There are certainly many things that non-Americans don't understand about America, as evidenced by a Reddit post that asked "Non-American people, what's a thing that you don't understand about America?”
The post quickly went viral, receiving over 36k comments from non-Americans sharing their confusion about the country and natives answering their most pressing questions.
With that in mind, let's delve into the five mysteries about America that non-Americans have yet to solve.
Filing Taxes Even Though the Government Knows How Much You Owe
One aspect that non-Americans seem to struggle with is the fact that all workers are required to file their own taxes, despite the government already knowing the exact amount owed.
“Does every worker have to file their own taxes or am I just confused?” a Reddit user questioned.
“You're not confused. It's a pain in the a...,” one answered.
“Whats even better is the government knows how much you owe. But they won’t tell you. They make you do complicated calculations based on a set of ever-evolving rules to figure it out. And then fine you if you’re wrong,” another added.
The idea of not having to file taxes on their own seemed too good to be true for some US residents, who couldn't even fathom what they read.
“You mean…there’s a magical land where someone does that for you?” one questioned.
“I think most of the world? in Australia it's all done automatically, the only thing we have to do is log in to a website and double check if it's right then submit it. Takes less than a minute most of the time,” a user explained.
But have you ever wondered why the US government makes you calculate your own taxes? Here's an enlightening response shared by a Reddit user:
“Because companies like TurboTax & H&R Block use the profits they make from charging us to file our taxes to lobby politicians into making policies which prevent the government from just telling us how much we owe even though the government knows exactly how much we owe so that we need to pay companies like TurboTax & H&R Block to file our taxes.”
Buying Politicians' Merchandise
People in the US love to show off their political pride, and what better way to do that than by rocking a "Make America Great Again" hat or a "Joe Biden for President" t-shirt?
However, non-US citizens can't seem to understand the concept of buying politicians' merchandise, with one user questioning: “So, why do you buy politicians' merchandise? Shirts, caps, banners, stickers, etc. They're public servants, not rockstars. Also, usually the more boring they are, the better.”
To which someone replied: “The US prefers the entertaining psychopaths.”
Sharing a Room with a Complete Rando in College
Sharing a room with a stranger in college can be a unique and exciting experience as it's their first time living away from home and having a roommate. For non-Americans (and some Americans), however, it's nothing but a headache.
A non-native questioned in the comments, "Why do you have to share a room with a complete stranger in college?" and was met with a flood of responses from individuals who had bad experiences with this.
“Rando #1 - ran a hair perming business from our tiny room. The chemical fumes were awful.
Rando #2 - hid her boyfriend in our room while he was evading police warrant for his arrest
Rando #3 - let her friends sleep in my bed any night I was away
Rando #4 - threatened to kill me while I slept, because she was mad I took my tv home
I'm not a fan of this system. Ended up being an RA to get a private room,” one shared.
“My rando from freshman year ended up becoming my best friend. After my 1st year we just picked friends to live with. Sophomore year there were 4 of us, and 6 of us for the following 3 years,” another wrote.
Casually Talking to Strangers
Americans are often accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle and may view casual conversations with strangers as a way to unwind and connect with others, so it's not uncommon to see natives striking up a conversation with someone they don't even know.
This, however, is not the norm in other countries like the UK, according to a user's comment: “The culture of just... talking to people, strangers you dont know and just up and start a conversation with them or join a conversation. Im British, and we go through great lenghs to not talk to people, let alone opening up and pouring our hearts out to a random person”
Interestingly enough, it seems like this 'talking to strangers' culture is not prevalent in the western US, as one Reddit user replied: “I'm from the western US and moved to South Carolina for a few months for work. I was very surprised at how many random people in public just started conversations with me. If you are standing in line for anything, it is a given that they will chat you up in the south.”
The Expectation to Tip Well Regardless of the Service
Tipping in the US is kind of a big deal. When you go out to eat or get a service done, it's pretty much expected that you'll leave a tip as a way to show appreciation for good (or bad) service or a delicious meal.
However, some non-Americans may feel pressured to leave a tip when they're in the country to conform to this unspoken rule.
“The tipping culture is so foreign to me, I would be so scared to make a mistake or not tipping enough if I ever go to America, because it's not something which is common here in Denmark,” one wrote.
Furthermore, tips in America are no longer limited to certain services, but now there are tip jars at every food counter and even when buying items such as pizza or baked goods, as per one Reddit user:
It used to just be services - hair stylists, hotel housekeeper, waitress or delivery driver. But now there’s a tip jar at every food counter, and if I order a pizza to go, or buy a muffin from a bakery, or whatever, the card swipey thing wants to know if I’d like to tip 15, 20, 25 or 30%.
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Sylvia Silverstone is a passionate writer who loves to share her knowledge and expertise on a wide range of topics, including beauty, life hacks, entertainment, health, news, and money. With a keen eye for detail and a talent for storytelling, Sylvia's engaging writing style keeps readers coming back for more.