What’s Different? Israel vs. Canada (pt.1)

One of my favourite things to do when I’ve gone to a different country is to look closely at the city and its inhabitants to see what cultural aspects or daily life habits are different than what I’m used to back home.

Moving to Israel has given me this opportunity, and during these past few weeks I have seen some striking differences compared to what I’m used to experiencing back home in Canada.

As I experience more of this beautiful country, I’m sure that I’ll write more blog posts about the differences between Israel and Canada. But for now, let’s start off with five.

Please note that these observations are solely based on my time living in Haifa.

1. Fruit yogurt is amazing

The fruit yogurt is beyond amazing here. Back home, yogurt that has a label stating that it has “fruit” in it many a times doesn’t have much fruit in it, leaving you wondering whether they actually forgot to include the fruit.

In Israel, however, the fruit yogurt has many pieces of fruit within it. Not only that, but they’re pretty big chunks!

The only problem is that it’s so good that you may find yourself becoming addicted. Which, as a result, may end with you spending your entire life savings on it. But hey, who needs a retirement fund anyways?

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Peach yogurt on the left side – you can even see the peach chunks in it!

2. Kindness is expressed in different ways

I’ve noticed that smiling at strangers, or saying “good morning”, is not as prominent here as it is in Canada. It may even come off as odd.

Granted, this does not mean that the Israelis are rude or unkind. It is just not the culture here to smile at everyone you see on the streets.

However, quite interestingly, I have noticed that some Israelis are not shy in the slightest to come up to you and have a conversation with you (which is not something I was used to while living in Canada. And I find that the conversations tend to be quite fruitful and enjoyable. I don’t know how to word this correctly, but the conversations don’t come off as ‘fake.’ The individuals talking to you appear to be genuinely invested and interested in what you have to say.

And they are kind – utterly and truly kind. I recall the first day that I got to Israel: I had just gotten out of the airport and was getting on the train and was having difficulty in figuring out where to put my suitcases so that they would not be in the aisle and in everyone’s way. And boy, was I ever having a tough time trying to find a place for my suitcases because of how heavy they were. Someone had clearly seen how much I was struggling (and perhaps had even noticed how embarrassed I was for not being strong enough to move my two suitcases properly) and, without having me ask for help, offered to help me and put my suitcases aside. All the while, he was beyond kind and respectful.

3. Cats everywhere

EVERYWHERE I tell you!

And this makes me very happy.

It’s important that I note here that these cats aren’t all clean, nor are they all healthy – so it is important not to pet them in case they are carrying some kind of disease.

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Can you spot all of the cats?
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I’ve named this one Monty

4. Children everywhere

In Canada, younger children are typically seen outside with supervision. It is seldom the case that they are all alone and wandering the streets.

In Haifa however, young children are seen on their own everywhere! I wonder if it’s because people find Haifa safe? Or perhaps children are given more independence here?

5. Park wherever you fit and deem fit

There is no rhyme or reason to parking here in Israel.

In Canada, people (for the most part) park within parking stalls and on the side of the road.

Israel does have parking rules, but it seems that most people dismiss them. Cars will park in the middle of the road parallel to other cars already parked on the side of the street, they will park in the middle of the sidewalk, they’ll park anywhere that their car can fit. Sometimes you’ll find that you have to walk on the road because there’s no room on the sidewalk, since cars have parked there.

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All in all, Israel is a fascinating country and I cannot wait to experience more of it!

For part 2, click this link.