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12 things Europeans think are weird about the US

us1

American culture is full of quirks and odd traditions that often leave foreign travelers scratching their heads.

Europeans visiting the States will immediately notice how different American culture is from their own — Americans fly flags everywhere, they measure things differently, and they can't stop saying "thank you," for some reason.

Read on to find out 12 of the most bizarre aspects of the United States from the perspective of Europeans who have visited:

Americans say 'thank you' to everything

thanks

Every language has a way to express thanks, but not every culture says "thank you" quite as much as Americans do.

Visitors coming from Europe are often shocked that Americans say "thank you" after the most mundane of interactions, like a waiter bringing a glass of water.

 

Bathroom doors have wide gaps in the US

us2

Many foreign visitors to the US get a shock when they head to the bathrooms — for some reason, the public bathroom stalls in America have wide gaps that don't appear in other countries' facilities.

 

They can't drink until they're 21

drinking

The drinking age in most European countries is 18, and in some contries it's as low as 16, if it's enforced at all.

Meanwhile, Americans have to wait until they're 21 to drink — the highest minimum drinking age in the world.

American serving sizes are huge

serving side

 

Any visitor who goes to an American restaurant will immediately notice how much bigger the portion sizes are compared to those in Europe.

That goes for the size of soda cups, ice cream cones, and even hamburgers, the average size of which has expanded greatly since the 1970s.

On the other hand, it's perfectly acceptable in the US to take leftovers home from a restaurant, while in other countries, there's something of a stigma attached to the practice.

Americans wear shoes inside the house

foot

In several European countries, it's expected for people to take off their shoes when they enter someone's home. In the US, the practice is much less common, and many people prefer leaving them on.

 

In the US, they have commercials for lawyers and prescription drugs

oups

 

The fact that you can advertise legal services and prescription drugs has raised plenty of ethical questions in the United States (even if the commercials can be hilarious).

You just don`t have those things in Europe.

There are American flags everywhere

flags

 

Europeans who visit the US are often taken aback by the amount of American flags they see hanging outside homes, businesses, schools, banks, and churches.

Patriotism isn't quite as strong in most European countries, and even when it is, people don't necessarily have the same attachment to their national flag.

Americans add their tax on top of the sticker price

price

 

In Europe, and most places in the world, tax is built into the price when you buy something.

In the US, tax is only factored in at the register, so your final total will be higher than what you saw on the sticker.

Americans have mailboxes

boxes

Believe it or not, mailboxes outside of homes are something of an oddity for many Europeans visiting the US. In Europe, it's more common to simply have a letter slot on your front door.

They measure temperature in Fahrenheit

fahrenheit

Much to the frustration of  European travelers, the United States is one of just a small handful of countries and territories that measure temperatures using the Fahrenheit scale instead of Celsius.

 

And the US resists the metric system, too

metric

 

Temperature isn't the only thing the US measures differently. It's also just one of three countries to resist using the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the two others).

That means a lot of confusion for travelers who have to think in miles, gallons, and pounds instead of kilometers, liters, and kilograms.

US currency is all the same color and size

currency

 

In the US, green is the color of money.

In Europe, money comes in all different colors. And sizes too, for that matter — the US is just one of two contries whose bills are all the same size.

Having bills come in different colors and sizes helps the visually impaired and illiterate distinguish between denominations. American currency is trending in the right direction, with updated bills featuring splashes of purple and orange, but it looks downright drab compared to other world currencies.

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