These Are the Popular American Customs That Baffle Europeans

Some American customs absolutely baffle Europeans. Visiting the U.S., Europeans learn just how different American customs are from their own. While Americans don’t think twice about these customs ingrained in their everyday lives, Europeans notice them immediately. Keep reading to find out which American customs boggle Europeans’ minds.

Ice cubes

glass of cola with ice cubes and a straw
Beverages without ice are normal in Europe. | iStock/Getty Images

Imagine eating at a restaurant, and the waiter delivers a drink with no ice to your table. In this situation, the majority of Americans would ask to for ice. For Europeans, a beverage without ice is the norm. Visiting the U.S. and being given a cup filled three quarters of the way with ice is baffling.

Hint: If Americans forego this custom, they’re hated.


Man leaving tip on table at cafe
Customers aren’t required to tip at European restaurants. | Jupiterimages/iStock/Getty Images

Tipping is unique in America. Compared to Europeans, Americans tip for nearly everything. Americans tip servers, valet parking attendants, and more. In the majority of European restaurants, customers aren’t required to tip. In fact, tipping at a restaurant is a dead giveaway of an American tourist.

Hint: This type of money baffles Europeans.

Carrying no cash

banking and people concept
Europeans usually need cash to buy certain items. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

America is practically a cashless society. People can go days without using cash to buy anything. Europeans, on the other hand, carry cash. And they need cash to buy certain items. In America, being required to pay cash-only is rare.

Hint: This home decor item weirds Europeans out.

Flags everywhere

Smiling people waving American flags and looking up in crowd
Europeans think that level of patriotism is “weird.” | Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Flying the American flag — or any flag — is strange to Europeans. Visitors describe the country as, “having a ridiculous amount of flags,” according to Thought Catalog. “The flags and general patriotism was really weird,” another person said.

Hint: Seeing this number confuses Europeans.

Price tags without tax included

Woman girl removing cutting label
Europeans know the full price of an item before they head to the register. |

One of the weirdest customs is “tax not included in price in shops,” a European living in the U.S., said. Tax isn’t added to the cost of an item in a shop, whereas in Europe, tax is included in the price. Imagine having the price on the item be the price the register rings up.

Hint: A casual saying in conversation, baffle Europeans.

‘Oh, really?’

Two friends talking at home
Europeans might take this as a challenge to what they’re saying. | AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

An American wouldn’t think twice about using the phrase, “Oh, really?’ in conversation. To Americans, the phrase conveys interest and invites the speaker to say more. However, Europeans interpret the phrase differently. In a conversation, an American describes how a European reacted. “He took that as a person challenging his opinion,” the American told Thought Catalog. “The guy was red in the face after an hour because he literally thought everyone in our group was challenging every single thing he said.”

Hint: Americans have trouble taking time off.

Not taking vacation days

Sunset at Sunrise Beach in Ft.Lauderdale with palm trees and beach entry feature.
Europeans know how to relax. | ddmitr/iStock/Getty Images

Not taking a vacation baffles Europeans, according to Business Insider. Europeans aren’t hesitant about taking time off work to relax. However, many Americans don’t use their vacation days.

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Read more: These Are the Surprisingly Illegal Things You Should Never Do in Europe