If you take a trip to Europe, or most other places around the world, you'll get some odd stares for requesting ice in your water or soda. It makes sense for locales that are less developed—they just don't have the refrigeration infrastructure. Some places even prefer hot drinks in hot weather. Ever been to Turkey? They regularly drink hot tea during the hot days they experience.
One of the differences between the U.S. and Europe is that Americans think a hundred years is a long time, while Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance. Maybe it's because we live in a country with so much elbow room, but driving isn’t a big ordeal for us.
We tip our wait staff because "tipped wage" means that your server is making as little as $2.13/hour and relies on the generosity of strangers to pay the bills. Waiters, if a tourist stiffs you, it's probably because nothing in their life has prepared them for our culture of tipping.
Food portions in the U.S. are gigantic compared to almost everywhere else. While some of us are used to sharing meals or taking home leftovers, visitors from abroad take a look at our huge dishes and shake their heads in wonderment.
The joke has been made many ways, but only America could take a holiday about giving thanks for what you have and follow it with a nationwide shopping spree! At least there's been some pushback lately on Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving.
Sure, impeachments and celebrity trials are a thing in other countries. However, the U.S has a way of making people celebrities because of trials. Turning people like Casey Anthony into household names is not something you see everywhere.
(image via Instagram)
Turning your car into a party zone is a uniquely American tradition. While it has spread from football to other sports and even opera, it really hasn’t spread beyond the U.S.
Trick-or-Treating traces its roots back to "guising" in Scotland and Ireland, but the practice isn't widespread. In some places, like France, it was regarded with ambivalence or even resentment.
When was the last time you paid for something with paper money? It might be a decent way to stave off identity theft, but most of us don't bother with carrying it. Maybe we don't want to be mugged? Whatever the reason, we stand out as a cashless culture.
From the Presidential pardon of the turkey to the weird meat-inside-a-meat like John Madden's famous "turducken," Thanksgiving is a dense web of baffling traditions for those on the outside.
Wasted Vacation Days
Americans may not have the most toxic work culture around, but we still wasted 658 million vacation days as a nation last year. That stands out to people!
We have a weird habit of putting pre-tax prices on things in stores. We either get to break out the calculator or roll the dice when we reach the checkout. International visitors are used to just paying what they see on the tag. Go figure.
Americans have a long, rich history of having a really weird relationship with sex. We indulge in two unique assertions: nudity is inherently sexual, and sex is somehow more objectionable than violence. The rest of the world just doesn’t understand these notions.
(image via Wikipedia)
Granted, we're not the only people to pin our hopes and dreams on an animal, but the whole nation turning its eyes to a groundhog is a little odd.
Advertisements for prescription medication are almost inescapable in the U.S. What we maybe don't realize is that many other countries in the Western world have outright banned direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs.
American Flag Decor
From bathing suits to home decor, the American flag has become a major style and fashion statement in the United States. While many foreigners don't find using a national flag for these purposes offensive, it's definitely something that doesn't happen a lot in other countries.
(image via Pinterest)
Free Drink Refills
Free drink refills at restaurants are so omnipresent in the United States that we don't give them a second thought. However, foreign tourists find themselves baffled by the fact that we manage to drink so much and that restaurants can make a profit when giving away so much product for free!
Turning Right at a Red Light
While some places in central and south America allow this driving practice, most European and Asian countries prohibit turning right at a red light--or left, depending on which side of the road you're driving on. So, don't be surprised if your foreign friends have a heart attack when riding with you!
Spreading jams, jellies, and other treats on bread seems to be a near-universal practice, but foreigners find themselves downright baffled at how sweet and sugary the bread itself is in the United States. Who knew enjoying a sandwich at lunch required a trip to the dentist afterward?
Sweet 16 Parties
Some countries don’t get why we celebrate Sweet 16 parties. In America, you don’t get any extra rights when you turn 16. It certainly isn’t when you’re old enough to be considered an adult, so what’s with the whole “Sweet 16” thing?
Specifically, pledging allegiance to the flag. In all fairness, some find it strange we do it in school every single day because it seems “dystopian.” Others are just confused about why we pledge allegiance to the flag at all.
We Americans love our small talk. We’re super friendly. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s weird for people who live in another country. “How’s the weather?” “It’s fine, are you not outside as well?” It’s kinda weird if you think about it.
Most of the time we (and most of the world) avoid commercials. That being said, there’s one time a year that we tune in and pay special attention to commercials—during the Superbowl. It’s weird, but they’re much better than usual, okay?
One of the big ones is tax season. Taxes in other countries are often automatically deducted from wages, and if employers get something wrong, the country sends a letter saying how much the person owes. Alternatively, some get a letter stating how much will be refunded. In America, the whole thing is done by us.
Some cities are famous for never sleeping—looking at you, New York. Even in smaller towns, there are tons of businesses and restaurants that are open around the clock. In other countries, they don’t need to eat at 3 a.m.
Depending on the country, some people find it really odd that we uproot our lives and just move to a new state. It isn’t strange for someone to be born in Michigan but move their entire life to Colorado. Then, later in their lives, move again to Texas.
In other countries, you just don’t tell strangers stuff about you. In America? Different story. It isn’t weird for someone to open up about themselves on any subject. Sometimes, if you try to make small talk, you may very well learn about someone’s entire life.
Cheerleaders? Totally a strange concept for people that aren’t from America. Other countries don’t have cheer squads at their sports games. Just take a look at the World Cup!
Every year, when Pumpkin Spice Latte season hits, Punkin Chunkin season follows. Families get together to pick out pumpkins and then hurl them through the air at great distances only to explode upon impact. What isn’t fun about this?
Apparently, other countries don’t do the whole “packing up your food” thing if you don’t eat it all. Their meals are “regular-sized,” but isn’t that relative? Whatever. We love our doggie bags so we can have lunch the next day.
For some non-Americans, there isn’t a single good reason to wear shoes inside your house. For us, it’s not that strange. Maybe it’s because our friends across the pond (England) do the same, but in other places? Nah, you better take those shoes off.
Gotta admit that this one is pretty quirky. A live turkey is presented by the National Turkey Federation (yes, a real thing) to be pardoned. This tradition has been going on since 1947.
Starting in high school (or middle school for some), we start having proms. Short for promenade, these get-togethers are when kids get primped and party with classmates. Some countries are beginning to adopt this tradition, but they usually aren’t as formal as ours.
Maybe it’s because we have more room than other countries, but almost everyone shops at Costco, Walmart, or another superstore. Those who visit our nation are baffled by the volume of stuff and choice at these places.
Kicking Kids Out at 18
In America, we’re believers of going out there and getting your own life started. For most people, that means booting your kids out of the house at 18. While it's true the age is getting closer to 21 at this point, many people still tell their kids to get their own place at 18.