People Are Calling Out What Is "Normal" In The US But Not In Europe, And I Didn't Even Realize Some Of These Things Existed Until Now

People Are Calling Out What Is "Normal" In The US But Not In Europe, And I Didn't Even Realize Some Of These Things Existed Until Now

I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community what some differences are between European and American cultures, obvious and non-obvious, because I know there are many! Here is what some people said:

Two men in a shop, one trying on a novelty hat with a British flag design; surrounded by UK-themed souvenirs

1."As someone who has traveled to 20 countries (mostly European), 10 for a week or more, I would say the BIGGEST difference is Americans tend to smile and laugh more in public. In London, conversing with strangers is considered rude unless you ask for directions. It’s disheartening, IMO."

—Ellen, South Carolina

2."When I was in Edinburgh, I loved almost everything there. The only thing I didn’t love was they never give you ice. I always had to ask for a cup of ice or ask the hostel I was staying at to put ice in my water cup. I always felt like they were annoyed with me and felt bad about it, but I just needed my water ice cold. I can’t help it!"

Person holding a glass with a straw, resting on a table beside a window
Ipopba / Getty Images

3."Talking in public. In America, we have to make (ugh) small talk. In Europe, you don’t! You just sit down and eat food (for longer without interruption!) without TALKING."

Person eating a salad with chips, seen over the shoulder, at a table with another meal and water glasses
Morsa Images / Getty Images

4."In America, there are giant dishes of food in restaurants that one person cannot possibly finish by themselves, so we bring leftovers home. In Europe, food portioning is much more reasonably sized. No stuffing yourself at every meal."


5."I'd say tipping and health care. In Europe, we tip because the food and service are worth a little extra. In terms of health care, most European countries have some form of social health care that all citizens can rely on."


6."People in Europe actually take their time at meals. Like, they don’t only get an hour to eat on their break, they take a good chunk of the day to sit down and enjoy a meal with family or friends."

Group of people dining at a table with various dishes and drinks, sharing a meal together


Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

7."In America, there are flags everywhere, and there are free refills on food things. Americans also tell people how long it takes to get somewhere as opposed to distance."

—Amber, California

8."In America, people wear baseball-style hats indoors, especially at church or dinner. I grew up in Germany and now live in the US, and it still bothers me."

A person is adjusting a baseball cap on their head, surrounded by others in a similar pose
Lighthouse Films / Getty Images

9."People in America eat with only one hand while the other is under the table. In Germany, the hand not in use is visible, with the wrist resting on the table's edge. People in the US also precut their food rather than using a fork and knife simultaneously like an adult."


10."The concept of having a personal bubble here in America. In Europe, personal space is very limited, and you are always tightly condensed into small quarters with little to no personal space. After several weeks spent across Europe, I was never so happy to be back home in America! I enjoy my personal bubble!"

—Janelle, AZ

11."While familiar with the fact that Europeans order their beer in pints and quarts when I visited London in 2019, I was shocked when I found out they drink warm beer. I’m already not a beer person, so I didn’t have a beer there. I was also sent to get cough drops for my mom, and when I asked for some at a nearby store, they seemed confused and asked if I meant lozenges. That was the first time I had heard that word."

Four people clinking beer glasses together at a social gathering, possibly celebrating while traveling

—Daniel, North Dakota

Simpleimages / Getty Images

12."Americans write dates the way we say them. For example, today is July 25th, written 7/25. The 4th of July is a special case because it's a holiday."


13."Europe doesn't have clothes dryers. On my first visit to Portugal, I stayed at several Airbnbs. They all proudly had washing machines, but none had dryers. I’ve come to understand that hanging out my clothes will be a fact of life for me in Europe."

Laundry including shirts and pants hung on a line to dry in a backyard setting
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

14."In Europe, cafe seating often faces out to the street. In effect, it’s set up for people watching."

Blue green

15."Service in Europe can be awful! It took 45 minutes to get my waiter’s attention so I could ask for my bill. We came so close to just getting up and leaving because all the wait staff kept ignoring our efforts to pay (we were just going to leave cash and hope it was enough). Thankfully, we finally got our waiter’s attention, but it’s seriously like this at so many restaurants — hate it."


Are there any cultural differences that are missing from this list? Tell me in the comments below!