It’s no secret that America stands out from the crowd. There are so many little quirky American things that the rest of the world just can’t wrap their heads around. Like the word "y'all," red solo cups, free refills, and bulk shopping, to name just a few.
So when someone asked the non-Americans of Reddit what's the craziest thing they’ve heard about the greatest country in the world that turned out to be true, the question was destined to become a hit. 56.9K upvotes later, the thought-provoking inquiry generated some very surprising answers. Let’s take a look at the best ones so far down below.
To all the non-American Pandas out there, share more of these rumors-turned-facts in the comment section below!
America has libraries that are essentially free to use.
(This was not even a rumor, but more like sarcastic comment from a friend who heard I was excited to go to the US, because he knew what book nerds my entire family is)
When I first arrived here 25 years ago, the first day of work at Newark NJ, I walked out at lunch time and saw the huge Central Library. The size boggled my mind, but I bravely walked in to check it out. The guy says, yup, show me your work ID (for local address) and you get a membership card.
Me: how much does it cost? I only own $80 total till I get my first pay.
He (bemused, almost laughing): it's free. You don't pay anything.
Me (after a brief recovery time from shock): so how many books am I allowed to take home? (Expecting that to be a catch - maybe I need to put down a security deposit for each book)
He (now positively enjoying himself): how many can you carry?
That day I took home 30+ books, just being greedy.
And quickly called my dad to tell him about it.
For a guy who painstakingly would browse used books stores in small town India just to get his kids great books to read, he was suitably amazed. He was puzzled if that would kill the book-store business, because who'd buy if such free libraries existed?!?
Till date I remember the gratitude I felt that day for being able to come here. And when Dad visited some years later, I would drop him off at a library on my way to work and he'd be lost in it all day.
That you can get into university just by being good at sports.... Like...wtf?
As a Brit living in America the amount of pharmaceutical commercials on TV is creepy.
There’re so many customs that Americans use without too much thinking. But when traveling around the world, some of the cultural differences become quite obvious.
While tipping is not a matter of choice in the US, people in Japan and South Korea see that as an insult. That’s partly because workers are proud of their jobs, and they get decent pay for whatever it is that they do.
There’s nothing wrong about being a tiny bit late in the US. But in some countries, that would be totally inappropriate. If you’re fashionably late for a meeting in Germany or Netherlands, locals are likely to think that you don’t value their time as much as your own.
“Athleisure,” while a popular choice of fashion for the day-to-day business, is viewed as distasteful in many European countries. For example, Italians never miss a chance to laugh at tourists wearing flip flops or denim shorts for restaurant dinner. The sloppy appearance can be understood as disrespectful.
Injured people try to avoid getting ambulances called for them
That the prices on their products are without tax and you get the tax when you pay
Like here the tax is already like, in the price. If it costs 1€ you pay 1€.
In an area, you're subject to a f*ck ton of different laws. There's laws that apply to the whole country, laws that apply to individual states, laws that only apply to counties, laws that apply to individual cities, and then I think, different areas within a city. In England, no matter where you are, all the same laws apply, with very rare exceptions. Homeowners associations as well. What a load of [crap]. Land of the free, but your neighbour can tell you what colour your f***king fence can be.
That women only get about 6 weeks off work after having a baby and it's most likely to be unpaid.
That people will just suffer through an injury or illness because they can’t afford health insurance.
Americans are nice and will stop to talk to Strangers. Canadian here living in Alberta. To any one who has never been, you will be blown away by the general Americans' generosity of their time, knowledge and helpfulness. I have done a few summers of Road trips from Calgary. one time i went to as far east as Ohio-Tennessee, as far south as New Orleans and Dallas, went through the flat lands and rode up the Rockies the rest of the way home... I have visited almost all the landlocked states (5 more to go) and 4 along the Gulf states, all by Car. I have been through a lot of big American cities and a lot of tiny towns. ALL OF YOU, North to South - make Canadians look like Bloody Savages. I expected something worse, probably because of Television and the Internet. i ended up leaving your country after the first time i visited, blown away and with a new found VERY REAL love for my southern neighbors. Been 5 times on multi-week trips. will spend time and money there again. 10/10.
Drink sizes. When my family visited in 2017 we landed in Texas for a stopover. First thing I saw in the shops part of the terminal was a dude who was drinking from what looked like an actual f***ing bucket - here in NZ our “large” drinks would be considered an American “small” or maybe “medium”
Employees can get fired ‘at will’. No warning, no performance review plans, nothing, just straight up fired.
The extent of the tipping culture is frankly shocking to me.
Not really a rumour but your houses are made of mostly air and drywalls. I think that's pretty crazy
That public transport is almost nonexistent in many smaller towns, which makes it a necessity for teens to have their own cars.
American State and National parks are some of the most beautiful places on earth. All parks could use more funding, but American parks are well staffed and maintained. There’s real pride.
Not exactly crazy, but I wanted to test out the stereotype that Americans will talk to anyone so I sought out a sports bar on my first visit. Ended up having a ton of really fun conversations with total strangers who I’ll never talk to ever again. It was great!
The minimal amount of paid days off you get from work. A friend of mine from Wisconsin was very proud he got 20 days off per year. If someone in Germany would offer me only 20 days, I would laugh at him and leave.
That higher education can cost upwards of $50,000 per year
Private prisons. I thought it was some sort of "haha the US is a dystopian hell hole" exaggeration joke the first time I heard it was a thing. I had to look it up to believe it because I was 100% sure the person was just trying to [mess] with me when he said he was serious.
I never understood why people in American TV series lost their house and job just because they got really sick.
Then I found out that it can happen in America.
They have those angry sinks that chop [crap]
You can see into the public toilet cubicles
How deeply religious and patriotic it is in contrast to Europe.
2017 in Athens, Georgia I passed out at work and was fine but my boss had already called an ambulance and insisted I get checked out...a less than 2 mile ambulance ride cost me $950 with insurance. I was only dehydrated..
The amount of sugar y'all put on EVERYTHING. I spent only 2 weeks in the US and I couldn't take it. Even the portion sizes are colossal, I felt that in a month with this lifestyle I'd probably drop dead, my heart wouldn't be able to take it
That they actually do wear shoes indoors, I thought it was just a movies thing (less hassle filming), but no.
That American kids eat straight sugar. Walked on to the playground and saw kids chugging these long thin sticks. I try and it was just colored sugar lol. Called them pixie sticks.
The freaking flag thing man, here we barely have one per school, or even government building.