Cultural differences can sometimes lead to embarrassing or confusing situations. Imagine being born in the UK, India, or Australia and traveling anywhere else. You might wonder why people drive on the left side of the car. Inversely, if you’re not Italian, you might enjoy a nice cappuccino after lunch, which in Italy can be as outrageous as having a bowl of cereal after a steak.
Today, at Bright Side, we’ve compiled some of the most peculiar things that might surprise you when visiting another country.
1. Brits driving on the left
The real question is why people stopped driving on the left. In fact, back when riding horses was still a thing, you would wear your sword on your left, meaning that it was easier to have traffic on the left. Only after the French revolution and with the invention of freight wagons, did driving on the right become more and more popular, because the best place to sit in order to control these mighty beasts was on the back of the left-hand horse.
2. Instead of saying “cheese” the Dutch say “laugh at the little bird.”
Every country has a different expression when asking someone to smile in front of the camera. While most Spanish speaking countries say “whisky,” in the Netherlands “laughing at the little bird” is a common expression, because old photographers used to put a bird on their camera.
3. Japan uses blue traffic lights.
In ancient Japanese, only 4 basic colors existed: black, white, red, and blue. Anything green was described using the word for blue, or “ao.” The word “midori,” meaning “sprout,” began to be used to describe green, but it was and still is considered a shade of blue.
4. When answering the phone in the Netherlands you don’t say hello.
Although most languages use some variation of “hello” to answer the phone, in the Netherlands when picking up the phone you should say “with + your name” so that people can identify you immediately.
5. In Ecuador, the trash trucks play similar music to ice cream trucks in America.
As you can hear in this video, trash trucks in Ecuador have a very particular sound. Some people have compared it to the ice cream truck sound from other countries.
6. Public transportation is free in Luxembourg.
Despite Luxembourg being such a small country, it suffers from a terrible traffic problem. This might be because about 180,000 workers who live outside the country go to work there every day. Free transportation might help solve this issue, while at the same time offering a greener alternative.
7. You can walk the whole of Monaco, from North to South, in about 50 minutes.
Monaco, being the second smallest independent country in the world, can be crossed in about 50 minutes North to South. It is roughly the same size as New York’s Central Park, with an area of 1.95 sq km (0.75 sq mile).
8. In China you can major in “Bra Studies.”
Officially called “Intimate Apparel Specialism,” the Hong Kong Polytechnic University started this degree program. This is because many bras from companies like Victoria’s Secret and La Senza are made in China.
9. Costa Rica’s streets have no names.
Until 2010, Costa Rica’s streets had no name, meaning that when you had to send something there, you’d use famous monuments or other landmarks as a reference, instead of a proper address. This includes landmarks that are no longer there. Some think it’s a way of remembering the Costa Rican past.
10. In Italy cappuccino is only meant to be had at breakfast.
In Italy, milk is rarely consumed as a drink after breakfast, because it’s considered to be very heavy. This unwritten rule clearly affects coffee habits. Cappuccino with a pastry counts as an entire breakfast. Milk in coffee after lunch or dinner is not consumed.
11. If you’re single when you turn 25 in Denmark, you get showered with cinnamon.
Back in the day, traveling spice salesmen were known for being notorious bachelors. They were called pebersvend (pebermø for women) and are honored today by covering unwed or single twenty-fivers in cinnamon, a popular spice in Danish cuisine. At age 30, the cinnamon attack is upgraded to pepper…
What do people do in your country that others might find weird? What do you think about the particularities we listed? Are you willing to adopt them?