Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
April 14, 2024 ·  9 min read

30 things Europeans do that leave Americans raising their eyebrows

Many aspects vary from Europeans to Americans to South Americans… Not to mention between continents, often leaving individuals perplexed about the lifestyles of those in distant lands. Whether it’s the peculiarities of faucets, window designs, or shopping customs, certain things may seem utterly bewildering to those unaccustomed to them.

Recently, Redditors engaged in a lively discussion on this subject, sparked by a question posed to the ‘Ask Reddit’ community. Specifically, they reached out to American members of the group, inquiring about elements of European culture or behavior that baffle them. The responses were abundant and varied. Take a moment to peruse their answers below and determine for yourself whether they resonate with your own sense of logic or leave you equally puzzled.

1. Everything’s close in Europe

car driving around a sharp turn, top view
Credit: Shutterstock

I’m Canadian, but it’s always baffled me that some Europeans consider a half hour’s worth of driving a long time. That wouldn’t even get me out of the area I’d consider local”TwoFingersWhiskey

2. Carpets gross out Europeans

Image Credit: Ryan Christodoulou

“Im from Europe myself (uk) and find it strange some people here have carpet in their bathroom. ITS DISGUSTING”ArtisticAustisic

3. Why do you have to pay for tap water at restaurants?

Credit: Shutterstock

Why the hell don’t you guys just serve tap water (if it’s OK to drink) to tables when they sit down? I’m currently in Europe and a handful of restaurants will not even serve you tap water and you have to buy it. This is in many countries too! Wtf it’s free and right there!!!”veexn

4. Why don’t Europeans use top sheets?

Image Credit: Annie Sprat

No top sheets on beds. The first time I experienced “European Style” bedding, I was so confused. When I asked about the top sheet, I was told they only use a duvet. I’m a hot sleeper, so I didn’t use it. Ended up sleeping without a sheet over me, which was uncomfortable. But, when in Rome…” –Quantum_Compass

5. Football hooligans

Image Credit: Wikipedia

“Football hooliganism. You’ll beat people just for wearing the wrong shirt to the wrong bar. Its a horrendous practice”dosetoyevsky

6. Elective parties are weird

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As an idiot American with 2 parties, I only understand left-wing and right-wing, Europeans have a party for everything. It’s confusing, but I wish we weren’t a 2 party state tbh”LukmanAbdulkahSilvia

7. Do Europeans use clothes dryers?

Image Credit: Sana Saidi

“Do any Europeans have a clothes dryer? Why do I think that’s not standard?”MrsZerg

8. What’s with all the rentals?

Image Credit: chris robert

Rent their whole lives. I saw this in Germany. I know it’s becoming the norm in the US, too, but it just seemed weird to me the first time I visited 30 years ago that most Germans rented their entire lives and never even thought about buying a house.” – RiffRandellsBF

9. Why do Europeans shop day to day for their groceries?

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It makes sense to me, but it still seems marvelous to me that in France (other places I’m sure, but I learned this in French class) it is common to buy groceries every day. You may wake up and go to the bakery for fresh baked bread, or stop by for fresh produce on the way home to make dinner. Yes, having walkable grocery stores nearby makes it easier, it seems so much easier to buy 3-4 days or a week’s worth of groceries at a time.” – dishonourableaccount

10. Better Chocolate

Credit: Shutterstock

Better chocolate. Why can’t we have nice chocolate?” – HibibitySkibibity

“Because since WW2 Americans are used to the taste of butyric acid. It used to be used to keep the milk from spoiling, now it’s added because Americans actually prefer it that way.” – Jihana

11. Weird outdated wallpaper

Credit: Shutterstock

“England’s fascination with large print flowered wallpaper with various colors that don’t go together especially when you stand in the hallway and see where all the rooms converge.”HohenmeyerReport

12. Static flavored water

“It’s not that it makes no sense but I’ve always been curious how carbonated water became the default in many places”thedevilsgame

13. Intricate windows

Credit: Shutterstock

Tilt and Turn Windows. It’s not that it doesn’t “make sense,” but the first time I saw those windows that can be moved a bunch of different ways, you would have thought I was seeing a rabbit being pulled out of a hat, that’s how amazed I looked.”Weird-Traditional

14. Europeans and their toilets

Image Credit: Giorgio Trovato

“The poop shelf in Dutch/Belgian toilets.” – liz_teria

Widely used in Austria too. They originally came for the ability to inspect the poo for medical reasons. I personally like them because you don’t get your butt splashed with toilet water when the dump dumps into it.”Raumpfleger 

15. The time restrictions on coffee

Image Credit: Harris Vo

“To all you Italians: why can’t I have a cappuccino past noon??” alotistwowordssir

I drank a real Italian cappuccino (not the same as what most American restaurants serve) one night after dinner…I did NOT sleep much at all that night. I will listen to the Italians and do it their way.”Jro308

16. Who splits up taps anyway?

Image Credit: danilo.alvesd

“Saw that mostly in the UK, having 2 separate faucets for hot and cold water?? What the hell lol? Washing my hands was the worst.”Athlete_Aromatic

Long long ago, in a time forgotten…. Hot and cold water are kept separate to prevent contamination, cold water comes into the house directly from the mains supply and is safe to drink. Hot water was provided by an Immersion heater generally located in the loft of a house and as it sits there it is considered unsafe to drink. Water bylaws prevent hot and cold from being mixed – this still applies today, water is NOT allowed to mix until is exits the tap.” – Phendrena

17. Europeans have cute cop cars

Image Credit: Max Fleischmann

The cute sounding police sirens. In America the police sirens seem like an urgent, semi-deranged warning to GTF out of the way, like **S**T’S GOING DOWN AND I’M NOT THERE!!!!! MOOOOOOOOVE!!!!!!!!”** Meanwhile every European police siren I’ve heard just kind of politely annoy you out of the way. Like ‘bee doooo bee doooo, pardon me but a spot of bother has occured and I simply must hasten to it, pardon me as I simply must attend to it, pardon me.‘”

And the police cars themselves are so small. American police cars are big and brawny, like they might need to make their own garage door into building. The European police cars I’ve seen, where they even put the people they arrest? Granted, I’ve only seen European police stuff on TV so there’s probably a lot I haven’t seen.” Alpha-Sierra-Charlie

18. Basins in basins

Image Credit: Bibi Pace

My British grandma always had a plastic tub in the sink to soak dishes. It seems so weird to have a sink in a sink basically.”Ejacksin

We have a basin in our sink. Otherwise when I let the plug out, tiny bits of food would go down the drain and block the pipes… old UK buildings = old plumbing. And it’s bloody expensive getting those fixed. Pls note: we have no dishwasher, so use this for washing the dishes at least 3 times a day.”Tyke 

19. Beans on toast

Image Credit: Nik

Beans on toast. Why?” – PimpCforlife

“Delicious, also being full of fibre, protein and B vitamins to having pretty low calories (minus added cheese, that is).”StumblingThroughLife

20. European kids smoking

“The smoking. I stayed with a host family in France and my 16-year-old host sister smoked like a chimney, as did all her friends. Like you’re so young. Why?” – StumblingThroughLife 

“Depends a lot on the country, in France, England, Bulgaria, Romania and Denmark it’s very common, in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Luxenburg it’s looked down upon by a lot of people.” – Royal Stray

21. Light switches in weird places

Image Credit: Steve Johnson

Why you guys like to put bathroom light switches outside the bathroom?” – XXMAVR1KXX

“This is mandatory as a safety measure: the switch must be placed out of reach of the shower or bath to avoid touching it when you are in the water.”Hawkmoon

22. Lack of public restrooms

Image Credit: Buchen WANG

It’s a real problem in parts of England. When I moved back from Japan, where nearly every convenience store has a clean well-maintained toilet, it was a struggle for me.” – rullyman

23. How do Europeans manage to shower like this?

Credit: Shutterstock

You all give us so much grief for having bathroom stall door gaps, and then have a one-foot wide piece of glass to keep water in the shower…” – billsdabills

24. Kitchens aren’t a norm?

Image Credit: roam in color

In Germany, apartments don’t normally come with a kitchen. It’s purchased/installed by the Tennant. Sometimes you luck out but not usually.” – Widegina

25. Which side are you on?

“I’m from the Midwest and my family is from the Netherlands. So the society that wouldn’t dare offend you in any way and the society that has no problem dropping truth bombs on you. It’s rough.” – philophilo

26. Monarchies

Image Credit: Apprehensive_Gap_368

I have a lot of respect for our monarchs today… it’s not like old times anymire where they do as they please. A lot of expectations come with it and I don’t think I would be able to withstand the pressure. Also, our monarchs are required to be politically neutral. That’s a plus if you have to send a representative to a country that might be the complete political opposite.” – Aldhissla VargTimmen

27. Since when does one have to pay to use a restroom?

Image credit: Juan Marin

“Charging for bathrooms and charging for water (at restaurants) are both things that I would have expected Americans to do and Europeans be the ones making fun of it.” – Optimistic_Futures

28. Where did the window screens go?

Image Credit: Darrin Henein

No a/c, sure fine, but then no screens on your windows so all the bugs get in? (Not sure if this is all of Europe, but def the UK).”Curiosity13

29. Why no A/C?

Image Credit: Carlos Lindner

Was just in southern Italy and it was hot as balls but everybody acted like they hate AC. We’d go out for the day and when we came back, housekeeping had turned off all the AC units. Driver wore a full suit but every time we got in the car, AC was off. We’d ask him to turn it on and he would but on low. Ask him to blast it and he would for a minute then sneakily turn it back down. It’s like they’re reptiles or something.” – BurnerForVices

30. Those death stares

Image Credit: Mikail Duran

Idk if it’s all Europeans but Germans have a real big problem with staring like I owe them money. Also paying to use the bathroom in public spaces.” – Neat_Serve730


  1. 30 Things Europeans Do That Leave Americans Raising Their Eyebrows. Bored Panda. Miglė Miliūtė and Mantas Kačerauskas. September 19, 2023