Despite being one of the largest countries in the world, the people from the United States tend to forget that there are other countries too. Whenever people from outside of the U.S. visits the country, they are usually surprised by the things that are considered normal in America. A Redditor decided to find out what people natural things in America did they find surprising. He asked fellow Reddit users “What’s an American problem you’re too European to understand?” and here are some of the best responses!
Difference In Fashion
The Reddit user who goes by the name of “MrLongWalk”, noticed that American people view fashion as something related to comfort and utility, while Europeans use fashion to make a statement. The Redditor gave an example by pointing out that Americans usually have a specific set of clothing for specific events, while Europeans just wear “formal” clothes as they see fit. Who knew that there was a difference in American and European clothing?
More Into “Fast Fashion”
One Reddit user stated the difference in the amount of clothing that Americans and Europeans have. The Redditor notes that the women from Italy had fewer, yet better clothes compared to their American friends, most of whom were into the so-called “fast fashion” compared to most Europeans. In case you are unaware Fast fashion is the term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase trendy clothing at an affordable price
Everyone Wears The Same Clothing
Another Redditor from Europe noted that people from America (particularly men) dress terribly. The Reddit user notes that American men wear too many tees, cargo shorts, and baggy khakis with sports fabric polos despite not fitting them right, and if any one of them decides to wear anything stylish or uncommon, they will immediately be insulted for “not being masculine”. Is it true? Are American men that bland when it comes to clothing?
Confusing Tax Regulation
A Redditor replied to the post stating that added taxes are a bit bizarre in the United States, especially items that do not have tax in its price tag. In case you are wondering, taxes in the United States work differently in each state. For example, Alabama’s sales tax is 10%, while Delaware does not have a sales tax. This will certainly surprise non-Americans if they ever visit the country.
Punching Through Walls
A common scenario in a lot of American films would be an enraged character venting out their frustrations by punching a hole through a wall. This is possible since the majority of American homes are usually made of wood and are supported by walls of thin drywall. However, houses in other countries are built with stronger, and more solid materials such as concrete, and steel, making it impossible to punch a hole through the wall.
Different Calendar Format
The United States is known to do certain things differently compared to other countries in the world, one of which would be the way that Americans format their date. The date is written as month/day/year in the United States, while a lot of other countries in the world use the day/month/ year format. This usually confuses a lot of non-Americans whenever they visit the country, which is why there should be a uniform standard worldwide.
Driving During A Red Light?
In the United States, there is a driving rule that allows vehicles to drive to their right on red if the path is clear, which is something that is outlawed in a lot of other countries. This rule was made in order to improve traffic flow but is absolutely detrimental for those who have no idea about this law.
The US Customary Units
Another American standard that non-Americans have also noticed would be that Americans do not use the metric system to measure different things. The people from the United States use the “United States Customary Units” which is a bit similar to the Imperial system that is being used in the United Kingdom, but despite using a system that has been based on the other, the two countries have some differences regarding their use of the system. Confusing right?
The United States is known to have an expensive higher education system. European people are having a hard time grasping the idea of paying hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for textbooks on top of paying for tuition. This explains why a lot of American colleges are in debt before they even graduate. A lot of them resort to using loans as a means of getting through college’s expensive cost.
Not Removing Their Shoes
Like a lot of things, taking off or leaving your shoes inside the house varies a lot in each person’s home. In Europe however, people tend to remove their shoes as they enter people’s homes so as to avoid leaving any dirt or mess in the house, which is why they find it confusing as to why Americans wear their shoes inside the house. How about you? Do you leave your shoes on inside the house?
Few Manual Cars
It is quite rare to see people from the United States to drive a manual car for the cars that are available in the market are automatic. In fact, manual cars are so rare in America, that it is more expensive to purchase one especially when it comes to sports cars. In Europe however, manual cars are usually the default option available for people to buy from different car dealers.
Not 24 Hours
Just like how different they format their dates, Americans also tell the time in a different way. American digital clocks don’t go up to 24 hours like most countries, instead, they call it as “military time”, and in order to differentiate daytime from the nighttime, Americans use AM/PM.
With the fact that every region of the United States has to deal with various natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms and etc., the question as to why American houses are not built with strong, sturdy materials is always asked by non-Americans. Europeans build their houses out of cement, and if we are considering the disasters that Americans face annually, it would make perfect sense for them to follow suit.
Leaving Packages In The Open
This is a pretty normal thing for Americans, but for non-Americans, the idea of leaving someone’s package outside of their home despite having no one around is an insane concept as it is very easy for someone’s package to be stolen by random people who happens to be around the corner. This may be the case due to the fact that a lot of Americans live in houses instead of apartments.
American Public Transportation
America is not exactly known for their public transportation, although a lot of countries around the world take public transportation for granted, the United States has a much more elaborate highway system, which encourages a lot of people to learn how to drive. Obviously, not a lot of people are fortunate enough to have a car of their own, which makes this difficult for a lot of people.
According to an American Redditor who was studying in the United Kingdom, he shared that when he was at the post office, the people there were shocked by the fact that he asked if they could fax something for them as fax machines are not really relevant in a lot of countries in the world anymore. There are a lot of other methods that are more reliable for delivering documents nowadays, which is why the fact the U.S. still uses fax machines is a bit surprising.
A Redditor commented on the post, asking why are there two Dakotas in the United States, which is obviously the same question that a lot of non-Americans in mind about Dakota. The explanation for this is that the Dakota Territory was split in two and divided into North and South in 1889. Later that year, on November 2, North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted to the Union as the 39th and 40th states.
Lack Of Maternity Leave
When talking about maternity leaves, it is a bit surprising for non-Americans to find out that the United States does not require employers to give new mothers their paid leave. In Germany, new mothers can receive up to 60 weeks (equivalent to more than a year) of paid leave, while other countries offer a higher count than that. Goes to show how different the United States is compared to most countries.
The “American Dream”
A lot of us have heard of the so-called “American Dream” that promises to give a life of success and riches if you work hard enough. While a lot of Americans are given the opportunity to live the so-called “American Dream”, there is a large gap as to who are eligible to have these opportunities. The lifestyle that most Americans live can be comparable to a third world country, not a superpower.
Until now, a lot of people are still questioning as to why Kim Kardashian is famous. She started to become known by people during the early 2000’s thanks to her association with Paris Hilton, and has since then became known internationally, thanks to her mother who capitalized on their lives through their reality TV series called “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”. Makes you wonder what may be so significant about them.
Americans are known to usually make fun of Europeans for having “Bad Teeth” due to their teeth not being white. Americans probably do this because of their constant exposure to celebrities and their seemingly perfect looks. This may also explain why a lot of Americans go through different dental treatments like braces and teeth whitening. This is not a common occurrence in Europe as they know that white teeth are not really “healthy teeth” but just bleached.
Most of the people outside of the United States can’t grasp the idea of why Americans eat a lot and barely exercise. With their health care being expensive, it makes a lot of sense for them to take care of their bodies even more as it would help them save up money for expenses. However, this is far from what is happening as Americans are known to eat a lot of unhealthy food even though they do not have any free healthcare that can help them out if things go bad.
Strict Moderation On Vulgarity
Vulgarity in the United States is taken very seriously. It can be seen through their constant usage of bleeps and censoring of swear words on TV shows, Films, Songs, etc. However, what boggles the mind of non-Americans is that the very same programs show uncensored extreme violence. If violence is not moderated whilst vulgarity is strictly monitored, wouldn’t its restriction be useless as violence leads to vulgarity and vice versa?
Obsession With Politicians
The Europeans are also confused as to why Americans idolize politicians in the same way that they idolize celebrities. In Europe, they view politicians as public servants, whilst people in the United States view everything in a highly commercialized way, which includes politics.
A Redditor pointed out something about the reality of a lot of American lives such as expensive education and health care, as well as the overall lack of safety in schools. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world for years, since it is a liberal democracy, it means that the country does not guarantee the benefits ordained by law (i.e. free health care) as other countries do.
High Rate Of Homelessness
One of the most prevalent issues in the United States is the high rate of homelessness. For a country that promises a lot of opportunities with their so-called “American Dream”, it is very weird to know that a lot of people in America (Over half a million in fact) do not have a place to stay at, nor a place to call home. Quite ironic that they boast to give opportunities for the less fortunate.
TV Commercials For Prescription Medication
A lot of Americans are surprised by the fact that TV commercials for prescription medications can be seen in other countries. Europeans are surprised that Americans do not have any TV commercials for medications as young kids should see what medication they would be needing as they grow up for they may be dependent on these pills in the future.
Legal Drinking Age
A lot of non-Americans are confused as to why people can drive at an early age yet are not allowed to drink unless they are 21. This is because an advocacy group called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lobbied to make a change in the laws around driving under the influence, which led to an increase in the legal drinking age.
Commenting On Food Preference
Though this isn’t specific to the U.S., it is very common for Americans to have a comment on other people’s preferences in food. An example of which would be people being mad at those who enjoy pineapple on pizza, or being angry towards those who ordered their steak well done. However, we must say that Italians get just as angry, if not more when it comes to food choices.
Bidets are a common asset in a lot of European homes; however, a lot of Americans have barely even heard of what a bidet is. Although it is very common to wash with a bidet in Europe, a lot of Americans still prefer using toilet paper. Often times, bidets are considered as a luxury and can only be found in homes belonging to wealthy people in the United States.
Being Fired In The US
Being fired in the United States immediately means having no income and health insurance as well. But unlike America, European countries work a bit differently as those who are fired from their occupations are usually given 3 months salary to aid them until they manage to find a new job.
According to a Redditor, whenever they visit America, they feel as if they have to be extremely extroverted of themselves as small talks are a lot more common there compared to Europe. When Americans ask them how they are, Europeans are frequently puzzled because they simply don’t really care and assume the usual “good, how are you?” Reaction.
Most Europeans do not understand how service veterans in the United States are often idolized and treated as heroes of war until they return home, where they are ignored, forgotten, and sometimes homeless. It seems like they do not even care about them at all.
Expensive Ambulance Cost
In America, needing an ambulance to bring you to the hospital usually means that you are about to blow a lot of your money for something that should have been free after all. People who do not have health insurance covering the trip will receive an insanely high bill, causing many to prefer to order an Uber rather than an ambulance to get to the hospital more affordably. In Europe, meanwhile, most ambulance rides are less costly than taxi rides.
Tipping Service Workers
A lot of Europeans are shocked by the fact that tipping is the culture in the United States. In case you did not know, You are often expected to tip at least 15 percent of the bill to the restaurant servers, and at least a dollar to bartenders and all service workers like taxi drivers and bell boys. However, this is not how they do things in Europe which is why they find it surprising.
An Italian’s Thoughts
An American Redditor shared her Italian friend’s thoughts on American food. According to her friend, American food is very sugary and sweet. She also added that her friend was puzzled as to why Americans are “obsessed” with their heritage. It is quite real that many Americans associate deeply with their ethnic heritage.
It is known by a lot of people that food in America is served in bigger portions compared to the serving sizes in Europe. American servings are often double or sometimes triple what the serving amount of most countries would look like. A lot of Europeans are also surprised by the usual American fare like fried Oreos and pizza topped with Mac N’ Cheese.
American Credit Score
A lot of Europeans are perplexed by the credit score system that the Americans use. In order to be able to debt, you must prove your track record with paying loans on time, which increases your credit score. Non-Americans find it confusing that you in order to be able to make more debt, you must make more debt and pay them on time before you can make even more debts.
Forgetting Other Countries Exist
Something common that can be found in a lot of Americans is the fact that a lot of them forget that other countries can exist. This can also be seen in internet culture wherein an American assumes that everyone else who posts on any social media platform such as Reddit is also American.
One thing that boggles the mind of a lot of non-Americans is the fact that there is a large number of conspiracy theorists in America who outright denies anything that is widely accepted as fact, a notable example being earth being round. A Redditor calls out the effectiveness of the U.S. education system into question.
Voting In The US
Before you can register in the United States, you must first register. Unlike most countries, America requires you to go through a long and tedious process before you are able to vote. Other countries allow you to vote without registering, all they need is a form of a valid ID and you are good to go. A lot of people cite America’s voting system as a form of voter suppression.
What’s The Big Deal With Janet Jackson?
Perhaps one of the most controversial and talked-about moments in TV history would be Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. But despite its infamy in the United States, a lot of non-Americans are confused as to why this was a big deal in the United States as intense violence is constantly shown on American TV.
The Voting System
The voting system in the United States surely confuses a lot of people. A lot of people have a hard time understanding the electoral college and “why”. As a Redditor pointed out, “doesn’t the guy with the most votes just win the election?” Well, the Founding Fathers have decided on using a different system, which is why their current system is what it is.
Something that a lot of Americans are not aware of is the fact that money in other countries has different colors and sizes to differentiate various bills and their worth, especially for people who are visually impaired. However, all of the money in the United States have the same size, shape, and color.
Amount Of Ice
Every time you order a drink in the United States, may it be a soft drink or an alcoholic beverage, you can be sure that it would come in a large glass filled with a lot of ice. In other countries, especially European ones, drinks are usually served with little to none ice. Which surprises a lot of Americans whenever they buy drinks every time that they are outside of their country.
Convenience Store-Esque Pharmacies
Heading into a CVS pharmacy in America does not usually mean that you would be buying medical supplies. Often, pharmacies in the United States sell a wide variety of items which kind makes the pharmacy look more like a convenience store that sells medicines. In other countries, you can only buy medical merchandise in pharmacies, but you would not be able to buy junk food in the same place as the pharmacies that can be found in the U.S.
Too Many Commercials
According to a Redditor who goes by the name of “WhatWouldTylerDo”: “I love America. But the one thing I hate is the placement of commercials on TV. It might be only for certain channels, but for a 30-minute show, there will be about four commercial breaks. And not even evenly spaced. Including one before the credits at the end of a show. Then it’ll jump straight from the credits to the next show.”
Unlimited Free Refills
It is not uncommon for various establishments in the United States to offer free refills of ordered drinks (excluding alcoholic beverages). A lot of countries do not do this, and France has even banned unlimited refills for some reason. Whether you see this as a good thing, or a bad thing is entirely up to you.
Too Much Water
A lot of Americans usually do not mind the amount of water that can usually be found in standard toilet bowls, however, a lot of non-Americans are surprised by the amount of water that is used in American toilets, and just like how one Redditor puts it: “seriously, why so much?!”
Bathroom Door Gaps
A lot of stand-up jokes in America have been dedicated to the fact that there are large gaps between the doors of bathroom stalls in America. The large gap in American bathroom doors boggles the mind of both Americans and non-Americans Alike. Weirdly, the doors do not go all the way through as the gap allows anyone to take a look into the stall if they ever want to.
Europeans usually drink coffee every day like it is a sacred daily ritual. Whether in the morning before work or the afternoon as a midday break, a lot of Europeans will drink a small-sized coffee as they relax or catch up with friends or colleagues, which is why non-Americans are confused as to why Americans would be gushing on large cups of coffee as they rush their way to work.
Large portions of food are normal in the United States, which is why a lot of people take their leftovers in a to-go box and consume it for another meal. In a lot of other countries, however, this is not the case as it is often considered as a weird, rude action. However, a lot of Americans say that taking doggy bags is an effective way of avoiding food waste, which is a good point
American Beach Dress Code
Most Europeans are very laid back and allow topless sunbathing, which they perceive as something normal. However, the vast majority of American beaches do not allow such actions as anyone who is not considered to be “decent” can get in trouble. This surprises a lot of Europeans who go to America and enjoy the beaches there.
Everyone is well aware of the fact going into college in the United States is very expensive. A lot of Non-American universities offer highly subsidized or even free tuition to their students. Many people who are not from the United States do not understand how so many Americans allow themselves to fall into so much debt just to get a college degree.
Although baby showers are very common in the United States, a lot of Americans have not realized that a lot of other countries do not hold parties like this. Unlike Americans, a lot of people from other countries see this activity as strange and even find them to be rude.
Addicted To Working
Americans are known to be absolute workaholics. Working overtime is the norm in the United States! However, things are not the same in other countries. Non-Americans find it weird that American companies barely offer any weeks of paid vacation time for their employees.
Using Air Conditioners All The Time
In a lot of places in the United States, it is perfectly normal for the air conditioning system to be used 24/7 on max power. Many Europeans consider this to be a alien idea, and many restaurants and shops do not even have air conditioning at all in non-American countries.
Street Numbers In The US
The Americans have been using the same system from the 1700s for numbering buildings on the street. The system makes it easy for the U.S. Postal Service but makes it very difficult and confusing for non-Americans. The numbers may appear exceedingly long, or even disproportionately long, to individuals from outside the U.S.
Front Lawns In America
People mowing their front lawns on a sunny day pretty much screams “The American Dream”. It’s normal for people to have a large lawn in front of American houses as it usually symbolizes wealth and status. This is certainly not the norm for other countries though.
College Sports In America
To those of you who have gone to big sports college have heard of “supporting the school’s teams is just part of the college experience”. However, a lot of non-American universities usually do not boast their school’s collegiate sports team. Often, European countries will have 2nd division teams instead.
Football Or Soccer?
When it comes to sport, no debate is more classic than the football vs futbol. A lot of people from outside of America are confused as to why the sport “American Football” is named as such. The majority of American football gameplay barely even has any foot contact for the ball, which is why a lot of people are confused about its name. However, Americans call traditional football as “soccer”.
Why The Yellow School Bus?
Another thing that boggles the mind of most non-Americans is why are American school buses always painted in yellow? This may seem like a normal thing for the Americans, but it is probably because non-Americans usually only see yellow school buses in American Films, while Americans see them all the time.
Christmas Family Cards
Nothing is more American than the classic family Christmas card. Although it is something that is done by different people from countries all over the world, what a lot of people are questioning about the American Christmas cards is their need to dress up in strange outfits or costumes for these photos and then send them out to everyone they know. How did this tradition even start out? We don’t know for sure.
Black Friday Mayhem
The Friday after Thanksgiving (and often even in the early hours in between Thursday and Friday) is known as “Black Friday”. It is known to be one of the best days of sales at stores all over the country. This event has caused a lot of non-Americans to question why Americans go crazy over nationwide sales especially when the said sales have caused a lot of injuries and even deaths!
Children In Lunch Debt
A lot of students who do not have any lunch to bring to school heavily rely on school lunches. Sadly, there are times when children cannot even afford school lunches and are usually held accountable for the food that they receive, eventually reaching a point of “lunch debt”. Although a lot of schools have free lunch policies, non-Americans are still shocked by the idea of a child having “lunch debt”.
Political Parties In The US
A lot of people outside the United States are confused with the idea that although there are a lot of political parties in America, only the Democratic and Republican parties can win major elections, namely for President. It’s kind of strange to know that if you prefer a candidate from another party, you basically lose your vote.
The American Grading System
A lot of American high schools and colleges calculate a student’s grade using the Grade Point Average system (otherwise known as the GPA system). While a lot of other countries calculate a student’s grade out of 100, instead of a weighted point system like GPA.
Obesity In The US
Even though fast food and unhealthy snacks are available worldwide, a lot of countries do not face the obesity epidemic like the United States. A lot of people from outside America cannot fathom as to why unhealthy food in America is very cheap compared to healthy ones. Eating greens and fresh fruit is somewhat uncommon in the United States.
Everything Is Taken To Court
People from outside of the United States have always been confused by the fact that Americans will rather sue an entire company or an entity whenever they are upset instead of trying to calm down and figure out the problem first. This probably because of the major payouts that a lot of people have received in such cases, but regardless, non-Americans are still confused by this.
Kinder Joy Eggs
The Kinder Surprise Egg is a popular candy in Europe that consists of an eggshell with a toy inside. The food was banned in the United States as they deem the toys inside the chocolate as a choking hazard, which is why the Kinder Joy Eggs that are available in America has a separate compartment for the chocolate and the toy in order to prevent kids from choking from the toy.