40 Things Only Americans Think Are Normal

The United States has plenty of pros and cons, just like any other country. However, you can’t deny America tends to have more of each and some of them are turned all the way up to 11 on the weirdness scale. Like having the police patrol your school, writing the date in a weird way (let’s not even talk about the Imperial measurement system), and having full-on smear ads against political opponents.

Welcome to the Wonderland that is the USA. And what better way to learn about the bizarre things that Americans think are completely normal than by asking non-Americans for their opinions? That’s exactly what one Reddit user (who told We that they wish to remain anonymous because of all the attention they’re getting) did in a viral thread that got more than 50.9k upvotes and over a whopping 38.9k comments. Scroll down, have a read, check out our in-depth interview with the original poster, and upvote the weird things that happen in the US that left an impact on you, dear Pandas.

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#1

Bankruptcy because you went to the hospital

canesfan09 , David Syzdek Report

Final score: 260points Scagsy Scagsy Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

So sad in the modern world.

101 101points reply View More Replies… #2

Talking about their freedom as if they’re the only country in the world who has it…

zohan360 , Denise Krebs Report

Final score: 259points mph seti mph seti Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

We have to convince ourselves we’re better constantly, because deep down, we know we aren’t.

139 139points reply View More Replies…

danno49 , miramax Report

Final score: 255points Oathbraker Oathbraker Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

This one always confused me. European movies from the ’70s and ’80s are full of nudity and it never bothered me.

4 4points reply

The redditor who posted the thread in the first place told us that they usually don’t hang out in the crowded default subreddits. “Either the thread gets too big for a conversation or it goes unnoticed in a sea of similar topics. In hindsight, it’s not strange it got so much attention, Reddit is very diverse but a US-centric view is still dominant, and everyone wants to weigh in. Lots of people just wanted to vent, some had a strong political opinion, and some just wanted to ridicule the US.”

According to the Reddit user, they made the thread “on a whim” after they saw a comment by a redditor who was surprised to learn that not everyone has police officers at school.

“I did hope that starting this topic would end up in a couple of people sharing that kind of information among each other, because the US is going through some [crap], and it helps your morale to know that alternatives do exist.”

They continued: “Some people took it as a competition of which country is better, but it was intended without any kind of nationalist feelings, more with an idea of people defining things among themselves vs. how things are shown to be in schools and TV shows, in and outside the US.”

#4

When you are 18 years old, you can be shipped to a foreign country to kill humans, but you are not allowed to drink alcohol.

K_51 , Fort Rucker Report

Final score: 244points TheSame TheSame Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

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Here’s the thing: if not for the United States, those who think it’s ok to bash it wouldn’t be alive. The United States has prevented more than one nation from falling into the hands of trash like Hitler.

-36 -36points reply View More Replies… #5

Ambulance rides costing money seems pretty absurd to people from other countries

Meemesfourdayz , Paul Townley Report

Final score: 233points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

It is not absurd that is costs money; considering to call an ambulance because of the costs is. (Of course it involves costs to move an ambulance, but pretty nuch everywhere else this routinely is covered by insurance).

1 1point reply View More Replies… #6

Paying people less than minimum wage. How is it a minimum if it’s legal to pay less than that?

NZLion , 401(K) 2012 Report

Final score: 207points Jo Choto Jo Choto Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

The US always has exemptions to such laws, and the whole service industry thrives on it.

57 57points reply View More Replies…

One thing that the redditor did expect to see in the thread but was surprised to hear so many voices speaking against it was the “circumcision of infant males for non-medical, non-religious reasons but rather as a default procedure.” The redditor added: “Parents who decide against circumcising their newborn child but don’t know how it works and what to teach their kid: there’s a WikiHow!”

The thread shone a light on a lot of problems in the United States and suggested that these things need to change. “The things that got repeated most in the thread were division of ethnic groups, gun culture, military drafting and continuous warfare, cop culture, nutrition issues, corporate lobbying… and wearing shoes in the house,” the OP explained.

#7

Wondering if you’re sick enough to call that ambulance or if you should just risk ubering it.

Medical bankruptcy after you’re charged $200,000 for a week long hospital stay and now you’re homeless.

Being mentally ill and getting hospitalized by others for your own safety, but then getting a massive bill for it that you cant pay (which will totally help the suicidality right?)

Choosing between food and medicine.

Deciding that it’s less expensive to just go into palliative care and die instead of fighting a disease like cancer.

As you can see I really hate the american medical care system.

greffedufois , Tomás Del Coro Report

Final score: 203points Luisa Vasconcelos Luisa Vasconcelos Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Yes, i would hate it too.

60 60points reply #8

Turning scientific information into a political discussion.

everythihghurts , U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh Report

Final score: 202points Monday Monday Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

This might be an issue globally though. People in my small town in South Africa love to turn scientific information into a religious discussion.

6 6points reply View More Replies… #9

Archaic, unhelpful standard units of measurement.

JSanzi , franchise opportunities Report

Final score: 184points Scagsy Scagsy Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

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Metres?

-6 -6points reply View More Replies…

“It’s not as if all those comments came from non-US redditors, a lot of the criticism was from US citizens with genuine concern and investment in their future and their surroundings. Combine that with getting active and finding each other, just as widespread protests are helping to create a framework of solidarity, I think change is already happening if you just keep at it,” they said.

“I saw a lot of people from outside the US who feel racism or racist police brutality are a typical US thing. It sure looks like there’s a structural issue, but please don’t use the US as a way to shift blame because ‘they’re worse,’ to get out of examining the same structural issues in your own locality,” the redditor added.

#10

Putting a ton of sugar in products like bread.

TheThingsWeMake , Doug Waldron Report

Final score: 183points Rama Llama Rama Llama Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Is this why peanutbutter&jelly sandwiches are a thing? I have always wondered why people would put sweet stuff on a bread, but maybe if it is more like a pastry.

3 3points reply View More Replies… #11

Gun ownership.

only7inches , Paul Sableman Report

Final score: 176points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Gun ownership is possible in most countries. Owning almost military grade weapons, massive amounts of ammunition and having hardly any regulations is not normal.

13 13points reply View More Replies… #12

Having only two parties: Republicans and Democrats. I know there are some smaller parties, but the system is stacked against them.

level 1 K_51 , Pom’ Report

Final score: 169points Foxxy (The Original) Foxxy (The Original) Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

We have the same, the two major parties are liberal or labour the rest are small parties that are unlikely to hold much power.

5 5points reply View More Replies…

While the US thinks a lot of weird things are normal, the one that isn’t giving us any peace and quiet is that Americans write the date as mm/dd/yyyy. So, why exactly do Americans write the date by putting the month before the day?

Of course, it seems completely logical to somebody who’s grown up with this system and uses it every single day of their lives. Nothing could be more natural, in their opinion. But from an outsider’s perspective, it looks downright weird and illogical. And the US is the only country in the world that does things this way.

There are several theories about this. One of them is that in certain cases, it’s more convenient to know the month first rather than the day. For instance, when somebody asks you when your birthday is, it’s more useful to know the month first to get your bearings right before zoning in on the exact day.

#13

Not putting the final price on the tag. I’m not sure whether it’s still like this, but a few years ago one never knew whether the $1.00 item in McDonald’s or Burger King is actually $1.00 or maybe $1.08.

TitanicBeta , JJBers Report

Final score: 163points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

It is absolutely ridiculous that not the final price tag is put on products. The European Union now rules that any taxes and mandatory fees need to be put up front. Thing like flight ticket = 30 EUR but then having to pay mandatorily for seating are ruled illegal. The opposite in the US. I have literally seen: hotel room: 200 USD/night. + mandatory resort fee, 30 USD, + mandatory service fee, 40 USD, + mandatory gratuity, 12,5% + local tax 4,1% + state tax 3,7% (number from my head). Thus, this really is a ~325 USD hotel room. No comparison possible.

99 99points reply View More Replies… #14

Date Order (MM/DD/YYYY)

-Sinister-Shadow , InvestmentTotal.com Report

Final score: 159points mph seti mph seti Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Like not using the metric system, this is just dumb.

7 7points reply #15

Portion sizes.

pourmewhineoh , Jerry Huddleston Report

Final score: 151points mph seti mph seti Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Considering how expensive eating out is, this one I don’t mind.

1 1point reply View More Replies…

Another theory is that American colonists inherited the monthly date format from the British Empire. In time, the British moved over to the European style where you put the day first, then the month, then the year. While Americans stuck with the old-school format.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the International Organization for Standardization claims that putting the year first, then the month, then the day is the internationally accepted way to represent the date. To make things even more confusing, the US military uses the dd/mm/yyyy format for correspondence but it switches to the mm/dd/yyyy format when corresponding with civilians. Does that sound like a lot of info to take in? You bet! And that’s just one of the weird things that Americans think are normal.

#16

The plot of Breaking Bad being about a science teacher getting cancer and worrying about leaving his family with massive medical debt when he dies.

FeFiFoShizzle , imbd Report

Final score: 150points mph seti mph seti Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Sadly, this is the reality of “healthcare” in the US. (Unless you’re a millionaire.) Like most problems in the US, it stems from the fact that our politicians do what’s best for the wealthy, not the majority…And a sizable chunk of the citizenry are dumb enough to vote for them anyway.

4 4points reply #17

My maternity leave was an unpaid 6 weeks, and I had to fight them on not shorting me because I went past my due date and didn’t keep working until the day I went into labor.

robot_cupcak3 , sergio santos Report

Final score: 146points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

This is just outrageous. A country who does not support parents does not intend to support its own future.

8 8points reply #18

American flags everywhere. I traveled throughout Europe and the Caribbean and I usually only saw their flag on government builds and here and there. Where as here in the USA the flag is like Franks Red Hot. We put that s**t on everything. Magnets, churches, cars, condoms, every front porch, and street lamp. #murica

Gaby , Gaby Report

Final score: 145points MikeyG MikeyG Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

It does surprise me that the USA can be so proud of their flag and history, when their history is actually quite shameful and very short. A country less than 250 years old that seems to just ignore the native american history before that just astounds me.

159 159points reply View More Replies… #19

Doing the pledge of allegiance in the morning at school

flavener , John Beagle Report

Final score: 144points Carlos Ferreira Carlos Ferreira Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Brainwashing

186 186points reply View More Replies… #20

Identifying as your heritage instead of your nationality. Americans will say that they’re Italian, German, polish, etc. when they don’t speak the language and have no real connection to those countries anymore.

In other parts of the world people just identify with the country they were born in or have lived in for a significant amount of time regardless of their ancestry.

bluegreentree , IrishFireside Report

Final score: 142points Jo Choto Jo Choto Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Yeah, Americans love telling everyone what nationality they think they are, and then when they hear about foreigners, they tell them to go the hell back where they came from. Go figure.

123 123points reply View More Replies… #21

Had some American colleagues in Norway asking us how we celebrate 4th July

kevkippers , m01229 Report

Final score: 140points Richard Brown Richard Brown Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Happens a lot. America seems to think the world is separated into 2 parts. America and Not America, yet.

88 88points reply View More Replies… #22

Big glasses of water WITH ICE at restaurants. I live in Texas usually and I drink ice water like 24/7. It’s a good habit here, especially in Summer. When I was in Europe I would get the smallest glasses of luke warm water that I had to ask for more every ten seconds. I felt annoying! Aren’t y’all thirsty?! Or am I missing something?

bunnysnitch Report

Final score: 132points HelgaMaria Gehrmann HelgaMaria Gehrmann Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Yes, we are just as thirsty as everyone else;) But why should ice-cold water (especially) help against thirst? I have never understood (so do many people) why there are tons of ice in every drink. Especially when it is hot, it is totally counterproductive to drink such ice-cold drinks. It is much healthier and more effective against thirst to drink only slightly chilled drinks (directly from the fridge or 1/2 ice cubes max. 😉 However, lukewarm water is rather unusual in restaurants … unfortunately bad luck

62 62points reply View More Replies… #23

Toilet cubicles, where people not only can peek, but an adult person could crawl into your cubicle, there is so much space under the “door”.

TitanicBeta , Michael Coghlan Report

Final score: 130points

ThreeOfAKind ThreeOfAKind Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

And huge gaps between the door and the cubicle wall!

3 3points reply #24

Willingly putting yourself massively in debt for a college degree.

I come from a place with free university education (which has its own drawbacks of course), and the fact that you can make such a huge, life-altering decision at 17 is considered normal over there, that seems downright bizarre to me.

I_hate_traveling , barnyz Report

Final score: 127points Scagsy Scagsy Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

UK has that also thanks to two-faced Nick Clegg

-1 -1point reply View More Replies… #25

The enabling customer service culture.

It’s created excessive portions in restaurants, created Karen, gives way to a disposable attitude towards products, and generally gives a sense of entitlement where most people start adding it to their list of rights.

srocan , UPC Media Relations Report

Final score: 127points Troux Troux Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago (edited)

Yes I always felt this was a weird business model.

35 35points reply #26

When I was there during the last election I was shocked at how phrases like ‘well they have the black vote’ or the ‘Latino vote’ came up all the time on the radio. Obviously it’s not racist but it’s just something that would never come up in my country. Like, why would latino people all vote for the same person?

Adam-West , kgroovy Report

Final score: 126points Pamela24 Pamela24 Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Not all but when you have an openly racist candidate (not trying to point fingers…Trump…) it makes sense that majority of POC would avoid voting for that person.

50 50points reply View More Replies… #27

Actively avoiding healthcare visits/checkups because if there’s something wrong and you don’t have the money to pay for treatment, then you’d rather just not know

KingAceNumber1 , Yuya Tamai Report

Final score: 126points WilvanderHeijden WilvanderHeijden Community Member • points posts comments upvotes 8 months ago

And that’s insane. The sooner you start treatment on an illness the less it costs to cure. Seems that the basic rule of any maintenance schedule for machines is impossible to apply on humans in the US. That’s what you get when your health care system is for profit instead of for everyone.

8 8points reply #28

This one is more on the positive side, because I think we could learn some from it.

Talking and sharing your life with complete strangers. I have met quite a few americans so it seems the norm that you share and engage with strangers in public. The bus, train, parks etc. And then you go on your way.

In Denmark you’d be a “freak” if you did that.

WuuutWuuut , Ben Grey Report

Final score: 118points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

It indeed is much easier to make small talk in the US. Compare that to Skandinavia, where social distancing is the norm, not a corona reaction…

2 2points reply View More Replies… #29

Asking everyone “what do you do?” when you first meet them. I live outside the US and realized there are some people I’ve known for years and I still don’t know their job. I think in the US jobs are a bigger part of a person’s identity than in some other places.

Ssffxx , Loren Kerns Report

Final score: 118points Jo Choto Jo Choto Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Yeah, what job you have, implying what kind of salary you make, and people really care what kind of car you drive as well.

32 32points reply View More Replies… #30

The one that always shocks me (I’ve an L1B so I spent quite a bit of time in the last couple of years living & working in the USA – although back home in U.K. right now) is the whole ‘thank you for your service’ military thing. The military is treated like some sort of god level being. It first struck me at Seaworld when they would make all service personnel stand up. In the U.K. the military guys (a) wouldn’t do it and (b) would be embarassed. In most cases they would be actively told not to do it so they don’t get identified – the fear the IRA stoked still runs deep in the processes in the military of the U.K.

bantamw Report

Final score: 117points TheSame TheSame Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

What’s wrong with showing appreciation for our military?? They defend this nation AND on a voluntary basis.

-14 -14points reply View More Replies… #31

Side effects on medication adverts.

Friggin hilarious to us Brits.

With James’ Hayfever meds, I can get through the day with ease!

Side effects may include:

Loss of sight

Loss of hearing

Loss of sense of smell

Coma

Headaches

Fever

Vomiting

Diarrhoea

Loss of consciousness

and death.

level 1 typicalcitrus , Jonathan Rolande Report

Final score: 116points Oathbraker Oathbraker Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

My favourite is when they put both diarrhea and constipation as side effects. Like if you already have one- you’ll definitely get the other.

2 2points reply View More Replies… #32

American Corporations have convinced us our work culture is totally normal.

Nesyaj0 , Jesús Corrius Report

Final score: 116points Ami Temi Ami Temi Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

The sad thing is, working more and having no employee rights, doesn’t mean you have more money on the long run or that there’s more productivity. Countries like Germany and Belgium have a very high productivity, but in less work hours and with better conditions. People have more time for their families, have days off and don’t need to fear for their job or their lives when they’re sick because of a social security system that works. I think the USA is a bit like Japan: they too, work an insane amount of hours, but one doesn’t get more done in those hours. A Dutch woman wrote a book about that system and how it gives you a burn-out, for example. We certainly work just as hard as Americans, but the system is smarter and fairer. It’s like with education, we pay less, but our Masters are equally as good as your American ones.

75 75points reply View More Replies… #33

Attack ads against political opponents, ads for law firms or lawyers. These kinds of ads are illegal and considered unethical in our country. Also expecting a teenager to be out of the house by the time they’re 18. I live in Southeast Asia. There’s no stigma about living with one’s parents. Most of the time, there will be three generations living in one house.

HollowMist11 Report

Final score: 113points chi-wei shen chi-wei shen Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

I am the youngest of 5 sons and it was expected that I stay at home in order to take over and care for my parents in the future.

27 27points reply View More Replies… #34

not owning kettles and MICROWAVING their water for coffee/tea

gibbylewd , Chris Lawrence Report

Final score: 110points Foxxy (The Original) Foxxy (The Original) Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Really? Do Americans not use electric Kettles?

51 51points reply View More Replies… #35

Non-necessary, non-religious circumcision.

GoodLordChokeAnABomb Report

Final score: 102points chi-wei shen chi-wei shen Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

In my humble opinion that’s genital mutilation.

114 114points reply View More Replies… #36

Having second mortgages on a house. Taking massive loans they can’t possibly pay off and buying stuff with it that decreases in value over time such as cars.

realultralord Report

Final score: 99points

Tamas Kerekes Tamas Kerekes Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

And we are pay for it … Lehman brothers

0 0points reply #37

Shoes inside

SpohieAuz , Architectural Digest Report

Final score: 96points Foxxy (The Original) Foxxy (The Original) Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

I personally don’t know many people that take their shoes off inside. Pretty normal to me.

2 2points reply View More Replies… #38

Extra large bottomless cups for cola or soft drinks…. you could bathe in those….

SlyDigits Report

Final score: 91points Ami Temi Ami Temi Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Their poor teeth.

22 22points reply View More Replies… #39

being able to vote before reaching the legal drinking age

level 1 dingdongimprblywrong , hjl Report

Final score: 89points Hans Hans Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

Having a voting system where you can become president without getting the majority of votes.

143 143points reply View More Replies… #40

A flag in every corner of a classroom, and Americans being very patriotic to the stars and stripes. Other countries barely give a poop about their flags

Legendary-Lynx Report

Final score: 86points Foxxy (The Original) Foxxy (The Original) Community Member • points posts comments upvotes FollowUnfollow 8 months ago

The only time people really cares about the flag in Aus is on Australia Day.

7 7points reply View More Replies…

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