“The first time I went to London, I asked a barista — and she looked at me like I had a third arm coming out of my neck.”
Everyday “norms” can vary from country to country — and sometimes those cultural differences are vast, while other times, they’re more subtle.
And there’s nothing like a good Reddit thread to remind you that the cultural norms that seem minor in the scheme of things could be considered a bit taboo in other parts of the world, especially in Europe. I recently got lost reading a thread where u/Raphael_Olbert asked: “What is usual in America, but isn’t in Europe?” because a lot of the responses I honestly hadn’t thought of until now. Here are some of them.
“Driving long distances for things not related to leisure travel.”
“Amount of water in toilets.”
“Well, while I was in New York, the waiter took my credit card and left, and I was instantly angry. I thought, ‘WTF?’ It’s strange when someone accepts your card and then turns around in Europe because typically all card operations are performed in front of the cardholder.”
“Public bathrooms that have an inch gap on either side of the door so everyone can see you taking a shit.”
“Waitstaff constantly checking on you, even if it means interrupting a conversation. In Europe, they leave you in peace unless you obviously need something.”
“Making small talk. The first time I went to London I asked a Starbucks barista how her day was going and she looked at me like I had a third arm coming out of my neck.”
“Insanely large portions of food at restaurants.”
“Smiling at people/people watching. In the US it’s a way to pass time but in some European cities you look like a creep (in my experience).”
“The date, putting the day after the month. Why is that? It’s the 4th of July right? So why is it written 7/4?”
“The cutlery juggling. US Americans cut their food with the knife in the right hand and fork in the left hand, but then put the knife down and switch the fork to the right hand to eat only with the fork. When they need the knife again, they switch the fork back to their left hand and pick up the knife with their right. They do this several times throughout the meal. Why? And is this done everywhere in the USA?”
“Honestly, reusable water bottles. One of my biggest issues with visiting/living in Europe is I can’t fill up my water jug anywhere. I’m constantly buying plastic bottles and I hate it.”
“The fact that your sick days are not numbered. In America, sick days are numbered by the number of days. In Europe, you can just call in sick for as many days as you are sick. Way better system in my opinion.”
“Medicine cabinets behind the bathroom mirror. A guy I went to college with said he moved in and for SIX MONTHS he had no idea it was a cabinet. It wasn’t until he asked his dad where medication was that he was told about it.”
Are there any American cultural norms that are missing from this list? Tell me in the comments below!