"If You Did That In The US, People Would Assume You Have A Problem": Americans Are Sharing Things They Find Strange About European Culture

We all know that non-Americans have a whole lot to say about US culture and customs. But one could say that Europe has its quirks and oddities as well. So, redditor u/pg-snellmann asked, "Americans, what do Europeans do that you find really weird?" Here's what people said:

1."The fact that many Europeans can take a two-hour lunch break in the middle of the work day and it is considered to be the norm."

People sitting at an outdoor cafe.

2."I do find it a bit odd that everyone in Europe just sort of agrees that nothing should happen in August. Like, for a whole month, you better not need anything done. Even doctors seem scarce during this vacation month. While August is a popular time to go away in the US, summer vacations seem more evenly distributed throughout the season. In Europe, however, it just seems understood that no one will work in August."

A crowded beach in France.

3."The fact that they don't serve drinks with ice. I was at a restaurant in Copenhagen, and I asked for ice in my water. The waitress warned me it would be cold..."

A glass of water on a table.

4."In the Netherlands when people move, they take the flooring with them. I'd never heard of this when I lived there, but it seems to be a trend for laminate in rental flats. It just seems so inefficient since the flooring is cut to size for a specific space."

A small kitchen.

5."The fact that Europe doesn't really have high school sports teams (or at least sports aren't a big part of the high school experience). This is such a major difference between the US and Europe."

A coach and a football team cheering.
A coach and a football team cheering.




6."The fact that they charge you to use a public restroom. I visited Europe for the first time and noticed this trend. I think I paid 50 cents to use a bathroom at a McDonalds. That being said, the bathrooms were super clean, and I enjoyed the fact the walls covered from the ceiling to the floor, so it felt private and comfortable."

Signs pointing to public restrooms.

7."I’ve always found it weird that in a lot of European countries, people think hugging is more intimate than greeting someone by kissing cheeks."

Two men greeting eachother.
Two men greeting eachother.



8."I'm always pretty baffled yet seriously impressed by most Europeans' grasp of different languages. Here's some guy from Moscow who speaks better English than I do. Oh, and he also speaks fluent Portuguese."

Zooey Deschanel trying to speak French.
Zooey Deschanel trying to speak French.



9."The late dinner hour. It's customary in a lot of European countries to eat dinner so late at night. I can't imagine eating my dinner at 9 p.m."

People dining outside in a piazza at night.

10."The way that food is standardized. There is this whole system called DOC and DOP to control specific foods like Margherita pizza and Parmesan cheese. For instance, if a cheese isn't from Parma, it cannot legally be called Parmesan cheese even if it tastes nearly identical. It's such a strange concept."

Slices of different cheese, neatly arranged on a market stall.

11."How leisurely European meal time is. For example, in most restaurants in Germany, the staff expects you to sit for dinner for an extended period of time. They will actively ignore you (but keep an eye on your drinks) so that you can enjoy your meal without constantly asking how everything's going. The waitstaff actually won't bring your check until you indicate you're ready."

A young woman working at a restaurant.
Gary Yeowell / Getty Images

12."How socially conscious they are. I am a senior, and when I was visiting Paris, I was offered a seat on the metro when there were none available every single time. That very seldom happens back in the US."

People waiting for the Paris metro.

13."Leaving babies to nap alone outside, even in very cold weather. I was in Denmark in November, and it was a super windy and cold week, and the fact that people were leaving their babies outside in strollers honestly stunned me. I admire that people feel so safe that this is OK."

A baby bundled up for winter asleep in a stroller.

14."The number of Europeans who still smoke cigarettes, especially in restaurants. Nothing like sitting in a beautiful café and having someone at the table next to you light up just as your food arrives."

A woman holding a cigarette indoors.

15."The extremely lax attitude toward alcohol, especially when it comes to underage drinking. I visited Italy when my younger sister was 12 years old, and she was served wine at vineyards and restaurants without anyone batting an eye. It's so common to see kids (13 or 14 years old) out to dinner with their families and being served wine. Honestly, I'm all for it and think it probably instills a healthier attitude toward alcohol, but it's still mind-boggling."

McLovin' trying to buy alcohol.
McLovin' trying to buy alcohol.

Columbia Pictures

Hannah Loewentheil

16."[Europeans] have hamburger-flavored Cheetos in your 'American food' aisle at the grocery store. Look, Europe, we don't even have those."

Selection of chips at a market.

17."In Berlin, when you move from one home to another, you take the kitchen with you."

A modern, white kitchen.

18."This may be specific to Ireland, but I found it so strange how the bathroom light switches are located outside of the bathroom. I can only imagine how many times you'd have the light switched off by an unsuspecting family member while doing your business."

A bathroom and hallway.

19."No one has screens on their windows in Europe. How do you open your window without getting a house full of bugs?"

Room with curtains billowing at open window.

20."How much vacation time they get. When I worked at a large UK-based insurance company and my kid was born, I got six months off, fully paid. I continued collecting my six weeks of annual paid time off during this time as well."

A person holding a passport at an airport gate.

21."The European attitude toward nudity. I worked at a spa, and people from all around the world would come. One thing I noticed was how the Europeans were so comfortable with getting naked in front of others like it's nothing."

A woman sitting in a hot spring.

22."How old things are and the history everywhere. I can't wrap my brain around it. I live in a farm house built in the 1920s, which is considered old by US standards."

Roman ruins.

23."How they survive hot summers without air conditioning. When visiting Europe, our hotels had AC, but it was just room temperature air. Those heatwaves must be brutal..."

Old building façades.

24."The way Europeans drive. The laws don’t seem to matter at all in Italy. They matter only a little in France, and in Germany, road rules are a completely different story."

A car driving on a scenic road on Lake Garda.

25."The fact that it's socially acceptable to drink alcohol early in the day. If you do this in the US, people will assume you have a substance abuse problem."

A group of people toasting with wine glasses.

26."The way that most of society just shuts down on Sunday in many European countries. I get that it's the day of rest, but in the US, Sunday is a day to go grocery shopping and do errands you didn't get to during the work week. In many places I've traveled in Europe, even grocery stores close on Sunday."

A man walking on a quiet street in Rome.
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

27."The fact that they store eggs on the counter at room temperature. I know they’re safe to eat, but it’s just so weird to me."

Eggs in a carton.

28."Their toilets. In the US, every toilet I've ever come across has a flush lever on the left of the tank, a sensor, or a button on the top. In Europe, by contrast, every single toilet has a different flush mechanism. Every. Single. One. It's like an escape room challenge. Foot pedals. Cranks. Pull knobs. I was once stuck in a bathroom for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to flush the toilet, and it turned out to be a pulley on the other side of the room."

An old fashioned toilet with a pulley.

Americans who have spent time in or traveled to Europe, what is something you found confusing, odd, or fascinating? Tell us in the comments.