Cultural Learnings

I’ve loved traveling ever since a young age. I started as a baby because I was born in the States but had family in France so every year I would spend the summer vacation in France.

When you travel you learn so much about a people’s culture and mindset. You notice how things differ from your homeland and how some things remain very similar. We are all part of the great big human family.

Here are some quirky/funny things that stuck out to me. There are pretty common or basic but they reflect the culture they are from.

Enjoy !

1. Road Signs

In France :


The sign is very simple and straight forward, the stick figures are sleek. But the children, a boy and a girl, seem to be in a hurry : they are running!

My take : not very disciplined you can see a “gaulish” influence or it could just be a realistic portrayal of kids who seem to run by default everywhere they go.

In the USA :


Here the sign is also pretty sleek with no added frills though they do have bookbags. The children appear to be walking at a more sedate pace. The girl is leading the way.

My take : a lot more disciplined

In Japan :


The sign is pretty elaborate. The boy is holding his briefcase/bookbag and sports a cap. The little girl even has a bow in her hair! They are walking sedately to school.

My take : Japanese love beauty and attention to detail which translates even in Road signs ! Japanese are also disciplined and follow the rules.

2. Manhole Covers

In France :


It is slightly decorated but mostly functional. This is a picture taken from the city of Marseille south of France.

In the USA :


Undecorated but with wording to prevent any misunderstandings. You’ve got to anticipate any law suit coming your way!

In Romania :


This one reflects the history of this beautiful country. This picture was taken in Bucharest. It serves a dual purpose of being functional and educating on archeology.

What’s funny to me is that there is French wording on it stating it is patented.

In Japan :


As always beauty is an integral part of everything Japanese. So far this has been the prettiest manhole cover I’ve found while traveling.

What have been yours?

3. Construction Works Signs

In France :


This construction sign is simple and to the point : there are works ahead the road is getting more narrow. The triangle warns you to be careful. There might be danger. The colors are red and yellow or light orange.

In the USA :


This sign is also pretty basic, but it has wording instead of a drawing. The color is orange which seems to be the construction color in the western culture. It also has two orange flags.

In Italy :


The sign practically seems to be yelling at your to Watch Out ! Haha! It also has a big hand raised that reminds me of the fact Italians love to talk with their hands. This picture was taken in Rome. Just like in the USA you also have wording if the drawing wasn’t enough.

In Japan :


These signs depict a blond lady holding up a sign that says NO! in English there is also Japanese writing. She holds her hand up which is enlarged just as in the Italian signs. However notice the expression on her face : she seems to be meek and uncomfortable with the message. She knows it’s impolite to say No! and she’s sorry she has to for the safety of the pedestrians and vehicles.

On the other sign, a young man and a dog both are bowing (that dog sure is nicely trained!) and I assume are saying sorry but you must abide by my sign and its wording. The bow is typical of Japanese etiquette and politeness.

Another noteworthy element that also reveals part of the Japanese psyche is that, just like in Manga, both characters have western features and the blond lady at least has nothing Asian to her.

Please let me know what fun things you came across on your travels and share in the comments !

Disclaimer : Just a few words to let you know this post does not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings and is all good natured and fun. My family is very multicultural so poking fun at ourselves is just our way. Hope you have fun reading this as well.


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