Things Non-Americans Find Strange About the U.S.

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We Americans tend to do things differently. Whether our extroverted nature, free refills, or giant homes, some things we have and do in the United States just feel wrong to others across the globe. Aside from our real issues — which we undoubtedly need to deal with — there are lots of discrepancies between the U.S. and other nations that just don’t make sense to non-Americans.

A thought-provoking question permeates Reddit every year or so:

Non-Americans who have been to the US: What is the weirdest thing about America that Americans don’t realise is weird?

Over 46,000 comments note strange (even controversial) quirks that the U.S. has. I’ve legitimately never thought about most of these, but apparently we just don’t do certain things the right way. Let’s take a look into what makes this nation so…fascinating.

Dollar Bills That are All the Same Size

“On a band trip to NYC, my first time actively interacting with American money, I was stunned upon realizing all the money was the same. More than once I accidentally gave cashiers a 20 thinking it was a 5! (They were kind enough to point out my mistake).” – u/Gaying_The_Pray_Away 

Our currency is flat out ugly and wrong. How are we meant to tell between $1 and $100 in a pinch?

Aerial Power Lines, Apparently

“It totally amazes me that nobody has mentioned aerial power lines. Friends came over from Italy to see Niagara Falls, which I took them to. While driving there they remarked about how Europe hasn’t got aerial power lines; they’re all underground.” – u/HeywoodPeace

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I have never thought about this one. When’s the last time you noticed that our power lines are just vibing up in the air?

Drinking Age

“I’ve travelled in the USA quite a bit and I love it. But one thing really doesn’t make sense to me even after multiple years of traveling around the country. You can drive a car and vote before you’re considered mature enough to drink a beer.” – u/Malanocthe1st

We can also hop over to a store to purchase a gun, but under no circumstances should we be caught with a lager in hand before we’re 21.

Toilet Stall Doors are Essentially Half Open

“Gaps in toilet stall doors: I don’t want everybody to be able to watch me while I’m taking a dump”  – u/dieter-e-w-2020

Straight facts.

Big Pharma Controlling Our Lives

“How your medical ads show an old guy living life well because of X-drug. He has the best time, the wife is having the best time and it’s all because of the drug making things better. The end of the ad is full of warnings about how this happy drug can potentially kill you and your family, nuke your dog and make cats impotent.” – u/bodhan40

It will always be massively interesting that in other countries doctors recommend medications to you, and that it’s not meant to be the other way around.

Small Talk, But It’s Not Awkward

“Canadian here, I was blown away by how weirdly social people are with strangers. Like some random guy I’ve never seen before just starts telling me his life story on the street. He is super normal, and doesn’t seem crazy, just wants to talk to me for some reason.” – u/mr_cristy

Okay, but small talk with strangers is an excellent way of passing some time and you cannot convince me otherwise.

But How Are You Really?

“In Germany ‘How are you?’ is an actual question and you generally only ask it, if you know the other person. It was super hard to explain to my mum that the answer is always ‘fine, thank you’ and that cashiers don’t really care about how you actually feel, when we visited the US in 08.” – u/Wished-this-was-easy

We’d never see the end of American small talk if we all gave an honest answer to the good “how are you?” question.

We Simply Cannot Include Sales Tax In Our Prices

“Tax. I find it annoying how in America tax is added after you check at the cashier. In Australia tax is included in the price, e.g if the price says $6.00 you pay $6. But in America if it costs $6.00 it’s actually $6.07 or something. Idk I just have found it a nuisance.” – u/im_no_W0LF

Would taxation still be theft if we just, say, included it in the price of an item?

Yeeting Diners’ Credit Cards

“In the UK your card never leaves your sight during a transaction, I couldn’t believe it in the States when my server took my credit card somewhere (so all the details could easily be copied) and came back asking for a signature without even checking if the signature matched. I also couldn’t remember the last time I had to sign for a credit card transaction as I had been using chip and pin for about 15 years.” – u/Eyelickah

If there’s any hill I will die on, it’s that the good UK method of bringing a card machine to the table should be universally adopted. We’ll never know where our cards really go when we stick them in the bill holder, will we?

Cheddar Biscuits for Days 

“My wife and I loved the biscuits at Red Lobster- we ate them all so as not to be rude, and when we did they brought us another basket. Oh right… free refills” – u/yeetalkshite

I really can’t argue that free bread is just *chef’s kiss*. It categorically hits different when it’s free.

Even through the trivial things, we are truly an ~interesting~ bunch. Which of these comments surprised you the most?

  • Is the U.S. Really ~that~ weird?

    • Yes, can we pls get someone to cover up all of the toilet stalls?
    • No, it’s the land of free refills and massive trucks and I love it.


Written by Marina Martinez

Arizonan student at the University of Edinburgh, dog lover, desert rat, meme aficionado and coffee enthusiast.

What do you think?




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