14 Things About America That May Be Weird To European Visitors
America is the land of the free, and home of the brave. It is also full of odd culture ticks that you may only find here. Let's go over some of the many things that make Europeans scratch their heads.
1. American Bathroom Stalls
In most European countries the bathroom (or Toilet Room) is a very private experience, even if there are multiple people in the same room. Their stalls are doors with no seams. That isn't the case in America, in fact, sometimes the gaps can be so large between the stall doors you may be able to come face-to-face with another patron looking for an empty stall.
2. Overly Friendly
Americans love to be friendly, and if you come from a European country where people are polite but do not go out of their way to talk to you, help you with directions, suggest food on the menu, etc. this may overwhelm you. Don't worry; it's all done with love.
3. Drive Thru's - For everything
Fast food, banks, pharmacies, ice cream parlors, you name it, and we probably have a drive-thru version. What can I say? American's are always in a hurry and slightly lazy.
4. Food Portions
They are huge. Beyond huge, they can feed a family of three in most cases. It's a competition these days to serve eye-popping plates. If you order a meal in America, go ahead and split it with the person you came with.
5. Driving at 15 1/2 and 16
Yes, a 15 1/2-year-old can get what is called a permit to drive. They have to drive with their parents until they are 16 years of age. Once they turn 16 and pass a driving test, they can drive whenever and wherever they want. Most 16-year-olds are even gifted a car on their birthday. This is shocking to Europeans because you can't drive until you are 18 years old.
6. High School Sports
Status comes in High School when you play sports, and teenagers grasp for it (in most cases). Europeans don't have High School sports; you go to school to learn. In America, you learn(ish), but you also spend a lot of time practicing the sport of your choice, and the best part is the whole school (and sometimes the entire city) cheers you on during games. It's a status symbol to be a star athlete at school.
7. Drinking Age
If you come to America and you are not 21 years of age you can not drink. Which is frustrating for those who come at age 20 and have been drinking for the last four years. Legal drinking age in Europe is 16, but you'll get a ticket if you drink before 21 years of age in America.
8. You'll Rarely See
Bikes. No one bikes in America (and if they do it's rare). Bikes are not the transportation of choice.
9. Speaking of Transportation
Cars in America are huge. When the smart car (a car similar to traditional cars in Europe) came out in the States, many people were made fun of for going compact. It's not normal to have a small car here in the States.
When you purchase something from fast food to a water bottle at the grocery store, the price you see in front of you doesn't include tax. For example, if you go into a European store and the water is 1 euro, it's 1 euro. In America, that same water bottle will end up being $1.08 or $1.13 depending on the State's individual tax percentage.
11. Working at 16
You can't get a job in Europe until you are 18, but in America, you are hired as young as 16.
Sugar is in everything in America, and not just a little; it is rampant. Hamburger buns, soda, candy bars, etc. Everything is loaded with a lot of sugar. Europeans may have a hard time handling how sugary regular foods taste compared to their country. This is one of the reasons why America has an obesity crisis.
In most cities at least one, if not all stores, are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Europeans are used to things closing around 8 o'clock. Drugstores, fast food, entertainment, etc. depending on the town, these are all available whenever you want.
14. Ranch Dressing
From an American who asked for dressing (not ranch, but dressing) while visiting Europe, this is going to be a shock to Europeans. Just as they looked at me funny when I asked for dressing, American's will bring you a salad with Italian, ranch, balsamic, etc. So if you want a dry salad, be sure to ask. But, ranch is much different in America. It is used on everything, and people are obsessed. They even eat their pizza with ranch.
Have you visited America? What do you think is a little weird over here? Leave a comment, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org