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Updated on Jun 14, 2019. Posted on Oct 24, 2017

15 Things Americans Don't Realize Are Weird About College In The US

I have so many questions.

1. Sharing a dorm room.

Columbia Pictures

I get that this is a very American rite of passage, but the idea of spending a whole school year sharing your bedroom with a rando would be terrifying and panic-inducing for most French students. We need our space and privacy (and to not have to put a sock on the door whenever we have sex).

2. And living on campus.

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I can't speak for every country in the world, but most European campuses are near or in a city. You usually don't live on campus but find a cheap room/studio in the city and only go "on campus" for classes.

3. The fact that you can't legally drink for the first couple of years of college.

Columbia Pictures

I know most students drink anyway and yada yada, but the law is still weird and would lead to a revolution among most students outside the US.

4. How swanky your college rec centers are.

livehealthywithlaura /

OK, so this is weird, but also pretty great! The yoga classes at my French college were held in a tiny and extremely smelly ground-floor apartment in the middle of a sad residential complex. The first time I set foot in my American college's rec center, I couldn't believe my eyes: indoor and outdoor running tracks, basketball courts, a big-ass swimming pool, a climbing wall, and top-of-the-line gym machines, among many, many other things. And the changing rooms were actually legit! I guess that's what you get when you spend tens of thousands of dollars on your education?

5. How much people care about college sports when they're in college.

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

The only sports team I remember from my French college is a soccer team whose whole philosophy was to show up drunk at every single game and to keep drinking throughout the whole ordeal. When I went to my first US college football game, I was expecting something a bit more professional, but I wasn't ready for what I saw: a whole stadium completely filled with supporters ready to spend a whole afternoon cheering on their team.

6. And how much they still care about it once they've left college.

Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images

I get that you care about the school's teams when you're at school, but lifelong commitment to said teams is strange (but also endearing and kinda cool, I guess).

7. The absurd size of some of your stadiums.

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Michigan Stadium can seat more than 107,000 people — that's even more than the largest stadium in ALL OF EUROPE, Camp Nou. What???

8. The whole concept of fraternities and sororities.

Comedy Central /

Why the Greek letters? What is recruitment week? Why do sorority members pose like this? And why do they all look the same? I have so many questions.

9. That weird door choreography they do.

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This deserves its own point because IT'S SO BIZARRE. What is this? WHY is this??

10. The fact that secret societies actually exist.

Public Domain,

Based on my extensive knowledge of American college movies and TV shows (and that Gossip Girl Yale episode), they definitely seem to be a thing on some campuses, and that's not only weird, but also really extra.

11. The way the students dress for Halloween.

Paramount Pictures

For my first Halloween in the US, I felt like Cady in Mean Girls. My knowledge of the holiday was limited to Hocus Pocus and Buffy, and I wasn't prepared for the avalanche of costumes that were basically underwear. Also, it was legit 25°F on my campus and everyone was half naked — this one couple was dressed as Adam and Eve in costumes only made out of leaves (four leaves each, at most). Aren't you guys afraid of catching a cold?!

12. The fact that so many of your campuses are in the middle of nowhere in towns that revolve entirely around college life.!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xf465f2a4b55770db!8m2!3d46.7319225!4d-117.1542121


13. All the college gear.

maisy_tsai /

First, no one even sells school gear in French universities (except maybe the Sorbonne so the American exchange students can buy them). Second, if you dared to wear it, everyone would think you were a dork and a douche. But, having been brainwashed by American pop culture, many French people actually love American school gear, find it really cool, and wear some US school hoodies even when they've never set foot in that school.

14. The fact that you have to pay so much for your education.

Sorry to bring up something that's such a bummer, guys. But it's truly the most absurd aspect of education in the US for most Europeans. I probably spent a couple thousand dollars total on all my undergrad studies in France. We certainly didn't have a fancy gym or insane sports teams, but we also didn't end up with ridiculous student debt.

15. And the fact that you can study Buffy in college.

20th Television

My most fun class at uni was probably about the history of the French Third Republic. So studying philosophy or gender studies through Buffy would have been a dream come true.

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