20 Americans Who’ve Visited European Countries Describe What Surprised Them The Most

Published 2 years ago

Traveling is perhaps the most enriching experience one can get while spending money. Ironic, isn’t it? Experiencing a new culture and traditions, meeting new people, and seeing breathtaking landscapes and architecture you would never see back home. As you become more aware of how people operate in different countries, exposure to different cultures, views, and ways of living literally broadens your cultural and social horizons.

Some time ago, Redditor AppleberryJames turned to the Americans in the community and asked to tell more about the culture shocks they experienced while visiting European countries. It turns out that many mundane European things indeed left an impression on fellow Americans. Take a look at what people had to share!

More info: Reddit

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Image source: Cranky_Monkey, k8townsend

In Spain, you have to sorta wave and call for service, especially for the final check.

They will literally leave you at a table with empty glasses for hours unless you ask. They consider it rude to intrude. and it makes Americans feel pushy to ask or wave our hand for attention.

It’s pretty easy to do if you watch the locals…a little wave, a smile and a nod, etc and they come right over.

But it felt intrusive on our part at first for sure.


Image source: NightCrawler85, Markus Spiske

I’m from Norway but moved to America.

My husband and I recently came back from a vacation visiting family in Norway. During the visit, we went to a supermarket where you have to put a coin (roughly 1 dollar) into the shopping cart to loosen it from the rack. When you’re done you reattach the cart and your coin gets returned.

I had never thought twice about it but for him it was amazing.


Image source: GringoDan, Mateusz Feliksik

In Europe, when you order orange juice, they take fresh oranges and squeeze them in to a glass. I’ve never seen that recipe in the states.


Image source: Slothboy12, Kenny Eliason

The absence of obese people was shocking.


Image source: Cananbaum, Lala Azizli

In America, we work ourselves to the bones.

Hell, the fact I’m now working what’s called a “straight 8” shift is boggling to me.

But as back as I can remember, working 8-12 hour shifts with a 30-minute lunch is pretty much the norm.

So when my current boss was sent to France for a couple of weeks and the fact that in an 8-hour day, you got 90 minutes for lunch and a 20-minute break for cigarettes and coffee he couldn’t comprehend it.

That and wine while at lunch for work was mind-blowing to him.


Image source: BoxofLazers, Redd

Paris is FILTHY. The architecture was gorgeous, the food was excellent, but the smell of cigarettes and urine is everywhere. I felt like I needed a shower every time I left the hotel.

Amsterdam on the other hand is the cleanest and most well-organized city I’ve ever been to.


Image source: dark-rippedjeans, Nathan Anderson

I fell in love with Sweden. But every time I go and visit, I’m still shocked at how many people just lay out and tan. On the sidewalk. Next to this Fika shop. Next to a museum.

Literally, people lay out and tan ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE in this country.

I’d be walking through Gamla Stan or Djurgården, then BAM out of nowhere, I nearly trip over a lady trying to tan. åh! jag är väldigt ledsen!


Image source: meta_uprising, anniespratt

People that work 32 hours a week get over 30 days paid off every year no matter who they work for or more.


Image source: anon, Our SportingLife

Was in Sweden a few years back when a kid in my charge broke his collarbone. Medics drove him to the hospital. Like two hours later, after X-rays, an exam, and getting set up in a fancy sling, he walked out of the hospital. Total cost: $0.


Image source: Isaac_Masterpiece, snapsbyfox

I wouldn’t say this was a “WTF” moment so much as just a bit funny and embarrassing on my part.

I was visiting a friend in the Netherlands. I had just gotten back from a year abroad in Asia, so I was not accustomed to anyone being able to speak English.

I went to purchase a train ticket in… Amsterdam, I think, though it may have been Utrecht. At any rate, I approached the counter and asked, “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

The bemused counter clerk laughed and said, “Of course. Do you?”

I turned beet red. It’s very silly looking back on it.

Also, same trip, but in Brussels, I asked a local store clerk where to find a particular bar I was searching for. She gave remarkably detailed directions and listed off many other recommendations for places. I was a little bit surprised at the level of detail, and I guess she noticed that because she laughed and said, “I like to drink. A LOT.”


Image source: courtneylakebmx, SmartSign

Constantly having to remember to carry around change to use the bathroom in Germany.


Image source: Firinmailaza, Erik Mclean

Not being harassed by police.

I did some dumb s**t on a scooter in Paris and instead of spending 20 minutes going through all the bull s**t and puffering cops usually do, he just wagged his french finger at me, and the message was received.

How it should be


Image source: darkkiller1234, Jarritos Mexican Soda

How drinking out in public is no problem. Especially in the Balkans and Germany


Image source: BugThonk, Edal Anton Lefterov

Not an American, but a Bulgarian.
My family had a relative from America who came back with his child who all luve has been in America.
(Somewhere in Detroit, but I am not sure where.)
When we were walking around the streets he had a look of shock on his face when he saw the papers with people’s pictures put on trees, bus stops, street lamps, etc.
He thought they were wanted posters of criminals and was impressed with how many crimes we had.
I explained to him that those things are called nechrologs and are essentially posters of [passed away] people that family members put around to spread the news and pay respect to the death.
He was even more shocked after that.


Image source: RPGCollector, raysontjr

Switzerland. How safe it is to walk across the street. Probably has something to do with the whole “the vehicle is always at fault” thing that would probably never fly here. Cars would slow significantly if I was sort of within the vicinity of a zebra crossing. Made it sort of awkward for me even if I was actually intending to cross there.

Also Switzerland. Hearing all of the cars at a red light start up again when the light turns green.

Granted, this was Wil. I’m not sure if the size of the city has anything to do with it.


Image source: rosewater___, Remus Pereni

The colorful, cartoonish gravestones in northwestern Romania that depict how the person [passed away]


Image source: AppleberryJames, Scott_Yancey

No gaps in the bathroom stalls. Felt like I was pooping in an exclusive club and it was nice not having to make eye contact with m**********r trying to go next


Image source: LiquidSoCrates, Sigmund

There was a daycare or kindergarten located directly above the [call girl] display booths. Amsterdam, 2007.


Image source: JedLeland, samanthasophia

Not really WTF, just amusement, but when I went to Prague, there were a number of chocolate shops that had large, chocolate penises prominently on display. I remember one that had melted white chocolate drizzled down from the tip.


Image source: shleppenwolf, jcmarin

Seeing women walk into the men’s room when the ladies’ is full (Paris).

Violeta Lyskoit

Violeta is one free soul. She feels the most alive when traveling to new places and seeing the beautiful world out there.

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america vs europe, american culture vs european culture, americans in europe, ask reddit, ask reddit subreddit, cultural differences, culture shocks
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