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Differences Between Lebanon and Canada Aren't Just Skin Deep

12/13/2013 04:11 EST | Updated 02/12/2014 05:59 EST

We may be more alike than we are different, but when it comes to culture, differences are celebrated! Not only are Canada and Lebanon on opposite ends of the map, they're also on different ends of the cultural spectrum. Going back and forth between the countries, I've observed some interesting distinctions. Read and feel free to share some interesting differences between countries you've visited!

Peace -- Canada has the international reputation of being peace-loving. It's all about coexistence, multiculturalism, and respecting differences -- not out of higher moral ground, but because the nation's foundation was built on immigrants coming from all walks of life.

Lebanon is situated in the Middle East, in the heart of unrest where every decade is marked by devastating war. These are often sectarian wars fueled by religious and political divide. In Lebanon, people accept that they belong to opposing groups, it's a basis for identity and belonging, so it's not considered a taboo topic to be outwardly exclusive to one's group. The presence and history of war is always in the Lebanese periphery.

Religion -- Government and church are separate in Canada; a secular nation where religion, if it's adhered to, is left within the confines of home and mind. With over a quarter of the population claiming to be atheist, considerable animosity is directed towards the institutionalization of religion. In Lebanon, religion is intertwined with every aspect of life; it is respected as an institute because it is the stronghold of community and politics, many believing it should never separate. Prayer to God is the wake-up call to everyone's day. Even without a deep spiritual belief, it's linked to tradition, politics and a way of life that many feel obligated to preserve.

Life -- Canadian's are goal-oriented, that's not to say that Lebanese are not, but when it boils down to it, Canadians associate goals to every respect of life, even fun. When youth go clubbing or out to bars, it's usually with the intention of getting drunk, hooking up, and did I mention getting drunk? In Lebanon, drinking and sexual culture aren't heavily infused in their world-famed night life. In fact, it's all about going out, taking in the heat, sitting with a group of friends and having fun for the sake of fun. They dance, but their dancing isn't laced with pre-sex ritual as is often the case when you enter a Canadian nightclub.

Family -- Family is law in Lebanon. They are the source of guidance, the central magnet by which the rest of life revolves. Tradition dictates that the children should not move out unless married, and if it's the case, it's considered "Aayb": inappropriate, causing speculation about unrest in the home. In Canada, it's a mark of independence to move out of the home early.

Canadians are hooked on the idea of self-reliance, while the Lebanese say you can be independent even with family by your side. The idea of being alone in Lebanon is unnecessary. Living through the delicate balance of life and death during the war, Lebanese say this short life is best and only lived with loved ones. Even after marriage, children stay close to parents, often living in the same house or building.

Roads -- The roads in Lebanon are turmoil; stop at a red light in Beirut and you'll be met with a symphony of horns and curses. Lebanese temper is hot, abiding by road rules just slows down everyone rushing to get somewhere. In the sweltering heart of gridlock, people want to get in and out of their oven-like cars as fast as possible. Swearing, cursing; the horn is honked to either say hi or to curse someone's mom, so you must have a thick skin. Prepare to get yelled at, don't take it personally, because in another meter you'll be the one cursing someone's mother. The roads in Canada are meticulously laid out, despite the inevitable stress, the rules keep peoples' sanity slightly intact.

Add to this article with your own observations!

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