By Sophie-Claire Hoeller /
May 17, 2017
Randy's Donuts, Inglewood, Southern California, USA. Built in 1953, massive pastry is 32-feet high.
Credit: Barry M. Winiker/Getty Images

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People around the world like to give the US a hard time - they like to make fun of their accents, they're bewildered by the many friendly smiles, and overactive air conditioners are a great source of concern (and cold).

But stereotypes aside, what are the real-life American quirks that shock foreigners?

We looked at a recent Reddit thread that had non-Americans share the strangest things they learned about the US after visiting.

American portion sizes are bewildering to foreigners

TheMediumPanada said that “The size of food servings in restaurants is 50-100% bigger than in Europe.”

Phalty was awed by “the raptor sized turkey legs sold at amusement parks.”

They're surprised by the number of drive-thru establishments

Outofplaceandstrange was surprised by the number of drive-thru establishments the US features. Others agreed, citing drive-thru liquor stores, and even drive-thru Daiquiri stands in Louisiana.

In general, foreigners find it weird how Americans seem to drive absolutely everywhere, resulting in parking lots the size of small villages.

They don't understand why there are so many ads for lawyers

Hn-t mentioned how ubiquitous ads for lawyers are stateside. According to the Redditor, "Most of the time you couldn't go anywhere without seeing any ads for lawyers."

They're terrified by the many ads for prescription drugs

Many others added pharmaceutical ads to the list. According to crunchymush, “Sitting in our hotel room in Vegas and listening to the horrendous lists of possible side-effects for drugs made me wonder how anyone can bring themselves to take them. Lunesta is terrifying. I don't remember the specific ‘possible side-effects,’ but I just recall the fact that ‘death’ wasn't the most troubling one.”

Apparently, there are a lot of squirrels in the states

Crazy_pants_wolf was shocked by the amount of squirrels. Others agreed, and added that American squirrels are also “terrifyingly bold.”

The amount of space in the US is also shocking to people

Musland writes “I know the US is a huge area, but the size of the roads and parking lots just seemed really strange [to] a central European.”

Various Redditors agree, pointing to the amount of space between homes. British user BloatedBaryonyx said “I see American houses on TV and am amazed by how they have all these massive detached houses. I thought the people living there were rich or something, but I eventually picked up enough context to know that this was a standard suburban house.”

Visitors are awed by the country’s sheer size

“It took me a while before I realized that a person cannot drive from New York City to the Grand Canyon in one day,” wrote Toykolunchboxes.

They also think cars are really big

Crunchymush recounts renting a Ford Taurus, "which by Australian standards would be a ‘family sedan,’ but I felt like I was driving a go-kart. Everywhere I looked there were massive pick-ups with dual rear-axles. I'd look out my side windows half the time and all I could see was hub caps."

Americans seem to be much friendlier than other nationalities — and it freaks people out

"Americans are extremely friendly, almost to an uncomfortable degree for some," TheMediumPanda said. "My parents got slightly lost and had to ask for directions, after five minutes, 20 people with huge smiles were surrounding them, trying their utmost to help. Several offering rides back to their hotel."

TheRider1 describes Americans as having a "lack of inhibition with strangers," while others highlighted how often Americans "smiled at strangers."

In general, foreigners seem perplexed at how open and comfortable Americans are with complete strangers.

The gap between toilet stalls’ doors is disconcerting to visitors

Bedsheetsforsale is American, but only realized how exposed American toilet stalls leaves users when traveling to Europe. "I remember being in England, and seriously every bathroom stall was sectioned off with a full door and everything. Seriously, the gaps in between American stalls are horrible and I always think someone is watching me."

Foreigners don't understand taxes, and why the price listed on an item isn't the price expected at the cash register

Foreigners complain about how the price tag on an item changes once you get to the cash register. Ahphoque says “Price tag says $5, you take a $5 bill out of your wallet, then bam, you're asked to pay $5.86 or whatever.”