The differences between European and American cultures is always an interesting — and sometimes controversial — topic to discuss. As an American, I personally find it very interesting to learn of these differences. So, of course when I found this thread on Reddit where u/a_m42_ asked: "Americans, what is something that Europeans have/do that makes no sense to you?" I had to do a deep dive and read all the responses. Here are some that really stood out to me.
1. "I'm Canadian, but it's always baffled me that some Europeans consider a half hour's worth of driving a long time. That wouldn't even get me out of the area I'd consider local."
2. "In Germany, apartments supposedly don't normally come with a kitchen. It's purchased and installed by the tenant. Sometimes, you luck out but not usually."
3. "Paying to use the bathroom in public spaces."
4. "No AC? Sure, fine. But then no screens on your windows so all the bugs get in? Not sure if this is all of Europe, but definitely the UK."
5. "I've always been curious how carbonated water became the default in many places."
6. "The smoking. I stayed with a host family in France, and my 16-year-old host sister smoked like a chimney, as did all her friends. Like, you're so young. Why?"
7. "Charging for water at a restaurant is something that I would have expected Americans to do and Europeans [to] be the ones making fun of it."
8. "The cute-sounding police sirens in Europe. In America, the police sirens seem like an urgent, semi-deranged warning to GTF out of the way, like 'SHIT'S GOING DOWN AND I'M NOT THERE!! MOOOOOOOOVE!!!!!!!!' Meanwhile, every European police siren I've heard just kind of politely annoys you out of the way. Like 'bee doooo bee doooo, pardon me but a spot of bother has occurred and I must hasten to it, pardon me as I simply must attend to it, pardon me.'"
"And the police cars themselves are so small. American police cars are big and brawny like they might need to make their own garage door into a building."
9. "It still seems marvelous to me that in France (other places I'm sure, but I learned this in French class) it is common to buy groceries every day. You may wake up and go to the bakery for fresh baked bread, or stop by for fresh produce on the way home to make dinner. Yes, having walkable grocery stores nearby makes it easier; it seems so much easier to buy three to four days or a week's worth of groceries at a time."
10. "Why do you guys like to put bathroom light switches outside the bathroom?"
11. "I saw this mostly in the UK — why do they have two separate faucets for hot and cold water? Washing my hands was the worst."
13. "Swedish here, living in Norway at the moment, and lived in DC for a while as well. The first time in the States, I was baffled by how many people could just strike up a conversation or just compliment your outfit, hair, or makeup. I absolutely loved it since I’m quite an extrovert and love talking to people. If you do that here (both Sweden and Norway), you’ll probably get a massive side eye and no response. But, as you said, once people feel comfortable with you in their inner circle, you’ll feel like family."
14. "I went to Scotland recently and was baffled by the weird half-shower doors that swung outward. Water got everywhere even if it was 'closed.'"
Is there anything else you could add to this list? If so, share it with me in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.