Things I’ll never get used to in the USA


Things I’ll never get used to in the USA

The land of unlimited possibilities – or rather the land of unlimited oddities?!

After several trips to Florida, New York, California, Washington and now also Texas I have already experienced some strange habits, facts and things in the USA. What surprises me again and again as an Austrian, I’ll tell you today:

Greeting Phrases

Hello, how are you?

But an answer to the question is not expected and the conversation just continues. But when you do answer, everyone is confused.


Beer and wine are readily available in the supermarket, but for stronger alcohol, you have to go to the liquor store. And you don’t have to be 21 in every state to be allowed to drink alcohol.


Especially in the southern states, the possession of weapons is pretty much a human right. And although you can’t buy strong alcohol like rum or tequila in the supermarket, you can buy weapons there. For less than $200. And some firearms are also available without a gun licence or background check.

Also, the mentality with which weapons are carried just makes me shake my head. By the way, there are special holsters for the seatbelt in the car, so that you always have the gun handy and ready to fire.

Photographed in a supermarket in Texas
Waffen USA Schiessstand
Photographed in a supermarket in Texas


Most medicines are also available conveniently and without a prescription in the “pharmacy” in the supermarket. The packets are often insanely large – you wouldn’t even get such quantities in the pharmacy in Austria. And simpler drugs like aspirin and other painkillers are usually ridiculously cheap.

Houses Made Out of Wood

Back in the day, I was really impressed when in an US-American movie someone punched in a wall in a house with their fist. Today, I know that most houses do not even have a proper foundation and the walls are simply screwed together from wood and plasterboard. So it comes as no surprise to me that they are easily damaged by storms.


Again and again, I fall for the same trap and assume that what is written on the price tags in the supermarket or in the outlet store is also what I will pay at the checkout. Wrong! Because the prices are always displayed without taxes. There are five states where you really pay 0% sales tax – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon – but in all the other states you do pay sales tax. The percentage of the tax varies not only from state to state but can also vary within municipalities and districts as additional taxes may be added. In some places, the sales tax is over 10%.

Super Duty

Cars have one purpose for me: to transport me from A to B, safely and, if possible, comfortably. In the USA, cars are on average WAY bigger and higher than cars in Europe – or elsewhere. If I, as a tall woman, can’t even see over the car and almost need a ladder to get in, it just becomes absurd.

Opening hours

A supermarket or liquor store really doesn’t have to be open 24/7. Especially not on Sundays or bank holidays.

America vs the USA

Dear US-Americans, please learn the difference between America, the continent and the US of A, your home country.

America ≠ USA

This video sheds light on this.

Being ill

Sick leave in the USA means in most cases: no money. Because there is no uniform regulation that obliges companies to grant a paid sick leave to their employees.

2 weeks holidays

Two words: not enough!


That’s probably one of the topics I’ve been most annoyed about so far.

If you go to dinner, you should also tip. Actually, you have to tip when you want to come back and be served. And then the tip is also not like back home where you round up to the next Euro – it is expected to tip between 10-20%! The reason for this is that the waiters either have no salary or a very, very low salary and live on their tips. This makes eating out in the USA usually quite expensive.

I would prefer it if the food and drinks just had a higher price and I wouldn’t have to think about how much money to tip Mandy and Josh and therefore decide with how much money they go home with at the end of their shift.


“I will sue you” mentality

Particularly in the local news and in the cities, lawyers are advertising like crazy: “Hit by a company vehicle? Contact us to get a free case review!”

Horrendous student loans

If you need or want a better education, you have to pay for it. And usually not just a little. In Austria, we pay tuition fees, but our 360€ per semester are nothing compared to what US-Americans have to pay.


I’ll just leave this here.

What are the things you can’t get used to in the USA? What keeps getting you suspicious?

Do more of what makes you happy

ps. pin me!

USA things I'll never get used to weird habits in the us

Viktoria Urbanek Travel Blog Chronic Wanderlust

Grüß dich, I'm Viki!

At Chronic Wanderlust, I write about my two great passions: travelling and diving – and have been doing so since 2013.

I usually spend a solid majority of the year travelling to experience extraordinary underwater adventures, taking road trips through countries I don’t know (yet) or exploring my home country of Austria.

As a certified divemaster, passionate underwater & travel photographer, road trip enthusiast and individual traveller, I collect unique moments all over the world.

I don’t believe that severe cases of wanderlust – aka chronic wanderlust – can be cured, only treated. On this blog, I want to show you how this can best be realised.

Curious to get to know me better?