19 Things Americans Didn’t Know Were Exclusively American Until They Left The States

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If you’re as American as an apple pie and have never left the States, prepare to be amazed by the cultural differences fellow Americans encountered while visiting other countries. What is common for an average American Joe might be insulting, infuriating, or plain weird for those outside the States. Here are prime examples of Americans being American and freaking out people across the globe. 

The prices and taxes 

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In the States, you have to calculate the tax on an item, which is confusing for many visitors and understandably illogical for those visiting any other country. What you see is what you pay, and if you have to count the added tax, you are a true American. 

There is such thing as being too friendly

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Americans are friendly, but compared to people in other countries, they are overly friendly. Others often find this behavior suspicious, and despite their best efforts, Americans are highly unlikely to get even a nod from someone who isn’t sharing their country of birth. 

“Underage” drinking 


Most countries allow alcohol for those 18 and above, but in the States, this would be considered underage drinking. And it is not just that: people are walking and talking while carrying their beers, which is reserved for Coachella, not for an afternoon out with your fellow American buddies. 

Food portions 


As an American, you are used to large, even extra-large portions, but other countries are either too cheap or want people to eat a meal and feel full but stuffed. It is common for Americans to order two portions, not because they need to eat all of it but to make themselves feel more at home. 

Do it yourself 


American cashiers put your items in a bag, but you have to do it yourself in Europe. Everyone brings their bag or pays for an ultra-pricey yet cheap-looking one and throws their things into it. Remember this the next time you’re in a local Walmart.

The distance 


Most Americans only understand the size of their country once they reach tiny Europe. Saying something is “only four hours away” implies you want to go three countries away. That is not an average American expected to hear, but it is a reason why many keep referring to Europe, the continent, as one country. 

Shorts, everywhere, anytime 


Americans complained that they were usually the only ones in large groups wearing shorts. Locals from across the globe can spot an American tourist, and the shorts appear to be the first clue, after that friendly smile that scares many off. 

Being too sweet 


Americans visiting Japan, Germany, or almost any other country in the world will soon find out just how much more sugar they take with each bite of a tasty treat. As many people noticed online, US sweets would taste even better if they contained 50 percent less sugar. 

Election campaigns 

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It feels like the US is always in the election campaign, and the whole world follows it. Many Americans believed this was the norm, but Canadians reminded them that their longest campaign was around 11 weeks. Yet, most people vote on Sundays, but for US voters, it is a random workday, adding to the mystery of the US elections. 

Gender reveal parties and similar celebrations 


Baby showers, gender reveal parties, and all celebrations of the unborn baby are typically American. Many customs in other countries order people not to buy stuff for a baby before its birth because they do not want to “jinx” it. Besides, do people really care about the baby’s gender? Not outside the US. 

Junior, sophomore, and senior 


While the rest of the world says first, second, or twelfth grade, Americans have unique ways of discussing their high school grades. Yet, thanks to movies and TV shows, most of the world is aware of it, but no one knows which one is supposed to be a sophomore or a junior. 

Living off tips 

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Tipping culture in the States requires guests to reward staffers with at least 20 percent. In many Asian countries, tipping is insulting, while Europeans seem to find it amusing that someone is willing to give almost a quarter of the total sum to the server. 

College and high school sports 

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Americans take great pride in college and high school sports, especially football and basketball. But, for other countries, it is just another class, and unless a person is playing professionally, not even family members care enough to show up for the “big game.” 

Red plastic cups


Red Solo cups are so American that other countries use them during American-themed parties. But for an average US Joe, they are just a cup filled with less-than-tasty liquor that was priceless during their college years. 

Small supermarkets 


One can only appreciate the size of an average American supermarket once they find themselves outside the US. American grocery stores use more space for cereals than the average European supermarket’s whole food section, minus the frozen goods. 

24-hour stores

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It is common for big chains to have 24-hour locations, and it is a safety blanket for Americans who get off work late or mysteriously realize they need something at 3 am. However, these stores are rare in other countries, and many don’t even work on Sundays. 

Perhaps Americans are that loud 


The stereotypes about loud Americans, especially when they come in large groups, could have some truth to them. This is a stark contrast to the more reserved behavior often observed in Europe. Many Americans only noticed they were noisy when talking to their friends outside the Vatican or the Louvre. According to people from other countries who visited the States, this is largely the case in big cities. 

Gas prices 


Americans who visit Europe will likely never complain about gas prices, or they will try to justify it by saying that it is no wonder Europeans enjoy walking so much. Either way, gas prices in the States might be higher, but they are still nothing compared to what the majority of the world pays. 

The flag 


The American flag is everywhere, but that’s not the case in other countries. It is the most famous symbol of America, but it begs the question: are other countries ashamed, or are the Americans guilty of overdoing things? One explanation says that is because the US is a young country. Still, it is confusing for American tourists not to be surrounded by national flags. 

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.