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15 things Europeans really like about America.

Even though European countries and America are roughly on the same level regarding development, there are still some stark differences in their ways of life. Americans may look to Europe and feel a bit jealous over their free healthcare systems and more laid-back approach to their professional lives.

But Europeans who visit America are also in awe of some of the everyday things that Americans take for granted, which seem to be luxuries.

A Reddit user named Prof_XdR asked Europeans on the AskReddit subforum to share the everyday American things that they believe are luxuries, and the question received nearly 13,000 responses.


Clearly, Europeans admire many things about the American way of life.

Here are 15 of the best responses to the question: “Europeans of Reddit, what do Americans have every day that you see as a luxury?”

1. Disability access

"Disability access everywhere. I can go to any place -- theater, store, office, school, whatever -- with confidence that I'll be able to navigate fine in my wheelchair. They'll have ramps and/or elevators." — 5AgainstRhoneIsland

"Of all the things in this thread, the disability access is it IMO. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was an absolute game changer, and European countries and the EU as a whole should be embarrassed for not having something like it." — Jedrekk

2. Climate changes

"You can pretty much choose to live in any climate you like when you live in the USA and still be in the same country. You like 4 seasons: Move to the Northeast. You like the humid ocean climate - move to Seattle. You like dry warm weather - move to Los Angeles. You like deserts, move to Arizona. You like warm and humid weather - move to the Southeast." — DachauPrince

"I work as an ecologist and the amount of biodiversity in California is insane. I'll do biological surveys a few hundred miles apart and see so many different plants and animals at each site. I've even done work at sites fairly close to each other (sub 50 miles apart) and will still find stark differences between sites. It's a magic state for wildlife biologists." — Skinsnax

3. Big kitchens

"Big kitchens and big refrigerators/ freezers. Even in my student apartment, we had a pretty good-sized kitchen. I was dating a Czech girl and her parents came to visit. When they went to my apartment for dinner, the mom was just amazed at the size of my fridge. They were amused when I dumped the scraps in the sink and turned on the garbage disposal. They’d heard about it but had never seen one." — Granadafan

4. Square footage

"The massive houses, a special room just for your massive washer and dryer units, 2 car garage, basically you have tons of space." — Howiebledsoe

"The size of your homes in places like Utah and Texas. There's a dedicated room for everything. Kids playroom that isn't the living room or the kid's bedroom, walk-in pantry room, a laundry room." — mcnunu

5. Free refills

"As an American, it's so easy to take this for granted. Similarly, getting free ice water in the US as well is something I often forget isn't exactly a thing in many other parts of the world." — Gaveuptheghost

6. National parks

"There’s just human development on virtually every inch of large parts of Europe. So even when there are parks, they’re not always as untouched as American parks. And the population density in large parts of Europe means you see a lot more people in the parks. America has national parks that are so untouched and massive that you can really be alone if you want to be." — CactusBoyScout

7. A/C

"Americans pump it all summer long." — Websurfer49

8. Two peaceful neighbors (Mexico and Canada)

"Remember, the world's longest undefended border is between Canada and the United States. That says something about our relationship." — Dervishler

"We Europeans both love and hate each other in ways that Americans will never understand. But basically, not being French should be enough." — TitanFox98

10. Big schools

"My high school just had a pool, 3 gyms, an agricultural barn with stalls for students to keep the animals they were raising to show at the rodeo, a few labs, a theater, a full-size kitchen that was used for the culinary classes to share (not the cafeteria), 3 tennis courts, 2 soccer fields that were also used for football practice, and a football stadium with a Jumbotron. At the end of the year, the culinary classes would cook breakfast for the graduating class." — Elephantepiphany

11. Free bathrooms

"As an American who lived in Europe with little kids, this was frustrating. My wife found an app of free public restrooms in Europe." — QuotidianPain

12. Mexican food

"Real Mexican food. We have Mexican restaurants in my home country, but the owners are usually not Mexican and it’s just not the same. Now, I’m living in Japan and it’s the same problem… Mexican food is so delicious." — punpun_Osa

13. Supermarkets

"Enormous supermarkets with abundant choice. I always feel like I'm in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory when I enter one. There's so much stuff!" — Better protection

14. Big showers

"This stands out - I have two really great friends (an expat woman and her husband) that live in the UK, and when I went to stay at their first place together, their shower was like a 2-foot-wide plastic shield outside of the bathtub. I had to stay so close to the wall, so I didn't spray water all over the bathroom." — IGNSolar7

15. Money

"There’s a huge gap between the volume of physical/material stuff Americans count as normal and what Europeans consider normal. An American home might have three TVs versus one, six or seven rooms full of furniture instead of two or three, extra small appliances added all the time like air fryers and espresso machines, new PCs and phones every couple of years because of constant upgrade marketing … the American perception that there’s not enough money is partly down to the giant volume of things Americans regard as minimum equipment." — AnotherPint

"In effect, when you account for wages and cost of living, luxuries (which usually have similar prices around the world) are proportionally cheaper for Americans. They make up less of their wage and, therefore, make less of a difference. Standard of living is completely different for a working-class American because they can afford luxuries people from working class in other countries can't." — ltlyellowcould

This article originally appeared on 1.24.24

Bella Vandala points out some major contradictions in American life.

Bella Vandala, a musician, podcaster, and popular TikToker, is going viral for making a video where she points out 5 things about the United States of America that make little sense to her. She’s found that there are some deep contradictions in American life when it comes to its mental, physical and financial health.

“Why do you think that is?” Vandala asks.

Warning:This video has strong language.

1. "Why is it that in America, we have more fitness centers than anywhere in the world or any generation before us, but none of us are actually fit?"


Vandala is close to correct here. The U.S. has the most gyms globally, although it is ranked #3 regarding fitness centers per capita (Canada and Brazil have more). When it comes to whether we are “fit” or not, the U.S. is ranked the 10th most obese country in the world.

@bella_vandala

#fyp #viral #america #American #health #diet #excercise #fittok #healthcheck #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthtiktoks #woke #wakeup #healthyliving #healthandfitness #fitness #politics #political #politicaltiktok

2. "We have more vitamin and supplement centers than anywhere else in the world or any generation before us, but none of us are actually healthy."

The United States is the second biggest market in the world for vitamins and minerals. Although it’s hard to determine what being “healthy” is, a 2016 study from the Mayo Clinic found that only 2.7% of Americans exhibit 4 fundamental healthy lifestyle characteristics.

These four were:

Being sufficiently active

Eating a healthy diet

Being a non-smoker

Having a recommended body fat percentage

3. "We pay more on a daily basis to obtain regular food and none of it has any healthy or nutritional properties at all ... it's actually poisoning us and making us sick."

For most people, it has to feel like the United States is the most expensive place in the world to buy groceries, especially in 2023. However, that award goes to Sweden, with the U.S. coming in at 7th, globally. However, the food quality in America has become a real problem because Americans eat far too much packaged, processed, high-calorie, store-bought and restaurant foods. "We're really in a nutrition crisis in this country." Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told NPR.

4. "We have an abundance of mental health resources, but we are all suffering from anxiety, depression, or insomnia."

An interesting fact about American life is that even though more people are turning to mental health practitioners for help, our psychological well-being appears to be getting worse. From 2019 to 2022, the use of mental health services has increased by nearly 40%. However, the U.S. ranks 29th in the world in depressive disorders and is the largest country on the top 30 list of countries with the highest depression rates.

5. "We work harder than we ever have, but we’re always f****** poor."

She’s right here. Among other developed countries, Americans work some of the longest hours and take the least amount of vacation. But for many, it doesn’t translate to financial security. A recent report found that 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and even people of higher income are affected, too. More than half of Americans earning over $100,000 a year live paycheck to paycheck as well.

Even though Vandala’s claims aren’t entirely factually correct, her overall points are in the ballpark and reflect how many people in America feel. Undoubtedly, America is a country of contradictions where our lifestyles and goals aren’t always aligned. We want to be healthy, but our food isn’t. We work hard, but the cost of living is too high. We want to feel good, but the stresses of day-to-day life are too much.

"I just can't f******wrap my head around it,” Vandala concludes her video. “I seriously can't. Never before in the history of America or in any other country have they put such a large amount of money and attention into health and beauty to not be healthy nor beautiful. Why do you think that is?”

Photo collage created from Pixabay

Some different perspectives on the American experience.

Some 300 million people live in the United States. And over 40 million of them are immigrants.

Now, some people might have you believe that too many immigrants might cause us to lose our identity as Americans or that we ought to be fighting and clinging to "the way things were."

But if you look around, you'll see that more than 1 in 10 Americans were born somewhere else — meaning they have their own unique set of amazing experiences to share and their own amazing stories about why they're here.


They each have their own ideas about what being an American means to them, too. And they each have their own reasons for celebrating American independence on the Fourth of July.

So if you want to feel proud, excited, and maybe even a teensy bit emotional about being an American, this one's for you.

Meet five immigrants from all over the country (and all over the world!) who are showing their American pride in many, many shades of red, white, and blue this year.

Mexican American experience, traditional, celebration

Traditional food the celebrate the Fourth of July.

Photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

1. Nayeli Ruvalcaba's Fourth of July is full of traditional Mexican food and mariachi music.

Ruvalcaba, who was born in Mexico but moved to Chicago when she was 4, spent her early childhood in a mostly caucasian neighborhood called Lakeview. There, she says the Fourth of July was pretty much what you'd expect.

"Everyone would be making ribs and burgers and mac and cheese. And my dad would be drinking Budweisers and Coors Light," she said with a laugh.

Nayeli with her parents.

But when she was 16, she moved to a more diverse area of the city filled with families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Poland.

There, she says, their holidays are much more vibrant. Neighbors gather in the alleys and share their customs and cultures with one another. They sing along with music (her boyfriend, who is in a mariachi band, often gets the party going). They play games. And then there's the food: Nayeli says she loves to chow down on delicious Fourth of July dishes like arrachera (a Mexican skirt steak), polish sausage, guacamole, and, of course, burgers.

"I know it's an American holiday," she says. "Buteveryone has their own culture. You just mix it in with what everyoneelse does."

Nayeli and her boyfriend in full mariachi get-up!

watermelon, English tea, mishmash of culture

Celebrating with a U.K. twist on the Fourth of July.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

2. Johanna Dodd and her family celebrate their Fourth of July the "old fashioned way" but with a small U.K.-based twist.

A one-year work contract for her husband brought the Dodds to Connecticut from the U.K. years ago. 12 years later, they're still here.

The Dodds!

On their Fourth of July, she says, "We tend to do what everyone else in town does. We'll head to the fireworks display with our cooler packed full of food, and, occasionally, we'll sneak in some alcohol."

Sounds pretty American to me!

Johanna's young daughter watches the fireworks.

"The kids run around, there's lots of glow sticks, lots of football (both kinds) being played, lots of fun stuff happening. As it gets darker, there's the national anthem, and then out come the fireworks."

But there is one slightly British twist to the Dodds' holiday: "We don't really do the tailgating thing. We bring what we would call 'an English tea.' There's watermelon, yogurts, cheese sandwiches. Kind of a mishmash of both cultures."

grilling, fish, Liberia, American experience

Bringing home country traditions to the American experience.

Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash

3. Martin Matthews says he never misses a Fourth of July parade and for a powerful reason.

Matthews was 8 years old when he first came to America to escape a civil war in his home country of Liberia. One of his first memories? A huge Fourth of July parade in New Jersey.

"I had never seen anything like that. The flags, the drums, everything. I remember watching in awe."

Martin with his wife.

He returned to Africa later on but came back to live in America again when fighting broke out in his home country. And when he returned, that big parade stuck in his memory.

"I always loved that about America. It was a place I could be safe. A place I could enjoy freedom," he said. "To celebrate the independence of the United States holds a deep place in my heart."

These days, Martin is big on having barbecues with friends to celebrate Independence Day. There are a lot of burgers and hot dogs, but he'll sometimes mix in traditional African dishes, too, like African-style kabobs, to introduce his friends to his heritage.

"It's a big thing in Africa for people to put fish on the grill, like the whole fish," he added. "You put the whole thing on there. It was the first time some of my American friends had ever tried fish on the grill that wasn't salmon."

But his favorite thing about the holiday is still the parades. "We get there early and wave our American flags. Every year I always wear some kind of American shirt. We sit there and watch everything. It's my way of saying thanks to my adopted country."

cricket, India, celebrating holiday, University of Michigan

Changing the rules to make it work.

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

4. Jay Pockyarath mixes cricket with an American-style barbecue on Independence Day.

"Ever since I was in eighth grade, all I wanted to do was come to the United States," he told Upworthy. After finishing college in India, he finally got the chance when studying nuclear medicine at the University of Michigan. From there, he married an American woman and started a family.

"The thing that works [in America] is that it's a meritocracy," Pockyarath said. "July Fourth is a celebration of that, in my mind. Of independence. Of the freedom to succeed."

Jay, who was born in India, proudly flies an American flag outside his home for July Fourth.

Pockyarath has lived in the United States for over 40 years, so it's no surprise that his holiday celebration looks pretty familiar: steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs on the grill. To him, what's really important is spending time with family.

"Usually we make up games," he laughed. "We play cricket — not the way it's supposed to be played, but with a tennis ball. We make up our own rules."

American flag, Fourth of July, friends and family, decorating

Embracing the traditions and bringing your own flare to it.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

5. Natalia Paruz is originally from Israel, and she decorates everything in red, white, and blue.

Natalia is now a musician in New York City.

"First I came here with my parents [about 20 years ago] for a year. At the end of the year, they went back to Israel, and I wanted to stay here," she told Upworthy.

Now she works as a musician in New York City. And she absolutely, positively loves the Fourth of July.

"It's a really fun day. It's a day where you can put politics aside. It's a day for celebrating the joy of this country."

Natalia and her husband host friends every year for a big meal. "I love decorating the house for the holiday with the flags. There's always a big flag hanging from the flagpole. In the back, that's where I really go all out. Every tree gets some kind of decoration!"

"We make hot dogs, hamburgers — how can you not?" she said. "We also make tahini, which is a traditional Israeli food. It's made of sesame seeds and it becomes a paste and you spread it on pita bread. Our friends here love it."

Natalia says an overabundance of food "as if you're going to entertain a bunch of soldiers" is a nod to her Israeli roots.

This year, she's going out with friends to watch fireworks. "I wear a T-shirt that has an American flag on it and a bracelet with the colors of the flag. If you're celebrating, you might as well go to the maximum."

It turns out, celebrating America means different things to different people. And that's kind of the point.

In my mind, the only thing better than a Fourth of July party filled with burgers, steaks, beer, and fireworks is a Fourth of July party filled with all of those things plus Mexican food and African music and "English tea" and tahini and mariachi bands and more.

So whether we choose to embrace the "American way" of celebrating Independence Day (red meat and fireworks) or to use it as a chance to celebrate the unique melting pot of culture that is our country today or something in between, I think we can all agree that the America we have now is already pretty great.

This article originally appeared on 07.01.16

Why are traffic signs so differnt in the U.S.?

Have you ever watched a James Bond movie and noticed that as he races his Astin Martin through the hills of an exotic European locale, the street signs look a lot different than those in America? Did you also notice that they don’t have many words, mostly shapes and pictures?

It isn’t by accident. Many years ago, there was a movement to get America on board with the rest of the world so all of our street signs would be the same, but it never happened. For better or worse, America, once again, exercised its independent spirit and stuck with its signs.

The whole story was recently told on YouTube by Half as Interesting. This channel prides itself on being an “Education-y explainer videos that are almost good enough to watch.”


The chasm between the U.S. and the rest of the world regarding traffic signs started in the early 1900s when Henry Ford began mass-producing automobiles and America quickly became the car capital of the world.

This also made the U.S. the road capital of the world.

Why US Signs Look Different Than The Rest Of The World’s

The signage across the U.S. in the early days of the automobile was inconsistent, which would cause problems as people drove from region to region and couldn’t make sense of the signage. So, in 1931, a committee of traffic sign organizations created a joint committee that ultimately came up with the 1931 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

This Bible of signage gave us the stop sign we all know and love, along with the iconic “One Way” and “Railroad Crossing” signs that are still used today.

As the rest of the world caught up to the U.S., the United Nations attempted to get the world on the same page regarding traffic signs, but the U.S. wouldn’t go along. “It turned out that Americans, still riding the intoxicating high of World War II propaganda and American exceptionalism, did not look kindly on European triangles telling them how to drive,” the video says.

In 1968, the Vienna Convention on Road Signs & Signals created a universal road sign system joined by 69 countries, and today, it governs the road signs seen in most of the world. The United States refused to sign the agreement. Why? Half as Interesting cites 3 big reasons.

“Technically, legally, roads are under the purview of the states, not the federal government and so the federal government signing a treaty telling them how to handle their roads is a bit legally murky, the video says.

“Second, at the time of the treaty, the US was working on the Interstate highway system, which they felt would require a lot of breathless, fast-paced innovation in the rough and tumble world of roadside signage and they didn't want to be bogged down by the strictures of a treaty,” the video continues. “Third, given that the US had the most robust driving history in the world, Americans were pretty much their existing signs and they didn't much want them to change.”

If the UN figured out how to tell the British to drive on the other side of the road, Americans could get a rental car in London.





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