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20 Things That Common In Europe But Americans Find Very Exotic

One of the most amazing aspects of traveling is discovering that life does not have to be the way you grew up believing it to be. You can think on and reevaluate your own customs by being exposed to various ones.

So, in order to see which European ‘learning’ had the most impact on Americans, Reddit user AppleberryJames questioned them about the biggest culture shocks they experienced on the Old Continent. Here are the answers to questions about tourist scams and hike-in eateries.

#1

Was in Sweden a few years back when a kid in my charge broke his collarbone. Medics drove him to the hospital. Like two hours later, after X-rays, an exam, and getting set up in a fancy sling, he walked out of the hospital. Total cost: $0.

#2

The colorful, cartoonish gravestones in north western Romania that depict how the person [passed away]

#3

Drinking a beer and noticed that the brewery was established in 1489, 3 years before “Columbus sailed the ocean blue”

#4

WTF in an awesome way are the stands and restaurants in Germany where you basically have to hike in. There’s no casual foot traffic and it’s not a simple drive. You are hiking and come to a beautiful view and there’s a little restaurant or stand where you can get wine or beer and wurst and fries or whatever. Then you sit and enjoy the view you hiked to while enjoying your delicious food and excellent beverage. It’s fantastic.

#5

In Paris I saw a gang(10+) of police officers patrolling on rollerblades.. I heard them before I saw them. vrrrrrrr vrrrr vrrrrr

#6

Not being harassed by police.

I did some dumb s**t on a scooter in Paris and instead of spending 20 minutes going through all the bull s**t and puffering cops usually do, he just wagged his french finger at me and message was recieved.

How it should be.

#7

People that work 32 hours a week get over 30 days paid off every year no matter who they work for or more.

#8

No gaps in the bathroom stalls. Felt like I was pooping in an exclusive club and it was nice not having to make eye contact with m**********r trying to go next.

#9

The sheer amount of scammers in tourist areas.

Like, American tourist areas have some, but it’s no where near egregious as Europe.

Even at the Vatican it’s unbearable. Fake petitions, friendship bracelets, guys wearing vests telling gullible visitors they bought the wrong tickets. It definitely put a damper the experience.

A positive WTF moment was realizing how awesome people generally were in Paris. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the rude Parsian cliche, but every interaction I had was genuinely pleasant. What I picked up fast was that people in France in general expect some form of respect. It’s amazing how a small amount of politeness can go a long way with strangers.

#10

I lived in Holland for five years. I could say something about the bikes or beer, but the only thing that stopped me in my tracks was a Sesame Street sign. It turns out Big Bird is *blue* in the Netherlands!

I mean I know they say he’s Pino, Big Bird’s cousin, but I’m not fooled. You know Big Bird just moved over there to seek an alternative lifestyle.

#11

I fell in love with Sweden. But every time I go and visit, I’m still shocked at how many people just lay out and tan. On the sidewalk. Next to this Fika shop. Next to a museum.

Literally, people lay out and tan ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE in this country.

I’d be walking through Gamla Stan or Djurgården, then BAM out of nowhere, I nearly trip over a lady trying to tan. åh! jag är väldigt ledsen!

#12

In Spain, you have to sorta wave and call for service, especially for the final check.

They will literally leave you at a table with empty glasses for hours unless you ask. They consider it rude to intrude. and it makes Americans feel pushy to ask or wave our hand for attention. It’s pretty easy to do if you watch the locals…a little wave, a smile and a nod, etc and they come right over.
But if felt intrusive on our part at first for sure.

#13

Studied in France and I was shocked to see the Cafés turn into bars at night.

They just switched out the menu and it went from selling hot cocoa to whiskey on the rocks!

#14

I’m from Norway, but moved to America.

My husband and I recently came back from a vacation visiting family in Norway. During the visit we went to a supermarket where you have to put a coin (roughly 1 dollar) into the shopping cart to loosen it from the rack. When your done you reattach the cart and your coin gets returned.

I had never thought twice about it but for him it was amazing.

#15

Not an American, but a Bulgarian.
My family had a relative from America who came back with his child who all luve has been in America.
(Somewhere in Detroit, but I am not sure where.)
When we were walking around the streets he had a look of shock on his face when he saw the papers with people pictures put on trees, bus stops, street lambs etc.
He thought they were wanted posters of criminals and was impress with how many crime we had.
I explained to him that those things are called nechrologs and are essentially posters of [passed away] people that family members put around to spread the news and pay respect to the death.
He was even more shocked after that.

#16

The absence of obese people was shocking.

#17

Constantly having to remember to carry around change to use the bathroom in Germany.

#18

Robust public transit systems (relative to the major city I live in in the US).

#19

Not really WTF, just amusement, but when I went to Prague, there were a number of chocolate shops that had large, chocolate penises prominently on display. I remember one that had melted white chocolate drizzled down from the tip.

#20

I wouldn’t say this was a “WTF” moment so much as just a bit funny and embarrassing on my part.

I was visiting a friend in the Netherlands. I had just gotten back from a year abroad in Asia, so I was not accustomed to anyone being able to speak English.

I went to purchase a train ticket in…. Amsterdam, I think, though it may have been Utrecht. At any rate, I approached the counter and asked, “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

The bemused counter clerk laughed and said, “Of course. Do you?”

I turned beet red. It’s very silly looking back on it.

Also, same trip, but in Brussels, I asked a local store clerk where to find a particular bar I was searching for. She gave remarkably detailed directions, and listed off many other recommendations for places. I was a little bit surprised at the level of detail, and I guess she noticed that because she laughed and said, “I like to drink. A LOT”

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