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11 Europeans Norms That Americans Can’t Even Start to Comprehend

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Although America and Europe share similarities as developed regions, distinctions in habits and culture persist. What may appear ordinary to some Europeans might be deemed outrageous or perplexing by many Americans, often without their awareness of the divergence.

An online conversation starter asked Americans what things Europeans do that they find weird. The answers will have you chuckling.

1. Hamburger Flavored Cheetos

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Cheetos is an American snack developed in Texas decades ago. You’d expect then that America determines what flavors Cheetos come in. Europe seemed to have added another flavor to the list.

One American says, “You guys have hamburger-flavored Cheetos in your “American Food” isle? Homie, we don’t even have those.”

2. Football is a Religion

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Europe is serious about its football; that’s an undebatable fact. This fanatic devotion to a game is hard to understand for some people who aren’t Europeans.

An Australian comments, “Here in Australia our local paper used to feature football under the heading “Religion”.”

An online user says, “Two Germans will go into an office and shut the door as though they’re talking about something important. Nope, just soccer.”

Someone adds a quote to show how serious football is in Europe, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

3. How To Queue Properly

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Most Americans know the proper way to queue—by not breathing down the neck of the person ahead of you. This is not the case in some European countries, such as Germany.

One online user says, “I lived in Germany 3 years, I loved everything about it, except one thing; personal space doesn’t exist in lines. I’d be standing in line at a store, and the next person behind me is breathing down my neck.”

4. Augusts Are Off

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August is a slow month in many European countries as many people tend to take their vacations at that time due to the excellent weather.

A baffled conversation contributor says, “I do find it a bit odd that everyone sort of agrees nothing happens in August. Like, for a whole month, you better not need anything done – even doctors seem scarce.”

5. Public Toilets Aren’t Free

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When nature calls, you typically have no choice but to answer. If you happen to find yourself in a public place when you need a bathroom break in Europe, be ready to pay for this essential service.

An online conversation contributor says their baffling European standards is how they make people pay to use public toilets.

Someone added, “I’m European, and I can’t understand that as well.”

6. Open Borders

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Europe’s open borders and the ease with which one can move from one neighboring country to the other stuns most Americans.

A commenter says, “I’m going to Europe on my honeymoon, and it’s been crazy to me how other countries just have open borders. I’m taking the ICE from Germany to France and there’s no border checks? It’s really fascinating to me.”

Someone adds, “When I was in the navy, in Germany, some of my comrades fell asleep on the train home and woke up in Switzerland. They then got themselves a beer and rode the train back.”

7. A Little More Smoking

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Most Americans who have been to Europe admit that smoking culture is more rampant in Europe than in America.

They share, “Europeans seem to smoke a lot more than Americans, and, unlike us, at face value, there don’t seem to be discrepancies based on class or anything; everyone smokes.”

Maybe not everyone, but we get the picture.

8. Multilingualism

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The majority of Europeans are multilingual, whereas the majority of Americans primarily speak English.

A European on an online forum says, “We kinda have no choice (at least in my country), when you enter the second grade of middle school (age around 7 yo), you just get English as a subject. It’s mandatory, there is nothing you can do about it. And I am honestly glad, because English really opened [the] world to me, can’t even imagine to speak one maternal language, especially since our countries are so small.”

9. No Iced Water

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Ice cubes in most drinks are a norm in the USA, but in Europe, they rarely will be offered with ice cubes.

One user says, “When I went to France in the middle of July, I was dying of heat one day, and I’ll never forget we [went] into a fancy restaurant, and I [asked] for ice in my water and the waiter told me “we don’t do that here.””

10. Twin Beds For a King Bed

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Most hotels in most parts of Europe combine two twin beds in a hotel room to make a king-size bed.

Someone explains, “The reason is that if whoever booked the room doesn’t want 1 big bed, they just move them apart (the nightstands usually move as well), and you have 2 beds.”

If you want them together, watch out for the annoying crack in the middle.

11. Long Vacation Time and Parental Leave

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The corporate world in America is known for not offering leave days, even for new mothers.

One online contributor says, “When I worked at a large UK insurance company, and my kid was born (I’m a dad), I got 6 months off on full pay to bond with my kid. I continued collecting my 6 weeks a year paid holiday in that time too.”

Someone adds, “Dialing in from Ireland: we have both. Actually, we have maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, and parents leave.”


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