Monday, 28 January 2013

Quirky cultural habits from around the world

Picture Source: Wikicommons

One of the obvious aspects of becoming an expat is the chance to encounter different cultures and witness the things people in different countries do. With the onset of globalisation, many of the brands, traditions and cultural aspects from your home country are likely to be on offer in your new host country.

However, around the world there are still traditions and cultural rituals that are observed. Here are a few of our favourite and quirkiest cultural habits from across the globe:

  • Thailand is great place to be an expat, ranking 2nd in the our 2012 Expat Explorer survey; it is also a great place to be a monkey – believe it or not! The Monkey Buffet Festival gives the monkey population of the Lobpuri province of Bangkok the chance to feast on over 3,000 kilograms of fruit and vegetables. Although beware if you are a female expat getting married in Thailand, traditional custom is for a honeymoon to last three months and it is up to the bride to cover all expenses!

  • Sport is one thing that has truly spanned the globe with football played in almost every country where expats go. However, some expat destinations have some more peculiar sports than others such as in Turkey where camel wrestling is a popular pastime. Whilst it is unusual for serious injuries to occur, agitated camels are liable to give out milky saliva so stand well back!

  • Somewhat differently, in the UK a strange sport that takes place annually is cheese rolling, where competitors try to chase a cheese down a steep hill. The cheese always wins as it can reach speeds of 112 km/hr but the first human to cross the finish line wins.

  • Eating habits are another aspect of human life that differs from one country to the next. In Japan, it is customary  to eat noodles whilst making a loud slurping noise. Whilst this is sometimes seen as rude by Westerners, it is considered a polite sign of hospitality by the Japanese and shows appreciation of the chef, the louder the slurp, the better the noodles!

  • Continuing with the theme of food, chopsticks are now available worldwide but there is still some chopstick etiquette which is unknown. In China it is considered rude to point or suck on ones chopsticks and it is also considered bad luck to place chopsticks upright in rice!
What quirky cultural habits have you encountered as an expat? Leave us a comment in the box below.


  1. As an American in Rome, one of the most interesting cultural quirks that I see in Italy is the abundance of superstitions. What's more, most of these superstitions are intimately related to religion--which for am American raised under the influence of our puritan heritage, seems like an odd juxtaposition.

  2. Growing up in Southeast Asia, we always take off our shoes before entering the house. In the US, I have to remind my guests to leave their shoes by the door otherwise people will walk right into my place with their shoes on.


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