Different cultures. We know the differences between, let’s say, living in New York and Hawaii, or Florida and Maine. But that’s nothing in comparison to the cultural changes you see when you’re in another country.
Savvy travelers make an effort to learn the cultural norms of the countries they’re going to visit (here are some examples you may not have known), so they don’t look like jerks, or, even worst, insult someone. Self-focused travelers who don’t care about cultural norms and/or what other people think of them, well, they do what they’re gonna do.
However even if you are the most respectful person on earth, some things are going to be so different from what you’re used to that you can’t help but be taken a little bit aback. Seeing horse on the menu in Japan was one of those eye-opening moments for me. I didn’t say anything out loud. I certainly didn’t order it. But in my head? “HOLY CRAP!”
It’s the same thing when non-Americans come to the United States. We’re one big, dysfunctional family here, and different from everywhere else. So when someone on Reddit asked, “Europeans, who’ve visited the U.S., what made you go ‘WTF?'” there really shouldn’t be any surprise that he got over 33,000 replies ;-). Here are some of the best of them (edited only for adult language):
— Being carded to get on a bar when I was 29 years old. I’d been drinking in pubs in England for 13 years without having to show ID. (Jagermeister_UK)
— Why do you advertise food by shouting about what ISN’T contained? (the-big1)
— Everyone wanted me to have a great day. (iamsoveryverytired)
— Free water in any restaurant. FREEEE! I am from Italy and here it costs about 1,5€/lt in almost every restaurant. (zerd_opk)
— How few and short vacations American’s get (meta_uprising)
— The political ads on TV that do not promote but instead demonize candidates! “So and so is a devil from hell that will eat your newborn for breakfast if you vote for them! Don’t do it if you love America!” Scary music and black and white footage included. Weird, very weird. (MagsClouds)
— Free refills my friend. Free refills. (Yuval8356)
— First time I saw a “fund your IRA now” sign. I am from Northern Ireland. (PaddyIslan)
— Sharps bins in Disney toilets. I had a real WTF moment but was also kind of humbled by what I thought was an unexpected and generous display of acceptance and concern for heroin addiction. I think I vaguely assumed Disney had somehow figured it out to be ok around children but I just couldn’t work out how or why. Anyway it took about an hour for me to realise it was for diabetics (WeeWeeDance)
— How little some Americans know about the rest of the world. (McMayhem27)
— Kids on leashes! (hangermey)
— The cheerful, smiling faces on a medication TV add while the voice over mentioned that death is a possible side effect.! (Idilthil)
— I own a restaurant and could never be in that business if I had to do it the way Americans do. “The customer is always right” in my country means that even though a request seems unreasonable or means extra effort for you, you do your best to make it happen because you want the guest to be happy and have a memorable experience. If they complain about something you, within reason, try your best to make it right and don’t argue or get offended.
However, it seemed to me that in the US that means “the customer can treat the hard working staff like shit and gets rewarded for it”. Also the compensation is absolutely ridiculous.
You bought something and accidentally broke it the minute you got home? Here, have your money back and a brand new item. You didn’t like the food even though you ate all of it? No check for you sir, have some free desert as well.
In my country “not liking something” is a you problem. Better luck next time. You don’t get to pick something else just because you picked wrong (of course I do sometimes make an exception). And if you treat my staff like crap, you’re out of my business FAST. I was shocked by the amount of people I witnessed being rude or short with wait staff or casiers. Who are, btw, super friendly, cheerful and welcoming 99,9% of the time. (anonymous)
— Perfect strangers asking me how I am doing. (FakeRealist)
— That Chick-fil-A’s mascot is a cow. (TropicalSlim)
— Prices without taxes… Why? It’s just inconvenient and I always feel cheated. It says $4,99 I take out my wallet, grab a $5 note, just to take out my wallet again once I’m told what it actually costs. I can never pay with coins, because I don’t want to spend an eternity counting them while everyone is waiting. If I knew what it will cost, I could count that out while standing in line. (lemmingachat)
— Seeing people not wearing crash helmets while riding motorbikes. (Jonsmith78)
— I was visiting the US when I had a bought of colitis and was rushed to the ER. They put me in a robe, doctors told me to take ibuprofen, then sent me home to sleep it off. They charged me $998. (Nosymnonymforsynonym)
— The tennis ball sized scoop of ice cream on top of my stack of pancakes that turned out to be butter… (JMWicks13)
— Being able to freely speak without being jailed (UCFfl)
— The fact that you still use cheques. Not to mention how you spell the word. (IgnatiusJReilly2601)
— flags everywhere. Not just people’s homes but in front of everything, I even saw a US flag in front of a supermarket. wtf. I could never imagine a union jack in front of tesco. (EnoughMaintenance)
— The weirdest combination of food I’ve ever seen. Chicken and waffles. (sprinkledcheese)
— Seeing that yellow school buses was really a thing (inckorrect)
— Movies set in New York prepare you for everything except the smell of s**t and p**s. (carbonar0)
— SO MUCH SUGAR. EVERYWHERE. EVEN IN BREAD. SO MUCH! (anonymous)
— The almost fetishised adoration of the military.
I grew up in the home of the British Army, and my grandfather was a Company Sergeant Major during WWII, so I’m very familiar with the UK military. Even today I drive through MoD property every day just to get to local shops and towns.
Nothing prepared me for seeing random strangers walking up to service personnel in uniform and thanking them for their service, or for having a stadium announcer ask all former and current members of the military to stand and be applauded by the crowd. (UKSterling)
— Resort fees in hotels. (anonymous)
— Got a peanut milkshake at a truck stop , the label said WARNING MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS. Chuckled and went Well I hope so! (weas95)
— Feet, gallons, FRIGGING FAHRENHEIT DEGREES, how can you live with these f**ed units? (skylockvanpelt)
— Seeing an 80 year old woman working behind the register at a supermarket (Dominusatrox)
— I thought Ireland was religious, but Americans take it to a whole different level. Jesus billboards, people talking about jesus and god openly all the time, distrust of non christians (ytrkerrykerry)
— The media, even local news media it all felt so one sided or bias! I live in a country where it’s illegal to have more voices favouring one side vs the other, there must be equal representation! Hearing how bias and how just absolutely fake people were was really scary (Broombridge_1)
— Portion sizes. You guys seriously serve three meals in one (HallaienHelge)
— air conditioning that is FREEZING. I realised early on that I had to carry an extra layer of clothing around because I was getting so cold whenever I went inside.
the amount of ice in drinks. You just end up with brain freeze and a gross watered down soft drink
how loud people are (sorry).
buying in crazy bulk amounts. I don’t care that I can buy multiple items for the same price as one, I only want one!
how insane people are about politics. I was in washington DC around the time Obama was reelected. I made the mistake of saying that I liked Obama and thought he was a great public speaker. I was over at a conference trying to get new clients. Safe to say the very Republican people who heard me did not want to work with me. (hippoopo)
— Turning right on a red light. (viperbsg62)
— Bud light with clamato. Ten years later I’m still trying to forget the taste of fishy beer. (witterquick)
— Toilet water is unnecessarily high. I want to take a dump not wash the fellas. Also, whilst in the theme of bathrooms, why do public American bathroom/toilet stalls/cubicles have a gap around the door and a 2 foot gap from the floor to the door. You can clearly see into the cubicle. So weird. (Browncoatdan)
— Dutchie here. I have some friends in the US. When I visited them last summer, I asked for a cup of tea. My friend filled a mug with water and heated it in the microwave. Big wtf moment for me (Kolnot)
— Generally the access that the media has, to mugshots, court rooms, court documents and evidence, names of people involved, easiness to interview police, lawyers, etc. It’s very normal there but in Europe all this stuff is usually very strictly controled and kept confidential. (anonymous)
— Garbage disposals (D4RKD3M0NS)
— I ate a blue slurpee ice-drink thing in a theme park and three hours later, I kid you not, I did a VIBRANTLY BLUE S**T. No food in Europe has ever contained an ingredient that made my s**t come out blue. That made me go-go “WTF” – I was WTFing so hard that eleven years later I still remember that blue s**t. Thanks America! Fond memories… (SubjectsNotObjects)
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