16 things Europeans find strange about America

15 things the french get right that americans get wrong
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16 things Europeans find strange about America

Ditch the concept of the gym.

"Numerous medical studies have shown that if you are more active throughout the day than the average person, but don't go to the gym, you are actually healthier than somebody that's sedentary all day and then goes to the gym at the end of the day," explains Orsoni. "The really big thing is to stop thinking [that] exercise is between four walls, in a very specific place. Make it part of your life wherever you are."

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Ask for no ice in your drinks.

"We also very rarely drink water with ice. Water with ice actually opens up your appetite," says Orsoni. "You very rarely see French people drinking [any water at all] while they eat. They will have a glass of wine, but they won't drink too many fluids because it dilutes the digestive enzymes, which makes the digestion very heavy and last longer."

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Walk while you talk.

"We found that people who pace while on the phone, get at least 10,000 extra steps per day," says Orsoni. "That's a lot."

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Put yourself first, and don't feel guilty about it.

American moms often drive around kids to practice and other after-school activities and then sit and watch them for an hour. Instead, split up your time between watching and taking a walk or exercising, suggests Orsoni.

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Take the stairs.

One of the most obvious healthy practices is still one to note: Take the stairs. If you absolutely must take an elevator, do an exercise while on your way up.

"I do a physical chair in the elevator. I am sitting without a chair, back against the wall of the elevator, and I don't care that people are staring at me," says Orsoni.

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Talk to your colleagues — live.

"In the U.S., what I've noticed is that people would send me an email to ask me a question. Why don't they come to my office? That's something that would be normal in France," Orsoni explains. "You would stand up, walk over and come back. It is good for reconnecting with people."

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Take time for lunch — really.

"I call you keyboard eaters," quips Orsoni. Americans often eat quickly at their desks and don't move very far to pick up food.

"Digestion is going to be terrible, which means you are going to be pretty drowsy all afternoon," warns Orsoni. "Your productivity isn't going to be high no matter what you think. You aren't getting any activity."

"In France, you gather your colleagues, you go out and you don't go to the nearest place," she explains. You can do this in an hour. "It requires some creativity but it is completely feasible."

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Let your purse be your weights.

"When we walk on the street you'll see French women tend to keep their purse on their wrist, Orsoni explains. "They usually have their elbow glued to their torso in a 90-degree angle and they change arms. That is how you get amazing biceps without going to the gym. It really works the entire upper body."

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Eat off smaller plates.

Portions in the U.S. are huge compared to portions in France. To trick your body into eating an appropriate portion size, "use dessert plates as opposed to regular plates to serve yourself -- it really works well," suggests Orsoni.

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Do not fill up on bread.

"In France, they never bring you bread before the meal," shares Orsoni. The bread alone at U.S. tables can cost you up to 400 calories. "After a month, you would have gained two pounds of fat if you were to [eat it] every single day."

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Start with soup or a salad.

"If you take your hand and you make a fist with it, that is the size of your stomach when it is completely empty," Orsoni shares. "It can double in size very easily. Anything above that, you will feel too full."

Orsoni recommends a starter that'll fill up your entire stomach and send a signal of fullness to your brain.

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Slow down while eating.

It takes 20 minutes for the brain to recognize fullness and Orsoni has noticed that Americans often rush through eating. Really, Americans should be leaving 20 minutes from the first bite of our meal until the next plate.

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Opt to eat in instead of dining out.

"We don't eat as much out as you do," says Orsoni. "It is very common to have friends over and non-planned parties. Everybody cooks and brings food to someone's house."

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Make your own food products.

Orsoni makes her own butter, ketchup and mustard. "People have forgotten how easy it is to make ... It is also cheaper and healthier."

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Don’t bring your electronics into the bedroom.

Americans tend to fall asleep with their phones and computers on their nightstands, according to Orsoni. "Turn it off completely and put it in another room, somewhere where it is not easy to reach. The world will not stop spinning."

With a better night's rest, you'll be able to make smarter decisions around diet and exercise.

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No matter how many times a European visits the States, there are some Americanisms that Europeans simply cannot get used to.

Here are 16 things that Europeans find strange about America.

1. How are you as a greeting, not a question

When a sales clerk in the States says "how are you" it's not a question, but a way of saying "hello." No matter how often this happens to a European, they will launch into a monologue about their health and well being and ask it right back — and expect an answer.

2. Ice Cubes

Just like Americans are flummoxed by the lukewarm water presented to them in Europe, Europeans can't wrap their heads around how drinks in the US are full of ice. Plus, the average soda-to-ice ratio is approximately 30:70, leaving any cup empty after a few sips.

3. Free refills

Is this because of all the ice? Europeans will never understand why they are presented with a second cup of soda while the first one is still half full in front of them. What's even stranger though, is the fact that one can (and does) order a large soda — despite the refills.

4. Portion sizes

They're huge! Doggy bags are great — who doesn't love a two-for-one meal — but the concept virtually doesn't exist outside of the US, as generally people can easily polish off their dinner.

5. Certain food combinations

Marshmallows and sweet potatoes? Ice cream and soda? Bacon and syrup? These combinations seem odd to Europeans.

6. The Question Game

Most Europeans feel accosted when bombarded with 12,857 questions when they just want to order a simple sandwich.

7. Tipping

The fact that the onus is on the customer to pay for someone else's employees to make a fair wage is mindboggling to Europeans. The fact that they're paying extra for someone to do their job, not even for doing it well, is astounding. Europeans also find it confusing that there's no set amount or percentage one should tip, and who gets tipped seems equally ambiguous.

8. Taxes

Yes, annual taxes are hard for everyone, but that's different. What's just nonsense is the fact that the price you see on an item is not the same one you pay at checkout.

9. Coins

What are these strange nicknames that say nothing about the coin's value? Why is a dime smaller than a nickel, but worth more? Euro coins, on the other hand, are actually called by their numeric denomination.

10. Air Conditioning

Why is the average shop or office set to Arctic temperatures? Indoors anywhere in America during the summer is unbearably cold, and most Europeans are just not used to this.

11. The Measurement System

It just makes no sense. How is 7/8ths an appropriate measurement? How are feet still a thing? The rest of the world has embraced the metric system, and it's high time for the US to follow suit.

12. Being cashless

Few Europeans wander about with wallets utterly devoid of cash, but America is basically a cashless society. Being able to pay for as little as a pack of gum with a card is still amazing to most Europeans.

13. The insane range of options

The average European will walk out of the average American supermarket or deli utterly bewildered by the array of choices they just witnessed. There's an entire aisle for soda? A dozen brands of milk? How many flavors of chips?

14. 24-hour stores

Convenience seems to be the cornerstone of this great country. Stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There's a drive thru everything. Most European shops, on the other hand, close at 6pm and all day on Sundays.

15. The drinking age

In most of Europe, the legal drinking age is 18 (and in many places, it's legal for teens as young as 16 to drink alcohol) — much younger than the 21-age limit it is in the US. Europe also has a much more liberal stance on public drinking, as you are allowed to bring alcohol out on the streets — something that you generally can't do in the US, except for these American bastions of civilization.

16. Not taking vacation days

Squandering 169 million vacation days like Americans did in 2013, or not taking a single day off like almost half the country last year is completely and utterly unfathomable to a European.

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