It's always interesting to travel around the world and experience new cultures and traditions that may be extremely different from what you believe to be the "norm". And even though most of the time these cultural difference spark nothing more but a delightful surprise, there are some differences 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, Americans definitely have this problem. After getting asked "What is something you didn't realize was typically American until you went abroad?", people flooded the post with an endless list of customs that nobody else in the world would consider to be normal. From garbage disposals and free public bathrooms to extreme portion sizes, Americans like to do things their own way.

Scroll down to read these answers 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

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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.

Daria B
Community Member
1 year ago

Err.... The point here was the gesture of putting items in the plastic/paper bag. Apparently, in the USA the cashier does it for you, in Germany, you do it yourself.

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Daric Apai (Darquestar1)
Community Member
1 year ago

'murica.. still not getting it.

Petra Schaap
Community Member
1 year ago

I rather pack my own stuff. Its so awkward to stare at someone while waiting when he's finished doing something you can do yourself. Even more awkward if you dont know if you have to do it yourself or not.

Dani
Community Member
1 year ago

Way to be progressive, America.

Rob Chapman
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

I wonder what state you're from. Here in California, we use our own bags. Most supermarkets & places like Target will ask if you need a bag if you didn't bring your own. Supermarkets use paper bags now, unless it's a delivery order, or it's raining, then they have special recyclable/reusable plastic bags. Each bag costs 25 cents.

Chris Miilu
Community Member
1 year ago

In CA we bring bags with us; this has been around for a while. We keep extra bags in the car trunk. I found that shopping in some foreign countries you were expected to have your own bag. This has made a dent in the amount of plastic in land fills. Plastic bags which end up in the ocean are dangerous for the Marine life. Plastic is a petroleum product.

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Crouching_Penn_Hidden_Teller@yahoo.com
Community Member
1 year ago

I live in northern California and a lot of people here do that.

diane a
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

They do not have bag-packers in the UK. If someone physically disabled is doing a large shop the cashier will either help or can call on assistance for that customer. The only other time is when local kids charities are fundraising. a 12 year-old will pack your groceries and you drop a donation in their bucket.

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Noez 🇸🇪
Community Member
1 year ago

Yeah we also recycle our garbage and trying not to kill the planet. You muricans should try that.

Marcia Horn
Community Member
1 year ago

We recycle and compost

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Sarah Pascoe
Community Member
1 year ago

If the cashier is scanning and packing, you must be there ages! And what do you do? Just watch? 🤔😂 Way more efficient that you, whos standing there doing nothing, bags the groceries when the cashier hands them to you. . .or go to aldi/lidl, throw it in your trolley, then take it to the packing shelf to pack it after youve paid, boom. Done in mins 👍

Kathleen Barlow
Community Member
1 year ago

I actually hate the cashier packing my stuff for me. They do it sometimes in supermarkets here in southern Europe and you're likely to get a tin of food dumped on your fresh bread and have it squished to buggary so I prefer doing it myself.

danielw
Community Member
1 year ago

or the fresh meat dumped onto the fresh fruits. the one that *really* sets me off is when your buying some cleaning supplies or some other chemical.

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HoffLensMetalHedLovesAnimalsUK
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

Yes, re-use plastic bags and you pack it yourself, we are mostly capable people, why wouldn't we pack it ourselves? Why stand there and watch your items being scanned and not packing them away, laziness. You get assistance if you need it of course but not for anyone who is fully capable of doing it themselves.

Christina Sersif
Community Member
1 year ago

My husband is Moroccan and it's like that there too. Their version of Walmart is called "Marjane" and I always forget to bring bags when I go so I have to buy them while I'm there. They use landfills in Morocco so conserving the use of plastic is a great idea.

Wendy Dyson
Community Member
1 year ago

Here in Australia we always take our own bags to cut down the use of plastic. I’ve seen what it looks like swimming with plastic bags in Asia.

Carol Emory
Community Member
1 year ago

I found this out in German class. The instructor told us people will bring their own containers for lunchmeat, their own pitchers for milk and juice. They load it all up in carry bags or coolers to place them straight in the fridge when they get home. But don't believe for a minute that it cuts down on garbage. From what I understand, German supermarkets have trash cans galore for people to throw their packing into once the food stuffs have been placed in containers.

Frozengeckolover
Community Member
1 year ago

The lunch meat isn't in a container at the store? Gross!

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Mystical_Muffin
Community Member
1 year ago

I'm an American and most places I've been too, eveyone bags themselves...

Ana B.
Community Member
1 year ago

In Canada it's kind of in between - most people bring their own cloth bags or plastic boxes, but you can have items bagged if you want. Nowadays, also, you have to pay a bit for a bag, and some places are even switching out plastic bags for paper bags. I hope the same thing is happening in the US!

Chris Miilu
Community Member
1 year ago

It is; If I haven't brought my own bag, I buy an extra for double bagging. If you have never had a single bag break with all your stuff in it, you are fortunate.

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K Villareal
Community Member
1 year ago

In South Africa as well...you bring your own eco friendly bags to the supermarket.

Laura Bradshaw
Community Member
1 year ago

The green initiative, trying to save the planet, also paper bags rip or fall apart in the rain and it rains alot....

Shawn Ruester
Community Member
1 year ago

heh, I walk everywhere so I always try to put as much of my stuff I have as I can in my backpack, especially the heavier stuff. (Yes I'm from the US)

Douglas Campbell
Community Member
1 year ago

Not sure what state you live in, but in Southern California it's the same.

Yaz Cam
Community Member
1 year ago

Umm....we do this in Hawaii as well...you get charged if you want a bag

Ayomide Manns
Community Member
1 year ago

HOnestly that's not everywhere in the States. In Ohio they didn't do that but when I moved to Texas they did

Bill Taylor
Community Member
1 year ago

Smart, I do the same thing at Wegman's (bring my own bags), I haven't used a plastic bag for my groceries in years.

sunnyrei82
Community Member
1 year ago

In Mexico most of the time, you find someone packing your items. Usually is a senior person,

Ryo Bakura
Community Member
1 year ago

Don't you mean a señor person?

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Catharina Ewing
Community Member
1 year ago

There are German stores now in the US called Aldi, and you either bring your own bag, use a box( which they have TONS of) or buy one for 10 cents, and then they make you put a quarter in a part of the cart so they dont have to hire someone to pull all the carts back. Smart Idea, actually.

Tobias Meiner
Community Member
1 year ago

It's not about environment (plastic bags are generally available around the cash register) but rather the act of packing the groceries. In USA, it is the teller that usually packs the bag, in Europe it is the customer who does it, as the teller checks the articles. To make the process faster, I suppose. Same goes for paper bags. In Europe you use either plastic ones or your own. Large paper bags are rare, with the exception of bakeries.

Lisa Chambers
Community Member
1 year ago

For me it was the speed at which you must place good on the counter (and if it is small this is a problem if you buy a lot) and the exact rate the customer before you clears the bagging area so you can get set up and start receiving quickly scanned and thrown goods at you. Also, produce being weighed and marked by someone in the produce area before getting to the cashier. We do the same with the bagging in the states (see Costco or Sam's) so dont pull out the save the world with less grocery bags speech.

Melanesian Kumul
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

Yup! Australia has banned plastic bags. You bring your own bag so the cashier can pack your stuff in. Eco friendly bags are available in all stores.We're just trying to save the planet.

MeiFung Chan
Community Member
1 year ago

Cos "americans" are trying to kill the earth

Sharon Ingram
Community Member
1 year ago

If everyone would bring their own bags that I wouldn’t be a problem.

Akash GG
Community Member
1 year ago

Bags are *forbidden* in most countries now, dear powerchoice.

Mark Kelly
Community Member
1 year ago

Some places here in Canada don't bag your groceries.

Katinka Min
Community Member
1 year ago

Paying the wage for someon putting things in your bag for you will end up being slapped on the product prices. I'd rather pay less for my produce and bag my own things. Because I'm a grown up and able to pack a bag!

Éva Nemes
Community Member
1 year ago

This IS the normal, not "plastic bag for everything".

Bored Moogle
Community Member
1 year ago

The only place in my town like that is Aldi.

Red
Community Member
1 year ago

Yea cuz Like Eunice said we’re trying to save the planet now so you need to buy a reusable bag and al

Angela Giacomelli
Community Member
1 year ago

In Italy they give you compostable bags if you ask

Gwinevere von Ludwig
Community Member
1 year ago

I bring canvas bags to the grocery store and most people in NYC bag their own groceries. The only people who don't bag are lazy fucks.

Master Markus
Community Member
1 year ago

I live in Canada and a LOT of people have reusable bags now, but sometimes there are people helping you to put groceries away, either the cashier or someone else.

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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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