What’s Different? Israel vs. Canada (pt.2)

Traveling or living somewhere new is always an amazing opportunity to learn new things and engage in new experiences. And it’s almost impossible not to see differences between somewhere you previously lived and somewhere you are currently living.

So I thought it might be interesting to see what differences have been apparent to me while living here in Israel.

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

1. Police car lights

In Canada, police car lights are off unless they are trying to stop someone or perhaps speeding off on an emergency. In Israel, police cars always have their flashing lights on. 

Every police car here is required to drive around with their flashing lights on while on duty as a measure to raise the visibility of police cars.

Therefore, the flashing blue lights on the police cars in Israel don’t mean that there is an emergency. You will know it is an emergency when they turn on their sirens.

2. Bag checks

Don’t be alarmed if you are going into a mall and a security guard stops you at the door and asks to check your bag.

This is a very common occurrence here in Israel.

Whenever you go into certain public places, such as a mall, bank, train station, or grocery store, your bag will be checked by a security guard. In some instances, you will also need to put your bag through an x-ray machine (like the ones that you see while checking your bags at the airport).

Malls and train stations will also have body scanners that you must pass through as you walk in.

In addition, car trunks are checked in public parking lots (such as a mall’s underground parking).

3. Halloween

Halloween does not appear to be a thing here in Israel. Back in Canada, it was a big deal: spooky decorations everywhere, pumpkins and pumpkin-flavoured foods to be found in each store, and costumes being sold all around. Here, the closest thing that I saw to the “Halloween spirit” in Haifa was a girl wearing ghost-themed socks.

Interestingly enough, there is a time during February and March when the people dress up in Israel. I recall being thrown off the first time I saw costumes being sold in the stores and seeing a little boy dressed up as an FBI agent and a girl dressed as an angel.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
These costumes were in stores in February, not October

It is not Halloween that is being celebrated, but a celebration names Purim. It “commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot to annihilate all the Jews (reference).

People dress up for Purim for a number of reasons, which can be found here.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Costumes everywhere! And it was so cute seeing kids getting excited over them.

4. No picking up after pets


This is one of those things that I could do without. In Canada, I am used to people picking up after their dogs. In many parks, there is even a fine that you must pay if you are caught not picking up after your dog. So, the sidewalks back home are typically clean.

This does not appear to be the case here.

I can count on my fingers how many people have picked up after their pet in my 2 years of living in Israel.

So when you walk on the sidewalk, you’ll need to be constantly looking at the ground to make sure you don’t step in anything that you don’t want to be stepping into.

Have you ever traveled anywhere and noticed things that were very different from your country or culture? What were they?

For part 1 of this segment, click this link.