You see, Americans have this funny habit of thinking that the way they do things is pretty much how the whole world does them. But boy, let us tell you, there are some things they never even realized were typically American until they stepped foot on foreign soil.
One Redditor asked, “Americans of Reddit, what is something you didn’t realize was typically American until you went abroad?” Now, this thread received thousands of comments, and we have listed the most interesting ones for you!
1. Baseball Hats
Someone commented, “I didn’t realize how much less common baseball hats were. I studied abroad in Prague, and my teacher said that’s a good way to spot an American.”
Another added, “This is an interesting one. I wonder if it has something to do with baseball not having much of a following there. Makes me wonder if perhaps the hats are more popular in places like the Dominican Republic or Japan where they’re more into watching and playing baseball.”
And don’t even get us started on the Brits- they’ve got their bowler hats, but baseball hats? Well, they might as well be from another planet.
2. Ranch Dressing
One Redditor stated, “Ranch dressing. I guess I was vaguely aware that it was American, but I hadn’t realized how much. If you want to hear a whole pub stop and glare at you, go to Ireland and ask for ranch for your fries.”
Another responded, “I love that the rest of the world doesn’t know what “ranch” is. When I was in the Netherlands, I saw that Cool Ranch Doritos are called Cool American Doritos instead!”
Head over to Asia, and they’ve got soy sauce, miso, and all sorts of umami goodness, but ranch? Nope, it’s not on their flavor radar.
A Reddit user wrote, “In Ireland right now, it’s cruel that we force our grocery store clerks to stand up for their entire shift. They are allowed to sit in Ireland when scanning items, and I don’t see any good reason why we don’t allow that back home.”
Another person pitched in to say, “I’m from Belgium, and I’ve NEVER seen a grocery clerk stand up. They all get comfy office chairs.”
But venture overseas, and you’ll quickly notice something odd. Those clerks, they’re sitting down! Yup, they’ve got comfy chairs, and they’re scanning your items and chatting with you, all while chilling.
4. Red Cups
One said, “Red plastic cups for parties. So much so that people outside the US use them as an accessory to American-themed parties.”
Another added, “My American friend thought I was nuts getting all excited about seeing those cups in real life. Totally normal for you guys, literally only in American high school/college movies for us.”
And don’t even get us started on Australia. Down under, they’ve got their “stubbies” and “tinnies,” which are basically beer cans. No red cups in sight.
5. Free Refills
Someone on Reddit said, “Free refills on soft drinks and ice. On our study abroad trip to Italy, we jokingly called Hard Rock Cafe the US Embassy because that was the only place for either.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “When I was in early high school, we went on holiday to the US and went to some breakfast place near Disneyland. Me and my brother ordered a drink that turned out to be cherry flavor, which was gross. Not wanting to waste it, we drank most of it anyway. We were horrified when the waitress took our glasses and refilled them.”
In some parts of Europe, they look at you like you’ve grown a third eye when you ask for a refill. And if you’re in a restaurant, you can forget about getting a free top-up on that pricey mineral water.
6. Root Beer
You waltz into a corner store in Europe or Asia, looking for that root beer fix, and what do you find? Nothing!
Someone commented, “Root beer is apparently disgusting and an offense to most of the world’s palate.”
Another person pitched in to say, “My friends from Greece told me it is very similar to a common flavoring for children’s medicine in Europe.”
7. Public Bathrooms
One Redditor stated, “When I traveled overseas, I was surprised at how the public bathroom stalls gave so much more privacy. Like a full door to the floor in most places.”
Another responded, “Had a girlfriend from Sweden come to the US, and she was horrified by bathroom stalls and the gaps, I had no idea what she was on about until I went over there and encountered the bunker-like solid wall and full-sized door toilet stalls. Now I hate American public bathrooms even more.”
In some countries, they even have these weird floor-to-ceiling doors with minimal gaps. Do you like those?
8. Yellow School Buses
Someone on Reddit said, “Yellow school buses. They are all over the US and Canada, but apparently not in the rest of the world. EDIT: I had no idea this would blow up so much. Thank you for all your comments. What I have learned is that the place where the yellow school bus is most strange is Western Europe. The rest of the world seems to have them like the US and Canada.”
Another added, “I grew up living abroad due to my father being in the military. When I was in primary school, we had quite a trip to our school from where our apartment complex was. I lived in Naples, Italy, and the US D.O.D contracted with charter buses to take us to school.
For about 4 years, I took a huge tour bus to school. The bus could have seated at least 35-50 passengers, yet there were maybe 10 kids and an adult moderator on the bus. It was a huge culture shock when I returned stateside and had to ride a regular school bus again.”
So, what’s the bottom line, you ask? Yellow school buses- they’re the real cheese of America’s education system.
9. Pharmaceutical Commercials
In some parts of the world, they’ve got strict rules about pharmaceutical ads. You won’t see people dancing around waterfalls and declaring their undying love for a pill. Nope, they keep that stuff on the down low, away from the glitzy world of advertising.
A Reddit user wrote, “In my country, u are only allowed to have ads for like non-serious conditions like, sore throat or nausea and also for sleeping pills. But the rest is completely banned cuz u can’t even take other medicines without doctors saying u have to take it. u don’t go here and ask a doctor hey, can I take xxxxx”
Another shared, “They were illegal in America when I was a kid. It should’ve stayed that way. I work in a doctor’s office, and so many times people ask for stuff by name that they don’t need, their insurance won’t pay for -talking about you Ozempic- or for which there’s a much cheaper but not nearly as well marketed alternative.”
Someone commented, “Sugar. When I visited Japan, even some of their sweetest desserts pale in comparison to how much sugar is in American food.”
Another added, “In Germany, they had to reduce the sugar in the subway buns because it would qualify as a pastry. It’s still too sweet for most here. And burger buns also.”
In some parts of the world, they’ve got a totally different approach to sweetness. They might have honey, maple syrup, or jams for a hint of sweetness, but granulated sugar? Nah.
11. Free Public Restrooms
Imagine being in America- nature calls, and you waltz into a public restroom, do your business, and then… you walk out. No cash exchanged, no weird looks, no worries.
Someone on Reddit said, “Free public toilets everywhere you go. I cannot believe the rest of the world is a “pay to pee” society.”
Another responded, “In some areas, that’s due to the frequent destruction of those, so you have to pay. It’s not at all nice I think, but having clean bathrooms is nice. Also sometimes the men peeing thingies are free to use because otherwise they just pee anywhere. That’s also weird, but in theory, it has good reasons, and those come often from the misbehavior of citizens and tourists alike.”
One Redditor stated, “The walkability of non-American cities is something out of a utopian dream.”
Another person pitched in to say, “I live in south Spain and had some American friends visiting in May. We walked everywhere, and after a week, they all had lost a couple of lbs. They wouldn’t stop talking about how awesome it is to walk and how easily they all lost weight despite stuffing our faces all day long lol. They tried keeping it up back home, but apparently, there aren’t even sidewalks everywhere in Houston. They’re coming back next month, and two of them are looking into staying longer, they WFH.”
We might not have fully grasped just how American it was until we ventured overseas, but now we know that our legs are our trusty companions in life’s journey.
13. Peanut Butter
Someone commented, “Peanut butter is in the international foods section, and many people don’t like it. It also amazes me how much American culture is all over the world. Like our movies and TV shows.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I was eating my favorite snack, peanut butter on an apple, in front of my students in Spain recently. They were intrigued but disgusted. Same with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I offered a piece to a five-year-old and she made the yuck face and turned away.”
In some countries, they’ve got their own nutty spreads, like hazelnut or almond butter, but peanut butter? It’s quite uncommon.
In some parts of the world, they’ve got coins with values boldly written on them, like “1 Euro” or “100 Yen.”
A Reddit user wrote, “Having coin money with NO value written on it in numerals. also, the dime looks insanely small compared to most coins.”
Another added, “I honestly never thought about our coins not having numbers on them. I guess that is kinda strange.”
15. Exclusive Taxes
So, exclusive taxes- what’s the deal? These sneaky taxes are bundled up in the price of stuff you buy. Like sales tax on your Snickers bar or your latest impulse buy at the mall.
One Redditor stated, “The fact that tax is calculated on top of the price on the tag. I’d assume that every foreigner would think they’re getting ripped off the register because it costs more than the price tag. Every other place I’ve been, the price is the price.”
Another responded, “This felt so nasty when going to the US as a European. This chocolate bar costs 1$. Yay! Here’s 1$. Oh no, it’s actually 1.08$; please add cents. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere, can you see what you’re actually going to pay.”
Leaving your stuff unattended in the USA is a surefire way to lose it, but that’s not how the rest of the world operates!
Someone on Reddit said, “How trustworthy they are in places like Iceland. My buddy and I went to Iceland, and he left his ATM card on top of the ATM when we first got there because it was a redeye flight and we hadn’t really slept. We went to get our car from the car rental place realized he didn’t have it, went back, and despite being in a public place for about an hour no one had touched it.”
Another person pitched in to say, “Japan is the same. Everything is left so that you can retrace your steps. I’ve seen wallets and phones left alone so the owners can find them again.”
Someone commented, “Ketchup. There’s only one bottle of ketchup in France. They pass it around from restaurant to restaurant when an American requests it.”
Another added, “My English teacher in high school was our study-abroad chaperone, and he told us the French hate us because we invent everything cool, and they have to come up with words for all our new things, and they feel stupid saying “le ketchup.””
So, here’s the deal: ketchup may be a culinary sidekick in America, but it’s not the global superstar they think it is. In many parts of the world, they have their own sauces that are so much more exciting than plain old ketchup.
18. Eye Contact
In the U.S.A., making eye contact is like saying “hello” without using words. It’s a sign of confidence, politeness, and all-around good manners. It’s how people connect.
One Redditor stated, “Eye contact while speaking to people. Americans don’t break eye contact easily, so depending where you go, I’ve been told it comes off as aggressive.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “American children are taught that eye contact is a sign of respect and honesty. “Look at me when I’m talking to you” Whereas in other parts of the world, it can be seen as disrespectful to give eye contact, in particular to an elder in a formal setting, we’re taught to lower your eyes (not look down). But thankfully, I was also taught that with non-indigenous people, you keep strong eye contact.”
19. Eating Quickly
In America, it’s all about efficiency. Busy people are always on the go, and that extends to their eating habits. But as soon as you cross international borders, you’ll find out that not everyone shares a speedy approach to dining.
Someone on Reddit said, “Eating so fast. It seemed in Europe it’s normal to spend 2 hours at a restaurant, at least every time we sat down it took 2-2.5 hours. In America, you’re rushed out of your table as fast as possible so the waiter can make more tips.”
Another responded, “I’m American. I’ve rarely felt rushed out of a restaurant. But I also generally don’t want to stick around. But you might also perceive being given the check as a means of rushing you out when, in reality, it is meant as a convenience because Americans usually want to eat and go. If you say, “We’re going to stick around for a bit and enjoy a drink/coffee,” few restaurants will have an issue with that.”
20. Personal Space
A Reddit user wrote, “Lack of personal space. I was in India, and when lining/queuing up, people were so close I thought they were trying to pickpocket me. Then I saw they did that to everyone. I’m used to my bubble of space in America.”
Another added, “Yeah, in India, we don’t really care for personal space here. I’ve had people touching me while getting on buses and trains. I hate it. So when I went to the UK for studies, I found it so relaxing to have my personal space!!”
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.