While every country across the world — United States included — has its pros and cons, there are some things other countries outside the US do that American citizens find a little puzzling. So when Americans of Reddit were asked "What’s something the rest of the world does that you find absurd?" they had to a lot to say:
1. "I don't know if it's everywhere, but I noticed a conspicuous lack of screens in windows while I was in Europe. It's so simple, and it prevents bugs. I was woken up by bugs in four separate European countries. Why?! You don't need to live like that."
2. "When you rent an apartment in Germany, in most cases, it doesn't come with light fixtures, kitchen cabinets and counters, appliances, etc. You either have to purchase and install these yourself or hope that the previous tenant is willing to sell theirs to you. In my last apartment search, there were even a few apartments where I would have had to supply and install my own flooring. It's wild."
"I learned this recently and found it batshit wild. Like, I can maybe understand the appliances — not everywhere here includes them. But no cabinets and counters is wild. You literally have to build a fucking room."
3. "I'm addressing Europe and I guess Belgium specifically because that's where I encountered this the most. Y'all are unnecessarily stingy with the beverages at restaurants. You stop somewhere for dinner and the server comes by and asks if you want water. After the awkward exchange about whether you want 'sparkling or still,' they come back roughly 30 minutes later with something the size of a toddler's sippy cup with water in it. If, by some happenstance, you find yourself drinking all 8oz of the beverage supplied with your entire meal and successfully perform the esoteric dark ritual of summoning the server back to your table to check on you, they will be shocked and say, 'Hm, you are very thirsty tonight! It seems you have guzzled down your entire thimble of water in a mere 50 minutes. Would you like me to try to bring another?' It's water, you motherfuckers."
4. "Pay toilets."
"A very efficient way to encourage public urination."
"So far I've lived in Germany, where pay toilets are the norm, and the UK, where they are not (except central London).
In Germany, public toilets are plentiful and clean. In the UK, they're rare and dirty. I'm happy to pay 50¢ for a clean and nearby public toilet."
"And then there’s Japan, where you definitely have the gross city park toilets, but the vast majority of even combini toilets are clean and FREE. It doesn’t stop public urination, though. I went to my favorite sushi restaurant a few months ago, and some ojisan [a middle-age man] walked out, went around the corner, and peed on the side of a building."
5. "Some countries throw toilet paper in the trash can, and that is horrifying."
6. "How are y'all living without AC?"
"Here in the Netherlands, people believe air conditioning is some exotic irresponsible luxury. On hot days, the weatherman will announce, 'Well, people, it's going to be another sticky night tonight!'
The worst thing is that they don't have AC in care homes for the elderly, so there are heat-related deaths during hot summers, and everybody seems to just accept that."
7. "Turd shelves. I’m looking at you, Netherlands."
8. "Honestly? I understand most of it. People are raised where they're raised. They eat food they know, watch entertainment that is local, follow the traditional sports in their neck of the world. I totally get that. I think people are the same the world over: They just want to have a good life and a better one for their kids. They don't want to be hungry or poor or unhoused. I get ALL that. What I don't get is Eurovision. What the actual fuck?"
"Believe me, Eurovision is something to behold, not to be understood."
"American here. I beheld it once. I don’t need to behold it again."
9. "Milk in a bag."
10. "I wouldn't call this ‘absurd,’ but when I lived in Norway, I found out nearly every store closed all day on Sundays."
11. "That smoking is still so common. This goes for Europe, Asia, and South America. Probably other places, too. I know we in the US have since started embracing vaping, which is its own problem but at least we made cigarettes uncool. The rest of the world is dealing with both in huge numbers. There were a few glorious years in the US before vaping after cigarettes were uncool where almost no one smoked. That was amazing."
14. "Lack of disability access."
"We visited Europe with my disabled partner this year; I expected some structural ableism but, holy crap, is it bad. Netherlands was by far the worst. Never go if you're in a power chair because every building has a minimum of three separate pointless two-step staircases in and outside of it. Their system for disabled aid for trains is horrendous, too. UK was surprisingly good for it. Their radar toilet system is something we need to adopt in the US."
15. "Not putting ice in drinks by default."
16. "Washers and dryers (and washer-dryers) that take three to five hours to complete a single small load of laundry. Seriously, how are you even able to get a reasonable amount done? If you ask me, any set that consistently takes longer than two hours to complete what it considers a full load isn't worth the parts it was built with."
"I encountered this in France. The dryer literally just spun the clothes to wring them dry. They came out about as damp as clothes out of an American washer after the spin cycle before putting in the dryer."