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Foreigners Explain Which Things Confuse Them Most About America

Foreigners Explain Which Things Confuse Them Most About America
Image by Ronile from Pixabay

America can be very confusing. I'm American, and even I don't know what the hell is going on. Health care, schooling, etiquette- none of it seems to make even a tiny bit of sense. We certainly do our own thing over here.

But if you think the US is whack, imagine how people from other countries see us. MrNoName_ishere asked:

Non-Americans of Reddit, what confuses you the most about America?

​Let’s begin with the bathrooms, shall we?

​Kid had it coming, tbh.

“Why is there space under THE BATHROOM STALLS???”


“I was at a wedding once and my friend was taking a sh*t and some small child tried to crawl through the space under the stall wall and my friend was so shocked he reflexively kicked the child's face.”


Good question.


“Why everybody when talking about income calculates how much a person makes in a year instead of monthly like we do in my country?”


“Just convention. It's how we're used to hearing about it. Also, different jobs pay differently. So I get a check every month, but I think my dad gets one every other week. Some people get them weekly, others on other schedules. Discussing it by year makes it pretty easy to divide up by your own pay periods.”


We all sound like news reporters, apparently.

“From England here. I grew up in a county called West Yorkshire, a semi-rural, semi-urban, working-class county which, along with the rest of Yorkshire, seems completely unique when compared to the other English counties. There is so much slang, grouped and contracted contractions (wouldn't - 'wunt', shouldn't - 'shunt') and the accent here isn't always understandable. Yorkshire slang, especially that spoken by the older generations, sounds and looks like a completely different language, even more so when spelt phonetically.

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to understand the majority of Americans. They speak with so much clarity, non-specific slang and the accent just helps. It reminds me of the news reporters.”


​America, explain!

“Why is one Kansas, and the other not Ar- Kansas?

Edit: also, why is Worcester pronouced [Whooster], not Wor-cester? I studied in MA and this still baffles me.”


“Arkansas comes from the Osage people. Kansas comes from the Kaw, or Kansa, people. They are unrelated words.

A Google search shows that the last S is Arkansas is silent, as it's a plural word, and French explorers/settlers dropped the S on a plural—la fille vs. les filles, pronounced "la fee" and "lay fee" respectively.”


​You know, the weird thing about growing up here is how normalized all of these weird things become.

​Nothing wrong with living with your parents.

Carey Mulligan Snl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy

“I don't know if this is just about America or most 1st world countries but why is living with your parents a bad thing or laughable.”


“In the US, it's seen as being a failure because you can't pay for your own housing.

I agree with you though, living with your parents isn't bad. I lived with my parents (mostly) until I was 24 and my parents housed my grandma for years, which I thought was sweet.

If you've got a good, supportive family, there should be no problem with helping each other.”


Sweden is much more sensible.

“How your blood/alcohol limit for what counts as drunk driving is so high. 4x as high as Sweden’s.”


“That's a bit of a simplification and it depends upon where you are. In my state of Washington, between .02 and .08 is 'officer's discretion' as to whether you're arrested for DUI.

Also, if you have a CDL (commercial license) the limit is .04 regardless of the vehicle you're driving.”


​It’s all about aesthetic here.

“It confuses me how come American-style homes are so tidy outside. I am always amazed when I use Google Streetview to "stroll" around some random road in the U.S. I wonder why and how the houses and backyards look so clean, with newly-mown bermuda grass and well-painted roofs and walls.

I can't help but compare this to my country (which is a developing one). I'm thinking what's wrong with our citizens such that when I use Streetview on our streets, they're usually filthy. "Ordinary" American-style homes can only be found in high-class villages and subdivisions here.”


Maybe all of these confusing things aren’t so bad.

So many life paths, so little time.

its always sunny in philadelphia job GIFGiphy

“As someone from India, the possibilities many Americans feel they have is both confusing to me and admirable. I'm 28 and I already feel the rest of my life is going to work on a rigid schedule. Most people here have very less risk taking ability."

"But I read of American stories like this guy's who worked as a masseur for a year, then as a swimming coach, then suddenly got into law school and become a lawyer. After hitting his 40s, he got interested in programming, so he became a programmer! Reading biographies of famous American businessmen brings out many such stories.”


​We get a bad rep sometimes, but we’re usually pretty chill.

“How nice and friendly most Americans are. I did a roadtrip all across United-States in 2011 with 3 friends. In any city we were visiting, the second we would unfold a map, 2-3 persons stopped and asked us if we needed help. In the end of the trip, we would fake unfolding the map to actually ask people for directions. It worked everytime.

Much love from Canada! Those news networks do not show how cool our southern neighbors are!”


​Leftovers aren’t really a thing in foreign restaurants.

“Why are the portion sizes so big??????”


“A lot of us take home leftovers from resturaunts. It's pretty rare to eat the whole meal at once. People generally complain less about having too much that too little.”



"The lack of electric kettles."


"Our electric outlets have lower voltage so it takes longer for the kettle to heat up than yours does, so the marginal benefit isn't as great. I have one though, just not as snappy as ones I've used overseas."


Space Chase

"Valet parking. Why would I want some stranger messing with my car? I can park my own car thank you very much."


"Since everyone here drives, finding parking in a dense area can be a massive pain in the a**, so people who can afford it will park valet because they can just drop it off at the curb right in front of where they're going. That said, I agree with you and never park valet, not just because I'm not rich but also because f**k you, stay out of my car!"


Socks Too?

tired maya rudolph GIF by The Academy AwardsGiphy

"Should I take off my shoes or not."


"Just ask. It’s 100% normal to simply say 'Do you want me to take my shoes off?'”


State by State

"Every state works so differently, they could've been different countries without needing a president. I have understood what you guys have been trying to teach me. But the laws are so different, the taxes are so different (but still confusing), the education system is more or less the same (mostly autonomous and free till high school). I mean states have most of the power."

"I live in India but here central government has most of the powers (which sucks) and the central government can make a state ruled by a different party look bad by misusing their powers, But that is hard to do in the US. I mean US is kinda good but confusing if you move between states."


From Canada...

"The news portrays Americans as a bunch of ignorant, gun-toting rednecks. But when I travel in the US, they are really nice, friendly and helpful. My car broke down while leaving the Mount Rushmore parking lot and I couldn't get it started again. I must have had 30 other people offer to help in any way possible."

"Either by letting me use their cell phones to call someone, or look under the hood for the trouble or offer me a ride. I was thankful to everyone. I came away with a good feeling about Americans and turned a bad problem into a not so bad problem. Thanks from a Canadian."


Age Matters

"You can get a gun licence at 18 but need to be 21 one to buy alcohol."


"You can also be drafted and die for your country at 18! But god forbid you have a drink."


Menu Options

"It's been a long time, but I remember thinking how weird the menu choices were in restaurants, especially in LA. Like the options were either super healthy or super unhealthy, you couldn't have a mid-range meal. One restaurant in particular, pretty much everything was deep fried unless you wanted a salad."



"Showing the most horrible violence is totally ok, but if someone accidentally show a nipple then everyone loses their g**damn minds. It's like people needs to be sheltered from seeing natural body parts for reasons nobody seems able to specify, and it's honestly confusing as f**k."


Real Kindness

Be Nice GIFGiphy

"How nice, friendly and welcoming the vast majority of Americans are. The 24/7 news portrait quite the opposite."


Working Life Away

"The work ethic. All the Americans I know are so successful and have made such good choices with their careers, and I guess maybe it's because there aren't the kind of safety nets in the US that I am privileged enough to have in Europe, but it exhausts me just thinking about it. I suppose I'm not confused, just kind of envious but also a bit sad because it seems stressful?"


So for all of y'all non-Americans reading this, wondering why our country is so weird--I couldn't tell you, because I don't know either.

Then again, there are plenty of UK things that I don't get. Like the fact that grilled cheeses don't exist there. It's very heartbreaking.

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Content Warning: Mental Health, Suicide, Domestic Violence

We all know that we technically can't make anyone else do anything, and we certainly can't "fix" other people. Other people will only change or do something if they choose to; the only person we can really control is ourselves.

But some people really love to try, often to hilarious and terrible results.

Already cringing, Redditor Dapper_Algae6280 asked:

"People who entered a relationship thinking 'I can fix them,' how did that go?"

Time for an Upgrade

"There is a weird thing that happens when you 'fix' someone. They tend to think if you liked them broken, then they deserve better than you now that they are better than they were."

- TheRealLifePotato

"As horrible as it sounds, to have a happy, emotionally healthy relationship you need two happy, emotionally healthy people. If you want to be in that sort of relationship, you need to fix yourself first."

- inactiveuser247

"This right here. After three sh*tty relationships in a row, I realized this is a me problem. I took a few years off from dating to reflect and really learn to see red flags and understand myself so I wouldn't make that mistake again."

- MikoSkyns

No More Spark

"My now ex had PTSD, depression, and a variety of other issues she claimed. After two and a half years of dating (being my first and only relationship), she became more social, less suicidal, and overall happier as a person."

"She decided to cheat on me with someone else due to 'lack of communication' and us 'no longer having a spark". The irony."

"For context, we were 17 at the time, in high school, and I worked full-time hours with initiatives to hang out, which were refused. Red flags everywhere."

- elteragxo

"Your situation is eerily similar to mine, what the f**k?"

"I met a girl with mental and emotional issues and decided to fix them through a healthy relationship. She recovered and found someone else because 'the spark was gone.'"

- Aimlessdrifter8778

Misery Loves Company

"Now we are both broken."

- Brave-Butterscotch76

"The same thing happened to my sister-in-law. She married a very negative and miserable guy while saying 'he will get better' or 'we’re working on it,' and now she’s a very negative and miserable person."

- Moreofyoulessofme

Getting to Watch a Partner Grow

"At first we were only f**king. I don't know if I ever thought I could fix her, but I did fall in love with this beautiful lady with severe anxiety, depression, and trust issues after being in a domestically violent relationship."

"We were f**k buddies for about six months and I got a glimpse of her issues but I still went ahead and asked her to be my girlfriend The heart wants what it wants."

"We dated for a year and a half (two years since meeting), and I actually got to see her at her worst a few times, but I was finally able to get her therapy with a great psychiatrist and treatment, this is when I asked her to move in with me. We've been living together for six years."

"Four years ago, she had the worst breakdown I've seen. She went full-on paranoid, wall-scratching nervous, she was even doubting me and my motives to be there. It was a very difficult week, and she left the house and went to her mom's house in the middle of the night."

"Eventually, her therapist was able to get a hold of her and get her back to her senses. Her doctor then suggested that I also should go to a counselor or at the very least we should do couples therapy so we had strong bases for our relationship and we did."

"I now look back and won't change her for anything in the world, she has grown so much, and she glows right now. I now see her smile and it's glorious. She's achieved a great position too and it's amazing just to see how much happier she looks."

- Spiritual-Narwhal666

Not a Match

"I fixed what I wanted to fix, but that still didn't make us right for each other. In the end, I think she's in a much happier place than she could have been, so I think it was worth the time invested."

"We were wrong for each other, but at least we both came out better positioned to receive the happiness that would come to us later."

- MrWeb20

In Their Nature

"A couple of months into the relationship, I fixed him."

"After some irritation, he stopped peeing on the carpet. Now, my cat still brings mice, but I guess, that's just his nature."

- mobileJay77

The Importance of Boundaries

"I don't know if I would say that I 'fixed' her (and I wasn’t trying to), but I definitely taught my last ex the importance of being able to set boundaries and to stop going out of her way to please people who consistently hurt her."

"Eventually this would lead to us breaking up, but I have no regrets. I have issues of my own that were wearing her down and she did what she had to. Same rules apply. We’re both better off because of it."

- TylerTexas10

Happily Ever After

"She fixed herself and I fixed myself with each other's support, and we are living happily ever after, it seems, with ongoing work on ourselves and our relationship."

- DonPronote

An Uncommon Ending

"I didn’t fix them. But I tried my hardest to be patient and supportive while they fixed themself. Sometimes I was better at support than other times. Sometimes they were better at fixing than other times."

"It ended up being worth the patience. Things have been great with us for years now. I know this isn’t the normal outcome though, and I feel incredibly lucky."

- I_Invented_Frysauce

A Little Help from Our Friends

"Usually I'm the one people try to fix.. I think the repeated attempts definitely helped me. Now my current partner gets to enjoy the previous hard work."

"...I think I just got tired of hurting the people who love me and fixed myself, though."

- addrien

All Their Idea

"You can't fix anyone. You can only fix yourself, but if you really want to try and fix someone, you have to make it seem like it's their idea."

- BuhrZap

A Helping Hand

"I don't think you can fix anyone. You can only help them fix themselves, which is very different."

"If someone is actively trying to fix themselves, and you can actually be the person to support them through it, then it can work, but it could also not work."

"I do think there should be a distinction between the two. I mean, trying to fix someone is a bad idea, but if you like someone and are willing to support them in their journey to fix themselves, it's probably not the worst idea in the world."

- brooksie1131

Lesson Learned

"It went so well that they managed to cure me of the desire to 'fix' anybody."

"I’ll toss you a life preserver if you’re trying to save yourself. But I’m not jumping in the water with anyone so they can drown me on their way out."

"People who need to hit rock bottom in order to better themselves will use you to soften their landing if you let them."

- GlobalPermit5428

Best Friends Forever

"It went well but it didn’t work out."

"So we kind of fixed each other we were both at very weird points in our lives and we only dated for about one and a half years. We didn’t need a romantic partner but we did need a friend in each other."

"We’re both in better places now and the best of friends. We both want each other to be part of our lives just not as lovers."

"All and all, I say we got the best outcomes in our lives."


So Worth the Investment

"He was an Uber driver with only a high school diploma."

"I married him anyways and bankrolled his education because he was fun as f**k to be around, was the smartest person I’ve ever met, and loves me like I’m the only woman on Earth."

"Now, he’s a computer engineer and we are landlords together and have bought investment properties. We are very happy together."

"Partners work together to create success. I think selfish people ask, 'what’s in it for me?' Marriage is about selflessness."

"I’m glad I sacrificed for his education. His mind would be wasted otherwise and he’s a genius."

- BabyElephantWalks

In most of these cases, the situation went poorly after a Redditor tried to change someone, and for good reason. If that person isn't ready or doesn't want to be fixed, it's only going to damage the relationship.

There's also something to be said about unconditional love. If you don't want to date the person exactly as who they are right now, why are you even trying to date them?

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Guy at the gym
Anastase Maragos/Unsplash

Tough guys put on a facade that indicates to others that they always know what's going on.

But their confidence doesn't always match their intellect, which is probably why they cover their insecurities by walking around and trying to show everyone who's really the boss.

If that's the case, they should keep their mouths shut because not everything that comes out of their mouth needs to be heard.

Yet, it can be amusing to everyone else.

Curious to hear examples of these, Redditor PrototypeShadowBlitz asked:

"Reddit, what is the stupidest thing you've heard from the 'alpha male' community?"

You might find these guys at a bar.

The Dude Must Be Hungry

"Had a run in once with a group of young lads about something in a bar and one of them said we are top of the food chain bro and you will be the prey."

– insertitherenow

"'Whatever, mall ninja" -proper response."

– TheEighthLord

If The Shoe Fits

"That they were an alpha male."

– I_Have_A_Name37654

"The use of 'Alpha Male,' unironically is every indication that you're dealing with a child's understanding of manhood."

– 88Dubs

Brat Pack

"Me and my bros are all alpha males."

– SonOfDadOfSam

"I was skiing one time and rode the lift with a guy that said, 'I don't feel no pain. I live with 5 roommates and none of us feel any pain.' Okay, bud. That's a really interesting coincidence."

– NicPizzaLatte

They sure thrive on making sexist comments.

Contagious Femininity

"A coworker said, 'I don't spend too much time with my girlfriend because I'll become too feminine.'"

– Lazy_Natural6154


– aliebabadegrote

Sexist Categorization

"I have been called a beta for saying that my wife makes more money than I do. She works in a more lucrative field and is more educated than I am, so it makes perfect sense that she makes more than I do."

"So I came back, and this post has really blown up. There's just a few things I want to clarify."

"1- I have only ever been called a beta online."

"2- I work full-time in project management. I have a master's degree. I have a 6 figure salary."

"3- My wife has a PhD and works in finance. She also has a 6 figure salary, it's just a higher salary than my own."

"4- I'm sorry to anyone who might feel as though my original post misled them."

– ExaminationDouble240

It's Teamwork

"A real man would be proud of his wife for achieving success, and not fall for that sort of insecure bullsh*t."

"It's not a contest, that's the real joke here. Good on you for seeing the big picture."

– Mrbeardoesthethings

Do these roles about parenting sound familiar?

Childish Things Are Too Girly

"Real men don't take their kids trick or treating is one that I heard recently."

– constructionguy89

"Related. Guys who brag about not changing diapers, not playing 'girly' games, etc. Essentially guys who brag that their only contribution to fatherhood is money and masculine things like fishing or football. Even then some of them brag about not paying a lot of child support to prove they didn't let the system take advantage of them."

"I can't imagine a life so empty my only accomplishment worth bragging about was being a terrible parent."

– Green7000

This Woman's Work

"I was told that taking care of my kids is woman's work. Apparently it's concerning that I try to spend so much of my free time with them. Oddly enough the meatheads at my grappling club think it's sweet I occasionally have my daughters' hair clips on and nails painted."

– MrFunktasticc

People discussed rules in the bedroom.

Never Submissive

"That a man is turned off when their wife/girlfriend seduces them, because if she wants sex and shows it she is a sl*t, also making the man the submissive one…"

– kamalaophelia

Stifling Emotions

"Not the whole community, but was cuddling with a guy once and could tell he was trying not to get emotional over something that was bothering him. He said, quite literally, 'it's not alpha male behaviour.' I told him that I liked that he showed emotions sometimes, and he looked disgusted by the fact that I pointed it out."

– LambLifts

In high school, a classmate who was on the football team said I was a "sissy" for listening to classical music.

The other classmates laughed at me, which was hardly surprising since all of the guys on our unbeatable football team were considered stars on campus.

This kind of mockery was a typical day for me.

I can laugh at their idiotic comments now but back then, I don't know why I ever let them get under my skin.

Man standing behind large flowers
Quinn Buffing on Unsplash

We've all done things, or in some cases, regularly do things that others might consider weird.

Even so, we often feel no shame or embarrassment and embrace how unusual these habits are, and take our friends teasing or laughing at us for doing so in stride.

Sometimes, however, we might not like to advertise some of our unusual habits or actions and make every effort to keep them a well-guarded secret.

As raised eyebrows are much easier to take than blatant judgment from friends and peers.

Redditor Key_Nectarine_1969 was curious to hear all the weird things people have done which they still keep under lock and key, leading them to ask:

"What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done that you could only tell people anonymously?"

The Devil [Dogs] Is In The Detail...

"All throughout middle school, there was someone who tucked unwrapped Hostess Devil Dogs into the toilet paper dispensers in the bathrooms, so that when you pulled some toilet paper out, the devil dog would fall out into your hand."

"We had to have an assembly about it."

"That person... Was me."- bejeweled_sky

Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

"Was drunk at an escape room with coworkers."

"It was an extreme one where you are handcuffed the entire time."

"I decided in my drunken state that it would be bada** to dislocated my thumb and slip off the cuffs like the movies."

"It wasn't."

"We got kicked out, my coworkers were weirded out and I had to go to the hospital."

"I quit a few weeks later."

"White collar wasn't for me."- Grotesque-penguin

The Bread Of Heaven

"Stole over 1,000 wafers from church because I really liked the communion wafers & didn’t know where else to get them."

"I felt really blessed & cursed for a long time."- hALLIEcinate

catholic the exorcist GIFGiphy

Retracing Steps...

"Once I got off the subway in NYC and I was super early for an appointment."

"So I picked a random guy and just followed him on foot for like 30 minutes, pretending I was like a private detective or something."

"Always kept about a half block behind."

"He turned this way and that, and eventually went into a building I had lived in 9 years earlier."

"It was weird, and so was I."- OKsurewhynotyep

Hygeine Be Damned...

"I found a dead rat in a field when i was younger and kissed it bc I wanted to say goodbye."- qeleia

exercise push up GIFGiphy

Bad Decisions Have A Way Of Getting Back To You...

"We got super drunk and ate a ton of spicy food in New Orleans."

"Back at the B&B, the food started to come out the back side."

"I was sitting on the toilet sh*tting bricks of fire."

"At that moment, the booze decided to hang a u-turn."

"The trash can was out of reach and I couldn't risk standing up from the toilet for even 5 seconds."

"The closest receptacle was the bathtub."

"I managed to turn in such a way that I could keep shi*ting in the toilet while projectile vomiting into the tub."

"Both ended up clogged, and there was no plunger."

"I had to call the owner to explain that I had destroyed both their toilet and their tub simultaneously."- HoopOnPoop

Things Best Left To Professionals...

"My partner is weirdly prone to cysts."

"I had to drain a 3 inch cyst on her back (thankfully she had a dr's appt the next week), then multiple other little cysts on her legs and chest."

"I never told her to her face but that first giant cyst literally haunted me, the amount of pus and blood I saw....good heavens."- SleepyBiologist

uruguay spot GIF by sargentoPezGiphy

At Least A Lesson Was Learned...

"When I was walking to school one morning, I saw a kid (7-8 yo?) kicking a dog."

"I ran over & kicked the kid and asked him how it felt."

"He ran off and no one saw."

"Still not sorry."- sneezyailurophile

All Creatures Deserve Love

"I was extremely socially isolated as a child and tried to make friends with the coyotes who lived in the woods by our home."

'I caught one in a snare and fed and kept her."

"I wanted a friend."- letthetreeburn

That's What Friends Are For...

"My wife and her best friend pick me up from a frat party black out drunk."

"Then they helped me take a sh*t on the toilet, wiped my a** and then gave me a shower and put me to bed naked."

"Don’t remember any of it."- nc3100

Party Love GIF by Chris CiminoGiphy

Not The Right Kind Of Manure...

"One time I went outside at like 2AM and put the garden hose nozzle into my butthole and sprayed some water into it, then farted it out onto the lawn."

"Basically gave myself an enema with a garden hose."

"I did this because I was bored."

"My neighbour saw me and told my dad (lived at home at the time)."- WaspsInMyGoatse

A Little Fantasy Now And Then...

"When I was younger I joined an international dating site that I figured was a scam."

"Put a black square as my picture and gave myself a fake name, and then looked through their users."

"And after about 10 minutes I had like a 100 messages."

"Most of them were messages telling me how handsome I was or how these women fell in love with me at first site."

"Now I knew it was a scam but when ever I felt down or got rejected for a while I would pop back on the site and read a few messages."

'Yeah it’s kinda cringy and probably pathetic but it made me feel better."

"I would just turn off that logical part of my brain that knew it was a scam for awhile and just pretend I was this popular and desirable guy."

"And it honestly got me through the day sometimes."- Demonking3343

dating app GIFGiphy

If anyone says they've never done anything they're ashamed, or at the very least less-than-proud of, in all likelihood, they are lying.

Or, more likely, they understandably want to pretend that it never happened.

Which might be a little easier than harboring a secret.