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Weird American Habits That the Rest of the World Just Doesn't Understand

Every culture has its weird quirks, and America is no exception there. For example, why are we so overly gregarious all the time? And why do we ALWAYS tip in restaurants, regardless of the quality of service? These are some of the questions that foreigners have about our weird American habits when they visit.

Keep in mind while you read through this list that we’re certainly not saying that all of these things are bad…we’re simply pointing out some of the interesting quirks we have that we just don’t think much about!

Patriotism

It’s true that as Americans, we love our country! It seems like we hang American flags everywhere: Parades, schools, in our homes, and on our front porches. But people from other countries tend to think patriotism is a little strange. Many even find kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school to be a bit creepy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Believe it or not, the rest of the world finds PB&J sandwiches quite unappetizing, which is really weird to think about when you consider how much of a staple they are for most American kids! But honestly, the people in other countries are missing out, if you ask us…

Student Debt

Practically every single American who goes to college will walk away with an unbelievable amount of student debt…even years down the road! So while we Americans will often shell out $100,000 for higher education, many European students get to go to college for free and walk away with little or no debt.

'The Customer is Always Right!'

American customer service employees get used to being screamed at and berated as just an everyday part of the job. After all, the universal motto of customer service is “the customer is always right!” One Redditor named u/srocan noted that this mentality has “created excessive portions in restaurants, created Karen, gives way to a disposable attitude towards products, and generally gives a sense of entitlement where most people start adding it to their list of rights.”

Gaps in Public Toilet Stalls

If you think about it, it is really weird that public bathroom stalls have such wide gaps, both in the doors and between the floor and the bottom of the stall. It allows for very little privacy!

Cold Pizza

Another food habit that tends to confuse non-Americans is that of consuming cold pizza as a snack. But once again, don’t knock it till you try it!

Putting Your Kids in Daycare

Many foreigners find it strange that American parents opt to hand their young children over during the day to caregivers when they go off to work every morning, but let’s be realistic here: Given the lack of paid parental leave at many American jobs, a lot of parents don’t have the option of staying home with their children for very long after they’re born!

Obsession With Guns

Americans love their guns and the second amendment, whereas in many other countries firearms are seen as unnecessary and too dangerous for most people to own.

Not Using the Metric System

There’s nothing more American than the imperial system! While the rest of the world uses the metric system, we Americans (and Myanmar and Liberia) are still measuring things in inches, feet, and yards. It makes very little sense and it’s probably just time for us to switch over already!

Kicking Your Kids Out at 18

A lot of parents will joke that they only have to deal with their kids for 18 years, and then they’re on their own. While it’s technically a joke, there’s still some truth to that sentiment, as many American parents expect their kids to have their lives in order by the time they reach legal adulthood so they can start heading out the door! In many other countries, it’s more socially acceptable to live with one’s parents into adulthood.

Tipping

Tipping is something that all Americans know to do any time they eat at a restaurant because restaurant staff often make very low wages and they depend on tips to survive. But in other places, like Europe for example, customers only tip if they feel that they’ve had exceptional service.

Eating Dessert for Breakfast

It’s a fact that waffles or pastries for breakfast are delicious, but people from other countries don’t seem to see it that way. In fact, many think it’s straight-up disgusting to include that much sugar so early in the day!

Avoiding the Doctor

It’s no secret that going to the doctor in America is expensive – so much so that many people actively avoid it if they don’t have health insurance. While most of us Americans are perfectly used to this, many foreigners who have universal healthcare find it really strange. One Redditor wrote in a thread on this topic: “Ambulance rides that cost money seem pretty absurd to people from other countries.”

The Greek System

Being in a fraternity or sorority is a pretty big part of college life for a lot of students, but non-Americans tend to not get the appeal and importance of it. Some foreign college campuses have even banned Greek life altogether! “Explaining Greek life in college whenever I’m abroad made me realize how bizarre it is,” admitted Redditor u/Sufficient-Shallot.

Putting Ice in Beverages

When we go out to a restaurant, we’re so used to getting ice in our drinks that most of us probably don’t think much of it. But when you think about it, it is kind of weird getting ice in your drink in the middle of winter, isn’t it? This habit may have been passed down from the 19th century, when having ice was a sign of wealth. Obviously, that isn’t the case anymore, but we still do love having ice in our drinks regardless!

Banning the Kinder Surprise

Thanks to a law put in place by the FDA stating that confections cannot contain small inedible parts, Americans will never know the wonders of the chocolate Kinder Surprise, and let’s just say, Europeans are very confused by this.

Being Obsessed With Work

When Americans meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask is, “what do you do for work?” Seeing as we spend the vast majority of our lives working, it makes sense that this would be a reasonable conversation starter, but people in other countries disagree, apparently; one Redditor named u/Ssffxx commented, “I live outside the U.S. and realized there are some people I’ve known for years and I still don’t know their job. I think in the U.S. jobs are a bigger part of a person’s identity than in some other places.”

Sweet Bread

As it turns out, bread in America is really sweet – at least, according to foreigners. Non-Americans say that everything from sliced bread to burger buns tastes more like a pastry than anything. This is because one slice of American bread can contain several grams of sugar, whereas European bread often has none.

Portion Sizes

Americans love big portions, and foreigners tend to be quite shocked when they see how much food restaurants serve. We also love our drink refills, as Redditor u/jakukufumenase commented: “When I went over from the UK, I deliberately bought a large McDonald’s cup, just to take it back with me to show everyone the sheer size of their portions. Most people I showed were in awe, and I usually forgot to tell them about the refills, as well.”

TV Commercials

Most Americans don’t think much of the fact that watching TV comes with a plethora of commercial breaks, but foreigners find the number of ads a little ridiculous. One Redditor commented, “I remember when I was on holiday in the US and was watching an episode of The Simpsons. It had the normal ad break in the middle then came back on, the show ended and went to another super long ad break for it to come back on to just show the credits.”

Calling Items by Their Brand Names

Europeans are confused about why we say “Jello-O,” “Band-Aids,” and “Post-its,” when really they’re called “jelly,” “adhesive bandages,” and “sticky notes.” We’re all about the brand names in America, apparently!

Pickles With Everything

Apparently, Americans love pickles, as evidenced by the fact that restaurants will often serve you a pickle as a side with your meal. One Reddit user, u/greenandgold52, complained: “I have been in the States for like eight years and you guys give a pickle with everything.” Kind of true, now that we think about it!

No Paid Parental Leave

While in many other countries parental leave is a basic right for people who have recently become parents, in America that is not a guarantee for most working people. The United States is actually the only first-world country that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. Add that on to the costs of having a child in the first place and now the US doesn’t seem like such a great place to raise a family at all, does it?

Why so Many Church Denominations?

When compared to Europe, America has quite a few Christian denominations. This may be because America was largely colonized by Europeans seeking a new land that would honor their religious freedom from the mainstream church sects (mainly Catholic and Protestant) of their home lands!

Taxes Not Included on the Price Tag

When you go shopping in America, unless you feel like bringing a calculator with you and doing math every time, you pretty much have to guess how much tax will end up being before you go to check out. While we’re used to it as Americans, this can get pretty irksome for people who aren’t from here!

Medication Advertisements

In America, we’re used to seeing commercials for different medications on TV or listening to them on the radio, followed by a fast-talking voice recording of all of the dangerous side effects of said medication. It’s a little strange when you think about it! The question then is, if you get hurt or sick and need some medication, why not just go to the doctor who will give you what you need? Oh, right, see our earlier point about the costs of healthcare in America.

Being Overly Nice

Americans are known for being overly gregarious, to the point that it kind of freaks foreigners out a bit! That’s not to say that people in other countries AREN’T nice, they just like to give people a bit more space!

Ads During Sporting Events

During televised NFL games, the game is typically played around a commercial schedule, meaning that when it’s time for the commercial break, the game goes on a timeout. In other countries, however, the commercials are aired around the game! That seems a bit more logical, don’t you think?

Wearing Shoes Indoors

In places like Japan, you always remove your street shoes before you go into your house, which makes sense when you think about how disgusting the bottom of your shoes are!

Obsession With Coffee

While it seems like the rest of the world has tea as their caffeinated beverage of choice, we Americans love our Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts more than anything in the world. But our question for people from other countries who find this weird is: Have you TRIED coffee before?

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