Cultural Differences Between America and Europe

“The first time I went to London I asked a barista – and she looked at me like I had a third arm sticking out of my neck.”

Everyday “norms” can vary from country to country – and sometimes these cultural differences are vast, while other times they are more subtle.

And there’s nothing like a good Reddit thread to remind you that cultural norms that seem minor in the scheme of things might be considered a bit taboo in other parts of the world, especially Europe. I recently got lost reading a thread where u/Raphael_Olbert asked, “What’s usual in America, but not in Europe?” because a lot of answers that I honestly hadn’t thought of until now. Here are a few.


“Driving long distances for things not related to pleasure travel.”

Oatawa/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Via Getty Images


“Parking lots larger than the building they serve.”



“Amount of water in the toilet.”

Calvin Chan Wai Meng/Getty Images/Via Getty Images

Muhammad Rayhan Haripriatna/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Via Getty Images


“Well, while I was in New York, the waiter took my credit card and left, and I was instantly angry. I thought, ‘WTF?’ It’s strange when someone accepts your card and then returns to Europe because usually all card transactions are done in front of the cardholder.”


Chadchai Krisadapong/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Via Getty Images


“Cashiers on their feet. For God’s sake, let those poor people sit down.”



“Tax not included in the prices shown – it is added at the end.”



“A public restroom that has a one-inch gap on either side of the door so everyone can see you shitting.”

Laura Beach/Getty Images/EyeEm/Via Getty Images


“Waiters are constantly watching you, even if it means interrupting a conversation. In Europe, they leave you alone unless you obviously need something.”



“Gossip. The first time I went to London, I asked a Starbucks barista how her day was going and she looked at me like I had a third arm sticking out of my neck.”



“Incredibly large portions of food in restaurants.”

D3sign / Getty Images / Via Getty Images


“Smiling at people/people watching. In the US it’s a way to pass the time, but in some European cities you look like a jerk (in my experience).”



“The date, putting the day after the month. Why is it the 4th of July, right? Then why is it written 7/4?”

Pakin Songmor/Getty Images/Via Getty Images


“Cutlery juggling. Americans cut their food with the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand, but then put the knife down and swing the fork in the right hand to eat only with the fork. When they need the knife again, they put the fork back in their left hand and take the knife with their right. They do this several times throughout the meal. Why? And this is done everywhere in the United States?

Hispanolist/Getty Images/Via Getty Images


“Honestly, reusable water bottles. One of my biggest issues with visiting/living in Europe is that I can’t fill my water jug ​​anywhere. I constantly buy plastic bottles and I hate this.”

Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61/Via Getty Images


“The fact that your sick days aren’t counted. In America sick days are numbered according to the number of days. In Europe you can just call in sick for as many days as you are sick. Much better system to My opinion.”



“Medicine cabinets behind the bathroom mirror. A guy I was with in college said he moved in and for SIX MONTHS he had no idea it was a cabinet. It wasn’t until he asked his father where the drugs were that he was told.”

Photo_chaz/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Via Getty Images

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

Mary I. Bruner