While America prides itself on its melting pot culture, it’s intriguing to discern how its customs are perceived globally. Here, we unearth 20 intriguing American customs that leave foreigners baffled.
The Entrée Enigma
While most countries understand ‘entrée’ to mean a starter or appetizer, Americans interestingly use it to refer to the main course.
The Water Riddle
Say, “I’ll have water,” and you might get a bill in Europe. Still, water usually refers to bottled water, which isn’t free.
Sugar for Breakfast
Muffins, frosted cereals, and syrupy pancakes might be delightful to an American palate, but to the rest of the world, these are desserts, not breakfast!
The Tipping Culture
Tipping isn’t ubiquitous. Unlike the US, many countries don’t tip; if they do, it’s not always a percentage of the bill.
Lemonade: The Sprite Doppelgänger
In countries like New Zealand, ‘lemonade’ is akin to Sprite. The sugary lemon drink we adore in the US is often termed ‘old-fashioned’ elsewhere.
From lively conversations on the subway to passionate phone discussions in public, Americans are often considered louder than their global counterparts.
The Stranger Talk
Conversing with strangers is commonplace in the US but might earn you puzzled looks in countries like Denmark.
The Complaint Quotient
While vocalizing grievances is common in the US, it can appear as excessive entitlement elsewhere.
For Americans, a 100-mile drive is a breeze. However, such distances are not traversed so nonchalantly in many places worldwide.
Pedestrian Unfriendly Suburbs
American suburbs, with vast housing complexes and sprawling malls, often aren’t the friendliest for those on foot.
The US flag makes its appearance everywhere, from porches to underwear. This omnipresence of the national flag can be puzzling for outsiders.
While many cultures leave their footwear at the door, Americans often stroll around their homes with shoes on.
America’s beloved baseball leaves many international viewers scratching their heads.
On meeting someone, an American’s “What do you do?” can appear nosy in other cultures.
The ‘How Are You?’ Hurdle
This customary American greeting isn’t always understood as a greeting.
The Date Dilemma
MM/DD/YYYY is an American peculiarity. Most of the world follows the Day/Month/Year format.
Paper Money Passion
While coins dominate globally for smaller denominations, the US still clings to its one-dollar bill.
Heritage Over Nationality
Americans often identify with ancestral countries, even if generations have never set foot there.
Unlike many countries where taxes are included in the price tag, Americans always do the math at the checkout.
A delight for many foreigners, unlimited beverage refills in American eateries are a generous gesture uncommon elsewhere.
In sum, America’s vastness and cultural amalgamation give rise to practices that can seem quirky to the external observer. However, they remain an integral part of the diverse American tapestry.
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