9 Things Americans Do That Confuse Everyone Else In The World

by SharonKurheg

A while back, we wrote about things in the U.S. that boggle the minds of Europeans. Although the piece was written in fun, it covered a lot of things we probably already know. Restaurants often have large portions. Our paper money is all the same size and color. Tax usually isn’t included in the price of things. You get the picture.

The thing is, it’s not just our restaurants, money and tax. It’s us. What we do. What we say. How we act. It can be a little confusing (or concerning) to others when we’re outside the country. Stuff like this:

We’re amazed at ancient history

OK, I am definitely guilty of this one. Whenever I go to a country that’s been around for forever and see something that’s several hundred years old (Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Hotel Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg (oh, it was LOVELY!), etc., LOTS of pubs all around Europe, etc.), I always say the same thing: “That’s older than our entire country!”

I know it’s a dumb thing to say, so no comments from the peanut gallery, TYVM ;-). But our country, at less than 250 years old, is really still a baby in comparison to the rest of the world. So in our self-centered way, seeing something that was developed 4 times as long as our country has been around? We’re kind of overly impressed.

We still haven’t figured out that public transportation thing

“The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.” – Earle Hitchner

100% true story. Our country may not be very old, but it’s very spread out. Except for those in some cities like NYC or Chicago, having a car is almost a must. In most parts of many other countries, for example, many rely on public transportation or (*gasp*) walking.

We don’t drink very much hot tea

About 100,000,000 cups of tea are drunk in the U.K. every day. In India, they drink 837,000 tons of tea every year. In Türkiye, each person drinks about 7 pounds of tea per person per year.

The U.S.? According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., Americans do drink tea (3.8 billion gallons in 2019 alone), but about 75-80% of it is iced.

Speaking of drinks – we put a LOT of ice in our drinks

The people in lots of countries put a bit of ice in some of their drinks. None of them fill the cup all the way with ice, like some Americans do.

We use “restrooms”

It could be our puritanical tendencies, but lots of us call those Men’s Rooms, Ladies’ Rooms and Family Rest Rooms, well, “restrooms.” No one else does. They’re “bathrooms,” “washrooms,” or, god love the British – “toilets” and “loos.”

Years ago, Straight Dope did a piece on how “that room’s” name came about. Note that “restrooms” was made in the USA. 😉

We say what state or town we’re from

Joe and I live near Walt Disney World. Since our part of town is adjacent to the tourist corridor, we see a lot of people from other countries on a pretty regular basis. They or we will occasionally strike up a conversation and, invariably, just to be polite, we’ll ask them where they’re from. We hear answers like Brazil, Scotland, Australia, etc.

When Americans are in another country and are asked where they’re from, their answers are usually the likes of New York, California or “just outside Chicago.” We never simply say we’re from the U.S.

We talk louder in public places than those from most other countries

Maybe it’s because we prefer more interpersonal space than others. Maybe it’s because we have a great sense of individual expression, or pride ourselves on our freedom of speech and want to make sure we’re heard. But compared to the residents of most countries? Yeah, we’re loud.

But don’t worry, so are people from Greece, China, Brazil and a few other places. 😉

We get overly excited about EVERYTHING

Americans are sometimes called “emotional exhibitionists.” I think we’re guilty as charged. Things we see in other countries are AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, and (OK, this is just my favorite word and I’m sure others don’t use it) AWESOMESAUCE. Even if our own country, we get excited about stuff like Super Bowl ads. We’re a very enthusiastic group in comparison to, say the Japanese or the Danish.

In fact, someone on LinkedIn even wrote a post about why foreigners need to “act excited” to succeed in the U.S..

We’re REALLY patriotic

According to World Population Review, the U.S. is, by far, the most patriotic country in the world (spoilers: India comes in at #2 and Australia at #3).

We’ve been to a dozen or so other countries and NONE of them have as many flags out as we do. Someone in London may have a Union Jack on a flagpole attached to their house. But you don’t see flags on peoples’ clothes, shoes, bathing suits, stickers on their luggage, etc. like we do here.

Feature Photo (cropped): Public Domain

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1 comment

Alfie November 10, 2023 - 4:51 pm

Go to a communist country and flags are everywhere, alongside even bigger draped buildings showcasing their supreme leader.


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