The United States and Europe do things very differently. Inches vs. centimeters, coffee vs. tea, and currency notes that are all the same color.

But our differences are slightly deeper than this. Governments, banks, and transportation systems work differently in the United States, and that can be hard to wrap your head around.

In a Reddit thread, Europeans and other non-US nationals talked about things in the USA they just don’t understand. Their posts show we have a lot to learn!

20. Voter Registration is a Trip!

“Registering to vote.

As a Canadian, you’re automatically enrolled when you turn 18 and get a notice where your polling station will be for every election.”


19. Taxes Not Include in Cost

“You have $4.50 in your pocket. The fancy drink is advertised at $3.99.

Do you have enough money to buy it? Dunno!”


18. Uneven Double-Standards

“Here is one i cant understand:

Strong violence on tv : No one bats an eye..

Nipple slip : Everybody loses their minds.”


17. Ads For Prescription Medication

“Australian here:

The tv ads for prescription medication always gets me. Like really specific medication too, not just a new over the counter pain killer.

I think it’s good to research medication if you have a condition to be informed about your options. But it’s so bizarre to see ads for it in between property brothers episodes and ads for Taco Bell.”


16. Actually, Ads All The Time…

“Why do you have so many Ads on TV?

When I visited I swear there were Ads every 5 minutes and they last so long! I honestly don’t understand why anyone watches TV when it’s like that.

Speaking of Ads, the prescription drug Ads are fucking creepy and weird and ya’ll should stop that.”


15. The Use of Fax Machines

“American here:

When I was studying in the UK I had to send some financial documents back to the US. The only way these documents were considered valid was if the original was mailed in, or if I faxed a copy.

When I asked the printing office if they could fax it for me they looked at me like I was an alien and said the school hadn’t owned a fax machines for like a decade.

Then they asked me if I still use a VCR.”


14. So. Much. Tipping.

“Tipping. Just pay your staff!

Tips should be a bonus not a base.”


13. Private Correctional Facilities

“Privatized prison system

I want to clarify that I am an American. Former military member (army infantry) did some time in Germany and got knowledge on how there system works. It feels like the United States creates laws out of thin air so you can continuously break a law and have a constant chance of seeing a jail see for the slightest thing every day. When you add in police aggression into the mix you pretty much flip a coin whenever you get pulled over (depending on how good the cop is. Honest police will give respect and in return receive and have cooperation, police on power trips….well we all have seen some form of how bad that can go.

Being from New Orleans, Louisiana (which houses the most inmates in the union) you feel not only a constant threat to protect yourself from criminals but also from the law. With lawmen not In check it almost feels like they want you to end up in jail for a broken tail light (New Orleans prisons are no fucking joke) it’s a real problem everywhere from big city, to small town USA and I believe is fueled by a privatized prison system.”


12. Just How Do Credit Scores Work?

“How your credit score system works.

I will never understand why using a debit card, so only spending money you actually have, doesn’t have a positive effect on your CS but paying your credit card every month has.”


11. Unusually High Water on Toilets

“I don’t know if this is considered a problem for Americans but it sure as hell was a problem/inconvenience for me while I was there.

Unreasonably high water level in the toilets like, holy shit my balls were almost touching the water. FUCK THAT”


10. Lobbying, aka Legalized Bribery

“Lobbying, i never understand how every politician on both sides gets away with legalized bribery and everyone just accepts it.

I understand the need for specialist interest groups to promote their ideas but to be allowed to visibly finance a politician and rate their friendliness to your cause with no repercussions is insane to me.

It’s bribery no matter how you dress it up.”


9. Location-Dependent Prescription Costs

“While watching Chelsea vs Manchester United yesterday on NBCSN, during halftime there was a Good Rx commercial where the guy is asking a woman if she would like to fill her prescription, he pulled up the phone and showed her that the same pill can cost from $10 to $90 depending on the area. And that Good Rx can help her fill the prescription with the cheapest prices.

Now someone please explain to me how in the ever loving fuck is it possible for a drug to cost 10x more depending on your location !? Don’t they have constant prices like in the rest of the civilized world !?

Edit: the answers to my inquiry are even more fucked up. What the fuck America!? You’re getting robbed in broad daylight.”


8. A High Homeless Population

“The amount of homeless people and the amount of homeless mental patients.”


7. Berating People For How They Eat

“Caring about other people’s food.

As a Pole I don’t care how do you like your pierogi, pyzy, kartacze, bigos, etc.

But damn me if I ask in the US for a “well done” steak. Or if I order a Hawaiian Pizza.”


6. People, Like… LOVE Their Flag

“How strongly Americans feel about the flag. I saw a photographer get torn to pieces online because someone was standing on the tiniest bit of the flag and people went fucking ape shit. In the UK most people probably couldn’t spot if the Union Flag was round the wrong way.

Edit – Just in case you were wondering which way round the Union Flag goes…In the half of the flag nearest the flagpole, the wider diagonal white stripe must be above the red diagonal stripe, as Scotland’s St Andrew’s Cross takes precedence over Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Cross. It is most improper to fly the flag upside down, but nothing people would lose their shit over, it’d just be some knob head like me who’d point it out.

Also thanks for the gold.”


5. Right On Red

“Having to remember that cars can turn on a red light.

I know this is a thing. I’ve known this for ten years. I still forget and nearly die every time I need to cross a road when I’m in the US.

ETA: I have learned many things in this comment thread, and am formally changing my answer to “traffic laws varying between states”. The red light turn thing still terrifies me though.”


4. Suing For Everything

“The fact that Americans refer to a 24h clock as “military time” you mean just regular time?

Also, suing culture.

Got injured? Sue!

Fell down some stairs? Sue!

Fight with neighbour? Sue!”


3. University and College Loans

“Student debt.

I pay €20/Semester tuition in Austria.”


2. Treating Politicians Like Stars

“The idolization of politicians.

They are public servants, similar to a courthouse clerk or a city hall coordinator. They are not rock stars. You don’t need to scream their name, buy their merch, fully commit your life to them and believe everything they say.

Just… treat them like public servants. Sure, they get power and position, but hold them accountable when they abuse it.

Don’t let corporations and politicians take over, the political system is created by the people, FOR the people. It just… boggles the mind.”


1. Not Driving Manual Cars

“Not European but Driving manual cars.

Where I’m from, most people learn stick at 16-18.”


Listening to other people’s perspectives is always interesting, isn’t it? It’s true that some of these posts harp on some of the negative aspects of society, but that gives us all a chance to improve for the better and continue to take part in the more positive things we’re known for.

Are you from Europe or another part of the world? If there’s anything you thought was missing from the discussion that you’d like to add to this list?

That’s exactly what our comments section is for. Post away!