It’s easy to forget that what’s considered normal behavior in one country can be off-putting in the next. And we all know Americans have their quirks. People took to the internet to share what Americans do that makes them stick out like a sore thumb in other countries.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Under Pressure
If someone is being rude or disruptive in public, Americans have no problem calling them out. In the UK? Not so much. “We just glare and tut until we develop a stomach ulcer from the built-up stress.” Another commenter agreed. “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”
2: Cheering Along
One lucky European experienced their first stateside Mardi Gras, a uniquely American experience. “A float went by with the Navy on it, and everyone started chanting ‘USA,'” they said. “I joined in for the craic, and it was great fun.”
3: An American Classic
An American said when they were living in Finland, they started to make a classic PB&J sandwich in the kitchen. Their roommates were instantly confused. “I guess people in Finland do not eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They all thought the idea was gross.”
4: Over Advertising
Commercial breaks in America get way out of hand, one person observed. They remember watching an episode of “The Simpsons” when visiting the US on holiday, “It had the normal ad break in the middle, then came back on. Then, the show ended, and went to another super long ad break.”
5: Doctor’s Orders
The content of said commercials is also surprising to non-Americans, who typically don’t get bombarded with advertisements for medicine. “Seriously, if I’m sick, I’ll see a doctor who’ll give me what I need,” they said. “Americans just think, ‘I have pain here – Must get brand name drug to solve the pain.'”
6: Not in My Country
A traveler says they were shocked when they met some Americans a few years ago in France and received warm invitations to visit them in the US. “Very guest-friendly. I was not sure if they meant it or if the invitations were merely a friendly gesture; in Holland, invitations are not given that easy.”
7: Cheek to Cheek
One visitor thought it was bizarre at first when American men and women greeted each other with a handshake or wave. “Where I’m from, we say hello cheek to cheek. It took me a while to get used to,” they said.
8: Participation Trophy
One American studying abroad pointed out that in New Zealand, people barely seem to ask their professors questions. “In my engineering class, our lecturer asked who wanted to be an engineer, and nobody raised their hand.”
9: Playing Nice
It throws one German off when people ask, “How are you?” after meeting someone new. They said it isn’t expected in their country “because I guess we don’t care how you are?” An American reassures them, “Oh, we don’t actually care either. It’s just a thing to say.”
10: Let Us Pray
One Irish visitor was shocked by the numerous churches and Christian denominations across the States. “Here in Ireland, we have two churches: Catholic and Protestant.”
11: Don’t Be a Prude
An American shared a seemingly ordinary kiss with their significant other in her home country of the Philippines in front of the elders. Big mistake. “It was just a peck too. But PDA [public displays of affection] is kinda frowned upon by older traditional Filipinos.”
“Please stop using different narrators for David Attenborough documentaries,” one Brit said. “This is just wrong.” An American said, “In a weird reverse, England redubs the voice-over guy for Mythbusters. And it’s awful!”
13: Not Allowed
While lobbying is rampant in America, the law strictly forbids it in one person’s home country. “The state itself funds every political party based on the votes it received in the latest election,” they explained.” I can’t wrap my head around how political campaigns receive vast amounts of corporate donations, and it is justified in the US.”
14: Sweet Stuff
One American didn’t realize that sweet tea is only in the States and mainly in the South. “I’m not sure how to describe it, but sweet tea in the South tastes different than other teas I’ve had,” a non-American said. “I had some at my friend’s house down south, and it was the best thing ever.”
15: Legally Hilarious
Americans, especially in the South, have gotten used to seeing flashy lawyers advertising their services. One Brazilian law student said when they were visiting Louisiana, they saw an ad that said, “Has AN ALLIGATOR bitten YOU? WE CAN HELP YOU GET A REPARATION”. They thought it was hilarious.
16: Politically Incorrect
Seemingly endless, costly political campaigning in the states is not the norm, even with our close neighbors. One Canadian says in their country, “Campaigns are typically 1-2 months, with strict spending limits.”
20 Things Foreigners Take Too Seriously About the US
Yellow American cheese and horrible gaps in bathroom stalls, anyone? Americans shed light on what foreigners get all wrong about The Land of the Free.
21 Startling Things About the U.S., According to Foreigners
Sometimes it takes seeing something through a foreigner’s lens to understand the differences between Americans and the rest of the world. Ready for a good laugh?
30 Best Countries for Retirement
Some people dream of moving to a different state when they retire; others dream of moving overseas. US News & World Report ranked the best countries for a comfortable retirement. The U.S. made the cut, but do you know where it ranks?
Renaming the United States
Here’s a fun exercise: People are renaming the United States of America. What’s your suggestion? Americans and foreigners alike shared their two cents.
Say What? 15 Words People Commonly Butcher in Conversation
The English language is deceptive, according to grammar enthusiasts who share the top 15 words that sound nothing like they look on paper. How many of these words are you guilty of mispronouncing?