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Did You Know? These 11 Things Will Surprise Europeans Visiting the US

When visiting a new country, it is common to experience culture shock. Culture shock is a feeling of disorientation and confusion that can occur when you are suddenly immersed in a new culture that is different from your own. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as different customs, values, and beliefs.

A recent forum thread asked Europeans who had visited the United States what their biggest cultural shocks were. The responses were both surprising and eye-opening, offering a unique glimpse into the cultural differences between the two countries.

Words Of Endearment


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“Everyone keeps calling me honey/love/sweetie. Those words/terms of endearment aren’t used that casually over here (Netherlands).” Said one.

“This annoys me. I get it, people are trying to be nice, but boy, I don’t know you! We aren’t friends, don’t call me sweetie.” Another replied.

Huge Stuff All-Around 

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Cars, food portions, tips, roads, people, attitudes. Always fun, though.” Said one.

“We’re like the giant world on Super Mario 3.” Another chuckled. 

The Food Dynamics 

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“The food. This was 2001, and I’m from the UK/France. I’d never seen refillable drinks before. I couldn’t believe you could just have as much soda as you wanted, and no one would think you were stealing.

When we ate dinner, there were entire loaves of bread and a ramekin of butter. Supermarkets were packed so high and wide. Turkey drumsticks the size of a T-rex. I was bowled over.” 

The Awe-Inspiring Amicability

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“I know it’s popular to dunk on Americans, but honestly, for me, it was how friendly everyone was.” Said one. 

“This, I was amazed how random people started to have nice conversations with us while standing in line for coffee.” Another added. 

The Price Difference 

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“The price difference. The first time I went to NYC, I was living like a goddamn king off my regular average wage. The last time I went, it was basically an exchange like for like with currency. 

But the big thing on every trip, Americans are, for the most part, really, really nice people and friendly.”

Formal Greetings With A Vintage Touch 

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“Having expected much less formality in the USA, I was pleasantly shocked to find elements of courtesy and good manners that are no longer common in the UK.

The use of the terms ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ between equals is a delightfully civilized exchange to hear and to experience, and one which implies a hierarchical relationship here in the UK, rather than one of mutual respect as in the USA.

I also love the elements of eighteenth-century grammar and syntax which have survived in American English. The word ‘gotten’ has long since fallen out of use in British English.” 

It’s Not How People Tell You

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“It wasn’t the violent drug addicted narcissistic, divided, dysfunctional dump the Internet makes it out to be.” Said one. 

“We got those people around. But like, I’m not running through a war zone to get to 7/11 for a diet soda and chips.” Another added. 

Big Yellow School Buses

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“I “visited” for 5 years. The one moment that really sticks out above all others, was getting passed by a row of big yellow school buses.  Just like in the Simpsons.

I grew up in the UK, and school buses were a) rare, and b) just buses.  The same buses you’d see anywhere else. And I mean exactly the same – after 9 am they’d go back to doing their day jobs. They either set their sign on the front to read ‘school’, or they’d have a yellow placard in the window, with two kids on it.

Big yellow school buses with flashing lights, a pop-out stop sign…just like off the telly.  But in real life. Just cruising down the street like it was normal.”

Adversarial Adverts

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“Adverts (commercials). We generally don’t have medical or adversarial (mentioning competitors directly) adverts, at least in the UK.

My kids picked up on this when we went to the cinema, and there was a Samsung advert directly trashing Apple. They were like, “What the hell was THAT?”

Tax System 

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“I lived in America for a year when I was around 8, and foolish me didn’t understand the tax system.

I remember my mother giving me money to go to the store to get ice cream, and being confused/upset when the cashier told me my $3 was not enough despite its labeled price. 

I remember thinking how stupid the cashier must be that she couldn’t read the label properly.”

Toilets With Not Enough Privacy

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“Toilets with not enough privacy. What’s with the big gaps around the doors and the rest of the cubicle?” Said one. 

“As an American, even I’m incredibly bothered by this. Those things are designed for people to peep at you and possibly murder you!” Another added. 

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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.