that they shut off the electricity because there’s too much load.”

– DRIZZYLMG

10. Accessibility to medical care is never something to be taken for granted:

“Here in Peru (specially if you are not from the capital) to get a medical appointment you need to wait 3 months. (For surgeries or actual medical treatments it can take over a year.)

So many people I knew got random appointments just in case something happens.

You’d better suffer the hemorrhage that day or you have to pray for the eucalyptus tea to actually work.”

– lStormVR

11. And I thought the broken washing machines in my apartment building were annoying…

“One aspect of living in a first world country is that it’s normal for things to work. In third world countries, it’s the opposite.

Technology, roads, institutions…there is a tacit assumption that none of these things work the way they’re supposed to, and that’s just the way it is.

When you live in the third world, your roads are full of potholes, your lights go out every week (if not every day), everything is on the fritz and politicians are incredibly corrupt (and yes, I know that there’s corruption in Europe and the US as well, but it’s not like our corruption).

– machu_pikacchu

12. At least the bananas are amazing?

“I don’t live there anymore, but I used to live in Guatemala. Here’s a list of some of the differences I remember:

You could pay people to watch your car if you parked it on the street to keep it from being broken into.

The bananas were amazing there though! The open-air market was one of the best things about living there. Bananas in the US where I moved back to taste like wax in comparison. :/”

– AvengerofSquids

I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty privileged to live where I live right now. Listening to the stories of what others are experiencing is a great way to gain perspective. Suddenly that 10-minute wait in line at the drive-through doesn’t seem too bad.

Do you live in a third world country? What issues do you deal with that people in first world countries can’t comprehend?

Let us know in the comments!


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