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Americans Are Sharing "Unspoken Rules" That People Should Be Aware Of Before Visiting The United States For The First Time

"I went to college with a guy from Germany and this confused him quite a bit when he first got here."

Every country has its own set of ~unspoken rules~ that only people who live there really know about. I came across this Reddit thread where u/Praglik asked: "Americans of Reddit, what's something anyone visiting the US for the first time absolutely must know about or be aware of?" and I nodded my head at a lot of the responses.

aerial view of new york city and central park

So whether you're planning on visiting the US for the first time or just want to better familiarize yourself with the culture, read on for some of the very honest answers.

1. "Don't get out of your car if you're pulled over by the police unless directed to do so."

The top of a police car

2. "Tax is added to the shelf prices at the checkout."


3. "Drinks come with ice by default."


4. "You can't drive across the country in 12 hours."

close up of hands on a steering wheel

5. "Never accept something from someone on a street. The CD is not free."


6. "Each state has its own driving laws."


7. "Our 24-hour diners are legendary."

diner now open sign

8. "You drive five hours in the US, you’re basically still in the same place. You drive five hours in Europe, everyone’s talking funny and the cheese is different."


9. "When we ask, 'How's it going?' we don't need a literal answer. It's just a greeting. I went to college with a guy from Germany and this confused him quite a bit when he first got here. He thought people wanted to know about his whole day."


10. "Food portions are huge, but anything you can't finish can be packed up for later. You just need to ask."

11. "ATMs can charge you extra for withdrawing cash. Figure out what ATMs you should withdraw from with your card."


12. "Personal space. Do not get right up behind someone standing in line. If you're lucky, you'll just make them uncomfortable. Unlucky, and you may find yourself in a fight."


13. "Public restrooms are free…usually. Though, it is common courtesy that if you use the restroom in a store or fast food place, you buy something — even if it's something small."

hands getting paper towels

14. "While walking down the street, people will randomly make eye contact and then smile. No, you don't know them, this is just their way of being polite. They expect you to smile back and then break eye contact."


15. "If you visit a National Park, don't mess with the wildlife. Buffalo (even cows) can kill you. Most rabbits carry enough parasites and viruses to make you very ill. Also, carry enough water with you — the parks don't always have drinking water readily available at every rest stop. If water or mud is bubbling and you don't feel heat standing next to it, DO NOT touch it. It can still burn!"

lake and mountain view

16. "People have different personalities depending on what part of the country you’re in. In Louisiana, you have great conversations with folks at the bar. In South Carolina, I might invite you over to their house. In New York City, they’re going to ignore you. In California, they’re only interested if it benefits them."


17. "Always get health insurance unless you wish to be bankrupt. The US healthcare system is insanely expensive."


18. "In 98% of areas you go to, you’ll need a car. The 2% where you won’t are NYC, Boston, Chicago, and DC."

aerial view of traffic

19. "Depending on where you're going in the US, be aware of ticks and mosquitoes. They can have Lyme disease and other diseases that can easily get you really sick. And with healthcare costs in the US, you don’t want that."


Are there any other rules that people should know of before visiting the US that isn't on this list? Let me know in the comments below!