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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years ago

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

okpkpkp
Community Member
3 years ago

In Mainz, Germany they have a church that was built in the year 1000 CE, so yes, quite older.

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Shari H
Community Member
3 years ago

As an American from the "country" I have no idea how far a block is. However, in my area directions include "past the big white rock there's an old combine on the right, turn left there and look for the tree that was split by lighting".

Cat Mac
Community Member
3 years ago

Lol

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Joseph Petkovich
Community Member
3 years ago

I don't know if this is an American thing or just a southern thing or what, but everyone I know measures it in time. It's 40 minutes away, or 2 hours from here, etc.

Frozengeckolover
Community Member
3 years ago (edited)

I think that is a southern thing. I haven't run into that in the northern states. It might be because of our winding roads and small towns. I've had to explain this measurement of distance to military guys at Fort Benning (Columbus, ga). That base is further away from Atlanta (the capital) than I am, but it takes me twice as long to get to the capital because I am nowhere near a highway. Whereas, the guys at Fort Benning can take an express way straight up to Atlanta. Sometimes distance is less important than the time it takes to get there.

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Nia Loves Art
Community Member
3 years ago

This is kind of a New York thing. My grandmother refers to everything in blocks even after moving to North Carolina, which my mom thinks is funny.

Renda Fury
Community Member
3 years ago

After living in the U.K. for nearly 16 years I have learned to use ‘streets’ instead of blocks. It still takes a bit more explanation but I am usually understood.

Kerry Ericksson
Community Member
3 years ago

I live in Vancouver,Canada and grew up with the block system and still use it every day,as in its 3 blocks to the bus stop

Manfred Leong
Community Member
3 years ago

actually when you say go south one block and 2 blocks west, that's going to illicit even more blank looks. You mean I need to bring a compass every time i go outside?

Nancy Jeckells
Community Member
3 years ago

Yes ! I am Canadian and live in England. I would say to people Walk North, and they would look at me like I was nuts, Like , how do you know which way is North???

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Paige s
Community Member
3 years ago

in australia you just say where bob crashed his car turn towards the pub keep going till you see the old shed then turn going towards old mates farm. :P (acidently did this to my friend who was visting from america and look at me crazy then asked me street name)

Jennifer Crompton
Community Member
3 years ago

They do this in Ireland too! 😂 We had a hard time getting directions from local because we didn't know which barn was O'Connell's or where Darren's house used to be. In the countryside, the local often don't know the names of the roads!

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Abbi Rouse
Community Member
3 years ago

I hate the grid system. I find it totally confusing when I want to find out 'where is the centre; where's all the action?'. It's one of the few logical/mathematical approaches that bugs me.

Del
Community Member
3 years ago

In France, we do say "pâté de maisons", which refers to a block (although not necessarily square, because... Europe). But I mostly heard my parents use it to say to me "if you're this restless, go and run around the pâté de maison!!!". Then by other people, mostly to point out that a specific thing is on the other side of the "pâté de maisons". Not really a distance unit, per se.

Julia Christina Eneroth
Community Member
3 years ago

In Sweden we didn't start building orthogonal grids until the Renaissance.

Zulma Ruiz
Community Member
3 years ago

In muy country, Argentina, always de say that, eso queda a tres cuadras, a una cuadra, ( 3 bloks, 1 block) and ours bloks is 100 mtrs , when somebody give you a adress you can guest how many blocks you have to walk

M O'Connell
Community Member
3 years ago

This begs the question: Do Bostonians use 'blocks" as a gauge of distance?

Frozengeckolover
Community Member
3 years ago

That is only a relative unit of measurement in America if you live in a city that actually has blocks. Many towns in America do not. Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA has many city blocks. My small town in the same state does not. I guess, technically, my town's center has three blocks, but the rest of the town is more spread out and does not have block buildings.

Tobias Meiner
Community Member
3 years ago

This is actually not that different in most European countries. Many people will use the equivalent 'street' (meaning how many streets perpendicular to one you're standing on you must pass). These are far from standardised though, given that vast majority of cities outside USA are very old (although the urban grid stems from so called 'German plan' popularised in Middle Ages). But it gives a general feeling of distance almost as well as American 'block'.

Šimon Špaček
Community Member
3 years ago

In Czech republik this is not that uncommon sometimes. "Turn left on third street..." and so. But best directions I ever got was: "Go this street untill Gambrinus (type of beer here. On pubs you can see what kind of beer they have and in most cases those signs are lights so cool in night). Turn left. At Kozel (another beer) turn right. Proceed till Pilsen. Turn right and it is the one before Lobkowitz. Yup, navigated with four pubs and it was only about 8 to 10 minutes walk.

Marnee DeRider
Community Member
3 years ago

Curious fact: The grid system was learned from the Native Americans out east (as were many United Statesian ideas).

Curious Cat
Community Member
3 years ago

in NYC we mesure things by time.. ie. it will take you 45 mins to get there.. ( vs 6 blocks)

Bron
Community Member
3 years ago

I live in a town where the roads, blocks etc are based on horse trails. so we have the opposite problem, it's really hard to work out how many blocks away something is lol

rick hctep (Rick45)
Community Member
3 years ago

America is just the baby amongst all other countries in years.

Anna Repp
Community Member
3 years ago

This is true! But even more true is that we Americans use East-west or North-south casually when we give directions, because most of the places here are oriented that way. So it is a very common thing to say something like "Turn south at the next light, and when you see the court building, park on the west side of it and use the north entrance." I never heard anyone give directions that way abroad, and I had baffled visitors to the US with such directions, because for most of them "Walk south down the Fifth avenue for 5 blocks" does not make sense :)

LuckyL
Community Member
3 years ago

And not only the distance by blocks, but also the direction with go south...

rhyan lumilay
Community Member
3 years ago

Here in the Philippines when foreigners ask direction we sometimes add the lips pouting (looks like we want to smooch you) to point where we want to direct you especially when we run out of reserved English words.

Laura Ess
Community Member
3 years ago

Years ago when I was still living in Perth some sailors off the Entreprise asked me how many "clicks" it was to "the city" (I think they ment the CBD). But, what's a "click"?

Jilltdcatlady
Community Member
3 years ago

It's an actual military unit for distance. 1 "click" is 1 km. Walking strides are converted to meters/ km and to keep count they use beads on a cord. So the term comes from the sound of beads touching, or 'klicking'.

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Pseudo Puppy
Community Member
3 years ago

and a "block" isn't always the same distance - even in pre-planned cities. Even in Manhattan Island, NY the "blocks" aren't a consistent size throughout

Anna Repp
Community Member
3 years ago

A former newyorker here - we do not judge distance in Manhattan by "blocks" - we use that to give easy directions. East-west blocks are not the same length as north-south blocks, but blocks refer to intersections and they happen rather reliably when streets intersect at right angles. So "5 blocks south on 5th then 2 block east on 14th" does not indicate distance, but gives you the easiest fool-proof way to get to your destination. You can double-check your route along the way by counting blocks. Compare this to "walk that way for 10 minutes, then turn left at the green house..." - soon you'll be questioning if you walked more or less than 10 minutes and if that house you just saw was green enough...

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Tom Grosman
Community Member
3 years ago

A block is useful as a unit of topography or navigation, not necessarily distance. (“3 blocks down”, “the old lady on my block”). It is very useful and I wish it was used in other languages I use.

Sara Shrader
Community Member
3 years ago

We learned from their mistakes. Urbanization and city planning was a mess during the industrial revolution. England went first. So most of large u.s. cities popped up in a design based on modern needs. Europe built their cities in the middle ages or before.

Stephen Andrews
Community Member
3 years ago

I spose in NYC or Boston that might be true, but being from Phoenix, I haven't the slightest idea what a block is considered. Despite being on a perfect grid, we are just so damn spread out (you could drive Baseline Rd 44 miles (71km) without even turning your wheel through inner-city Phx), that I default to mile because even a 10mile commute to work (by car, mass transit is basically non existent here) is considered by most to be 'short'.

Stephen Andrews
Community Member
3 years ago

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Rafaella Bueno
Community Member
3 years ago

Blocks usually make no sense here since the city isn't planned, but people still use that anyway for directions. It pretty much just means how many streets you're gonna cross on your way there. The part that makes no sense whatsoever here is the whole cardinal directions thing... we just say left and right.

Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
3 years ago

Am I the only European who is midly triggered by the last sentence there...?

Karin Morris
Community Member
3 years ago

Why would you be triggered by AKA: not many places outside the US

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Rob Chapman
Community Member
3 years ago

Yes, but as you pointed out, the "block" system only works in large cities in the U.S. Once you're in the suburbs, the grid layout is non-existent, except on major downtown areas. For example, I live near San Francisco, which, of course, has a grid. But all the Peninsula cities don't, except along the major blvd that runs from I'm SF to San Jose, known as the El Camino Real. So, if I'm giving directions to, say, the local mall, I have to give it in miles, not blocks.

Katrina B.
Community Member
3 years ago

The town I grew up in was built on hills so giving directions in blocks never worked and because the town wasn't built on a grid system (hills will do that ;)) but now that I live in a place that is flat and was built on a grid system, I do find myself saying it more.

HoffLensMetalHedLovesAnimalsUK
Community Member
3 years ago

Blocks would be ok if our cities were laid out like that but they are not so it doesn't work, not good or bad, just doesn't work.

Coco
Community Member
3 years ago

all america (the real one, the continent, you know?) is pre-planned, don't be ridiculous.

Victoria Rey Piuma
Community Member
3 years ago (edited)

I live in Amsterdam and we use this too. However never trust an Amsterdam person when we say 'it's just around the corner' it's been pointed out to me that it never is and they're right. just around the corner can be a walk anywhere between 10 to 30 min.

DP von Icecream
Community Member
3 years ago

Been living in Amsterdan since the early 90ties. Misschien heeft dit te maken dat in Amsterdam "alles om de hoek is", gezien de korte Amsterdamse afstanden? ;-)

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Kate Local
Community Member
3 years ago

well yeah noone measures in "blocks" but loads of old and new towns are on grid systems. people might even use a term like block... but in their own damn language

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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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years ago

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

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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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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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Monika Soffronow
Community Member
3 years ago

Sorry, but Europe is not a country. There are 50 countries if you include the ones that are partly in Europe, partly in Asia so talking about the customs of eating out in Europe mean nothing at all unless you include where you actually were. Different countries, different languages, different cuisines, different cultures and different customs.

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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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years ago (edited)

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

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