Cultural Differences in – Japan, Korea, and China – November 2018
Fashion / Clothing – very important and people even at hockey games are well dressed. Lots of focus on clothes and appearance.
Safety – In Japan and Korea both countries are some of the safest I have seen in the world.
Garbage – You see very little of it on the streets etc. People will go out of their way to make sure they have cleaned up after themselves. One thing I have noticed is you will find it hard to find places to leave garbage so you just carry it with you until you get home or perhaps find recycling.
Money – In Japan the exchange of cash or credit cards is like nowhere else on the planet. You place your money into this small bowl or plate and then they will show you on a big calculator what the price is. Cash is king in Japan as finding International ATM machines is difficult at times. Credit Cards are only used normally in Japan at airports or hotels. In Korea, you can use a credit card like anywhere in North America or Europe.
Quiet – when riding trains or buses you will see nobody talks on their cell you will see signs to not talk or make calls. It is very very quiet on most public transportation.
Respect – In Korea and Japan you will notice people are very respectful and thinking of other people at all times. After a few days, you will notice how small things will “rub off” on you.
Tips – You do not leave them or look to find a place on the credit card purchase to make them it is just not part of the culture.
Precision / Precise – Overall I find the Japanese and Koreans very precise and operate very honestly and respectfully plus everything works like clockwork. People outside a hotel will be scrubbing the ground after a bus leaves. That is one small example. Trains and buses all work on precise timing. If the train leaves at 7:14 am then it does. Never do you see anything run slow or behind time.
Animation – In Japan, they love having dogs – cats – penguins etc on a business logo – or on a truck – or in basic marketing. Never really found out why they have this deep love of animals in their marketing.
Overall – Japan, Korea, and China are very different cultures that are unique with customs and food etc, however, they have all grabbed on to some of North American culture with food, music, and fashion.
Without a doubt some of the best countries you can play hockey in and live in.
During a trip to Europe Jan 2018 some things I noticed.
Smoking is everywhere…. it is really part of the culture in most countries.
Driving you gotta be quick and smart. Easy to get in an accident.
No rush to get your bill at restaurants. Europe the staff don’t expect tips, therefore, no huge rush to get you out the door like it is in North America.
Finding ice is difficult. Normally you have to request ice for drinks.
No free refills of soft drinks
Very little free water at restaurants
The breakfast buffet is cold meats and cheeses and bread and some cereals and yogurts and at times bacon and sausages. No peanut butter or jams.
You do not see many American franchises other than subway Mcs and Starbucks
Gas stations will charge you 50 cents to use the bathroom.
Highways are in amazing condition always.
Finding places to leave garbage can be difficult.
Here are some of the things we have noticed plus thank you to Meghan and Chet Pickard for their help with this section.
One of the first things you notice is the difference in prices (good and bad)
Price examples of dining out in Norway or Switzerland
2 Large Pizza’s and 4 beer = could be 150.00 USD
Movie for 2 with a small water and popcorn – 100.00 USD
*** Minimum wage is over 20.00 dollars in most of the above countries
Price examples of dining out in Norway or Switzerland
Meal for 2 and drinks maybe $80.00 USD
4 Star Hotel – no more than $160.00 USD
PEOPLE– Normally people are friendly and if they know English they are very helpful in getting to where you have to go.
WEATHER–Countries like Finland and Denmark and parts of Sweden can be very dark in the winter months. On average the temperatures are not as cold as Western Canada or the Midwest USA.
DINING OUT–Condiments and ice…. oddly enough for some reason getting ice in your drink is a big deal or you really have to ask for it. Finding typical North American brand sauces and condiments is very rare with the exception of ketchup.
TIPPING–not expected in most countries and you won’t even see an option to give a tip when using your credit card
Eating / Dining Out
You always have to pay for still or sparkling water you never just get a glass of water for free
Ice is odd you never get it in your drink unless you ask for it
Condiments like steak sauce – mustard – salsa etc are rare to find most places have ketchup and mayo
Dining out in Sweden – Finland – Denmark – Norway – and Switzerland is very expensive. Czech and Germany overall are reasonable prices
Also tipping is not at all expected but if you leave 2 or 3 dollars it is a very pleasant surprise for your waitress or waiter
Taxi’s and Trains and Cars
- Taxi’s are three or four times the price of North America in Sweden – Norway – Finland and Switzerland (Swiss is the highest cost)
- Get to learn the local train system it is very affordable and effective way to get around as to park your car is tough and expensive
- Learn to drive manual transmission as most cars in Europe have manual transmission
- Parking is overall difficult so try not to use a car for going downtown in most cities and use the train or bus
Make sure you have the google translate app on your phone so you can tell what is in the product you are buying
You will need to shop three or more times a week because the fridges overall are small and you don’t have much room. Quality of fruits and veggies overall are as good as North America or according to some players even better organic quality In Germany they have a cap for what they can sell fruits and vegetables in the stores for, so it keeps the healthy food cheap and affordable for the lower classes of people. The government subsidizes the farmers so they can do this. The other reason that you have to shop every couple of days is that things just don’t last very long because they are not laced with preservatives or refined sugars to keep them shelf worthy for that long, at least not to the same degree.So don’t be surprised if you were to buy a loaf of bread and have it go moldy in less than a week, or fruit to go bad after a few days on the counter.
Cost of Living
This is always an interesting topic and from my travels, I will try to give you an idea. Normally I like to use Beer – Taxi’s – Coke and McDonalds as a measuring stick for general costs.
From most expensive to least
Finland / Denmark basically the same level of prices
Austria / Germany about the same costs
Russia / Czech / Slovakia / Latvia / Belarus all about the same (St. Petersburg and Moscow are very expensive but the rest of Russia is priced reasonable)
Nice dinner out in Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway (steak and app and glass of wine per person) will be at least 80 dollars per person
Nice dinner out in Prague will maybe cost 20 dollars per person
Norway – Sweden – Finland and Denmark you will find English is overall pretty easy to communicate with Germany is at times difficult. Most Germans have the ability to speak at least some English but do not have the desire to be as helpful. In Germany phrases like “konnen sie helpfen mich?” -can you help me- “enchuldagung (sp) sprechen sie English?” -excuse me, do you speak English? … go a long way in getting some of the older generations or proud germans to lend a hand in communicating. Switzerland has French – German – Italian spoken in different areas of the country and overall English is only spoken in Zurich and larger cities
TV– For sure invest in Kodi, Netflix, Apple TV or Slingbox as you will only find 2 or 3 English channels such as CNN and BBC
Politics-You will find most Euro’s are pretty liberal and social on topics such as soft drugs, escorts, drinking, and abortion.
Misc-Euro’s will feel driving 200 km’s is a long drive but most North American’s feel a 2 hour drive is no big deal
Washing machines normally only have cold water option
Clothes dryers are not normally in all apartments and condos
Things like baby showers and bachelor parties are really North American same with Halloween and Thanksgiving