63 Things Basically Every American Accepts As Completely Normal But Are Actually Very, Very Strange

·10 min read

Here in the United States, a lot of people think the way WE do things is the way the rest of the world does things. Obviously, that ain't the case. Over the past few years, people on Reddit have shared the things they really can't quite understand about Americans and, of course, it's juicy.


More threads here and here.

Here are the best responses:

1."The obsession with high school. I have friends who say their best years were spent in high school, and I think that's really, really sad."

scene from clueless
Paramount Pictures

2."People have lunch at their desks. And usually it's just a snack. Where I come from, lunch is the most complete meal of the day."


3."Having an average of only 10 days of annual leave. And then sometimes even being looked down on for taking it."

Sefa Ozel / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4."Why kids have a social pressure to leave their parents' homes at 18."

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5."Homecoming. Who the heck is coming home?"


6."Complete strangers asking me how I'm doing."

men speaking

7."There's so much water in your toilet bowls...you could go for a swim in there."

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8."You have a whole aisle in your supermarkets dedicated to just cereal."

cereal aisle
Jeff Greenberg / Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Imag

9."The huge number of flags everywhere."

lots of american flags
Lynne Gilbert / Getty Images

10."The fact that swearing is such a big deal and you bleep out everything is so weird."

Person saying, "I'm not doing the curse words cause of my upbringing"
NBCUniversal / Via giphy.com

11."Big glasses of water WITH ICE at restaurants."

Nawarit Rittiyotee / Getty Images

12."How American towns and cities are generally designed so that you have to drive everywhere."


13."Processed cheese. There are so many delicious cheeses that are actual cheese. Why eat the gross fake stuff?"

An up close photo of mac 'n' cheese.
Getty Images

14."The more credit you take the better for your credit score. Here in Germany, your credit score will suffer the more credit you take. Even if you pay it back on time."


15."What I will never be able to understand is this: How can it be completely normal for you people for Amazon to leave the package on your doorstep???"

Jorge Villalba / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16."Just the general weird attitude about alcohol. I was carded to get into a bar in the US when I was 29 years old...meanwhile I'd been drinking in pubs in England for 13 years without having to show ID."

Friends drinking beer at a bar.

"A few of us Brits went for a drink at lunchtime, and our American friends were basically ready to refer us to Alcoholics Anonymous."


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17."Walmart. I went to buy a SIM card and some groceries, but I also discovered that I could also buy pet fish, car parts and shoes...all in one building?!?!"

People shopping in a Walmart.
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18."The portion sizes. A meal in a restaurant back home will usually leave me fairly full, but I felt as if I had to be rolled out of everywhere I ate in the US."

woman eating 3 burgers
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19."I went to pay with a credit card in a restaurant and the waiter just took it and walked off."

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20."Drink sizes! Whoa."

women drinking coffee

"When my family visited in 2017, we landed in Texas for a stopover. First thing I saw in the shops part of the terminal was a dude who was drinking from what looked like an actual bucket. Here in New Zealand, our 'large' drinks would be considered an American 'small' or 'medium.'" —u/The_Sly_Sloth

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21."Paying for an ambulance."


"Seriously, like, WTF?"


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22."Your news. It’s over-sensationalized. I couldn’t believe it when I visited. Every news program seems much less like news and more like reality TV."

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23."You can buy milk in gallon-sized containers."

woman searching for milk

"When I visited America, I went to a supermarket for some breakfast stuff — cereal and milk. All they had was milk in gallons! Who could possibly want that much milk? I asked for a smaller carton, and the lady who worked there just laughed at me and asked, 'Don’t you like milk in England?'" —u/memesalwaysdie

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24."Americans are nice and will stop to talk to strangers."

<div><p>"I have been through a lot of big American cities and a lot of tiny towns. ALL OF YOU — north to south — make Canadians look like bloody savages. I expected something worse, probably because of television and the internet. I ended up leaving your country, after the first time I visited, blown away and with a newfound, VERY REAL love for my southern neighbors." —<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/bykb3v/non_americans_of_reddit_what_is_the_craziest/eqkk9yk/?context=3&utm_medium=web2x&utm_source=reddit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:u/animal1988" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">u/animal1988</a></p></div><span> Antonio Garcia Recena / Getty Images</span>

"I have been through a lot of big American cities and a lot of tiny towns. ALL OF YOU — north to south — make Canadians look like bloody savages. I expected something worse, probably because of television and the internet. I ended up leaving your country, after the first time I visited, blown away and with a newfound, VERY REAL love for my southern neighbors." —u/animal1988

Antonio Garcia Recena / Getty Images

25."Red Solo cups are not just a Hollywood prop."

red solo cups

"When I immigrated to the US, my mother-in-law was making dinner and offered me iced tea in a red Solo cup." —u/RavynLearnsBadly

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26."You can get into university just by being good at sports."

football players
Miodrag Ignjatovic / Getty Images

27."How desensitized they are to violence on TV and movies."

man holding a knife

"I'm too European to understand how swearing and curse words are such a big deal in movies and songs, but violence and guns are taken with a grain of salt."


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28."That you can get fired just like that and have no income."

<div><p>"In my country, if you are fired, your employer needs to pay you for at least three months after you were fired."</p><p>—<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/f5qall/whats_an_american_problem_youre_too_european_to/fi0w5s5/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:gahd95" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">gahd95</a></p></div><span> Willselarep / Getty Images</span>

"In my country, if you are fired, your employer needs to pay you for at least three months after you were fired."


Willselarep / Getty Images

29."The Pledge of Allegiance."

saying the pledge

"If that shit isn't brainwashing, I don't know what is." —u/SamCropper

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30."The idolization of politicians."

politician with a halo

"They are public servants, 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."


Florian Gaertner / Getty Images

31."Tipping. I had zero clue about tipping/how to tip, and I got a lot of dirty looks during my first solo trip there. I felt like shit after finding out."

bad tip


*NOTE: If you come to the United States, learn how to tip. It's important.

Vinnstock / Getty Images

32."Yellow school buses are actually a thing in America. I honestly thought it was just a cartoon thing, but nope!"

yellow school bus
Mario Tama / Getty Images

33."There are security guards in the school halls, and some schools even have metal detectors at the entrance like the TSA at airports."

kids go thru security

34."You have those angry sinks* that chop shit."

garbage disposal


*AKA garbage disposals.

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35."On Halloween, masked people come to your house and knock on your door asking for candy. Mostly it's just packs of kids, but sometimes whole families."

kids on halloween
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36."The minimal number of paid days off you get from work."

<div><p>"A friend of mine from Wisconsin was very proud that he got 20 days off per year. If someone in Germany offered me only 20 days, I would laugh at them and leave." —<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/bykb3v/non_americans_of_reddit_what_is_the_craziest/eqjo69y/?context=3&utm_medium=web2x&utm_source=reddit" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:u/_Warsheep_" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">u/_Warsheep_</a></p></div><span> Peopleimages / Getty Images</span>

"A friend of mine from Wisconsin was very proud that he got 20 days off per year. If someone in Germany offered me only 20 days, I would laugh at them and leave." —u/_Warsheep_

Peopleimages / Getty Images

37."Identifying as your heritage instead of your nationality. Americans will say that they’re Italian, German, Polish, etc., when they don’t speak the language and have no real connection to those countries anymore. In other parts of the world, people just identify with the country they were born in or have lived in for a significant amount of time, regardless of their ancestry."

Charles Mcquillan / Getty Images

38."Attack ads against political opponents, and ads for law firms or lawyers. These kinds of ads are illegal and considered unethical in our country."

attack ad
Ted Thai / The LIFE Picture Collection via

39."American kids eat straight sugar."

eating sugar

"Walked onto the playground and saw kids chugging these long, thin sticks. I tried one and realized it was just colored sugar. They called them Pixy Stix." —u/whowantsrice

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40."Talking really loudly in public places. Default volume of most Americans seems to be about 10 decibels higher than that of every other country's inhabitants."

guy talking loud
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41."The honking...I thought it was a movie stereotype, and then I went to New York."

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42."Your country is huge! I got off the plane and asked the cab guy how far the hotel was and he said about 30 miles. I almost had a heart attack."

long road
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43."Free soft drink refills in restaurants."

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44."Higher education can cost upward of $50,000 per year."

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45."Huge gaps in the sides and bottoms of toilet stalls that people can see through."

toilet gap


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46."The TV ads for prescription medication always get me."

woman holding a pill
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47."That you guys don't include taxes in your prices? I went to a convenience store to get a drink and was very confused when the price labeled was different at checkout."

holding a receipt
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48."Having massive student debt."

student debt

"I pay 20 euros per semester for tuition in Austria."


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49."In many US states, some criminals can't vote, even while on parole."

voting booths
Mario Tama / Getty Images

50."The drinking age being 21."


"You can join the Army, get married, have children, and drive at a younger age, but you're too immature to drink???"


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51."Expensive required textbooks that you HAVE to buy to take a university class."

Mariia Reshetniak / Getty Images

52."There was a 24-hour pharmacy across the street from our apartment. Nothing shocking there, except that it ALSO sold booze and cigarettes. What the actual fuck, like..."

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53."Wearing outdoor shoes inside the house."

shoes on the couch

"Do you want to get dirt and mud and dog shit all over your floors?"


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54."Saying, 'How are you doing?' or 'How's it going?', etc. just means 'hello.' I've noticed non-Americans tend to think this is an invitation for them to share their life troubles while most Americans just use it as a greeting."

guys talking
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55."The size of your SUVs and trucks."

big truck
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56."The size of rats and the amount of cockroaches. I saw a roadkill cockroach the size of a tennis ball at the Grand Canyon. I have lived in Berlin for years, and I have yet to see any rat that comes close to New York rats."

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57."The extreme variety between the states."

state border

"I went to live there for a year and on the plane over, the guy next to me said, 'Each state is like a different country.' I thought he meant it in the same way that Manchester is different to Birmingham. But everything is so different state to state: the people, the attitude, the food, etc." —u/Westlifelover

Education Images / Education Images/Universal Image

58."The coupons. I was visiting a friend of mine who is from the States, and she bought a book of coupons. The discounts you could get were ridiculously fantastic!"

woman using coupons
Cat Gwynn / Getty Images

59."Putting a ton of sugar in products like bread."

sugary foods
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60."When traveling to another part of the world, an American will ALWAYS say the city and/or state they’re from, not the country. We’ll be at a hostel and someone will ask where everyone’s from: 'Denmark, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Canada ... Sacramento, California.'”

shaking hands
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61."Not owning kettles and microwaving water for coffee/tea."

microwaving cup
Jupitersounds / Getty Images

62."The fear of clowns. This is pretty much anecdotal but the fear of clowns seems to be a VERY American thing yet with other countries the reaction goes from 'meh' to 'I guess they're scary?'"

scary clown
Artmarie / Getty Images

63."Chanting 'USA!' for no apparent reason."

people chanting
William87 / Getty Images

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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