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!

#1

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.

SFLoridan Report

Kaisu
Community Member
6 months ago

What libraries aren't free? Isn't that the point of libraries that they're free to use?

Random Panda
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

In my country you have to pay a small membership fee. For the national library it's about $12/year. The one in my neighborhood was even cheaper. School and university libraries are free for students.

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
6 months ago

Isn't that how all libraries work?

Claes Gustavsson
Community Member
6 months ago

In Sweden, libraries are free. Not only that, you get access to a movie database and can stream a huge amount of movies from home if you have a library card. Also read all the world's magazines, hire e-books besides regular books. It's fantastic.

Clavelle
Community Member
6 months ago

Same as in US. My local library even has educational toys, cheap passes to museums, aquariums, etc. A lot of people who live here don't even know about these things! My library also hosts fun events like police day. They ask police officers questions, see all of their different vehicles (even go inside them), and there's a barbecue with free food. I love my library!

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
6 months ago

I thought this was pretty normal worldwide? Although most libraries here have a limit of like 10 books, 5 Dvd’s, 10 magazines just for an example. They also have a due date to return them but you can call up for an extension. If you don’t return them after a certain amount of time you have a “fine” you have to pay.

Guglielmo Marconi
Community Member
6 months ago

That's not a USA thing

Martha Meyer
Community Member
6 months ago

How is it that the American conservatives haven't attacked “free library“ yet? They even resent kids getting free lunches at school, so how did the books escape their wrath until now?

Colin L
Community Member
6 months ago

They do. Libraries are constantly having to go to bat for their funding.

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David Jeu
Community Member
6 months ago

Where is this guy from? Libraries are almost free in a lot of countries

Martha Meyer
Community Member
6 months ago

He literally says where he is from.

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Shart
Community Member
6 months ago

Yep libraries are a game changer..from free books to the use of the internet..it has been a lifeline for many poor and homeless people

Fish Boden
Community Member
6 months ago

That's quite a beautiful story.

Id row
Community Member
6 months ago

We trick you in that way. Libraries are free, but if you ever need medical care or education, be prepared to sign over your car, your house and the life savings of your next 4 generations.

Tiina Lehtineva
Community Member
6 months ago

I'm still shocked that in some countries the library isn't free...? Why not? I'm from Finland and the library is like my second home.

Lillukka
Community Member
6 months ago

As a Finn I thought it was the same everywhere.

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Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
6 months ago

I love our library. Now they use hoopla and I can download several books a month free on my tablet using my library card.

Joyce Melton
Community Member
6 months ago

A lot of US libraries were endowed by rich people back in the 1800s, so they could operate as free. Government subsidies have kept the system going, but economic shocks have reduced hours and services in many libraries.

Lee Kerr
Community Member
6 months ago

Similar in the U.K.; in our city many now have meetings room etc to broaden use. They have been rebranded as community hubs

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Miss Cris
Community Member
6 months ago

In Spain, they're not only free but, having your free library card, you have special cheaper prices in museums, theatres and book shops.

Caroline Driver
Community Member
6 months ago

I did wonder until I got further down, where do they charge people to use libraries. UK libraries only charge fines for late books, otherwise they'd never get them back.

Jo Choto
Community Member
6 months ago

I worked as a librarian in the USA for years. A really brilliant system. In addition to books, we had banks of computers for public use, lots of different clubs and gatherings for the purpose of education and public benefit, borrowing of lots of CDs, audio books, movies. Online help lines for information finding, homework etc. More events and opportunities than I can mention. All for free.

boredkoala
Community Member
6 months ago

I spent a lot of time in my local town library as a kid, browsing, events, and also volunteering. Libraries are awesome!!!

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Brenda Taylor
Community Member
6 months ago

I always thought that all libraries were free.

Shelley DuVal
Community Member
6 months ago

In Australia all Libraries are free!

Kines Tezja
Community Member
6 months ago

In Poland libraries are also completely free.

Thomas Turnbull
Community Member
6 months ago

All UK Libraries are free

Richard Brown
Community Member
6 months ago

They are free in the UK too

Tiny Dynamine
Community Member
6 months ago

This is the definition of what a library is.

Jessica Fawcett
Community Member
6 months ago

I was just thinking the same thing. I have never heard of al library that wasn't free.

Esca Sav
Community Member
6 months ago

Libraries and parks are essentially one of the few places that are actually free. I'm...surprised that this isn't a thing in other countries. If this wasn't brought up as a topic, I would have never known.

Shelby P
Community Member
6 months ago

yeah, free books.. so great. but healthcare.. NO

Johnny Farnen
Community Member
6 months ago

This is an obvious exaggeration. No library allows 30 books out at one time to any one person, but yes, they are all free...and even university libraries are open to the public. The really shocking thing here is that most Americans do not read books after they are finished with school...even college graduates. However, I agree with Kaisu...where in the world aren't libraries free?

Liam Walsh
Community Member
6 months ago

In the UK it's free and the allowance is 20 books, 10 DVDs and 10 CDs at any one time.

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Nicky OldfieldDesciple
Community Member
6 months ago

I live in Ireland and the library is free to join and there is no fee on any book you take out. They don't even fine you if you bring a book back late. They even let you use the internet for free. But my favourite service they provide i free on line magazines. You can download an App to your phone and you have free access to hundreds of magazines, everything from the TV Guide to Harpers Bizzar. All for free.

Lara Harris
Community Member
6 months ago

Where does this person come from that Libraries aren't free? Or.. Doesn't have libraries?

Perjés Orsolya
Community Member
6 months ago

In Hungary you have to pay a yearly "membership fee" - sort of... And there's a limit of the number of books you can take out - for 3 weeks, and they charge you a late fee if you are taking them back later, than 3 weeks... Nice, huh?

katboxjanitor
Community Member
6 months ago

Well, the "free" is actually a result of the taxes we pay in the City\County\State or tuition at the University or College. To me, it is the best use of my taxes possible!

Kendra Miller
Community Member
6 months ago

Hi all, a little info from a librarian. No library is "free", usually a portion of your taxes go towards your local library, my library charges 35$ but I know some bigger ones that charge 50$. It all depends on population size, staff sizes and whether your library has lots of bells and whistles. For non-residence patrons we have them pay 35 in lieu every year when they renew their card.

Guglielmo Marconi
Community Member
6 months ago

Free 🇵🇹

Hans Felsh (TheRealMoleman)
Community Member
6 months ago

This is a really wholesome one. At least not EVERYTHING about the States is bad, right? Also, more people should use the library. I did as a kid, but granted that was way before the internet. Still miss it, though.

Hannah Joyce Desoloc
Community Member
6 months ago

Wow. As many as I can carry? Really? Our town doesn't have a library at all (though there used to be).

Maxine Alvarado
Community Member
6 months ago

This is a heartwarming story

Avery Day
Community Member
6 months ago

it does not for me. as someone who also came from that part of the world, it is a painful reminder of the lottery of birth.

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Joe Bloe
Community Member
6 months ago

How is this news? Libraries are free everywhere.

Laura Mortensen
Community Member
6 months ago

The thing I missed the most when I taught in South Korea was the library. I had to go once a week to Seoul, which was three hours away, to buy books at a used bookstore. The school where I worked didn't have much of a library at all. I felt bad for the kids.

Audrey H
Community Member
6 months ago

Libraries are my home away from home

Glowdaddy
Community Member
6 months ago

In the US the library are paid by our taxes, so not completely free. Some libraries also charge minimal late fees, though more and more of them are dropping the fees. Libraries are one of the worlds greatest resources and I support paying taxes to keep them open. I used to buy and read lots of books, but now it is mostly audiobooks for me (Which you can get through the library, free, by the way.)

Glowdaddy
Community Member
6 months ago

In the US the library are paid by our taxes, so not completely free.

Katherine Boag
Community Member
6 months ago

Damn i thought this was common, our public libraries are free as long as you live in the city (and have proof of address, sorry homeless ppl)

ewadora
Community Member
6 months ago

in Poland where I come from and in Canada where I live it's free, but I pay ~70$ in fines every year:)

G Grommesh
Community Member
6 months ago

I'm baffled at the idea of carrying 30+ books. Did this person have a luggage or backpack on wheels?

Maria Rohlen
Community Member
6 months ago

Never heard of a library that wasn't free.

KEBI Photography
Community Member
6 months ago

Wait. Do other countries not have public libraries?

Pippa Runs
Community Member
6 months ago

This was a well told short story :)

Walkus-Andrew Andrea
Community Member
6 months ago

The things we take for granted, I don't think we would survive in other countries because we have so much (North Americans) and what we don't have, we can get. I'm happy for this fellow!

Stannous Flouride
Community Member
6 months ago

Another great contribution by Benjamin Franklin.

Delboy
Community Member
6 months ago

British Libraries are free (well last time I used them I had to pay for the library card)

Lola DM
Community Member
6 months ago

Mine is free as long as you live in the borough.

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Nadine
Community Member
6 months ago

Great story from one book nerd to another.

The Girl on Fire
Community Member
6 months ago

It's nice to see a good thing on this list instead of "america bad lol".

Whatshername
Community Member
6 months ago

Netherlands: my library charges € 43,50 a year. You may keep a max. total of 20pcs at home at the same time. That's the standard membership, there's also a limited one... And if you're from out of town you're charged extra. On their receipts it says "you saved yourself € x by not buying your books".

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#2

That you can get into university just by being good at sports.... Like...wtf?

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Kaisu
Community Member
6 months ago

This is really mind blowing to me, because isn't university supposed to be about academics?

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#3

As a Brit living in America the amount of pharmaceutical commercials on TV is creepy.

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

I never really thought about it but I just realised that we don’t have that issue. It is actually illegal to advertise prescription medicine.

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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.

#4

Injured people try to avoid getting ambulances called for them

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Eirik Johnsbråten
Community Member
6 months ago

That is so sad.

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#5

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€.

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Lazy Farmer
Community Member
6 months ago

I find this extremely confusing. And I really hate the staff tipping concept, too.

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#6

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.

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Kathy Baylis
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

Well, it’s difficult to govern such a large country from one small district (DC), so you have to delegate from the federal government to the individual state governments to the county governments to the city governments. The more local you get, the more specialized the laws become as they’re tailored to issues and situations specific to the area. However, that does open areas up to corruption if the wrong people manage to gain some power. You know, like the whole fucking country because of the deranged orange baboon throwing his feces around the Oval Office right now (who I did not vote for, so do not blame me).

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#7

That women only get about 6 weeks off work after having a baby and it's most likely to be unpaid.

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Kaisu
Community Member
6 months ago

This sounds insane? In my country it's 4 months and it's paid and the father can get work off for 9 weeks, which is paid as well. The women can also start their leave a few weeks before giving birth.

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#8

That people will just suffer through an injury or illness because they can’t afford health insurance.

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Hans
Community Member
6 months ago

Unworthy of any country, not just the so called West.

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#9

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.

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Chiara Lucchetti
Community Member
6 months ago

There are a lot of crazy things in US from an european point of view, but I totally agree with this post. I found Americans very nice, gentle and caring people. Before going there, I immagined to find rude and aggressive people :)) Too many bad movies! The first time I arrived in Philadelphia my english was not very good, and sometimes I wandered looking for some shop, or the subway or whatever... and I remember men or women that tried to help and listen me patiently. I still feel gratitude for those who made me feel welcomed and safe. Philadelphia is still in my heart! I left the USA in 2011 and I don't know if that's still the case.

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#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”

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Stuart Smith
Community Member
6 months ago

hence the size of Americans....

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#11

Employees can get fired ‘at will’. No warning, no performance review plans, nothing, just straight up fired.

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
6 months ago

Seem oddly super inhumane. Why do you allow this?

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#12

The extent of the tipping culture is frankly shocking to me.

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Kaisu
Community Member
6 months ago

I can't believe Americans have created a system where the customers can be blamed for unfair wages instead of the employer

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#13

Not really a rumour but your houses are made of mostly air and drywalls. I think that's pretty crazy

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Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
6 months ago

The way houses are build in the USA is crazy. It’s no wonder they’re all flattened in a tornado / hurricane. And yet they cost so damn much to buy!

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#14

That public transport is almost nonexistent in many smaller towns, which makes it a necessity for teens to have their own cars.

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Jo Choto
Community Member
6 months ago

Yeah, it's not just not having no public transport. There are a lot of places (I lived in one) where there are no sidewalks, so you can't even walk from one place to another. And if you live in a small place, you can't get a taxi or anything else to come out and pick you up. If you don't have a car, it's almost impossible to get around in the USA. And it's not just small towns. Even big towns have no transportation infrastructure.

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#15

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.

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Aragorn II Elessar
Community Member
6 months ago

One of the few good things. I love the Grand Canyon personally

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#16

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!

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Joyce Melton
Community Member
6 months ago

Sure. About 1/3 of people you meet in America will talk to anybody, about anything. We may be crazy but we're friendly. :)

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#17

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.

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Jo Choto
Community Member
6 months ago

In the US, if you have a reasonably good job, you can expect to get 10 days' paid vacation a year. That's it.

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#18

That higher education can cost upwards of $50,000 per year

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Lazy Farmer
Community Member
6 months ago

This, and the cost of medical care in the US, is something I will never understand. Claiming to be the greatest country but basically living off of the poorest of citizens. How come nobody's actually bothered?

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#19

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.

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Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
6 months ago

This should not be allowed at all.

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#20

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.

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DKS 001
Community Member
6 months ago

companies here are a bitch about taking time off. They want bodies in the work place. If you use up your sick/vacation time (less than 2 week's worth total a year) then you're fucked.

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#21

They have those angry sinks that chop [crap]

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Lazy Farmer
Community Member
6 months ago

HAHAHA! Angry sinks!! 🤣🤣🤣

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#22

You can see into the public toilet cubicles

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Lazy Farmer
Community Member
6 months ago

I just can't wrap my head around this logic, tbh

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#23

How deeply religious and patriotic it is in contrast to Europe.

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JuJu
Community Member
6 months ago

And how much of that religion is allowed to contaminate education

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#24

Literally anything about what goes on in Florida.

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Clare McDuff
Community Member
6 months ago

Florida is America’s wang. Always getting itself into trouble.

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#25

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..

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
6 months ago

WITH insurance it cost 950 USD?? Do I dare to ask how much it would be without insurance?

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#26

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

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Kaisu
Community Member
6 months ago

American candy is so sweet too, I just can't manage eating most of it

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#27

That they actually do wear shoes indoors, I thought it was just a movies thing (less hassle filming), but no.

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JuJu
Community Member
6 months ago

What I tell the kids almost every day "Please take of your shoes before you run to your room! I have just vacuumed the flat."

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#28

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.

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
6 months ago

Sounds gross.

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#29

The freaking flag thing man, here we barely have one per school, or even government building.

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Aragorn II Elessar
Community Member
6 months ago

Well, knowing some Americans, they might forget what country they’re in

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#30

That you can rack up 100,000$ upward in debt easily through student loans.

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DKS 001
Community Member
6 months ago

lenders like to keep you paying for life

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