12 things Europeans think are weird about the US

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

American culture is full of quirks and odd traditions that often leave foreign travellers scratching their heads.

Europeans visiting the States will immediately notice how different American culture is from their own – Americans fly flags everywhere, they measure things differently, and they can’t stop saying “thank you,” for some reason.

Read on to find out 12 of the most bizarre aspects of the United States from the perspective of Europeans who have visited:

Americans say ‘thank you’ to everything

Every language has a way to express thanks, but not every culture says “thank you” quite as much as Americans do, according to Healthy Travel.

Visitors coming from Europe are often shocked that Americans say “thank you” after the most mundane of interactions, like a waiter bringing a glass of water.

Bathroom doors have wide gaps in the US


Many foreign visitors to the US get a shock when they head to the bathrooms – for some reason, the public bathroom stalls in America have wide gaps that don’t appear in other countries’ facilities.

They can’t drink until they’re 21

Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

The drinking age in most European countries is 18, and in some countries it’s as low as 16, if it’s enforced at all.

Meanwhile, Americans have to wait until they’re 21 to drink – the highest minimum drinking age in the world.

American serving sizes are huge

Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Any visitor who goes to an American restaurant will immediately notice how much bigger the portion sizes are compared to those in Europe.

That goes for the size of soda cups, ice cream cones, and even hamburgers, the average size of which has expanded greatly since the 1970s.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly acceptable in the US to take leftovers home from a restaurant, while in other countries, there’s something of a stigma attached to the practice.

Americans wear shoes inside the house

In several European countries, it’s expected for people to take off their shoes when they enter someone’s home. In the US, the practice is much less common, and many people prefer leaving them on.

In the US, they have commercials for lawyers and prescription drugs


The fact that you can advertise legal services and prescription drugs has raised plenty of ethical questions in the United States (even if the commercials can be hilarious).

You just don’t have those things in Europe.

There are American flags everywhere

Jason Smith/Getty Images

Europeans who visit the US are often taken aback by the amount of American flags they see hanging outside homes, businesses, schools, banks, and churches.

Patriotism isn’t quite as strong in most European countries, and even when it is, people don’t necessarily have the same attachment to their national flag.

Americans add their tax on top of the sticker price

In Europe, and most places in the world, tax is built into the price when you buy something.

In the US, tax is only factored in at the register, so your final total will be higher than what you saw on the sticker.

Americans have mailboxes


Believe it or not, mailboxes outside of homes are something of an oddity for many Europeans visiting the US. In Europe, it’s more common to simply have a letter slot on your front door.

They measure temperature in Fahrenheit

David McNew/Getty Images

Much to the frustration of European travellers, the United States is one of just a small handful of countries and territories that measure temperatures using the Fahrenheit scale instead of Celsius.

And the US resists the metric system, too

Temperature isn’t the only thing the US measures differently. It’s also just one of three countries to resist using the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the two others).

That means a lot of confusion for travellers who have to think in miles, gallons, and pounds instead of kilometers, litres, and kilograms.

US currency is all the same colour and size

In the US, green is the colour of money.

In Europe, money comes in all different colours. And sizes too, for that matter – the US is just one of two countries whose bills are all the same size.

Having bills come in different colours and sizes helps the visually impaired and illiterate distinguish between denominations. American currency is trending in the right direction, with updated bills featuring splashes of purple and orange, but it looks downright drab compared to other world currencies.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.