Reddit user thunderpower1999 asked: 'Non- Americans, what is an American custom that you find unusual or odd?'
When studying or learning about different countries and cultures, many Americans find themselves fascinated and/or perplexed by some of their customs and traditions.
Up to and including Canada having their Thanksgiving celebrations in October, Guy Fawkes night in England, or spitting on the bride for good luck at Greek weddings.
Many of these same Americans who scoff at the very idea of these customs might not stop to think that the tables can be easily turned, and visitors from abroad often find themselves in an equal state of confusion at some of our customs and traditions.
Redditor thunderpower1999 was eager to hear which American customs foreigners found to be the most baffling, leading them to ask:
"Non- Americans, what is an American custom that you find unusual or odd?"
The Only Thing More Ridiculous, Are Most Of The Candidats
"I find the length of your election campaigns so crazy."- Olivia123321
Presidential elections seem to be some sort of two year affair. It's out of control.
Most Meteorologists Would Agree
"My friend from India once asked me (an American) to explain Groundhog Day to her."
"I had no explanation- it’s just weird."- marmosetohmarmosetGroundhog Day Winter GIFGiphy
Slowly Becoming Extinct Though...
"The waiter taking your card away to pay."- Vlakob
Trick Or Treat!
"I’ll never forget when a college schoolmate from China asked me 'is it true that you have a holiday where children dress up and go around asking for candy?'"
"I had never thought about it before but all I could say was 'yes, I guess we do…'"- EverLong0
They Think That's Strange, Ask Them What They Think About Our Health Care System...
"The Canadians I worked with in the oilfield were blown away by all of the television commercials for medicines."- rufneck-420Happy Mental Health GIF by Jimmy ArcaGiphy
"Pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving."
"Cracks me up every time, and I've lived here 20 years now!"- sandithepirate
Strange Isn't Always Bad
"Let me pull the Uno reverse card on this."
"I am an immigrant, living in the US for a very long time."
"Getting your leftovers to go at the restaurants was a surprise to me."
"But my reaction was, 'yeah, why is that not the norm?'"
"Rather than “Americans are strange'."- BobTheInept
When You Think You Have Exact Change...
"Not including tax in the price tag."- klc81The Simpsons Animation GIF by FOX TVGiphy
So Much For Camaraderie...
"The obsession with college sports…and in some places even high school or middle school!"
"I just came back from a work trip to Texas and one of my colleagues told me the football stadium for his daughter’s middle school held 20,000 people!"- Speedbird223
Valuing Children? The Very Thought!
"That new parents, especially fathers, are expected to show up to work within days of having a newborn."- kellygrrrl328
How Long Have You Got?
"Some things I found strange in America:"
"Lack of recycling bins everywhere."
"That homeless people have tents everywhere like streets (Washington really surprised me)."
"Ice filled to the brim of the cup."
"Anything and everything having a tipping option."
"Tipping in general."
"Tax not included in the price."
"Massive lawyer billboards on every highway."- effypomThe Office Yes GIFGiphy
Civic Duty, But No Civic Holiday.
You have holidays for everything but a day off for election is too much
Just Plain Gross
"Child beauty pageants."
"Just stop it."- LoadedGull
It should be said that most Americans are equally confused, if not downright horrified, by many of the abovementioned customs.
Which begs the question, what keeps us living here?
Perhaps Americans desire to stay put, in spite of a heavily flawed electoral process, a convoluted healthcare system, and winter being dictated by a groundhog's shadow is the strangest American custom of them all...
In all deference to the people of Florida, the Sunshine State is not known for being the ideal place to live.
Aside from being a major tourist destination and an escape from the cold weather months in other parts of the country, the retirement refuge is reputable as being problematic and the butt of a joke for a number of reasons.
But the real kicker is the frequency at which many Florida residents make headlines for unhinged behavior earning them the label of "Florida Man," prompting the rest of the U.S. to shake their heads and remark, "Only in Florida."
"What is the 'Florida' of Europe?"
These are almost, but not quite, Florida.
The "Crazy Sh*t" Stereotype
"In what sense? Spain's Costa del Sol ticks the 'entitled retiree destination' box but the 'people inexplicably doing crazy sh*t' stereotype firmly belongs to Russia."
"Adam Carolla used to have a segment on his radio show called 'Florida or Germany' where he would read newspaper articles of strange crimes and callers would guess if it took place in Florida or Germany. I thought it was entertaining."
It's A Zoo Out There
"As a Florida Man who has found an Alligator in my backyard before (no joke, this is serious) I’d definitely have to say Russia."
"I’ve had 2 pythons show up in the yard of the house I grew up in, years before it was widely known how invasive they were."
"Never got a gator though."
"In that the Ural mountains are the technical dividing line between Europe and Asia, I'll have to go with Western Russia. In particular, you could overlay Florida on top of the part of Russia that spans from Voronezh to Saratov and then down to Volgograd."
Gotta love some o' the Brits.
"When I was in Barcelona this past June I had the opportunity to witness a young, trashy British couple act as though they were posh. It was then that I realized that the British are the Floridians of Europe."
"Ohhh trashy Brits are on another level, you have to see it to believe it lol."
Defined By TV Shows
"I was in Dublin last summer, met some Brits from Leeds and they literally asked the Irish guy I was hanging out with if they had the same queen. Then when it came up I was american one of the women shrieked and said 'Young Sheldon’s me favorite tv show' and Jesus Christ I couldn’t help but laugh"
"Florida is kinda stupid for stupid’s sake. Here in the UK we tell ourselves we are civilised, refined, smart and in control while still doing equally stupid stuff."
Making Up For Size
"Blackpool, England. Admittedly it's on a smaller scale but what it lacks in size, it makes it up in STD rates, welfare distribution and average tooth count."
"Fun fact! Blackpool is the only city in the uk with the same average lifespan as the US!"
Feels Like Home
"I went on holiday to Britain, driving the whole island. Some seagulls nicked my chips and my pastie in Blackpool while some guy vomited into a trash can next to me. Same exact thing happened to me in Miami (swap the pastie for a taco). So ya this checks out."
Meanwhile, over in the Mediterranean...
"It’s probably Greece and specifically Crete. People like to go there for vacation, it’s hot and all the people own guns and are conservative religious madlads."
"Italy, it's hot, full of tourist, and has a history of going facist."
"And it's the wang of Europe."
Looks like every Floridians are not alone in their tainted reputation thanks to the number of people who had to ruin everything.
But one thing seems certain.
It's doesn't seem to be about what's in the water Floridians drink.
When I was in college, a cousin of mine who lived in London all her life came to visit me. We went out to my favorite restaurant on her first day and I warned her right of the bat not to order too much. She'd never been to New York, but I had been to London, and I knew there was a difference in portion sizes.
Portion sizes in England are usually just enough to satisfy you while potion sizes in America are usually too much to finish in one sitting. I explained this to her, but she waved me off. It was a point of pride for her that in any given group of people, she was always the one who ate the most, and the one who never slipped into a food coma.
She was surprised to find that the chicken finger appetizer she ordered, which she refused to split when I suggested it, came on top of a mountain of loaded fries. She was struggling to finish it when the entree she ordered came out. She paled when she remembered it came with four sides.
In the end, she had to pack up a lot of the food, which was a totally new concept to her.
Ordering too much thinking you are going to finish it all is just one of the things foreigners should avoid doing when visiting America. There are plenty of other things to avoid or places not to go, and Redditors are eager to share what those things are.
It all started when Redditor AlainasBoyfriend asked:
"What should a foreigner avoid while visiting the United States?"
"Don’t be bullheaded when it comes to the weather. If the locals are worried, you should be worried."
"Friend was gored to death by a mountain goat. Right through the femoral artery."
"If you go to the national parks, don’t attempt to take selfies with the wildlife. A full grown bison will throw you through the air like a crumpled piece of paper."
"In Washington DC, avoid taking pictures in front of DC District court thinking it is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is 6 blocks away."
"Also, the White House is MUCH smaller than you think it is."
"And eat and eat..."
"Ordering a large at a restaurant, or especially a movie theater. I don't care how hungry you think you are, you will not eat/drink it all in one sitting."
"Especially stupid if there are free refills on drinks lol."
City Folk, Beware
"If you are visiting a more rural area, like Montana where I live, don't underestimate the rural-ness. You might not be able to get a hotel in a small town and there are plenty ty of places where there aren't any hotels or accommodations. You can take highway and run out of gas because there aren't any gas stations for 70 miles."
"Also, if it is a dirt road, and there are a lot of them in the rural U.S., don't ever assume that you will have cell/GPS reception or that the dirt road goes anywhere besides 50 miles into the mountains where you can get stuck or break down. It's hard to conceptualize for people who live in more populated areas."
"Your best bet is to plan ahead and read reviews. It is absolutely worth it to visit areas where there is wilderness. That is why I live here. That being said, it's dangerous in a different way than visiting a city."
"Damn, as an American city dweller, you made me scared of Montana."
"Driving from New York to LA."
"Unless you're planning to spend 2 weeks visiting places in between. The drive will not take just a few days!"
"We had an exchange student from France staying with us (NY). one day, we saw her with a map of the US, said she was going to take a bus to California because she had heard so much about it on television."
"We had to sit down and explain it was going to take a week, each way."
"Yep. I lived in France for a longtime and took the bus everywhere. on a 10 hr ride there you could easily cross three countries..."
Six Feet Apart
"I find a lot of foreigners have about 2 1/2 inches of a personal space bubble, while us Americans value our space. Keep at least a 2-3 feet distance when conversing with strangers. I've had an Italian guy come so close I thought he was going to kiss me. Very uncomfortable for someone who isn't used to a lack of personal space."
Keep Your Mind Wide Open
"Leave all your stereotypes about America home, it's a hugely diverse country and your experience in one part of the US will be very different to your experience in another. Keep an open mind and have fun."
"Well said. I don’t think most first time visitors to the US get just how different one state can be from the next."
"Don't smoke in public buildings, this is illegal."
"Don't smoke in someone's house, apartment, or condo without asking for permission. This isn't illegal, but it's still extremely rude."
"This feels like common courtesy anywhere in general. Even in houses where people smoke, I still go outside to smoke. I'm really uncomfortable smoking in other people's houses."
Don't Forget To Tip You Waiter
"Remember that our service staff do not get paid a living wage. They rely on tips to survive. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t eat out."
"Tipping is compulsory here. It's super fucky, and really shouldn't be. But it is. Especially if you plan on sticking to one area and eating in a place more than once, you'd best tip. Don't toy with the people who handle your food out of eye-shot..."
Where To Eat
"Don't go to the big chain type places. Go to the mom and pop little restaurants and coffee shops and specialty shops. You will usually find new cool things you enjoy."
"Agree but check reviews. Not all small businesses are created equal. Chains are good if you don’t have time to do research. You know what you’re getting (probably)."
American Health Care
"Avoid a hospital visit. Whatever you think it costs, it’s more."
"Whatever a European thinks is a cartoonish amount, and then triple it, and that'll cover the ambulance ride there."
"Right? I remember listening to a Dutch person complain that their Healthcare wasn't actually free despite what Americans said. He went on to explain that he has to pay something like a $20 copay to go to the dentist and some vague circumstance where you might theoretically have to pay close to a hundred dollars at some point. It was cute."
Get Me A Map!
"Avoid looking lost and unorganized in areas of big cities with high crime rates. Dress functionally, always keep the illusion of knowing where you are and where you're going, pay attention to your surroundings. Bad people will target folks who look lost and unorganized more often than people who appear oriented."
"That kind of applies to any big city in the world."
"If I am legitimately lost, I will walk with purpose until I find somewhere to sit. Once seated, the phone comes out and I try to make it look like I am texting someone and not studying a map. Nothing stands out like a group of people, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, all staring at one person's phone."
I'm not even a foreigner and I follow this rule all the time. Extremely important!
When people visit the United States of America for the first time, they often have a list of places to see and things to do (and eat!).
Get a hot dog in New York City before attending a Broadway show, take in the spectacular views of the Grand Canyon, or soak in the sunny beaches of Florida.
Of course, like anywhere on Earth, there are also some places and things which should be avoided at all costs.
Then too, not all guidebooks can give you all the information on things to be wary of in the most visited places in the country.
Some of which might save you a dollar or two, and some of which might actually save your life.
"Americans of Reddit, what places in America should foreigners avoid at all cost?"
Those Signs Are Not Just Decorations
"If you go to a national park and you disregard the signs, you're going to die."
"It's not a joke."
"Treat buffalo like field puppies?"
"You're going to die."
"Try to pet the brown bear?"
"You're going to die."
"See that moose and want to feed it?"
"You're probably already dead."
"Oh look, a rattlesnake! "
"Want to swim in Old Faithful?"
"You're going to die painfully and completely dissolve into a soup."
"Sh*t is dangerous here and if you don't respect it you'll be lucky to die quick."- Xanza
"If you’re in a National park, listen to what the caution signs say and don’t venture off of paths."
"One is because of wildlife and the other is because humans don’t need to ruin everything in nature, just to get a photo."
"Also, don’t fall into the Grand Canyon." - Yawheyygrand canyon arizona GIF by Go USA JpGiphy
Know Your Limits And Be Prepared
"Don’t hike into the wilderness of Colorado (especially 14ers) without knowing wilderness survival and responsibilities."
"Tourists die on our mountains and in Rocky Mountain National Park all the time."
"Do your research!"
"Altitude is no joke."- eyjafjallajokul_
Some Things Are Worth The Added Expense...
"Not American but as a visitor trying to travel on the cheap, I made the mistake of booking a greyhound bus ride."
"There's a reason why it was cheap lol."- toadkarter1993
The Name Should Be A Clue
"Death Valley in the summer especially if you consider yourself a strong hiker, and live in a cooler climate."
"It has that name for a reason."- FabFrenchdeath valley documentary GIFGiphy
Or Even Dip Your Toes...
"The hot springs in yellowstone are not hot tubs do not swim in them."- needs_grammarly
"Steaming Acidic hot springs in Yellowstone."- SuvenPan
Every City Has One...
"Anywhere with a Rainforest Cafe and a Wax Museum on the same street is a tourist trap."- Klytus_Im-Boredhomer simpson episode 13 GIFGiphy
Maps Exist For A Reason
"Avoid going to one location thinking another location across the country is a short trip."- Jebediah_Vorbeck
So Much For "Brotherly Love"
"The Kensington area of North Philadelphia."
"Just don't."- amhildreth
Even If You're A Night Owl
"Most of Downtown Los Angeles at night."
"When the streets get quiet and the locals go home, that's your cue to go back to your hotel or a more popular hotspot."- muststayawaketonod·los angeles city GIF by The Broad MuseumGiphy
"Pueblo Colorado."- External-Traffic-916
"F*ck Peublo and its mass Tarantula Migration."- paustulio
Not The Where, But The What
"It's not 'places' as much as 'situations' that you should avoid."
"Depending on where you're from, you'll have some of these instincts, but not others."
"It's not all or nothing."
"But here's some situations I can see happening to a European, as an example."
"Getting stranded in the desert."
"Whether you're hiking without water, or driving too far on a single tank of gas, there's a real risk of being stranded without very immediate help, and no cell reception."
"Underestimating travel time."
"You're not going to see NYC and LA on the same trip."
"They're three time zones apart."
"They are exactly as far apart as London, England and Baku, Azerbaijan."
"You'll either be driving for a week, or flying."
"Even things that seem close, like NYC and DC, are not actually that close."
"It would be about 6 hours of driving or train to get from one to the other."
"It is taken VERY seriously here, and you could wind up shot if you are on the wrong person's land."
"We do not have the right to roam."
"And we do have the right to bear arms."
"Some states even have 'castle laws' which considers trespassing to be sufficient reason to shoot someone in 'self defense'."
"Any places people are mentioning are places that Americans wouldn't go to either if they could help it."
"But if I can say one place in particular, it would be Camden, NJ."
"It's just across the river from Philadelphia, and has a couple of tourist draws like the Aquarium or the concert venue, but anywhere that's not those specific places is incredibly unsafe."- pHScaleSeason 9 Reaction GIF by The OfficeGiphy
Like any country, America has its fair share of underwhelming and unsafe destinations.
Thankfully, most of these places aren't written up in guidebooks, and won't be high on the list of any foreign visitors.
Sadly, guidebooks still might not stop them from shelling out loads of money for very mediocre food at a noisy theme restaurant...
This November, Puerto Ricans can vote on one of three options–including becoming the 51st state in the U.S.
The U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Puerto Rico Status Act last December.
The bill would grant the island commonwealth either U.S. statehood, independence, or independence while retaining some U.S. affiliations.
"Americans, how do you feel about Puerto Rico possibly becoming the 51st state?"
People weighed in with their thoughts.
From A Resident's Perspective
"I'm Puerto Rican and I can tell you that support for statehood and the commonwealth is almost evenly split. Practically nobody supports independence."
"This is not a good deal for most Puerto Ricans. They also don't get the same benefits that citizens in states are entitled to despite paying federal payroll taxes for some of these benefits, like Social Security and Medicaid."
"The territory has a median household income of $21,000, so over half of households would not be required to file federal taxes anyway. Of those that would be required to file, the vast majority will be paying less than 15% of income, less with deductions. This is a pretty awful tradeoff for the (again, largely poor) residents to be ineligible for SSI and the territory receiving only a fraction of the Medicaid funding that it would as a state."
"If Puerto Rico becomes a state, it will get more congressmen and thus more influence to negotiate more subsidies from the federal government, as well as repeal some of the extractive policies the US imposes on Puerto Rico. These benefits will likely outweigh the increase in taxes."
Contrary To Popular Belief
"It’s so funny because I see mainland Puerto Ricans who are like 'independence is the only thing we want' and it’s like, you aren’t living there, why are you choosing for your people. I’m not Puerto Rican but I see this and get confused, especially because I see people in PR who don’t want independence."
How The Government Might Handle Things
"The way a Puerto Rican friend in PR has explained it to me: it’s not so much that people don’t want independence, it’s that they know their government won’t handle it well and they’ll crumble the second they get it. Obviously that’s just one Puerto Rican and he doesn’t speak for all. I just hope that they are the ones who get to choose in the end and the result is one that ends up working for everyone."
"Considering the political class we would inherit, the terrible geography, being in the direct path of so many hurricanes, losing access to a $26t economy and billions in annual stimulus, I’d say it’s a very risky bet."
"And our closest analogs are Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti. DR is fine, but a clear downgrade in prosperity. And Cuba/Haiti are collapsing. Puerto Ricans can see this which is why only 5% of the state legislature is pro-independence."
"I know many Puerto Ricans in Virginia or in metro Orlando making six figures and buying two-story houses. By all accounts Puerto Ricans who move to the mainland do incredibly well."
"So why would you give that access away when the alternative is Cuba or Haiti (at worst) or DR at best (which is stable, but still far poorer than Puerto Rico). The next time Hurricane Maria hits, who is going to cut us a $15 billion check? Independence is simply impractical."
People were talking numbers.
Making It Count
"My only objection is that 50 is a nice round number. Merge the Dakotas and I'm in."
The Perfect Number
"All I ask is that we find two other states to add as well. Make it 53."
"Truly a nation indivisible."
Keeping It 50
"We should stick with 50 states. And since Puerto Rico has more people than several states, we should make it a state and combine the 2 Dakota's into one state."
Some people were indifferent.
Supporting Their Decision
"As far as I can tell PR citizens are still split inside their nation about joining the union. I kinda feel like they should be on the same page first. That said, I would support them if it was a question of my support."
A Strange Situation
"Anyone born in Puerto Rico after 1952 is an American citizen. They are already technically in the union but, due to slightly more complicated reasons do not have equal representation in Congress. They aren’t a protectorate and are technically classified as a territory of the US. It’s a very strange situation to me"
"I have no strong feelings one way or the other."
Two hundred and thirty-three members of the US House of Representatives voted for statehood while 191 were opposed.
The bill providing Puerto Ricans a binding referendum awaits passage in the Senate–where at least 60 "yes" votes are required from the 100-member chamber.
A similar referendum procedure occurred in the 1950s when Hawaiians and Alaskans voted for or against U.S. statehood.