While cultural differences bring up that excitement around something new and unexplored, they also remind us that not everything that is considered “normal” in our countries makes sense in other cultures around the world. Drinking hot chocolate cheese may seem normal for Colombians, and majoring in “Bra Studies” can be a serious career path to choose in Japan, but these may sound incredibly strange, and even funny, to the rest of the world. Take a look at some of the strangest things that are only common in certain countries around the world and see if they would be acceptable in your country.
1. Public Transport Actually Is Free In Luxembourg
Luxembourg is one of Europe’s smallest countries, with a population of approximately 602,000. Like many other countries around, Luxembourg suffers from huge traffic jams and way too many cars on the road.
In 2020, the country made public transportation free to all, locals and visitors alike, in an attempt to resolve this problem. Almost any time, anyone can catch a train, a bus, or a train completely for free, can you believe it?
2. Nepal Was Like: "We Don't Need A Rectangular Flag"
While most modern countries in the world have quadrilateral flags, Nepal really stands out by being the only one that didn’t follow the trend. Their flag is said to derive from Hinduism and acts as both the civil and state flag of the country.
The flag combines a double-pennon and has a crimson in red color, which symbolizes bravery and the color of the country’s national flower, rhododendron. The blue border on the flag stands for peace.
3. The Italian Police Once Transported A Life-Saving Kidney In One Of Their Lamborghinis
Every so often, the world hears about a new Lamborghini that has been added to the Italian police fleet and everyone goes crazy. That is because the Italian police are probably one of the only, if not the only, police out there to drive in one of the most expensive car brands in the world.
Just recently Rome’s state traffic police acquired a Lamborghini Huracan painted in full police colors. Though it sounds pretty extreme, the speed has been extremely useful for high-speed chases and to even transport a kidney to a patient.
4. You Might Easily Find A Little Kid Napping Outside In The Cold In Scandinavian Countries
It might sound concerning, but spotting a kid napping alone outside with no parent at sight is completely normal in some Scandinavian countries. That is because parents believe that the more they expose their kids to the outside, the healthier and stronger they will be.
Just to put things into perspective, the average temperature in a country such as Denmark is around 37 degrees Fahrenheit, yikes!
5. In Japan, Blue Traffic Lights Are Actually A Thing
If there is one thing that the streets of Japan have no shortage of is interesting lights. When it comes to traffic lights, things get even more interesting, and probably a little bit weirder.
In universal driving rules, the color red in a traffic light usually means stops, and green means go. Yet, Japan stands apart from other 74 countries in the world and prefers to use the color blue as the "go" color instead of green.
6. Also In Japan, Tiny Wooden Bathtubs Are Unusually Popular
In Japan, ofuro baths are extremely common and are usually made of wood. The traditional wooden bathtub mainly differs from the Western bathtub due to its short, steep-sided, and deeper construction style.
Literally, all over Japanese houses, apartments, and Japanese inns these types of baths can be found, though they are increasingly becoming made of plastic or stainless steel with time.
7. Colombians Love Their Hot Chocolate Cheese
Though the combination of hot chocolate and cheese may not sound so appetizing together, if there is one thing that we’ve learned, is that some of the most delicious things in life may sound unusual at first.
The delicious sweet cocoa drink is usually consumed alongside a yummy slice of cheese, and it apparently tastes heavenly together. So if you ever go to Colombia, definitely get yourself a delicious cup of hot chocolate cheese.
8. New Zealand Has A Place Called Taumatawha... Well Just Take A Look
We applaud anyone who even attempts to pronounce the name of this town in New Zealand! Not surprisingly, the place holds the record for having the longest name of a place in the world, with a whopping 85 characters.
The hill is located near Porangahau, in the South of Waipukurau in the Southern part of Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand. The name is of Māori origin and is listed in the Guinness World Records.
9. People Aren't Scared Of Not Refrigerating Their Milk In France
In 1865, a French microbiologist called Louis Pasteur groundbreakingly proved that it was possible to process beer and wine in a way that allowed them to be stored for longer periods of time without souring or spoiling.
While in other countries in the world the shield life of pasteurized milk lasts only a few weeks, in France, the land of Pasteur himself, milk is pasteurized at UHT (ultra-high temperature) and can therefore last much longer outside of the cold.
10. People In The UK Love Engaging In Cheese-Rolling Competitions
Yes, folks, people in the UK get together to compete against each other on the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling competition. Folks from all over the country come together to race down a 200-yard hill while chasing after a gigantic wheel of cheese.
The annual event takes place on the Spring Bank Holiday, and although it started only for people who lived in the local village of Brockworth, it grew so much that people from all over the world take part in it today.
11. In Equador, What Sounds Like An Ice Cream Truck Is Actually Trash
This is an important one to know, just in case you ever plan to go to Ecuador. Apparently, the trash trucks over there decided to adhere to the same tune that an ice cream truck in the US would sound like.
That's why visitors and tourists often get confused and disappointed when they hear the sound, as they often mistake a garbage truck tune with an ice cream truck.
12. You Might Have To Think Twice Before Going Up The Steep Stairs Of The Netherlands
If you've ever been to the Netherlands, you've probably noticed that the staircases around the country are a little unusual in comparison to the rest of the world. More than anything, those stairs are so steep and unusually shaped that they might be more of a health risk than anything else.
Historically, engineers would construct traditional structures by building them up rather than down, which would allow them to save as many inches as possible.
13. You Can Literally Walk From The South To The North Of Monaco In One Hour
If you come from a big country, then the concept of walking from one point to the other is an impossible idea.
It may take days by car or even weeks to reach the other side of your country, so just imagine being able to walk for one hour from the North to the South of Monaco while knowing that you saw everything you need to see?
14. You Could Major In "Bra Studies" In Hong Kong
If bras are your thing, and you've always wanted to learn more about their production and design, then you can actually major in bra studies in Hong Kong. At Hong Kong polytechnic, China's biggest lingerie manufacturer Top Form implemented a bra lab.
Since the company makes over 60 million bras every year, working with huge labels such as Victoria's Secret and Maidenform, the degree has gained increasing popularity with time. The official name of the popular course is "Intimate Textiles and Accessories."
15. In Italy, You Can't Escape That Service Charge
Many countries in Europe, including Italy, make sure their workers are tipped by adding the service charge to the bill. Instead of going through that awkward moment of not knowing how much you should tip your waiter in other countries in the world, Italian restaurants make your life easier by telling you exactly how much you need to pay.
Now, if the service isn't great though, then paying a large undeserved tip may be a little awkward.
16. If You Ever Craved A Fried Snickers, Go To Scotland!
Depending on your taste in chocolate, there is no doubt that Snickers is one of the most delicious candies out there. If the chocolate and caramel weren't yummy enough, you could elevate the experience by eating it fried!
Sure, the nutritional and health value on this one may be questionable, but there is nothing wrong with a necessary indulgence every now and then.
17. Bamboo Poles Are Used For Drying Clothes In Singapore
Countries all over the world have different mechanisms to dry their clothes. They may use a drier, an indoor drying pole, a metal pole, or in some countries such as Singapore, bamboo poles.
Because bamboo is so widely available in the country, citizens have made it quite popular to use it as a multifaceted tool to dry things.
18. You Can Have Water Fights With Random People In Thailand
Apparently, Thai people love water fights so much that the country implemented a nationwide water fight day for everyone to have fun with. The Water Fight Day takes place in April and is called Songkran, the Thai New Year's national holiday.
The water fight has become an indispensable part of ritual cleansing for the Thai people during the holiday celebration. In many parts of the country, people take the holiday extremely seriously.
19. Costa Ricans Couldn't Bother To Give Names To Their Streets
Have you ever heard of a country with no street names? Well, it exists. While some streets may have a name, most streets in Costa Rica have no name and no number.
And while some of them do have both details, there is no sign of it anywhere. For that reason, people completely ignore street names and numbers and use local landmarks to describe addresses instead. Though this might sound incredibly strange for other countries, the system apparently works.
20. You Shall Not Enter Anywhere With Your Shoes On In Thailand
One of the most known customs in Thailand is that people do not enter someone's house, or building, with their shoes on. It is extremely common to see tons of shoes at the entrance of places since it's known that it may be taken as disrespect.
Hence, taking your shoes off before entering somewhere is a part of basic etiquette in Thailand - that is so dirt is kept outdoors at all times, and is never in anyone else's home.
21. It's Recommended To Drive Slower On German Highways, But Only If You Want To
It may come as a surprise for many people, but some countries are a little bit more organized than others. And though there are definitely advantages and disadvantages everywhere, it seems like in Germany, the state isn't so worried about people speeding on their highways.
That is why on the federal highway system in Germany, also known as the autobahn, the speed limit is only a mere recommendation for drivers and not an obligation.
22. You May Find A Live Carp In A Bathtub During Christmas In Slovakia
Christmas traditions are so unique and often depend on where you are located in the world. In Slovakia, one of the most common traditions is to buy a live carp, bring it home, and place it in the bathtub before preparing Christmas dinner.
Just before the holiday, people will remove the carp from the tub, and then clean its tract since the fish is a bottom feeder. Then, families happily eat it and return to their regular baths after the holidays.
23. Finland Takes Saunas So Seriously That They've Created A Competition Around It
Believe it or not, but world sauna endurance championships are actually a thing in Finland. People from all over the country compete in the extreme "sport" and some people have even made it a profession.
The World Sauna Championships used to happen every year in Heinola, Finland, particularly between 1999 and 2010. The competition originated from several unofficial sauna-sitting competitions that ended up being banned in Heinola.
24. Some East Asian Countries Adhered To Face-Masks Way Before The Pandemic Hit
While wearing a mask has become a part of the new normal in most countries in the world because of the current global pandemic, some countries located in East Asia were really ahead of their time.
In South Korea, for example, some people would choose to wear a face mask when they had a common cold. Others used it to protect themselves from pollution and other viruses out there.
25. You Can See Everything That Your Neighbor Is Doing In The Netherlands
It seems like blinds and curtains are not necessarily popular everywhere in the world - who needs privacy anyway, right? Apparently in the Netherlands, the Dutch don't really mind catching people peeking into their homes every now and then.
Several, if not most houses, simply have no curtains or any privacy. This may have come as a result of the Protestant religious traditions and the popular notion that one should have "nothing to hide."
26. If You're Russian, You Get To Have Two Russian Passports
You heard it right. While some countries make it illegal for one to have more than one passport, which in most cases means more than one nationality, in Russia, people get to have two Russian passports.
One of these passports serves more like their ID, and the other passport is the one they use to travel abroad. The reason behind this dates centuries ago when Russia decided to issue internal documents and passports in addition to the typical traveling ones.
27. Writing Someone's Name In Red In South Korea May Be Bad Luck
It's extremely common for different countries to have their own superstitions. While some of them may be common in many places, there are a few that may be completely unknown to other cultures. In South Korea, for example, you may not write someone's name with a red pen.
If you do so, others may consider it a bad omen, especially back in the days. The shamanistic belief actually originated in China, when red calligraphy was mainly used when a person was deceased.
28. In Brazil, People Lighten Their Hair As Much As They Remove It
While removing hair has become increasingly popular amongst women and men all over the world, there are countries, such as Brazil, where women have resorted to "alternative" methods.
Apparently, women often prefer to bleach their body hair instead of removing it. That is because bleaching makes it more difficult for anyone to see it.
29. If You're Still Single In Finland At The Age Of 25, Get Ready To Be Showered In Cinnamon
In Denmark, there is a messy tradition that started in the 16th century, in which folks will cover young brides and grooms with cinnamon as soon as they get married. The tradition dates back to when spice salesmen would remain bachelors for years due to their traveling schedules.
Hence, when they would finally tie the knot, family and friends would throw tons of cinnamon at the newly-wed couple to wish them luck and love.
30. Italians Love Having Cappuccinos For Breakfast
While in other parts of the world you may have a cappuccino or a latte to indulge in during any time of the day, in Italy, people usually only have it for breakfast. That is because Italians traditionally associate caffe lattes, cappuccinos, or any other milk-based coffee beverages with breakfast.
They are typically drunk in the morning, and rarely anyone is seen having them in the afternoon or the evening. One thing's for sure though, they are delicious.
31. Japan Also Didn't Bother To Name Its Streets
It seems like Costa Rica isn't the only country in the world lacking street names and addresses. The addressing system in Japan differs from others in the world, by using blocks with names to label each street.
Most streets have block numbers and a space in between the blocks, which is different from the Western system.
32. In Singapore, You May Leave An Umbrella Or A Tissue Bag To Reserve A Seat
During busy hours, it may be difficult to reserve a space or a table at a public eatery. In order to avoid losing a great spot while making an order, Singaporeans leave any sort of personal object to reserve a spot.
This may vary from person to person, it can be an umbrella, a box of tissues, a book, or anything personal that says, "this chair is mine!" When they return with their purchased meal they have their seat waiting for them.
33. There Is A Chicken Breast Dessert In Turkey
One of the best ways of experiencing other cultures is by trying their local foods. Several countries have predominant flavors that are incredibly memorable and often make for the best part of the trip.
If you ever go to Turkey, you may want to try a popular dessert that is made of something very unusual, chicken breast! The dessert combines shredded chicken breast in milk and sugar and is called Tavuk göğsü.
34. In The Netherlands, The Dutch My Tell You To "Smile At The Little Bird" When Taking A Photo
Many countries have different sayings whenever someone is taking a picture. People do anything to make others laugh and smile for that memorable shot, and while some sayings are familiar, others sound a little bit weird.
Instead of saying "say cheese", the Dutch say "Lach eens naar het vogeltje," which means: "Smile at the little bird." This saying is also common in countries such as Switzerland.
35. People Love Rotten Fish In Sweden
Okay, this one is certainly not for the faint-hearted. There is a lightly salted and fermented Baltic sea herring called surströmming, which is incredibly popular across the country.
The fish dates back to the 16th century when it became famous for its particular taste. Surströmming is very popular around the end of August, and there is even a special surströmming that takes place in Alfta, a city in the north of Sweden.
36. The Dutch Love Answering The Phone With The Sound "Hoy"
Again, this one may not only be particular to the Dutch, since the sound is pretty similar in other places in the world. But the typical "ahoy", which may sound very bizarre to some, is extremely common all over the Netherlands whenever someone answers the phone.
The word comes from the roots of the nautical term "ahoy," and is still widely used in the country today.
37. It's So Cold In Sweden That People Cool Their Drinks Outside
It may not be for everyone to live in a cold country such as Sweden. The temperatures get unusually low, and many people struggle to get used to not feeling their hands or ears for days.
There are some perks to living in such a cold country though, and one of them is not needing ice or a fridge to cool beverages. In Sweden, it's very common for people to simply place their drinks outside in order to cool them.
38. Some Countries Still Drive On The Left, Dating Back To Feudal Times
Amongst all things on this list, this may be less weird, but it's still worth the mention. In the UK, and in a few other countries in the world, people still drive on the left side of the road instead of the more common right side.
Driving on the left side of the road comes as a heritage from feudal times when holding and using swords in the right hand was more convenient while having opposing traffic on the same side in order to fight them better.
39. Swedish People Cut Their Cheese With A Special Slicer Instead Of A Knife
Although cheese slicers have become a little bit more popular with time, and in very specific parts of the world, the Swedish still win with their innovative way of cutting their delicious cheese.
Instead of using a knife to cut cheese, they perfect their slices by using the cheese slicer, which is said to be invented in Norway. With this method, the cheese comes out smooth and whole, ready to be eaten!