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    19 Traditions Europeans Grew Up With That Are Totally Foreign To Americans

    "What I assumed to be a near-universally popular policy has been torn to shreds by Americans..."

    Despite being raised by European immigrants, I still get a ton of culture shocks when traveling around the continent. As Americans, we're probably all well aware of norms like tipping culture and basic etiquette. But when redditor u/Grimlocknz asked the r/AskEurope community to share their country's cultural norms that would shock Americans, I can confirm I learned a few things. Here's what locals from all over Europe had to share.

    1. "Children in primary/grade school walk to school alone or in groups each morning, unsupervised."

    Group of children with backpacks walking in a school parking lot

    2. "I'm a Finn; we go to the sauna naked. It's normal to have seen your friends and family members naked. It's not sexual, nor is it embarrassing."

    u/bullet_bitten, Finland

    3. "Everyone is sir/madam until you both decide otherwise. Calling an adult you just met 'you' or by their name is a big no-no."

    Three professionals shaking hands and smiling in a business setting

    4. "I have witnessed Americans fume at the way service works when eating food at a pub. No one will greet you when you walk in or come to your table to take your order. Find a table, read the menu, order, and pay at the bar."

    u/publius_decius, England

    5. "Babies sleeping outside. In particular, babies sleep alone in public places like restaurants or shops."

    Baby in a stroller next to a coffee cup on a café table on a city street

    6. "Irish people swear and curse creatively; it's like punctuation and emphasis in everyday speech. And our religious comments are also not appreciated, i.e., 'Christ on a bike,' 'Jesus, Mary, and St. Joe,' or 'Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.'"

    u/WyvernsRest, Ireland

    7. "In Stockholm, it takes an average of nine years of waiting in a rental queue to be able to rent an apartment (or you can sublet for hugely inflated prices). Once you sign a rental contract, your waiting time starts over again. People trade rental contracts to be able to move apartments, and rental contracts are sold on the black market."

    Woman in a business suit handing over a key to someone out of frame, smiling

    8. "Attitudes towards sexuality in teenagers, and honestly teenagers in general, seem to be very different. I read so many Reddit posts of people saying their parents would not let them date someone and having to sneak around to have sex. That is ridiculous to me. I didn't have sex personally until I was 20 because I hadn't found a partner until then, but my parents told me it would be okay to have someone sleep over when I was around 15 or 16. They even got me a bigger bed, saying, 'The 90-centimeter single bed will be uncomfortable if you ever want to have someone stay there with you.'"

    u/icyDinosaur, Switzerland

    9. "Waiters in restaurants won't constantly bother you, and you have to actively wave them down if you want to order another drink. This might be seen as a lack of engagement by Americans. Also, there is no free water in restaurants here, which I don't particularly like because ordering these tiny 20-centiliter water bottles that are gone in two gulps is a giant waste of money."

    Person dining by window, seafood platter with prawns, person reaching for fries

    10. "The number of people, including politicians, who are publically atheist. I am not saying all Americans are wildly religious; I'm sure for most, it's just something you put on a census and go to church about once a year. But I've heard it's very taboo in the US to nonchalantly say you don't believe in god, which is sort of the default here if you get chatting about religion."

    u/ninjomat, England

    11. "Children starting around the age of six are able to play outside on the streets and in the woods and meadows with other children on their own, unsupervised. At least in the villages. As long as they are home before supper and the parents have a general idea of where they are."

    Two children biking on a gravel path with grass and trees in the background

    12. "Finns value their personal space. This includes both physical space but also verbal. If you're waiting for a bus, for example, stand a few meters apart from other people at the bus stop when possible. Do not sit next to anyone on the bus or sit if there are still empty seats. I can easily tell who is foreign when I'm in line in a grocery store because they tend to stand so uncomfortably close to me."

    "We also appreciate being left alone when out and about (but are happy to give you directions or help in any other way if needed). There's no need to initiate small talk if you're alone in an elevator with a Finn because, to us, awkward silences aren't generally awkward at all. 

    In general, we value silence and converse in more hushed tones compared to people outside of Finland/northern Europe, especially out in public spaces."

    u/ninaeatworld, Finland

    13. "It was pretty common to go drink a beer or two with classmates and friends in senior high school years. This was a while back. I am a millennial, so I'm not sure if it is still common. We also had a party with soft alcoholic drinks at the end of elementary school. The legal drinking age is 18, but it's not like the police are chasing around kids drinking beer. Bars and grocery stores require an ID, though, if you want to buy alcohol."

    Group of friends toasting drinks at a casual outdoor dining setting

    14. "There appear to be fewer things as confusing to Americans as the 'if you meet the minimum education requirements, you're just in' policy in higher education admittance."

    u/41942319, Netherlands

    15. "Living comfortably without a car or a driver's license. Even if someone has a car, they only use it for transporting something heavy or going for journeys outside of town, not daily commuting. Daily commuting is done by train, and the train stops in every other village."

    Man wearing glasses sitting inside a bus, looking at the camera, with reflection on the window

    16. "I'm an American living in Portugal, and one thing that surprised me is that you take off your clothes in front of the doctor. In the US, they give you privacy, and you take off your clothes and put on a gown. Then, the doctor or nurse knocks and comes in. Here, you go to the gynecologist, and you just take off your pants and undies and hop right up into the stirrups. A friend said she was shocked not to be given a robe for her mammogram. Just shirt and bra right off and let it all hang out. Makes sense! They're going to see your bits and bobs anyway! It's more efficient to not have that extra step in between."

    u/dutchyardeen, Portugal

    17. "We have the Right to Roam in Scotland, and whenever I've seen this discussed on Reddit, what I assumed to be a near-universally popular policy has been torn to shreds by Americans. It's anathema to them; it fries their brains."

    Two people walking through a vast, open field with gentle hills in the background

    18. "Eating proper meals at school and not snacks. I can't imagine eating a pack of chips, pizza, or industrial slices of bread. Lunches were cooked on-site and consisted of proper dishes like a restaurant."

    u/Matttthhhhhhhhhhh, France

    19. "Keeping a separation between work and real friendships. Americans chit-chat at work and talk about personal things. Currently working in the US and am a bit socially awkward at work here."

    An open-plan office space with individuals at workstations

    Are there any norms in your home country that you think Americans would be shocked to see? Let us know in the comments or fill out this anonymous form!

    Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.