It's always interesting to travel around the world and experience different cultures and traditions that may differ from what you believe to be the "norm". And even though most of the time these cultural differences spark nothing more but a delightful surprise, there are some characteristics that are difficult for people to wrap their heads around.

Have you ever thought that there are things that only your country does but seems that everybody else doesn't really understand it at all? Well, according to this askredit thread, those living in America definitely have this problem. After getting asked "What is something you didn't realize was typical American stereotype until you went abroad?", people flooded the post with an endless list of customs that only in America are considered to be normal. From garbage disposals and free public bathrooms to extreme portion sizes, there are some strictly American things.

Scroll down to read these answers and funny stereotypes, and don't forget to share your delightful cultural differences in the comments!

#1

The prices abroad don't add tax after the fact. You pay what the price shows. No need to figure the tax. Dumb that we do that here.

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Perry Swift
Community Member
1 year ago

Yeah, that's a total pain in the arse when you visit the states.

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#2

Being "friendly" to an extent. I checked in at a hostel and walked into the lounge area where people from all over the world were just chilling. I kinda introduced myself to the whole room, and someone goes, "you're from the states, yeah?" And I'm like, "yeah howd you know?" They said, "only an American will walk into a room of strangers and introduce themselves to everybody."

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Christina Sersif
Community Member
1 year ago

I don't see how that's a bad thing....?

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#3

When I went to Australia I found out very quickly that no one down there "roots" for a team - they "go for" a team. So when I said I root for the Red Sox I got a lot of weird looks

(Rooting means fucking in Australian)

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Schrödinger's Dog
Community Member
1 year ago

Oops...

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#4

Sugar. When I visited Japan, even some of their sweetest desserts pale in comparison to how much sugar is in American food.

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M O'Connell
Community Member
1 year ago

I absolutely hate how sweet things are here. EVERYTHING could do with at least 50% less.

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#5

How fat we are. Like, I know we are when compared to the rest of the world. But it made me realize what I think is fat in the US, is grossly obese in Europe. And what's not-fit, but not-fat in the US, is fat is Europe.

There are some hamhogs over there but my god, returning home was an eye opener.

At least we don't smoke as much, I guess.

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TC
Community Member
1 year ago

Sorry to agree with you.

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#6

The stereotype about us being loud is true. I never thought of myself as being loud until I went abroad and would hang up the phone after speaking in what I thought was appropriate volume to find everyone around me was staring at me, and realized how much more quiet they were lol whoops

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María Hermida
Community Member
1 year ago

Everything is relative. Come to Spain and you will start to think that, in comparison, you are as quiet as a mouse. It doesn't matter how loud you are, the average Spaniard is even louder. The level of tolerance to noise here is unbelievable.

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#7

Measuring walking/driving distance in blocks.



It's the unit of measure I use most frequently when giving directions - the restaurant is 3 blocks away, go south one block and then two blocks west, I live six blocks from the grocery store...



It wasn't until I studied abroad in England and got a complete blank look when I asked someone how many blocks away the library was that I realized using "block" as a measurement only makes sense in cities that were largely pre-planned and built on grid system. AKA: not many places outside the US.

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Eunice Probert
Community Member
1 year ago

You have to remember that many town in Europe are actually quite ancient, far older than the USA.

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#8

Red plastic cups for parties. So much so that people outside US use them as an accessory to American themed parties.

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M O'Connell
Community Member
1 year ago

I would be so uncomfortable at an "American-Themed" party. I'm American, but I have absolutely no idea what the expectations would be.

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#9

Ok, so, this one is probably pretty obvious, and looking back on it it’s really embarrassing. My family took a European vacation when I was 17. For some reason, we decided to get KFC in the UK. (Because ‘Murica.)

My friend who came with us went with me to order and pick up our order. We ordered a family size bucket of chicken, and they asked us what kinds of side dishes we wanted. We said “Biscuits.” And the employees looked at us with the strangest look.

UK KFC: “You want . . . biscuits with your chicken?” Me: “Yes. Biscuits.” UK KFC: “We don’t sell those.” Me: “What do you mean you don’t sell biscuits. What are your sides?” UK KFC: “Chips?” Me: “You mean French fries? Ok fine. That’ll do.”

I was worldly enough to know that “chips” meant “French fries”, but “biscuits” in the UK are cookies. My fat ass tried to order fried chicken and cookies. I am positive someone over in the UK is still telling this story at parties as an example of how disgusting Americans are.

Also on this same trip my father asked why our waitress kept saying “cheese”, when she was saying “cheers”. We really left a good impression across the pond.

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Dani
Community Member
1 year ago

Haha! This reminds me of a time when my family was visiting relatives in Japan and because we were from America, my great-aunt decided to take us to an "American restaurant." I loved it because their interpretation of American food was about equivalent in accuracy to our interpretation of Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

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#10

Small avocados.

Went to puerto rico. Was like, ‘yo ill have like 6 of those stuffed avocados’. Buddy was like, ‘yo gringo, i think you underestimate the size of our avocados here. Just have one and ill being you more if you want after’.

I had half of one. It was like a football.

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Bored Fox
Community Member
1 year ago

Small avocados are available in most European countries too.

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#11

Here in the States, pregnancy announcements/reveals/baby showers are mainstream but it's generally a BIG no-no to bring it up in Kenya. My mom found out the hard way. Essentially, asking someone when the baby is due is the equivalent of asking the person "when did you and your husband fuck?" which is considered EXTREMELY rude. The lady my mom asked was gracious about it but said "If we were not such good friends I would have slapped you!"

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Crouching_Penn_Hidden_Teller@yahoo.com
Community Member
1 year ago

A guy from Pakistan I had just met asked me why I wasn't married. I told him in the US that's a rude question. His immediate response was to ask me again!

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#12

Garbage disposals in sinks.

When I moved to the UK, my flatmates asked how in movies people would stick their hands in the sink drain and it be ripped apart. I told them about garbage disposals and they were very weirded out.

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Blakkur Sverrir
Community Member
1 year ago

In most parts of Germany they are forbidden. The reason is that the scraps would feed the rat population under ground

Betsy Knox
Community Member
1 year ago

Whoa! Poor rats - can't even get scraps.

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Kururi.Orihara
Community Member
1 year ago

I've never been in a house with one of those

Ryo Bakura
Community Member
1 year ago

This one I agree with. We can have our food waste collected with the rest of our garbage, but my dad uses it to create compost to spread around his garden. Eco-friendly, but a bit weird when you look out my parents' back window, and see a massive mound of rotting food in a corner of the lawn. Also, my sister's tortoises bury themselves in it often, and don't nobody wanna go digging through that to find them.

Shawn Ruester
Community Member
1 year ago

My grandma used to do that but she'd dig a small hole and bury it all first so no one ever saw it. The only exception was the lawn/leaf compost pile.

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Dominic Tobias
Community Member
1 year ago

My Mum has one and it's terrifying. Like an angry god under the sink we gingerly sacrifice things to.

Victoria Rey Piuma
Community Member
1 year ago

Yeah, I also always wondered if that isn't really bad for the environment to go out with the water. Isn't garbage supposed to go in the bin?

Joe Allen
Community Member
1 year ago

You only put food down there. It gets composted. It's probably better for the environment than putting it in a landfill because the compost can be used somewhere.

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Smerv
Community Member
1 year ago

Composts ftw!!

Broken Bay
Community Member
1 year ago

As an American, I find them really weird.

Hobbit Girly
Community Member
1 year ago

I've never had a sink with a garbage disposal, and I live in the US.

Sunzilla
Community Member
1 year ago

I love garbage disposals.... But I suppose it's better to feed the compost heap than the sink...

Joe Allen
Community Member
1 year ago

What do you think they do with it?

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Jo Smith
Community Member
1 year ago

Some people have these in the UK, but we call it a crusher or something like that. It doesn't really have a name. Garbage disposal is more of an umbrella term for the act of putting 'garbage' in a bin or at the dump.

Jane Alexander
Community Member
1 year ago

When will we wise up and connect the garbage disposal directly to the compost heap?

Jeff Milot
Community Member
1 year ago

Actually the water is filtered to remove the organic material and it is recycled into fertilizer. I only know this because there was a flyer inserted into the last one I bought explaining this, and stating that nearly everything should be put in the disposal instead of the garbage for this reason.

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Mary Faulkner
Community Member
1 year ago

Shows how young you all are. Garbage disposals were common in flats in the UK 35 years ago, no garden, no recycling.

Lisa Leuschner Andersen
Community Member
1 year ago

Yeah. It’s old school. But funny to see all the know it alls.

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Désirée Dilworth
Community Member
1 year ago

I live in the US (Los Angeles County) at the moment. I don't use the garbage disposal. I use the green bin and the City feeds their compost pile.

Master Markus
Community Member
1 year ago

I've known about them since before I saw really gorey movies because I have relatives who live in the U.S. I still think they're a very weird idea though. Like, it just seems like a sink for lazy people who can't be arsed to wipe the contents of your dishes into the garbage.

Crochet lady
Community Member
1 year ago

It's not about being too lazy, it's about not having rotting bits of food smelling up your trash can.

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Emmi B
Community Member
1 year ago

How?? I lived in UK and we had a garbage grinder thing in the sink.

Frozengeckolover
Community Member
1 year ago

I've only lived in one apartment that had a garbage disposal. I didn't use it. When I was growing up, we threw our scraps in the compost pile.

Lisa Chambers
Community Member
1 year ago

lol

Georgina Barratt
Community Member
1 year ago

I live in England and I’ve had one for years

Michael Riley
Community Member
1 year ago

They were very trendy 20/25 years ago in Australia, but I think we worked out that most of this ended up in the ocean so not really a big thing anymore

Joe Allen
Community Member
1 year ago

Why would it end up in the ocean and not a sewage compost?

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Tracey Hall
Community Member
1 year ago

I live in Australia and have not seen a garbage disposal in the sink in over 20 odd years. Did not think people still had them.

Anna Repp
Community Member
1 year ago

Most of the US does not have these either. Ive never lived in a place with one. My parents have it and I'm afraid to use it! :)

Eduard Korhonen
Community Member
1 year ago

We know what garbage disposals are in the UK, we just don't generally have them. I doubt that this conversation ever took place.

Red
Community Member
1 year ago

Actually that’s not weird in Australia since we also have those in our sinks

Foxxy
Community Member
1 year ago

I have never ever seen or heard of anyone I know with a sink garbage disposal. They aren’t very common in Australia.

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Adam Hart-Dyke
Community Member
1 year ago

Your flatmates were idiots then. Waste disposals in sinks are quite common in the UK, but not as fashionable as they were 30 years ago.

Effie The Hedgehog
Community Member
1 year ago

I'm in the UK and we have garbage disposals...They're not like, super common, but I grew up with one and many of my friends have them.

HoffLensMetalHedLovesAnimalsUK
Community Member
1 year ago

I have never seen a garbage disposal in a sink here in my nearly 40 years of life, we recycle food waste now, pre-2010 we just threw it out or used it for compost.

Christina Sersif
Community Member
1 year ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

I think a garbage disposal is an essential item in a kitchen. I'd rather throw away scraps down the disposal instead of the trash. It helps with the smell and prevention of flies.

Bored Fox
Community Member
1 year ago

@Christina Sersif In many countries people just empty the food waste bucket nearly every day so it does not start to stink or collect mold. Here in Finland for example the biodegrable waste is collected and used to make compost soil and collecting methane.

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#13

Having your drink constantly refilled at restaurants. I just wanna drink a ton of water alright?

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Julia Christina Eneroth
Community Member
1 year ago

Here in Sweden many restaurants let customers get a bottle of water to the table. Then we can chose ourselves when we want to refill.

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#14

Buying stuff and the cashier putting your items in a plastic or paper bag. Went to Germany, and found it strange they don't bag your items. Everyone just brings their own bag or dumps their stuff in a back pack.

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Eunice Probert
Community Member
1 year ago

That's because we're trying to save the planet, one unused plastic bag at a time. Having to pay 10p for plastic bags in supermarkets cut bag use by 80% in Wales in one year.

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#15

Root beer is apparently disgusting and an offense to most of the worlds palate.

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diane a
Community Member
1 year ago

Yep - tastes like Germolene ointment smells

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#16

I moved to England from Texas about six years ago. One of the major things that I noticed was that smiling and being friendly towards strangers was considered bizarre. This is a bit true in any metropolitan area, but especially in the UK. In Texas I was used to smiling at people, asking for directions if I needed them, and being friendly towards strangers. I learned very quickly that smiling at someone on the tube, or asking someone for directions on the street immediately makes someone think you’re trying to scam/rob them or you’re crazy.

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Daric Apai (Darquestar1)
Community Member
1 year ago

Smiles and friendly talk is one thing Americans should share with others.

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#17

Ranch flavor Doritos in the Netherlands are called "Cool American" flavor.

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Daric Apai (Darquestar1)
Community Member
1 year ago

Hahaha.. the only time 'muricans are cool overseas.

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#18

Keeping AC on 100% of the time in the summer.

Visited Madrid for about a month to see the exchange student we housed, and found that they typically only turn on AC at Night to sleep or when it reaches a damned 105 deg F.

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anisub
Community Member
1 year ago

in Switzerland no one has an ac in their house but our houses are also better built than your wood houses haha^^ that's something i don't get, you have these hurricanes and storms and everything but your houses are so poorly built..

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#19

Massively wide roads/lanes. The whole of Ireland made me feel claustrophobic, but when I got back home the roads felt like way too much wasted space.

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Pollypocket81
Community Member
1 year ago

But... its a beautiful country :)

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#20

Going out to a restaurant. In America, you are seated ASAP, and then they bring you drinks, appetizers, entree, desert and then check as quick as they possibly can (if it's good service) for a total time of 45 minutes to an hour and a halfish. Staying past this time is seen as a bit rude. In Europe, going out to eat seemed to be more of an event that you slowly enjoyed for a longer period of time. First, they you bring you drinks and an appetizer for the first hour. Then the second hour is the entree and desert. Then it's more drinks for another half hour or so. I don't know if it's because we were American but it seemed like the wait staff everywhere we went was annoyed that we were rushing them, when we just thought it was bad service and didn't understand the routine.

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...
Community Member
1 year ago

Who has 5 hours to spend at a restaurant?

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#21

Road trips...at least just jumping in the car and driving a few hours without giving it much thought. I live in a large western state and it seems at least every other weekend my family and I were in the car traveling for a few hours to see some site, go into Mexico or another state.

I have relatives in Switzerland and they were going to drive us to the Frankfurt airport and I was blown away how big of a deal it was to them. My uncle had the car inspected, shopped around for gas, and printed off travel and weather reports. All for a trip my dad would have said "hey lets do this this weekend, in the car kids!"

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Bruce Robb
Community Member
1 year ago

In the US, 100 years is a long time. In Europe, 100 miles is a long distance.

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#22

Having plenty of *FREE* bathrooms around for the public to use.

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Eunice Probert
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

Oh good lord yes. If a county council tries to close one, there is a heck of a protest. We demand plenty of public loos.

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#23

I doubt this is restricted to America in any way, but when I studied abroad in the UK, the lack of public drinking laws was a bit of a culture shock. Being able to walk outside with a bottle of beer was very freeing

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Bored Fox
Community Member
1 year ago

If anyone visits Finland the alcohol laws here are very confusing - also for us Finns. You can visit a store that is open 24hours but you can't buy alcohol drinks between 9 pm and 9 am. If you want alcohol drinks that have over 5,5% volume of alcohol (like vodka that often has 40%) then you have to buy them from a separate store called Alko that is not open 24/7 and is often closed on sundays and holidays. It is also not a good idea to drink alcohol on a public place because police may confiscate your drinks. Also alcohol is really expensive here so many Finnish people buy alcohol from Estonia or Russia. But at least you can buy alcohol and visit bars when you are 18 years old.

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#24

I was struck by the extent to which nobody talks to strangers in northern Europe ... Even in big cities in the US, people will talk to each other sometimes in line, on the subway, etc. Not deep conversations, but it isn't weird to make casual conversation.

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C Bragg
Community Member
1 year ago

Maybe I was born in the wrong country, I hate small talk and I don't smile at strangers.

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#25

How large grocery stores are here. My wife is not american and we lived in China and were in HK all the time... they had large international stores that were great and she didnt really grasp the size of american grocery stores till our first week in the USA and there's 150 feet of cereals on one aisle

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Daric Apai (Darquestar1)
Community Member
1 year ago

You could house, clothe and feed a small village in some American superstores.

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#26

S’mores. I was in New Zealand having a bonfire on the beach and someone went and grabbed a bag of marshmallows and then everyone just ate them??! By themselves?! And someone from Sweden asked me if s’mores were a real thing or only on tv. I was flabbergasted.

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Christina Sersif
Community Member
1 year ago

I hope you introduce it to them and changed their lives.

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#27

My British friend makes fun of me for how much cheese I use in my cooking.

Doesn't stop her from inhaling my potato casseroles, but there you go.

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KarmaQueen
Community Member
1 year ago

My husband would be in heaven. He always says "the more cheese the better."

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#28

I am not American but visit the U.S alot and I tell you,almost all Americans has this habit of giving the 'half smile look' to anyone,that is not just normal anywhere else

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KarmaQueen
Community Member
1 year ago

Not sure what this means? Half smile look when confronting someone as they walk past you, to be nice?

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#29

24 hour stores.

It's weird not being able to buy random sh*t at 4am...

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
1 year ago

Makes no sense... We have lots of 24 hour stores over here?

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#30

At a buffet in Germany, I had to pay for ketchup

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Bored Fox
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

That's strange. Here in Finland ketchup and mustard are usually free part of the buffet food.

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