Grabbing coffee to-go, laughing so loud the windows tremble, and keeping your shoes on when walking into someone’s home don’t raise a single American brow. But it’s a whole different story if we are talking non-Americans who moved to the land of the free and are just getting used to things the American way.

So when one Reddit user put up a question “Non-Americans who moved to the US, what are some social customs that have been the hardest for you to get used to?” on r/AskReddit, people who left their native lands had a whole bunch of stuff to comment on.

From showing thumbs up, which is considered rude in foreign countries, to finding potluck dinners super odd, and realizing bidets are off the map, these are some of the most illuminating answers people shared.

#1

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Still blows my mind that healthcare isn't free, and people actually go bankrupt, legitimately bankrupt, from medical bills.

graygreen , Images Money Report

BorPand8
Community Member
3 months ago

Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US. Google says it's at around 2/3 and rising.

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#2

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans The work culture! You get so few vacation days and most people didn't use them all for fear of what it looks like. In the UK, if we don't use all our days, HR will normally ask us if everything is okay

ObjectiveTumbleweed2 , Karl Bedingfield Report

YupItsMe1234
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

Being an American that works for a European company I'm still jealous that my employees who sit in Switzerland and Germany get almost double the days off that I do.

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#3

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Strangers asking you what church you go to. Or the rather competitive nature of religion here. It seems less important to actually believe and more important to let people know how much you believe.

RCKJD , Guilherme Colombo Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

Best part is that you can have your own church, find some gullible people and live like a king on the expense of the poor fools that believe in you and you can even apply for tax exemptions. Being a televangelist is very profitable in the US.

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#4

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Saying "I'm Irish" but they haven't been to Ireland and neither have their parents.

Big_Appointment1200 , wikipedia Report

Daniel Lewis
Community Member
3 months ago

I’m Garden of Edenean. But that was about 230 generations ago.

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#5

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans The pride people have in being unhealthy, ignoring serious symptoms, proudly eating like crap, proudly not exercising. And yet having the most expensive health care system in the world and refusing to accept alternatives. "that's whack man"

Barry_Boots , D.L. Report

Daria Z
Community Member
3 months ago

This is just sad 😢

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#6

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans The crazy giant gaps in bathroom stalls. It drives me insane. My partner told me that it's there to prevent people from doing drugs/having sex. But I still don't understand why I need to see everyone while I poop.

I'm from Israel.

adometze , ttarasiuk Report

Tovah Roche
Community Member
3 months ago

I'm American and it drives me insane too.

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#7

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Keeping my shoes on when walking into someone's home. I feel like a barbarian

fidelkastro , Heather Report

troufaki13
Community Member
3 months ago

Same here!! I find it so weird in movies that they're in the house with their shoes still on. I'm like, give your feet a break ffs!!

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#8

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans There is a toot-your-own-horn culture here in my experience that I find hard to deal with, especially in the workplace. It's not usually a typical someone saying they're good at something, it's more about making themselves out to be better and top-dog.

I'm from the UK and I'd say we are kind of modest.

Also, writing the date, I just can't get used to writing it with the month first.

Spiralstatic32 Report

varwenea
Community Member
3 months ago

My logic - YYYY-MM-DD. Using this method, all my files in the same folder are always in the right order even if I edit older ones.

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#9

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Tipping culture is so alien to me as an Australian. I always over-tipped because I was never sure — some people would react like I'd made their day for what I thought wasn't a big tip. Coincidentally, I forgot to tip a bartender once and I was made to feel like the worst person ever

isometricbacon , wikipedia Report

B Dus
Community Member
3 months ago

If an employer would pay his employees a decent salary, this wouldn't be a problem. I'm from Europe and only tip when the service or food was beyond expectations.

Daria Z
Community Member
3 months ago

Same in Russia. The US tupping culture seems so odd to me. Odd and unfair.

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Mama Panda
Community Member
3 months ago

Yeah tipping is weird nowadays. It used to be that if a server did a good job, you would leave them a tip of at least 10% to 15% of the bill. It wasn't expected but instead just a nice thing to do. Employers do pay less than minimum wage to those who can earn tips and I still haven't figured out how they can get around the min. wage thing. However, nowadays, tips are expected even if the server is crappy. You are publicly shamed if you don't tip what the server expects, which is bullshit btw. If I get crappy service, I will tip 2% of the bill. If I get average, then I will do 10%. Now if I get exceptional service I will tip anywhere from 20% and up. It's just a way to show your appreciation for them working hard for you to make sure your meal/drinks are perfect.

CP
Community Member
3 months ago

I live and grew up in the US and the tipping culture is strange to me too. Also I hate how we add tax after the price rings up instead of just including it,

Mama Panda
Community Member
3 months ago

The tax is because not only are there federal taxes but there are also state, city and county taxes on goods. For a corporation to actually try to figure this out for each of it's stores would be a fuckin' nightmare!!! I would hate to see what would happen when a price change would be needed.

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స్టీఫెన్ ఆండ్రూ
Community Member
3 months ago

Tipping is a poor excuse to pay employees poorly and inequitably.

Steve Cruz
Community Member
3 months ago

Tipping is legal PROSTITUTION. "Tipped Minimum Wage" should have died with Herman Cain, who was president of the Nat'l Restaurant Assoc. and got it passed into federal law in the 1970s. It was $2.13 and the federal rate has never increased. Some cities and counties are instituting "living wage."

Daniel Lewis
Community Member
3 months ago

In the USA, there are workers who are so poorly paid that they need to beg for money.

MauKini
Community Member
3 months ago

So wait, you even tip when the food or the service was bad?

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

It's more some moral blackmail. Employers refuse to pay employees a decent wage, so the employees have to work extremely hard to serve as many customers as they can in order to earn as mach on tips as they can. And they get tired and make mistakes. But since it's up to you as a customer to pay the staff so they can pay rent, buy food and live you feel obliged to leave them some money anyway.

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BusLady
Community Member
3 months ago

Wait staff typically make a sub minimum wage, as little as about $2 an hour. They live on their tips. Their paycheck basically pays their taxes. And they are taxed on assumed tips. And many customers don't tip.

Mimi777
Community Member
3 months ago

Yes technically. But I don’t know a single waiter/waitress who actually makes that. Typically they average around $20-$30 an hour around here they make really good money on average!! Majority of customers tip. I was a waitress for 5 years I made more money than most of my friends who had a different job.

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Pascale Ehrmann
Community Member
3 months ago

Here in France service (usually 15 %) is included in the prices you see on the menu and in your restaurant or café's bill. People usually leave a small "pourboire" (tip) anyway, it's more like a bonus, but we know the waiter/tress will get a decent salary with or without it. That's why we French people fill so "cheap" when we forget to tip in the US.

ArhomR
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

I tip restaurant servers 18%. They don’t have a great hourly wage and work pretty hard for it.

backatya
Community Member
3 months ago

So it's not up to the customer to pay the employee, it's up to the employer. That's a bad excuse. If employees don't like their wages they should get a different job. Eventually if all do the same the employers will be forced to pay better wages.

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Tim Stoneman
Community Member
3 months ago

Madness

backatya
Community Member
3 months ago

I don't believe in tipping unless you personally ask the person to attend you like some celebrity. They get paid wages and if they don't feels it's enough they should get a different job. They shouldn't expect the customer to pay.

Celtic Pirate Queen
Community Member
3 months ago

I'm American born & raised, but I still don't understand why prices in stores aren't the "actual" price. In California, in addition to the local tax, a CRV (recycling fee) is added to many canned and bottled beverages. So a 12 pack of Diet coke is advertised for $3.99, but the actual cost is more like $4.95 What kind of crap is THAT?

Caffeine72
Community Member
3 months ago

When I worked in a restaurant my normal "hourly wage" check for two weeks was never more than $10 after taxes. Tips were the only thing that actually helped pay rent.

Debbie
Community Member
3 months ago

sick sick sick to *demand* a bonus to your salary. it's not my duty! if you were good, you get - if not, you don't

Debbie Lambert
Community Member
3 months ago

My staunch "Christian" relatives actually printed a business card that said something about, "rather than a tip, even more important is sharing the gospel of Jesus, and have a blessed day!" Talk about hypocritical, and cheapskates.

Mimi777
Community Member
3 months ago

I was a waitress and it was always the people who came in on Sunday’s after church who either didn’t tip at all or tipped the worst!!

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nanashi
Community Member
3 months ago

is there a short rule on who to tip?

Mama Panda
Community Member
3 months ago

Basically it's anyone who has gone above and beyond and you feel like doing something nice for them. Not everyone can accept tips tho so if they decline, use a verbal praise instead.

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Julie C Rose
Community Member
3 months ago

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I didn’t mind paying it - I complied with New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown and am currently doing Lockdown Two: Electric Boogaloo so believe me, I fully understand the concept of doing something for the sake of other people’s wellbeing. But the lack of communication I had to navigate...will not miss. And the combination of the above two things means that you do not EVER want to pull the “you are the worst person ever” routine with me.

Kika González
Community Member
3 months ago

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Yes; 10% no matter what

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#10

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Pledge of allegiance. There's literally no other country that I've ever been to that does this! This is so strange and I feel so uncomfortable whether or not I do it.

Using the word "patriotic" in a good way. Seriously, I'd always thought it meant "blindly loving your country and think it's the best", which that definition would fit a lot of Americans better.

thoughtsmachine , Michigan Municipal League Report

Eglė Bukauskaitė
Community Member
3 months ago

we used to do that in Soviet times..

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#11

Not a social custom, but when i returned from my study abroad in Europe back to the US, I realized how enormous everything is here. The houses, cars, stores, drinks, food portions, and unfortunately many of the people.

soulsista12 Report

Joeshar
Community Member
3 months ago

Big Gulp: 1Lt of beverage in a cup. And people are drinking it while driving.

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#12

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Saying "hi how are you?" to strangers and nobody actually answering the question.

The size of food serving when going out to eat.

Thanksgiving and black friday.

And lastly, the fact that every form I have to fill out, they ask my race.

I guess these are not technically social customs, or maybe they are, but I find all of the above very strange. Ugh, I'll never get used to living here.

sick_sadlittleworld , wikipedia Report

Tiari
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

I always wonder about that race thingy. If a person has three Caucasian grandparents and one African-American - are they supposed to check the African-American box? Why? The Caucasian box? Both? These would be logical for me. Or is it depending on their looks? But then, everyone in the family could be different.

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#13

The politicization of everything

Hugo28Boss Report

Music Mania
Community Member
3 months ago

Drives a lot of people from here nuts too. I can't tell you how many times I've yelled at someone that wearing a mask isn't a political issue.

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#14

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans That Fahrenheit nonsense. I just never bothered to learn, always converted to Celsius, and then I ended up moving to Canada. I knew it would pay off to never learn.

THIR13EN , wikipedia Report

Joeshar
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

Feet-Inch-Yard are the worst. The label at the back of the truck says "keep 30 feet distance" your math should be good while driving.

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#15

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans A friend of mine is Russian. Her parents came to Russia and were still getting used to America. In Russia when you are pulled over by the police you get of the car and walk over to them. Her dad got pulled over and so he got out and started walking towards them. He didn’t know you are supposed to stay in the car. He learned that lesson very quickly.
He didn’t die they didn’t even shoot at him. He did get arrested though.

meh2557 , wikipedia Report

Pamela24
Community Member
3 months ago

"They didn't even shoot at him." - That sounds like that wouldn't be surprising if that happened. That's so scary - if he was not running at them, being aggressive or had a gun on him - why should that be an option?

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#16

Sounding like someone cares about you or your answers when they talk, when all they really care is following their scripts, for tip, sales revenue, door sales etc. The tipping culture. Why tell a burger costs $9.99 when with tax you are supposed to pay $11.25 and are supposed to tip at least 20% to not seem like a cheapskate? When the waitstaff works for under $3 a hour... just make it $15 and pay adequately, please

donottouchthatbrl Report

Bill
Community Member
3 months ago

How does one calculate what they pay in sales tax in VAT counntries?

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#17

My wife is an immigrant so I'll pass on that she struggled with.
The way many American families raise their children until age 18, then send them out the door to make it or beak it in the world. In many other countries, you never stop helping your children by paying for more education (Vo-Tech or college/university) and trying to avoid student loans, they always have a place to live free of rent, and are quite involved in everyday life of the parents, even if just by phone.

Paddington3773 Report

Kisses4Katie
Community Member
3 months ago

I can't imagine not helping my child when he's over 18. I'm his mother. He can be 60 (and I'll be 77 lol) and I'll still help him.

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#18

I moved to Minnesota two years ago. At first I thought I would make friends super easy because people where really friendly but I soon learnt that nobody wanted to make friends. I was mistaking people’s inquisitive nature and need to overshare for genuine friendship foundation laying. I’m from the UK and usually if someone asks you for a beer and chat they want to get to know you, here in the US I’m just an interesting story to tell their real friends about. I found this upsetting at first, but I stopped caring and I did actually make a few good friends in the end.

BusyBeatle Report

Joeshar
Community Member
3 months ago

And fake excitements in the chat. "Woow, it's amazing, you're kidding" But most of them are fake and just to make you feel they found your story interesting which will be forgotten couple of minutes later.

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#19

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans The alcohol laws, in the UK you can drink in private from a very young age as long as you have parental consent and can have one beer/cider/glass of wine in a restaurant as long as you have a meal with it. In America, I tried to hand a pint to my Dad from a bar and the barman started shouting at me telling me to put it down because I wasn’t 21

Finlay1308 , Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

But you could join the army and "liberate" some country and in the process kill as many people as you want.

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#20

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans How hard it is to make friends in the USA. It seemed pretty easy from where I came (Europe), but after 20 years in the USA, I still don't have friends here.

Snaggy4 , imdb Report

Louloubelle
Community Member
3 months ago

I've lived here my entire life, and other than my sister, I have no real friends. Acquaintances, but no friends.

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#21

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans I still don't know how to get invited to parties, so there's that.

Also the drug TV ads with the long disclaimers while showing video of happy people living their lives. Really weird.

Snoo_47873 , Sarah-Rose Report

jamie1707
Community Member
3 months ago

Don't feel bad. I don't know how to get invited to parties either. As for the drug ad: sick sick sick.

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#22

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans I'm from New Zealand.

Lack of vacation days.

Weird health system tied to employment.

Food portions.

Otherwise it is a pretty easy adjustment.

SteveBored , Paul Townsend Report

Vorknkx
Community Member
3 months ago

Some Americans get shocked when I tell them I have nearly 40 paid days off per year... and I end up using them all ;)

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#23

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Pounds. Ounces. Feet. Miles. I could never get the hang of it.

Pin-Weekly , Peat Bakke Report

T Simmons
Community Member
3 months ago

TRY THE UK. We have miles, meters and yards on our road network

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#24

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans That fake condescending voice people use. I'm not a toddler looking for his mama; talk like a normal person.

SirBitcher , Chip Griffin Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

Not only an American problem. In my country it's a way of speaking that a lot of people in the medical profession use. "You may now take off your shirt so I can examine you." I always answer like: "Well thank you, your majesty, should I kneel and bow down to your mighty stethoscope? "

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#25

The lack of irony in general. And the way most people take themselves very very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, life is hard (especially in the US), but I’ve met VERY few people in the US who can make fun at their own expense - which is considered the norm where I’m from. Not saying one is better that the other - just the biggest difference for me

smedeby11 Report

Joeshar
Community Member
3 months ago

I believe UK is the best place for humour.

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#26

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Town and school spirit are a very big thing here. No one takes high school sports this seriously back in my old school in India

nannydee08 , wikipedia Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

No one takes high school sports this seriously in the entire world. Being a professional cheerleader? Only in the US.

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#27

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Sales tax not being included in the price (got pretty used to it after 4 years, but it still occasionally caught me off guard).

Healthcare bills.

Tailgating on highway (even people complaining about tailgaters were themselves often tailgating).

Porch sitting, people sitting on their porch and watching passers by.

Distances (drove coast to coast, I thought it would never end).

Most men being pretty knowledgable about cars.

Drive thru ATMs, never stopped being funny to me for some reason.

bolyai , Pictures of Money Report

Evil Little Thing
Community Member
3 months ago

What's weird about porch sitting and knowing about cars? One is relaxing and the other is super helpful.

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#28

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans People saying they will pray for me. Either in aggression to insult me by saying I need to be prayed for (as sometimes I can be an a-hole or a victim of prejudice). Or, they are trying to be empathetic when told of a sad/unfortunate situation. Of course, I don't ever doubt that they'll remember.

Zooty007 , Paul David Report

Tiffany Marie
Community Member
3 months ago

Lol. . I hate this almost more then our healthcare system.

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#29

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans Younger Ppl calling adults by (just) their first name. I'm from the Caribbean so can't help but referring to ppl as Mr or Ms. Even if Im familiar with them.

R8em , Luigi Tiriticco Report

Music Mania
Community Member
3 months ago

This just depends on where you are. Where I am everyone is Sir or Ma'am, regardless of age. Calling people you are familiar with by Mr. or Ms. "their name" is up to that person, some people feel it makes them sound older than they want to feel so prefer to be called by just their first name.

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#30

Us-Weird-Social-Customs-Non-Americans According to my parents, it was people giving them thumbs up.

In their country of origin, thumbs up = middle finger in the US. So they kept jumping thinking they were being flipped off by random people. Took years for them to get used to it and understand no one was trying to insult them.

Master-Manipulation , Sarah Reid Report

Daniel Lewis
Community Member
3 months ago

I give a thumbs down to this tradition.

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