America, a global powerhouse, captivates many worldwide. Yet, for non-Americans, certain aspects of American life can seem peculiar. This article explores these idiosyncrasies, from large food portions and drive-throughs to the names for coins and intense patriotism. Join us as we share 17 intriguing facets of America.
Massive Portion Sizes
Regarding portion sizes, America’s mantra is ‘Go big or go home.’ First-time visitors to America are often taken aback by the generous meal portions. While locals seem to have no trouble polishing off their plates, tourists often find themselves daunted, barely managing to eat half of what’s served.
Medical Ads on TV
Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs, a common practice in America, can be perplexing for foreigners. American medical ads often portray an elderly individual leading a joyful life due to a specific drug. However, these ads conclude with a startling list of potential side effects, starkly contrasting the promised bliss and potential hazards.
Free refills at restaurants can be pretty amusing and surprising to non-Americans. However, the novelty soon wears out when you realize you overconsume unhealthy high fructose corn syrup.
Legal Drinking Age is 21
In America, you can star in an adult movie at 18 and own a house, but having a beer is out of the question. Most countries set the legal drinking age at 18 or 19. Thus, a 20-year-old, accustomed to legal drinking in their home country, might find the American drinking laws frustratingly restrictive.
Names of the Coins
The naming and sizing of American coins can be puzzling for non-Americans. Unlike many countries where coin names indicate their value, American coins have unique names that don’t directly reflect their worth. This can lead to confusion when someone asks for a ‘dime’ or a ‘nickel.’ Even the size of the coin cannot help determine its value. A ‘nickel’ is larger than a ‘dime,’ yet worth less.
American Flag Everywhere
The omnipresence of the American flag, from homes to cars to businesses, is a unique aspect of the USA. This emblem of patriotism is a common sight, adorning everything from t-shirts to stadiums. While Americans often proudly display the flag, foreigners may find this custom unusual. In contrast, national flags are rarely seen outside major events like the World Cup in many other countries.
Outlets Don’t have On and Off Switch
In the U.S., the power outlets may have test and reset buttons, but the on/off switch is missing, which may confuse foreign guests. In other countries like the U.K. and Australia, outlets have on/off switches, which allow you to cut the power when an appliance is not in use.
Prices Displayed Before Tax
Tourists shopping in the U.S. often find the pricing system confusing. The issue arises because U.S. stores display pre-tax prices. The final amount at the counter, which includes tax, is higher than the displayed price. This can feel strange for visitors from countries where the law mandates the display of prices inclusive of taxes.
Gaps in Bathroom Stalls
American toilet stalls, unlike those in many European and Asian countries, usually have gaps at the door’s bottom, top, and sides. Foreigners often view this design peculiarity as a privacy breach.
Europeans, accustomed to long, leisurely meals, often find the noise levels in U.S. restaurants and the quick dining habits of Americans perplexing.
Drive Through Everything
Americans tend to do everything by car. Non-Americans find the concept of drive-through liquor stores and ATMs in America quite peculiar. This convenience-oriented approach is a distinctive aspect of American culture.
Pharmacies Double Up as Convenience Stores
The idea of a pharmacy selling non-pharmaceutical goods can be unusual for those unfamiliar. However, in the U.S., picking up a prescription, chewing gum, and cigarettes all from one place is not uncommon.
How Are You Is a Greeting
In the U.S., “How are you?” is often a polite greeting rather than a genuine inquiry into one’s well-being. Not expecting a detailed response, cashiers or servers typically use it as a courtesy. When asked the same question in their home countries, this can seem unusual to those accustomed to sharing more about their lives.
Everything is Open on Sunday
In the U.S., businesses, including pharmacies, operate seven days a week. Unlike in many European regions where businesses close for siesta, U.S. establishments remain open throughout the day. This continuous operation can be surprising to visitors from countries with different customs.
Weirdly Social People
Foreigners are often surprised by how social Americans are with strangers. It will be normal to be complimented on your lovely outfit or pretty eyes by someone you don’t even know when visiting the States.
Walking Indoors with Shoes On
In the U.S., it’s not uncommon for people to keep their shoes on when indoors, a practice that can feel strange if you’re accustomed to removing your shoes at home.
The tipping culture in the U.S. often surprises first-time visitors. Tipping is optional in many countries and is usually reserved for exceptional service. The practice of tipping up to 20% of the bill after every service can be a new experience for many foreigners.