Living in a new culture is always an interesting experience but the longer I am here, the more I realize how deeply our social upbringing affects our beliefs and our behavior. Growing up in Canada and then moving to the US was an adjustment, but it pales in comparison to the constant mental and emotional shifting I need to make here in Israel.
Here are some examples:
- People do not leave voice messages here. They just call you and hang up, then they expect you to call them back even if you don’t know who they are.
- People in customer service (e.g. the bank, post office, schools) will often answer the phone and help someone else while you are standing there right in front of them. Other people will actually come right up to the counter and make a request while you are there talking with the personnel. This is totally acceptable.
- It is completely acceptable to park on the sidewalk (and in the bike lane!) while dropping something off for a little while. Cars also park in either direction on both sides of the street.
- Children here have more freedom. Most kids 7 and over walk to school by themselves. After 9, most kids go home from school by themselves with a key and make themselves lunch.
- People here do not plan way ahead like we do in the U.S. Especially with Yoga trainings and classes, most sign ups happen the week before the program so you never know until last minute if you will have a good turnout or not.
- People will never turn down an opportunity to have coffee with a friend.
- People go out at night with their children here all the time. They are more relaxed about schedules and bed times.
- It is perfectly acceptable to begin talking to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
- Individuals go out of their way to help you. I saw a funny skit about someone who asked a woman in Israel for directions, and she ran next to the car the whole way explaining how to get there! It is a bit absurd but could actually happen here.
- People will give you their opinion about everything here, whether you ask them or not!
- You will often see two individuals arguing intensely in middle of the street. I would often be concerned that the argument will escalate when a moment later I see them hug and say – “Alright sweetie, have a good day!” So, apparently, yelling is just a form of communication here…
- It is considered cool to spit out hundreds of sunflower seed shells onto the sidewalk, especially when watching soccer games.