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Think everything’s the same worldwide? Think again! From weekends to utensils, and even how we say “OK,” the world is full of surprises. Let’s check out 19 everyday things that you might have thought were universal, but actually vary wildly around the globe.
Milk in Tea
While many in the West enjoy their tea black or with a splash of milk, in places like China and Japan, tea is often consumed plain, highlighting the natural flavors of the leaves.
School Year Timing
In the United States, the school year typically starts in August or September and ends in May or June. However, in countries like Australia and India, the academic year aligns differently, often beginning in January or February.
Weekend Days Off
In many countries, Saturday and Sunday are the standard weekend days. However, in some Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, the weekend is observed on Friday and Saturday, aligning with religious practices.
Using Forks and Knives
While forks and knives are common utensils in Western dining, in many Asian cultures, chopsticks are the norm. In parts of Africa and the Middle East, it’s customary to eat with your hands, often using flatbread as a utensil.
The “OK” Sign
In many Western countries, making a circle with your thumb and index finger means “okay.” However, in some cultures, it’s considered rude or even vulgar.
While tipping is standard in the U.S., it can be seen as disrespectful in countries like Japan.
Not every culture celebrates birthdays with cake and candles. Some have unique traditions or don’t celebrate at all.
In many parts of the world, bidets or hand washing are preferred over toilet paper.
While a staple in American households, peanut butter is less common in many other countries.
Ice in Drinks
In many European and Asian countries, drinks are served without ice or with very little.
This pre-birth celebration is primarily a Western tradition and isn’t commonly celebrated worldwide.
Cereals and toasts might be common in the West, but soup, rice, or even fish can be breakfast staples elsewhere.
Red Roses for Romance
While red roses symbolize love in many cultures, they might represent mourning or respect in others.
Driving on the Right
Not every country drives on the right side of the road. In fact, nearly 65 countries and territories drive on the left.
In places like Scandinavia, sandwiches often come with just one slice of bread.
This weather-predicting tradition is primarily an American event and isn’t recognized globally.
White Wedding Dresses
While white is a symbol of purity and is used for weddings in the West, other cultures might opt for red, gold, or other colors.
The number 13 is considered unlucky in many Western cultures, but in China, it’s the number 4 that’s avoided.
The amount of personal space considered appropriate can vary widely from one culture to another, with some cultures being more touch-oriented.
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Michelle Harler is the founder of Guide2Free, a website dedicated to finding and sharing freebies, product testing opportunities, and other ways to save money. With over a decade of experience in the industry, her expertise in finding quality offers makes Guide2Free an invaluable resource for anyone looking to try new products and save money.