While it is undeniable that the United States of America takes pride in living stateside, the rest of the world often wonders why. Sure, everything is big — malls, cars, supermarkets, meals, houses, and beds — which is kind of cool. But a lot about the U.S. of A. leaves the rest of their world shaking its head.
If you’ve ever wondered how America looks in the eyes of others, take a gander at the following list of habits that are considered peculiar at best by the rest of the world. How many of these things are you guilty of doing?
1. Acting casual: Americans, especially tourists, tend to dress a bit more casually than most other people would. They’ll wear regular ol’ T-shirts and khaki shorts to the beach, a restaurant, a play, you name it. At least it makes them easy to spot!
2. Using Feet: As a person from, well, anywhere else in the world, it’s hard to fathom why the U.S. still uses the imperial measuring system. Twelve inches, three feet, 1,760 yards… It’s a lot more complicated than necessary. Oh, and freezing temperature should be zero.
3. Ice Ice Baby: Why do we need ice in everything? If a drink has been refrigerated, it should be cold enough, right? In fact, adding all that ice makes it uncomfortable to sip and makes it watery fast. Not everything needs to be on the rocks.
4. Coffee Run: Speaking of beverages, what’s up with drinking piping hot coffee while we’re on their way to work? In other countries, you take the time to drink coffee at home, at your desk, or on a bench if you’re out. How do Americans do it?
5. Bathroom Breaks: Compared to most western nations, public bathrooms/restrooms/powder rooms/ are pretty dirty. Not to mention the giant gaps between the stall and the door. Privacy, please!
6. ‘Murica’s Best: Almost everyone has a sense of pride for their home country, but Americans take it to the next level. There are flags everywhere you look, and people won’t stop talking about “freedom” and “the troops.”
7. Taxes For All: In most places around the world, price tags end with “.99.” This is also the case in most stores in the U.S., except when you’re ready to check out, you’ll find a completely different total in your receipt. Include the tax in the price for goodness’ sake.
8. Working Hard or Hardly Working: America, give your workers some time to rest! Jobs in the U.S. tend to have longer work days and less vacation time. Plus, depending on your position, you might have to answer calls and emails after hours. Yikes.
9. Fantasy Pharmacies: In most corners of the world, a pharmacy is a place where one picks up prescriptions, bandages, and some toothpaste at best. They definitely don’t have snack food, batteries, balloons, or seasonal decorations.
10. Time To Tip: Yes, we understand that servers are underpaid in the U.S., but the fact that the customer has to make up for that in tips seems absurd. Plus, you have to tip hairdressers, cab drivers, baristas, and everyone else whose service you already paid for.
11. Small Talk: It’s not that Americans are particularly friendlier than people from other cultures, but they do like to chat it up with strangers. And the phrase “how are you?” when nobody cares about the answer should be scrapped from greetings altogether.
12. Fry It Up: As if most snacks weren’t unhealthy enough, Americans love to deep-fry them. This oil isn’t just for french fries, it’s for Oreos, Snickers, dough, sandwiches, onion, chickens, hot dogs, butter, pickles, donuts, ice-cream, and even mac and cheese.
13. PB&J: Alright, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are pretty delicious, but also so sweet that you can barely call it a sandwich anymore. To make matters worse, American bread slices are loaded with sugar too. What’s with the sweet tooth?
14. Pushing Drugs: In most other countries, you visit a doctor, and it’s entirely up to them which medication they may or may not prescribe to you. So commercials in which a happy family kicks a ball around before hearing the 600 deadly side effects of a drug come off as a little strange.
15. Cheerful Cheerleaders: Sure, sure, they’re here to motivate the teams, yadda yadda yadda. Are the sports teams not motivated enough? Or are the scantily clad female dancers there for a different reason after all?
16. Freezing Over: Everyone likes the heat on when it’s cold out and the A/C on when it’s sweltering. We get it. But why crank that air up so cold that we need to put on long pants, jackets, and boots? Seems like a waste of energy, and it’s colder than we’d ever accept in the winter months.
17. Comfort Creatures: Why on Earth do Americans wear their sweatpants, or even their pajama pants, out in public? In most cultures, those are considered house clothes, not something you wear to a coffee shop or even work. Not everything is about comfort.
18. Fast Food: Unhealthy, greasy, and sugary foods are a guilty pleasure of us all, but must there be one of the 40 national fast food chains on every corner? To make matters worse, the sizes are always huge, from the soda to the cheeseburger. Don’t even get us started on the Heart Attack Grill…
19. Doggy Bag: Luckily, when you can’t finish your disproportionate meal, there is no shame in asking if servers can pack it up for you to take it home. In other places, that is considered impolite or low-class, but in the U.S., doggy bags make everyone happy.
20. Number One: Oh, one more thing, ‘Murica. You can’t just claim to be number one. A sports league that only happens in the states shouldn’t be called International. And you can’t call yourself worldly if you’ve never left the country. There, we said it.
But hey, fair is fair. There may be a lot of things about American culture that puzzles the rest of the world, but the same goes vice versa. The simple truth is that cultures are different, and that’s okay! Americans probably don’t understand the following traditions either…
1. Tree Marriages – India: Comparing star charts on a first date is a fun hobby in the states, but in India, traditional astrology is regarded with much more importance.
According to Hindu beliefs, people born under the strong influence of Mars, or manglik, aren’t suited for happy marriages. That’s a big deal for a woman born with her sign in Mars. But what do trees have to do with it?
Rasik Maru / Flickr
Because manglik women face a more complex challenge pursuing marriage — it’s believed they negatively affect the health of their husbands — they must first marry, you guessed it, trees.
This waves the manglik curse, and after the ceremony is over, the tree is cut, burned, and the women are able to marry freely. It’s not exactly kind to the environment, but hey, there’s one less spinster in the world!
2. Orange Fights – Italy: You’d likely encounter a food fight in a high school cafeteria, but not anywhere else…unless you’re in Italy for the Carnevale di Ivrea. Watch out for an orange to the face!
Each year the traditional battle of oranges wages on, and 350 tons of the fruit are mercilessly destroyed. But, why is this strange practice carried out annually?
Historians attribute the 3-day battle as a symbol of rebellion against a 12th-century tyrant. Legends say a girl named Violetta was being taken by the tyrant but she fought back, and he was killed.
Guards tried to arrest her, but citizens saved her by pelting them with stones. Oranges represent stones, thank goodness, but still, things get raucous at this one-of-a-kind gathering.
Andrea Daddi / Flickr
3. Fighting Cholitas – Bolivia: Think of an American female wrestler and some typical images come to mind: spandex, massive muscles, and scant clothing. These garments, of course, are part of their performance.
But female wrestlers exist in other countries, too, where they rock their own unique styles and charisma. The Bolivian Fighting Cholitas of the Titans of the Ring use contradiction as their gimmick.
Grady C Mitchell
Clad in traditional petticoats, bold colored shawls, and bowler hats, these indigenous gals battle it out in the ring. It all started in 2001 when declining ticket sales gave the Titans manager, Juan Mamani, an idea…
He decided to recruit unconventional wrestlers. They aren’t professional athletes — and they still balance day jobs — but that doesn’t stop them from stepping into the squared circle and kicking some butt.
4. Voting Fines – Australia: “Don’t boo. Vote!” As former President Obama chided during the last election, Americans sometimes have trouble actually getting to the polls. That’s not as huge a problem in other countries…
Citizens in Australia, for instance, aren’t afforded the opportunity to cop out on their civic duties and stay home one election day. There, not voting results in fines!
The penalty isn’t huge — in Australia, it’s $26 — but it’s enough to incentivize eligible citizens to flex their rights. It may seem strange, but it forces people to use their voices. They can always write in a cheeky candidate suggestion if they’re cheesed off.
5. Fast Food Portions – Philippines: You thought super sized was big? Well it’s a puny joke compared to the heaping portions you can order at a Filipino McDonald’s.
Mugtown10 / Instagram
The Filipino slang term barkada refers to a casual meeting of friends where you share food. Snacking with buds is a universal pastime, but the Philippines cuts out the drive through squabble of who’s getting what with their shareable sizes.
Claude Corpuz / Flickr
6. Kumari Goddesses – Nepal: Little girls often dream of being princesses, but in other parts of the world, they get to be goddesses! The Kumari, or living goddess, of Nepal are young girls believed to be manifestations of divine female energy.
Public Radio International
Selections are made by Hindu monks and astrologists who choose a girl among the Shakya caste to undergo a series of strict rituals to prove her incarnation. If she passes, she’s whisked off to a palace and worshiped until she comes of age and returns to normal life.
7. Banana Leaf Plates – Indonesia: Though a family-style meal in America doesn’t involve sharing the same plate, in many other countries, cutlery and dishes are unnecessary barriers. They eat off banana leaves.
Botram directly translates as “eating together,” and the Sudanese custom eschews etiquette to get right to the good stuff — the food! Eating with your hands off the same surface puts everyone on the same level, despite your social standing.
8. TV Licenses – United Kingdom: Other countries regulate television and radio signals via the government, and cutting corners results in big fines. In the UK, each household pays £150.50 per year license fee to access TV, radio, and the internet.
If you try and dodge the system, agents from the Enforcement Division could show up on your doorstep and bust your operation. They can even get search warrants! The fee goes directly to funding the services provided, so even though it’s a bit of a bother, it won’t be lining the pockets of a cable company executive.
9. Bagged Milk – Canada: Back in the 1970s, Canada transitioned to plastic, non-resealable bags to store milk, as glass storage became too costly. Ever since the drink has resembled a sinister water balloon. But, there are other advantages to bagged dairy than just of the comedic variety…
When Canada transitioned to the metric system, redesigning plastic jugs and paper cartons was a headache. Resizing plastic “milk bladders,” as they are jokingly referred to, was a simple fix! The con is the bags have to be placed in pitchers once opened. Still, milk bags have been around for over 50 years and are still wobbling strong!
10. East Asian Age Reckoning – South Korea: In this country, the aging system starts at 1 year old rather than zero. A newborn baby is 1 sal, which is their traditional aging unit. But before you throw the cake away you got for your South Korean pal’s bday, don’t fear, birthdays exist.
You add a year to your age on the Lunar New Year. So, a person could have a December 30th date of birth and add another year to their age only a few days later. Most people still celebrate their individual birthdays though. They just get double the party opportunity on their sal day!