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
7 months ago

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

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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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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).

Celtic Pirate Queen
Community Member
7 months ago

"deranged orange baboon", well said. I generally refer to him as "that asshat sitting at the grown-ups table".

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Simon Macbeth
Community Member
7 months ago

England dose have laws that apply to just certain city’s and counties 😊

Lee Kerr
Community Member
7 months ago

This person doesn’t understand about English laws if they’d never come across bye-laws https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-government-legislation-byelaws

Bob Beltcher
Community Member
7 months ago

Don't get me started on HOAs we bought house and with in six months of living there they were sending us demand letters to fix a gutter an paint the house. I agree it needs to be fixed but I just used all my money on a down payment. Give me at least a year to recover!

Roisin Reid
Community Member
7 months ago

Not Really true, local authorities in England are able to set Byelaws. They usually are for minor things like to curb ant-social behaviour.

CbusResident
Community Member
7 months ago

An American attorney here: 1. Our counties generally can't pass laws but can pass taxes, and do have law enforcement powers (I know, that is pretty confusing). 2. The fact that we can have laws passed at the federal, state and local level allows for what are called (by academics of law and govt.) 'laboratories of democracy' - in which one state or local govt. can try something, others can see how well that worked, then may choose to apply it if they believed it worked well. E.g. New York City was the first place in the US to ban smoking in public bldgs like bars and restaurants - no other US state or city would've done that first. But many states and cities saw that many citizens in NYC liked that smoking ban, and then followed suit w/ their own similar laws. I believe that's one reason why it's LESS often the case that non-smokers are exposed to second hand smoke in the US than they do places like Europe. That's our 'laboratories of democracy' in action.

Liam Walsh
Community Member
7 months ago

Most, if not all, european countries allow absolutely no smoking in buildings. Some have the strictest legislation there is. I thought some of the US still had the odd zones where smoking can still take place.

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Johnny Farnen
Community Member
7 months ago

This is a result of the placidity of Americans in general and the power of the lawsuit. In the States, the law of the lands is based primarily on who can get sued for what followed by who can get paid for what.

Kathy Smith
Community Member
7 months ago

True. You can find a lawyer here to take on ANY type of case, no matter how asinine.

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Joe Bloe
Community Member
7 months ago

"Land of the free.....to impose their will on you and take everything you own if you don't comply'. Having lived in America, I am SOO glad I moved back to Australia. The USA is such a colossal shithole.

DKS 001
Community Member
7 months ago

it does get confusing

Shalini Pabreja
Community Member
7 months ago

Why couldn't the laws be federally created but enforced on a county or district level? Why does each governing body have to have their own laws as if they're independent little nations within a nation?

Alexander Brior
Community Member
7 months ago

In Vermont, you can go almost anywhere naked as long as you leave your house like that.

John Baker
Community Member
7 months ago

I hate HOAs with a burning passion, but to be fair, nobody's forced to live with them. People who live in HOA controlled neighborhoods are there of their own free will. Ironically, the people who live in those neighborhoods tend overwhelmingly to be conservative. The same people who are always whining about too much government seem perfectly willing to voluntarily subject themselves to rules and enforcement far more arbitrary and draconian than the government ever dreamed of.

Fred Burrows
Community Member
7 months ago

Homeowner associations are bullshit , But folks want to live there so they can deal with it .

Wendy Parker
Community Member
7 months ago

Criminal laws are set Federally. Traffic laws, and such are usually Provincial wide, with the majority in our country either exactly the same or pretty similar. Our health care is basically federally mandated, but it is up to the provinces to look after their own healthcare (which is pretty much the same across the country). Each city may have different bylaws, etc., with the sharing of knowledge across the province and country.

Barry Kazmer
Community Member
7 months ago

We do not have provinces in the US...we have states. You must be thinking of Canada.

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David McKendrick
Community Member
7 months ago

When I lived in America we were told what color our drapes had to be.

John Baker
Community Member
7 months ago

For every neighborhood with a HOA, there are at least a thousand without. You should have moved into one of them. When you move into a neighborhood with a HOA, you sign an agreement that you will abide by the HOA's rules. If you're foolish enough to sign that agreement without reading it first (or sign it at all, as far as I'm concerned), you have no right to complain.

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George Hudacko
Community Member
7 months ago

Too sane not enough of the 10% loud mouth crazies to have their way dragging us all down. Generally the are the stupid A holes.

Ana Curry
Community Member
7 months ago

Each state has its own laws, we are the UNITED STATES - Federalism is our GOVT type.

John Doe
Community Member
7 months ago

The U.S is very diverse in many ways. Geography, climate, culture, and levels of stupidity. So many levels that so many damn laws need to be passed just because of said idiots.

Meyer Weinstock
Community Member
7 months ago

decentralization is the basis of all laws here

Id row
Community Member
7 months ago

This can be very frustrating sometimes.

M Adams
Community Member
7 months ago

I do agree there are too many unnecessary laws. Some laws are passed simply so politicians can get elected or reelected, and do little or no good. Education is one area where this is rampant, and now that there is a massive teacher shortage, many laws are being waived or suspended, a good indication they were never needed in the first place. As for homeowners' associations and strict zoning, I could not agree more. If you own your property, and you are not hurting anyone else or doing anything seriously illegal, who should care what you do.

Willem Groenewald
Community Member
7 months ago

I guess one way to drive the legal industry, and also ensuring that the industry stays local in each town.

Willem Groenewald
Community Member
7 months ago

PS, I don't support this btw

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G Grommesh
Community Member
7 months ago

I read that in my state, there is a certain road where, if I remember correctly, you cannot drive a certain color car.

Hannah Joyce Desoloc
Community Member
7 months ago

That's freedom for the people for you

Robert Ferguson sr
Community Member
7 months ago

Clown can't string two words together without having a cuss

Steph Bentz
Community Member
7 months ago

It's called the United *States*. We weren't originally supposed to be a single state (country), and the individual states can only agree on X number of overarching laws. Sort of like the EU. (People buy into homeowners associations, so they should fucking know what they're getting into.)

backatya
Community Member
7 months ago

The only law I don't agree with is if someone gets offended if someone flies the U.S. flag in America and then they have to take it down, stupid. If you don't like the U.S. flag and all the liberties it stands for go back to your country.

John Baker
Community Member
7 months ago

And where might there be a law like that? There certainly isn't one where I live.

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Richard Brown
Community Member
7 months ago

Your President should set the rules and laws for everywhere and local government should enforce them. There, that wasn't so hard was it.

John Baker
Community Member
7 months ago

That isn't how we do things here. Theoretically at least, our president serves the people, he doesn't rule them. Of course, our current Idiot in Chief can't seem to get a handle on that...

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Aragorn II Elessar
Community Member
7 months ago

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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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 months ago

lenders like to keep you paying for life

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