America and Europe have significant cultural differences that show up in the day-to-day living of the two regions. As you can image, there are things that Europeans find strange about Americans, and vice versa. Here’s looking at things from a European viewpoint, that are strange about the Americans in general, agreed on quite unanimously via a variety of researches and polls.
Topping the list, is the weird moment when you are greeted with a ‘How are you.’ In America, this not a question, and you are not supposed to answer it in literal terms, explaining how you are feeling and how good your health may be. Europeans are used to answering with long description, and asking the same question. From the American perspective, it is the same as a saying, ‘Hello.’ Europeans fail to see the logic of this expression.
Americans have this love of supermarkets, where an entire aisle would be dedicated to a variety of cereals. This comes as quite a shock to most Europeans, looking at the mind-boggling variety of almost everything.
People, perfect strangers, smiling at you without any reason of course. Definitely Europeans are not used to this. In many European countries, people find this gregarious practice strange.
Portion sizes are always big in America, and definitely huge when compared to Europe, where everything is smaller sized. Americans love the super-size, which one will know after looking at a super-sized burger. A kid sized meal in the US would be regular meal in Europe. No wonder they find it strange.
Almost all Europeans that visit America notice that their air conditioners are set to freezing temperatures. The indoors are unbelievable cold; something that Europeans are not used to.
The 24X7 stores are a thing in the US. This trend has not caught on in Europe, where most shops would be closed at a set time in the evening, and almost all day on Sunday. Also, the system of adding taxes at the checkout, instead of having the tax included in the price of products is something Europeans find unusual.
Ice cubes in drinks at a 30% to 70% proportion is a trend in America. Along with freezing temperature indoors, Americans also love their drinks super chilled. This is quite a new thing for Europeans who are not quite used to so many ice cubes in their liquids. Another strange practice that comes as a surprise to Europeans is when they get free refills for their drinks. Just as the drink is reaching its half cup mark, the waiter has it refilled, for free; definitely a welcome surprise.
Europe is in general more pedestrian friendly, and it is normal to see people walking on the streets and casually riding a bike to work. But in the US, this practice isn’t as popular, something that Europeans find strange. Although pedestrian and bicycling to work is growing in many cities in America, particularly college and military towns.
American currency is rather confusing to Europeans. There are bills for anything for a dollar and over, and coins for anything a quarter or less and system to differentiate one coin to the other is rather difficult for the unaccustomed Europeans. Thought this can be said for anyone’s first experience with a new currency.
Another difference that might have cultural roots, is the formal way of dressing in Europe, and considerable causal and relaxed dressing in America. Americans are seen wearing casual clothes to shopping malls, colleges, and in general have a relaxed sense of dressing which Europeans find a bit strange.
A sharp difference between the US and Europe is the difference in work hours. Europeans find it strange that Americans, on an average, spend a lot more time working per week, as compared to Europeans. In fact, their annual work hours are far more than most countries across the world. (Perhaps a reason the US is World leader in commerce) Also, in 2014, it was reported that almost 42% of Americans did not take a single vacation day. Definitely, this would look strange to Europeans who love their vacations and after work hours.