Top 12 things that most surprise Americans arriving in Europe

The United States is a bit like the turbulent student at the back of the class who doesn’t want to do anything like everyone else, who is a bit stupid but whom everyone admires all the same. Americans do weird things like use the imperial system or fry all their food and when they come to us it’s us they think is weird. To give you an idea, here are some things that surprise Americans in Europe.

1. Teenagers who drink oklm with their parents

In France, as in most European countries, people start drinking very young (especially in Brittany). At 6 years old you dip your lips in the glass of champagne, at 9 years old you are entitled to your bowl of cider and at 15 or 16 years old, you will have a glass of red in the restaurant, right? Parents have no problem offering alcohol to their children and some even get drunk as a family. All this is very frightening for Americans who are convinced that their children have never had a drop of alcohol before they are 21 years old.

2. Care reimbursed instead of paying $30,000

Even when you are a foreigner, European hospitals (in most countries) agree to treat you without putting you in debt for life. Sometimes all costs are taken care of and when you have to pay something, it is never very expensive compared to prices in the United States. At the same time, you have to pay between 30,000 and 50,000 dollars at least to give birth in this country of misfortune.

top 12 things that most surprise americans arriving in europe

3. The quality of fast food

Depending on the country, fast food menus are very different: just look at the difference between McDo in France and Belgium. Often, Americans are very surprised to see the difference in quality of meat, cheese or even different recipes between European countries and their own.

4. Drinks a little too small for their taste

If you go to McDo and you ask for a large drink, it will be the size of a small drink in the United States. To feed their addiction to sugar, Americans are used to drinking their drink in liter glasses and bottles of juice or soda in the supermarket are sometimes 5 liters.

5. The number of manual cars

In France, if you don’t know how to drive a manual car, you get humiliated publicly by your darons, your friends and your driving school driver who was passing by. It’s a tradition, you have to know how to handle that fucking gear lever. In the United States, the vast majority of people have an automatic car and do not even know how to drive a manual, they do not realize their luck.

6. Being alone if you go to the restaurant at 7 p.m.

In American series, we sometimes hear the characters meet at the restaurant at 7 p.m. as if it were a perfectly reasonable time to eat. In France, nobody goes to a restaurant before 8:30 p.m. (I’m not too sure of myself because I forgot the whole concept of eating out). In Spain or Portugal, people go to dinner around 10 p.m. and Americans have a hard time getting used to it.

top 12 things that most surprise americans arriving in europe

7. Small children without bathing suits on the beach

I never understood this concept but it is indeed very widespread. On European beaches, it is completely accepted to let your child walk naked in the sand until he is 6 years old. It’s true that it must be so pleasant to have sand and algae in the mucous membranes…

8. Bars and hotels in old buildings

As the United States was founded about 15 years ago, there are very few “historic” buildings and these are well guarded. In Europe, it is quite normal to shop in a 19th century building or sleep in a hotel that has existed since 1650.

top 12 things that most surprise americans arriving in europe

9. Businesses that close for lunch break (and siesta)

Except in big cities, everyone is used to not being able to go to small shops between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., or even 4 p.m. in southern Europe. At the same time, you have to eat well and why not take a nap or watch a little TV.

10. The trivialization of sexuality

It seems completely unlikely to Americans to see ads with nearly naked people, primetime sex scenes on TV, porn magazines on newsstands, or even dick graffiti on the walls. For us, it’s just everyday life.

11. Travel only by car in small towns

In American movies, kids spend their time riding bikes halfway across town with their friends. In France and some other European countries, there are no bike lanes in small towns and the roads are very dangerous because of the number of cars driving like crazy. So, we have to take our children everywhere by car and it’s a bit of a pain.

top 12 things that most surprise americans arriving in europe
Picture credits: Topito

12. Don’t ask strangers how they are doing.

In the United States, it’s perfectly normal to say “Hello, how are you doing?” » when you enter a store or when you speak to someone you have just met. In France, the trader will immediately look at you strangely if you say “Hello, how are you?” when you see him for the first time.


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