Even though drinking soda with a straw and grabbing a coffee-to-go is part of everyday life for us, the rest of the world doesn’t see it like that. In fact, some countries consider things like asking to pass the salt to be strange or even rude. Here, we are listing some common practices and cultural norms that we as Americans do but the rest of the world doesn’t agree with.
1. Drink coffee on-the-go.
It’s not surprising, since there are over 13,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, however, there are more than 13,000 Starbucks locations around the world, too. People in other countries don’t drink it the same way we do, though. While coffee is a part of breakfast in the US, in other countries it’s more of a communal ritual of sharing a cup in a coffee shop with friends every now and then.
2. Super size everything.
In America, everything is super-sized. From super-sized drinks to indulgent feasts, we prefer everything in abundance. Other countries, however, typically value quality over quantity. Researchers compared the size of certain snacks in Philadelphia to their Parisian counterparts and found that on average, the U.S. candy bars were 41% bigger, sodas were 52% bigger and yogurt servings were 82% bigger. What’s more, studies show that many people gain weight after immigrating to the U.S.
3. Customize restaurant orders.
In several foreign cultures it is considered rude to request condiments to adjust your meal’s taste. If you ever decide to travel to Italy, don’t plan to ask for extra ketchup or salt which isn’t already on the table, since you are bound to get some rude looks if you do.
4. Require a ton of ice.
Putting ice in everything is mostly just a U.S. thing. Many foreign countries and foreigners like their drink to be pure and not watered down.
5. Pay sales tax
Some foreigners visiting the U.S. are dumbfounded when the total bill is higher than the expected amount. This is because in other countries, the taxes are reflected in the price of the item you are purchasing and the idea of sales tax that gets applied upon checkout is not the norm.
6. Hold a World Series.
Every October, our baseball teams compete in the World Series championship, however, we are the only country that participates, aside from a single Canadian team. Foreigners are baffled by this analogy since we call our teams the best in the world but we are only competing among ourselves. According to NPR, it may have started as just a marketing ploy.
7. Use identical-looking bills.
We are capable of 3D printing and yet, our paper money all looks similar. The U.S. paper bills have remained the same green color and standard size since 1929. Meanwhile, foreign countries have bills that are printed in different colors as well as sizes. Similarly, foreigners are also puzzled by the habit of cashless paying like opting to pay with credit cards.
8. Hold baby showers.
While we have major baby fever, the rest of the world doesn’t quite express it like we do. In the U.S., it’s a celebration from the initial pregnancy announcement until birth. For us, baby showers are very common but for the rest of the world it isn’t quite the same. In fact, in some foreign countries, it’s considered bad luck to even choose a name for the baby or reveal the gender until it’s born.
9. Open gifts in front of the giver.
It always feels great to receive a present. Regardless of the size or how expensive it is, it’s the thought that matters. However, we have the habit of opening gifts in front of those who gave them to us, in order to thank them personally. This habit only exists in America and in some Asian cultures, as it’s normally considered rude to open gifts immediately after receiving them.
10. Strict alcohol laws.
61% of all countries have a drinking age of 18 or 19 years old, while the United States and 11 other countries require that the minimum age to consume alcohol to be 21 years old. In addition to being one of just a handful of countries that prohibit alcohol consumption for anyone under 21, some places across the U.S. completely restrict the sale of beer, wine, and liquor, following Prohibition-era laws. In Indiana, for example, liquor stores still aren’t allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays.
11. Expect free refills.
By default, Americans expect refills to be free. The habit of giving free refills on soft drinks and coffee are (usually) followed by American fast food chains and the brands extend their reach internationally. However, not every country follows this practice and are not happy with it. For example, France banned the sale of unlimited-refill soda in an effort to curb rising obesity rates.
12. Insist on variety.
A user from the UK explains that, Americans “can’t have just one thing”. It has to come in blueberry, vanilla, diet, low fat, low sodium, big, small, round, and GRAPE, everything is grape flavored [sic]. Nothing is grape flavored in the UK.”
13. Go into debt for a degree.
In 2016, the U.S. charged students nearly $25,000 a year for public, in-state colleges and almost $50,000 a year for private universities. Meanwhile, students in countries like France and Germany can attend college for free.
14. Trick or Treat.
Although some find the Trick or Treat tradition to be bizarre, others point to it as another example of Americans’ tendency to commercialize everything.
15. Show too much in public restrooms.
Visitors to the U.S. really do not appreciate American-style bathroom stalls. Several online forums have had discussions to understand the mystery of why there’s so much space underneath and around stall doors. This makes the toilet experience so unpleasant when there is hardly any privacy at all. You can literally count the people waiting outside of the stall and the people waiting can watch your feet and count how long you’ve been inside. Some theories suggest that it’s cheaper to build it that way, while others say that it’s to minimize secretive drug-taking, theft and other undesirable activities.