As an American, I think of Europeans as like, our cute little ancestors. We’re like them, but younger, hipper, and cooler – but what if that’s just a misconception that’s common among us who live in the States?
If you’re curious, here are 16 things Europeans think are normal but that would make Americans gasp and clutch their Puritan pearls.
16. Don’t mess with the babies.
Putting your child to sleep outside in a pram, out of sight with a baby monitor. In Denmark this is completely normal, even in public.
Last time I was in Copenhagen, parents would just leave babies outside stores while they shopped. No one would mess with then. That town was awesome, pricy, but fun. Smelled like cookies.
15. Drinking as a minor.
Underage drinking seems more of a crime in the US – in most cases of a kid is caught with alcohol in the UK it’s just confiscated and poured away.
Strictly speaking the age you can drink alcohol is really low as well, so long as you’re home with a parent I think it’s like 5/6.
When you’re in a restaurant you’re also allowed low percentage alcohol like cider with a meal so long as you’re with an adult.
14. Nudity (at least from some).
Few days ago in r/AskEurope someone told a story how their American relatives got so bend out of shape over naked children running around the beach.
On every beach in Bulgaria I’ve been, naked children is the norm, women sunbathing in monokini is considered absolutely normal, while naked men are okay only in the nude sections of the beaches. And every beach has a nude section.
13. At least they’re clean.
Paying for bathrooms.
Jumping out of a car at a rest stop on the autobahn to run to the bathroom and realizing as you get to the turnstiles that you forgot to get €.15 cent is a real pain.
12. That wouldn’t fly here.
Uh, where do I start? German here, living in the US. How about TV tax? I bet americans would go bonkers over it lol. I mean, so do Germans, but – wait for it, it’s a classic – “what can you do?”
I was studying abroad in Norway when someone came to my door to ask how many TVs I had.
I thought it was a student asking for a research project or something. But when they didn’t accept when I said zero I got really confused. I just had a laptop I watched all my TV on. They thought that meant I had a TV and tried to tell me that any TV would be something like $60 or so and how would I be paying (idk can’t remember, it’s been a long time).
I of course was 100% convinced I was being shaken down by a con artist or something. It rose to the level that they came into my apartment (without my permission) and looked around for a TV and was acting like they didn’t believe I didn’t have one?
Eventually they just went away. It was a bizarre encounter that likely wasn’t helped by the fact my Norwegian did not expand much past “where is the bathroom?” And “how are you?” at that point.
11. I miss my stick shift.
almost every car having a manual transmission. when i visited ukraine, i only saw rich people with automatic cars.
10. Shelf-stable milk.
Probably already said before since there is thousands of comments, but bagged milk.
9. Adult-only spaces.
As a Czech person, my American wife was blown away that we let kids in pubs or bars.
to be honest, i do like being in “adult-only” spaces in American bars. they’re allowed in every pub and bar?
in the US, honestly, probably has a lot more to do with “since our drinking age is so high, we want to keep teens from stealing people’s unfinished drinks,” but the bonus of being able to smoke on a bar patio without gassing some kids (i never smoke near children) is a nice benefit.
8. Voting is mandatory.
I don’t know if this would horrify Americans as I’ve never heard it discussed, but where I live in Europe (Luxembourg), voting is mandatory and you can get fined for not voting in an election.
You can still spoil your ballot, so you don’t have to decide between lesser evils if you don’t want to, but you have to make the effort to go to the polling station or submit a postal vote.
It guarantees a high voter turnout and by extension more representative elections, coupled with a proportional voting system so we’re not locked into a two-party mess like the UK or the US – not that it’s without its issues of course, but I think it’s an improvement.
7. Kitchen Not Included
In Germany, an apartment doesn’t automatically come with a kitchen. 90% they don’t have them in and you have to buy them yourself.
Literally the whole kitchen. When I moved into my current apartment, it didn’t have a fridge, oven, cupboards, sink, dishwasher, table or anything. It was just a room with a couple of pipes sticking out.
6. Americans are squeamish about nudity.
I’m from Denmark, we have several children tv-shows that have made the news in America for being all sorts of horrible.
5. Seems reasonable.
doesn’t apply to every european country, but prison sentences are a lot shorter. Life in prison without parole is extremely rare and many countries do not have such sentences. For example the maximum sentence here in Finland is called “Life in prison” but the average time spent in prison before release is 13-14 years for them.
In Germany the highest sentence in theory is 15 years (“lifelong”), but if you are deemed a danger to society it can be ruled that after your sentence you get put in “Sicherheitsverwahrung” (security safekeeping) meaning you still won’t get out.
4. Not since Covid, though.
As an American visiting my fiancé’s family in France, I didn’t know how common it was to greet this way. Really threw me off kissing a male as a greeting at first.
3. This is coming…
Not giving your debit/credit card to your server but doing it yourself.
Same thing in Canada. Until quite recently, the cardholder always had to enter their PIN when paying for something. A few years ago, contactless pay (tap) was introduced and now most cards have a spending limit for how much you can tap pay. Anything over that, you insert your chip and enter the PIN. Restaurants are either pay at the counter or the server will bring a machine.
2. Don’t like that.
Charging for water at a restaurant.
When I was over there. I never got the option of a free glass of water. Always charged. Only came in bottles. It was how they did things. I was only in Italy and loved it. Can’t wait to go back. But that struck me as odd. I think we had to pay to use public restrooms too if I remember right.
1. You can opt out, though.
Some countries in Europe have church taxes (the state collects money through the taxation system and hands a slice of it over to the national church) and/or state-paid clergy.
I honestly had no idea about some of these, y’all!
What’s something else that you would put on this list? Drop it in the comments!