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American culture is full of quirks and odd traditions that often leave foreign travelers scratching their heads.
Europeans visiting the States will immediately notice how different American culture is from their own – Americans fly flags everywhere, they measure things differently, and they can’t stop saying “thank you,” for some reason.
Read on to find out 12 of the most bizarre aspects of the United States from the perspective of Europeans who have visited:
Americans say ‘thank you’ to everything
- Flickr/ Christi
Every language has a way to express thanks, but not every culture says “thank you” quite as much as Americans do, according to Healthy Travel.
Bathroom doors have wide gaps in the US
Many foreign visitors to the US get a shock when they head to the bathrooms – for some reason, the public bathroom stalls in America have wide gaps that don’t appear in other countries’ facilities.
They can’t drink until they’re 21
- Shutterstock/Jacob Lund
American serving sizes are huge
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Any visitor who goes to an American restaurant will immediately notice how much bigger the portion sizes are compared to those in Europe.
That goes for the size of soda cups, ice cream cones, and even hamburgers, the average size of which has expanded greatly since the 1970s.
On the other hand, it’s perfectly acceptable in the US to take leftovers home from a restaurant, while in other countries, there’s something of a stigma attached to the practice.
Americans wear shoes inside the house
- Flickr/William Brawley
In several European countries, it’s expected for people to take off their shoes when they enter someone’s home. In the US, the practice is much less common, and many people prefer leaving them on.
In the US, they have commercials for lawyers and prescription drugs
You just don’t have those things in Europe.
There are American flags everywhere
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Europeans who visit the US are often taken aback by the amount of American flags they see hanging outside homes, businesses, schools, banks, and churches.
Americans add their tax on top of the sticker price
- Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
In Europe, and most places in the world, tax is built into the price when you buy something.
Americans have mailboxes
Believe it or not, mailboxes outside of homes are something of an oddity for many Europeans visiting the US. In Europe, it’s more common to simply have a letter slot on your front door.
They measure temperature in Fahrenheit
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Much to the frustration of European travelers, the United States is one of just a small handful of countries and territories that measure temperatures using the Fahrenheit scale instead of Celsius.
And the US resists the metric system, too
- bluewaikiki via Flickr
Temperature isn’t the only thing the US measures differently. It’s also just one of three countries to resist using the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the two others).
That means a lot of confusion for travelers who have to think in miles, gallons, and pounds instead of kilometers, liters, and kilograms.
US currency is all the same color and size
- Images Money/Flickr (CC)
In the US, green is the color of money.
Having bills come in different colors and sizes helps the visually impaired and illiterate distinguish between denominations. American currency is trending in the right direction, with updated bills featuring splashes of purple and orange, but it looks downright drab compared to other world currencies.