Japan is high on my list of most interesting countries for several reasons. One, the aesthetics of the architecture and layout of the landscapes were so distinctly different from what we see in the US. Decorative shrines, the villages, even big cities were impressive. Attention to detail and respect for their history could be seen in a lot of things they build, if that makes sense.
I was fortunate to be there for extended periods while on detachment which allowed the opportunity to travel around during my off time. Taking the train to Hiroshima to visit ground zero of where the atomic bomb was dropped is humbling. They has an interactive museum there with many artifacts that survived.
Not one country, but the Middle Eastern region was an experience of near-total culture shock. Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE left quite an impression on me as to how different other ways of life can be from the USA.
Europe…was kind of disappointing. Yes, France and Monaco were neat, especially as I have French ancestry, but the attitudes towards Americans they display is not just a stereotype. I understand that is a strain of the culture to be a bit brisk and come off as rude, but for an East Texan raised on Southern manners and politeness it was not easy to get used to. haha
One quick example of French ‘politeness’: I was at the Cannes train station about to head to Monaco and spotted a deli with croissants. Looking in the glass display I saw that the price appeared to say €10 for one. I thought that might be mislabeled as the currency conversion meant it was over $10 for one. I asked the deli employee if that was the price. “That what it says on the paper,” he replied as he walked off. So yeah, it was an experience.
Italy is one of the countries I want to go back to one day. I spent one day in Rome seeing the sights, and would love to go back. Being able to walk right up to the Coliseum and touch it felt amazing. So much history to take in.