Uniquely American Experiences That Confuse The World

By molly atherton 11 months ago

1. If you're leaving America, stock up on these

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Of course, we all know that every country has snacks that are unique to them. But did you know that Cool Ranch Doritos are specific to America? Other countries have Doritos, but that specific flavor is uniquely American. So if that's your favorite road trip snack, and you're planning a trip overseas, you might wanna stock up!

2. Filing your own taxes

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The fact that Americans have to file their own taxes, even though the government knows exactly how much you owe is a foreign concept to many. People who don't live in the US find it odd that you have to do your own calculations and that the rules are ever-changing. Not to mention, if you do it wrong, you get fined!

3. Pajama day at school

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This is one of those things that other countries often experience just through American movies. Countries like Russia have designated clothes for home and clothes for wearing outside. Your home clothes are what you change into after work that are comfortable, and then before bed, you change into your pajamas. So your pajamas are considered very private and would never be worn in public!

4. Wearing shoes inside

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Okay, I'm American, but I'm also Asian, so I just can't get down with this one. But other countries really frown upon wearing shoes inside. However, it's not uncommon to go to an American household and you're not required to take your shoes off. Especially if it's a party or get-together. All the germs from the outside... inside. It's too much!

5. Eating sugary things in the morning

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While other countries enjoy desserts and sweets just as much as the rest of us, it's baffling to them that we would choose to consume these items first thing in the morning. Whether it be donuts, waffles or sweet cereals, other people find it strange that we try to fuel our body with sugar.

6. Tailgate parties with your friends

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Nothing says America like a bunch of drunk people in a parking lot! Tailgate parties are an American staple. Showing up in a massive truck with coolers full of beer and a grill to get some burgers and hot dogs going is truly the American dream. Add a little country music and corn hole, and you're really living!

7. Paying millions of dollars for health insurance

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Chalk it up to our love of individualism and inability to agree, but we're paying a crapload more than most people for health insurance. Other countries find it so weird that we have to pay so much to see a doctor or get healthcare. The same goes for how we handle the cost of higher education.

8. Massive portions of food

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The size of portions of food at American restaurants is often quite large compared to the rest of the world. Studies have shown that the amount and types of food Americans regularly consume is playing a large part in weight and health in the US. Only in America can you get a massive tub of popcorn and soda at the movie theater and have it be labeled "Small."

9. Our obsession with high school and college sports

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Of course, athletes come from all over the globe, and professional athletes everywhere love what they do. But America's love and pressure placed upon kids in high school and college who choose to play sports is a little wild. When people from other countries watch our dream big sports movies, it definitely feels like a unique experience.

10. Talking to strangers

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Americans smile and say hi to strangers all throughout the day, whether passing them on the street, at the office or in the grocery store. Beyond that, Americans are also incredibly open, and it doesn't seem too outside the realm of possibility to start sharing your life story with a complete stranger. But, try to share your life's woes with a stranger on a train in another country, and you're likely to be met with weird looks.

11. The way we greet people

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As mentioned, Americans are definitely smiley, and while of course other countries have their own ways of greeting each other, the half-smile acknowledgement that Americans do while passing each other is likely something you'll only experience... from other Americans!

12. Having to figure out sales tax

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If you've ever had just enough to purchase something, and then you get to the register and forgot to factor in the sales tax, you know how frustrating it can be. In most other countries, this tax is factored into the price, so whatever you see on the shelf or the tag is exactly what you're going to pay when you go to check out. Must be nice!

13. Cheese in a can

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This should probably not even be an American experience, but alas, here we are. If you've ever sprayed Easy Cheese onto a cracker and shoved the whole thing in your mouth, well then welcome to America. We turn our noses at Vegemite, but we'll eat this stuff straight from the can. Make it make sense!

14. Minimal time off

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One thing that really confuses other countries about America is the amount of time we spend at work. Sure, every country has to work to live, but Americans seem to prioritize their jobs and careers over everything else. People from other countries are surprised at how little Americans take vacation, and how little time is given to them by a company to take said vacation.

15. Keeping the AC or heat on 24/7

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In a lot of other countries, you'll find that houses less commonly have central air conditioning or heat, where it seems to be the opposite in the US. And even if you do have it, you likely don't run it all day the way you do in America. A lot of places just turn on their units at night, to help with sleep, or run their heat until evening and sleep with it off, piling up with blankets.

16. Getting fined for jaywalking

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Apparently people in other countries think we're making up the fact that jaywalking is a crime. If you've ever been fined for not walking in between the white lines when crossing the street, then you know just how real it is! Of course, we see it portrayed in TV and films, but other countries think it's a made-up rule.

17. 24 hour stores and restaurants

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Americans love grabbing some Dennys in the middle of a night or hitting up a 24 hour Walmart for that thing you just HAVE to have at 3am. This is not common in most other countries! In Australia, they have late night shopping where stores stay open until 8pm or 9pm, but often most shops close around 6pm!

18. The freaking HUGE grocery stores

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As an American who lived overseas for a long time, I can attest to this. American grocery stores and stores like Target are overwhelmingly massive. While they seem convenient, when I first returned to the US, I found it anxiety-inducing! The long AF aisle dedicated to a million types of cereal feels excessive!

19. Celebrating the World Series

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Okay, fair, we celebrate the World Series of a sport that is primarily only played in America. Baseball is truly America's sport, so it's understandable that the love for the sport runs deep, and even celebrating it is fine, but to call teams World Champs for only playing teams from their own country is a little silly.

20. Our very very strong sense of patriotism

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People from other countries find it very strange that people in the US buy merchandise that represents their political affiliations. One person said that it's equating a political figure to a rockstar rather than what they are... a public servant. Why do we idolize people running for office in America?

21. Free ketchup and condiments

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Honestly, when first traveling overseas from the US, this is one of the things I noticed. You need a packet of ketchup for your fries? Expect to pay for it! Granted, it's only a little bit of change, but condiments aren't free, and you can't just grab them by the handfuls (wastefully) at restaurants.

22. Writing the date with the month first

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Similar to the whole Celsius or Fahrenheit situation, America seems to be one of the only places to write the date as month, day, and year. Most other countries write the day, month, and year. So when people see us writing 8/25/23 it looks confusing! Who else thinks we should follow suit, and also switch to the metric system?

23. Free refills on your drinks

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Most restaurants in America offer free refills, whether it be water or soft drinks. Not so much the case in other countries! What you see on the menu is what you get, and also a lot of times, water isn't free! You'll be asked if you want still or sparkling, and you will be expected to pay for the bottle that's brought to the table. The more you know!

24. Even the word American is, well, American

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If you grew up in the US, you've probably spent your whole life using America and the US interchangeably. The rest of the world doesn't do this (for the most part), because, well, there are other Americas besides us! Can you believe it?! If you're in another country, you'll hear "the States" or "the US" used more commonly.

25. This one made me LOL

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Did you know that red Solo cups are a uniquely American item. Of course, most people in other countries have seen the red cups in movies, especially when depicting a college or high school party scene. So much so, that people have reported ordering red Solo cups specifically for when they're having an American themed party!

26. Playing the billboard game on a road trip

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If you've ever passed the hours driving through Kansas playing the billboard game, then you've had a uniquely American experience. People who visit the US often comment on the number of billboards that line our roads here, saying in their respective countries this would not be the case. Why do they exist?

27. Eating s'mores at a bonfire

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There's possibly nothing better than a beach bonfire in the summer or gathering around a fire at the end of a long day in the fall. To top it all off, Americans love to toast up some s'mores (have you ever tried one with Reese's?!). The concept of a s'more is pretty uniquely American, as some countries don't really get down with graham crackers. But seriously, try the Reese's thing!

28. Filling our drink cups with ice

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Most restaurants in other countries won't give you ice unless you ask for it. In America, it's basically the opposite. Other countries see it as excessive and studies have shown that it plays into America's "more is more" culture. But honestly, a McDonald's Diet Coke with ice just hits different, y'all.

29. Our very party-centered politics

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The rest of the world watches the US argue down political party lines. Devotion to one's political party often seems to be right up there with religion. However, other countries find this confusing and strange. Studies show that other countries often prioritize being person-centered over political preference. In other words, Americans care more about individualism while other countries make decisions for the greater good.

30. Leaving home at 18

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Most kids in America leave home at 18, whether they're pursuing further education or entering the workforce. While not always the case, it's definitely more likely for kids in other countries to stay in their family home after high school rather than having to make it on their own right away. In America, it's almost considered pitiful if you still live with your parents.

31. All that tipping

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Tipping is always expected in America, so if you haven't traveled a lot, you might be surprised to learn that tipping isn't necessary in every country. In fact, in some countries, it can even be offensive to try and tip servers or workers. Tipping is definitely something quintessentially American.

32. Those non-metric measurements

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Most people outside of the US will not really know what you're talking about if you say Fahrenheit, pounds or miles. Oh they'll get what you mean, of course, but they'll need to change it into their own measurement to understand what you're talking about! The metric situation definitely gets messy!

33. That big yellow school bus!

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The yellow school bus is definitely a symbol of American life. If you're American, you might be surprised to see what school buses look like in other countries  - and in some countries, a designated school bus doesn't even exist - you just have to catch the public bus where your school is on the route!

34. Huge cups of coffee

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In most other countries, what Americans would think of as a regular coffee size would actually be a huge coffee. 8 ounce is usually the average in most countries for what would be considered a large coffee, so you can see why the US usual 12 ounce is seen as a whopper!

35. Taking the car for EVERYTHING

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The US is by no means the only place that drivers everywhere for the simplest thing, but it's definitely something that the US specifically has normalized. Nipping out to the store and on a quick errand can see you hopping in the car every single time. Public transport who?

36. Choosing drive-thru every single time

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This one also relates to the US's love of driving (and staying in) their cars, as well as the love of fast food! The drive-thru culture is huge in the United States - if you have a choice, then of course you're going to get a coffee or burger meal to go through your window without even leaving the driver's seat.

37. Having 'loud' as the default setting

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You might not have even realized that, as an American, you're classed as rather loud. You talk at the volume you've always talked at, but when you're talking to other Americans at the same volume, it just seems normal. It's only when you travel to another country do you notice how much you might be getting the evil eye for being a little too loud.

38. Calling it 'college'

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The school system is one of the biggest differences between the US and other countries, and none more so that what Americans label the different levels of education and their buildings. What Americans call college, most of the rest of the world would call a university.

39. Limited vacation time

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A lot of Americans don't even have a passport, and those that do likely have very limited time to travel. It's a known American thing to have limited vacation time in terms of what you're granted to have off work, so international travel can be few and far between in the US workplace.

40. Censoring to the max

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America is of course known for huge Blockbuster movies and TV shows that are packed full of action, violence and F-bombs. But it's actually surprising how censored American can be in terms of media compared to other countries. TV shows can be highly censored in America, especially during prime time when kids might still be up.

41. Those American diners

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A lot of other countries have tried to replicate the 'American diner' experience, both in menu and in the interior design. But there's only one authentic American diner experience, and that's in the United States itself, of course! But American dining has been such a huge hit in other countries.

42. Homecoming

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The traditions and cultures within American educational systems are fairly unique compared to the rest of the world, and this is true of Homecoming, which is very much an American thing where former students will come back to reunite and take parts in events.

43. Who are you taking to prom?

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Another huge tradition that's very much American is prom. Prom is absolutely a huge deal for American students, especially the opportunity to choose the perfect outfit and hope that your crush will ask you out. Although other countries have adopted the tradition of prom, it's the US where it has a firm foundation.

44. The Pledge of Allegiance

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The Pledge of Allegiance is of course something known to every American, and it's normal for students in schools to stand and take the Pledge of Allegiance, maybe even every day. But to students from other countries, this can be a very strange practice - and definitely one that no other country takes part in.

45. The whole 'small talk' thing

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If you want one country or culture that enjoys the whole 'small talk' thing, it's the British - especially about the weather. But when it comes to Americans, small talk can vary depending on different areas. Busy places like New York don't have time for small talk. Places that do have time for small talk won't go further past 'how are you?'.

46. Lack of kettles

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Kettles are used for boiling water in many places, especially England for making cups of tea. Which is why it can be a hugely weird concept for other cultures to find Americans don't usually have a kettle, and will boil their water on the stove or heated up in the microwave.

47. Having a porch

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A lot of houses in America have a porch. There's a whole experience centred around porches alone, such as sitting on the porch, socialising on the porch, relaxing on the porch swing... even decorating the porch for holidays. Other countries can of course have that type of space outside their front door, but a 'porch' is very much known within America.

48. High school reunions

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Another American tradition in terms of the education system can be the popularity of high school reunions. Most adults would be invited to at least one high school reunion in their lifetime, and most might eagerly attend. But a lot of other cultures won't adopt the idea of a high school reunion.

49. The way water is ordered

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In America, water - and refills - are free. So if you're ordering water with a waiter, the only applicable thing to say is 'One water, please.' But in other countries - specifically Europe - you have to specify what type of water. Tap water if you want it free, bottled water if you want to pay for it.

50. Starting our day with sugar

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We mentioned that a lot of other places in the world have adopted American food traditions, like the type of food and diner settings. And while things like waffles and pancakes are popular in other countries, it's a very American thing to order extremely sweet stuff for breakfast!