Because of the way culture develops in general, there are all kinds of traditions that are developed which can be easily distinguished. With that said, some cultures are easier to distinguish than others and among them is the United States. Because of its long history of fighting for one’s rights and setting examples to other countries around the world, the people of America have developed a unique heritage that comes from the traditions of many different cultures that have intermingled in one place. This in turn has created something that is seemingly distinct both to America’s civilians and those who live outside of America.
Compared to Canada and Mexico, which have their own distinct cultures shaped by their respective histories, the United States of America loudly boasts about its culture much to the annoyance and reverence of other countries around the world. Though in the grand scheme of things, it’s hard for them to ignore America given its major influence as a world power. So regardless of how one feels about America, whether one is native to it or not, there are some things they do that are undeniably distinct for that culture. While some are taken for granted, there are others that are weird if one considers to think about them.
25 Offer Lots of Choices
Because America prides itself on freedom, it is known for having many choices available. Whether it’s ordering food at a restaurant or figuring out one’s insurance plan, there are various options that one can choose from. Though depending on how quickly one has to decide these things, they can be relatively easy to choose or difficult. Although from a foreigner’s perspective, it can “Feel like a multiple-choice quiz” according to Best Life. While this may not be true for everybody, whether they’re from America or not, it can be daunting to have so many options in one’s daily life.
24 Have Cheerleaders
It is common to find these young women supporting male players in games like football and basketball. However, such is not the case with soccer (which is called football everywhere else except for America). But even the idea of cheerleaders isn’t common outside of the US, which begs the question of why that is. Apart from being a cultural thing, as cheerleading started in the United States, it could also have to do with the way people view sports in general. While smiling is common in America during sports events, “Some cultures do not express emotions” according to Electro-Mech.
23 Wear Pajamas Outside the House
In recent years, people in America have been wearing their pajamas both inside and outside of their homes. Whether a person is too lazy to get dressed, or just wants to wear something comfortable, they don’t seem the least bit embarrassed to be walking around in the same articles of clothing they wear to bed. There are even celebrities who’ve caught onto this trend, and they’ve begun walking around in pajamas that are specially designed for walking around with while looking fashionable. Yet according to Best Life, “It’s a habit that seems very strange to those from outside the country”.
22 Have Food That’s Super-Sized
Though it’s not healthy for us, almost every major fast-food restaurant in America has the option to super-size a meal for the customer who orders it. But even if a restaurant doesn’t do this, many classic diners and food stands tend to serve large portions of food for every possible dish. While most people in America tend to take this for granted, those who are foreign may find it intimidating. For instance, a reporter for Stuff.co.nz, a New Zealand-based news site, claims that America’s obsession with serving generously large food portions “Turns consumption into tourism”.
21 Drink Coffee On the Go
Because of our busy schedules, it seems like a natural decision to get a hot coffee and take it wherever one plans to go for the day. However, this is largely a cultural bias. In most places in Europe, for instance, “Coffee meant to be enjoyed over conversation at a leisurely pace” as stated by Best Life because Europeans have a tendency to take their time with things. In America, people are always on the move and so enjoying one’s coffee isn’t considered a luxury. Now there is no right way to enjoy coffee, or wrong way for that matter.
20 Have Wide Roads
Since cars became more commonly used following their initial introduction in the 1900s, many roads were created throughout the United States that are still used today with new ones being added constantly to fit the demand for them. Though the same thing happened in other parts of the world such as Europe, it’s interesting to note that the width and design of these roads is different. While America’s roads are more straight and wide, Best Life claims that Europe consists of tight city roads and other parts of the world have winding mountain roads. Quite the interesting contrast, isn’t it?
19 Eat Deep-Fried Food
Even though fried food is not a new concept in general, let alone distinct for the United States as far as the history of foods is concerned, it’s what America chooses to fry that seems baffling to foreigners. According to Best Life, “Finding creative ways to fry things that probably shouldn’t be fried is a specialty” for the people of America. This can range anywhere from country-fried steak, which are commonly offered in various diners across the United States of America, to deep-fried sticks of butter sold in certain carnival venues (and yes those are a real thing).
18 Have Superstores
Unlike regular stores, which usually sell one type of product or business, superstores have several products available in bulk. Stacked from floor to ceiling in boxes filled with various items, whether they be food items electronics or toys, they tend to be sold cheaper than in other venues such as grocery stores. So people who don’t have a lot of money on their hands tend to buy them in order to avoid future trips down the road. Yet Best Life claims “Foreigners are baffled by the volume of stuff” that people buy in America which to them seems needlessly excessive.
17 Eat Grape-Flavored Skittles
Now this may seem strange, but there is an explanation for it. To begin with, the flavor of Skittles that people in America know as “Grape” is known as “Blackcurrant” in places like the UK and Australia according to Best Life. The reason for this distinction is because blackcurrant is a more popular fruit outside of the US. Yet according to Gastro Obscura, blackcurrant used to be popular in America until they were federally banned in the early Twentieth century because they had “Become vectors for a wood-destroying disease known as white pine blister rust” which loosened up later.
16 Offer Free Refills
Though not every restaurant or bar in the US offers this, most of them don’t usually charge on refills. However, this usually applies to water as opposed to other drinks like soda and alcohol where a refill or second drink can get charged on the bill. So as a result, we get servers “Refilling water glasses every couple minutes” according to Best Life. While most of us in America take this kind of policy for granted, foreigners apparently find it strange. Thus, it does make one wonder why certain restaurants/bars do this especially when we don't always want refills.
15 Have the Flag Everywhere
As is common with most people in any given country, they want to show off how patriotic they are by celebrating national holidays wearing traditional clothes and waving their country’s flag everywhere. Yet nowhere is this more heavily practiced than in the United States. Though the most common of the above activities is the flag, which is not just placed in front of every school and major building in the entire country but it’s also plastered on just about everything one can possibly imagine: “In front of homes, on cars, on lapel pins” and so forth according to Best Life.
14 Leave Generous Tips
Depending on the economy of the country, this in turn determines the value of the currency that’s being used. As a result, the amount of money we tip to servers or similar employees may fluctuate depending on the country one is in. It also depends on cultural standards as well, as tipping is one of those things that’s required to do for the sake of the employee but not always practiced. In Latin America, for instance, the tips range from “8 to 12 percent” according to Best Life compared to US standards where it’s more like 20 percent or higher.
13 Have Restaurants Open 24/7
When thinking of a typical restaurant, one imagines that it’s open from the morning until the evening. However, there has been an increasing trend for restaurants to be open all day and night. Though this usually applies to fast-food places like Taco Bell, there are others such as Denny’s which promote themselves as family restaurants that are now open all the time. Yet in other places around the world, this is not very common so “Foreign tourists might be surprised” Best Life claims. Objectively, it seems convenient for the customer but not for those who work at these places.
12 Deal with Overly Attentive Servers
Like with the tips and ways of enjoying coffee, how people expect servers at a restaurant to behave is different depending on the culture. For instance, Best Life says that Europeans are “Used to a more leisurely hours-long meal with little interruption” from the servers in general. But servers in the United States are always checking up on the customers to see if they need anything such as refills or bills or whatever. While this can be annoying depending on the mood one is in, people in America usually expect servers to behave like this while foreign visitors don’t.
11 Have Pharmacies That are Also Convenient Stores
Whether it’s Rite Aid or City Market, many places in the United States have pharmacies that also serve as places to buy other things like soda and candy. Now this may not seem weird, it is when compared to similar places in other countries. Known as the “Chemist” in Britain, according to Best Life, its main purpose is to sell medical supplies and nothing else. So with that said, there is a certain irony that people come to US pharmacies to acquire items to help them with health issues when they’re surrounded by the things that aren’t good for them.
10 Put Ice in Drinks
During the summer months, putting ice in one’s drink seems like the natural thing to do. But even when it’s not summer, various places in the United States still give people the option of putting ice in their drinks whether it’s alcoholic or not. Yet what’s even more interesting is that this is unique compared to other countries where ice isn’t put in beverages, or not much. One possible explanation for this, according to the Smithsonian magazine, is that when “Free drink refills became the norm, giving customers lots of ice was actually seen as adding rather than subtracting value”.
9 Have Drive-Throughs
As stated earlier, while Europeans tend to be leisurely people in America are always moving. Nowhere is this cultural distinction more clear than with the US concept of drive-throughs. Established at “Restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores” and so forth according to Best Life, they’re either a window or pick-up spot where people grab something and leave. This way, people theoretically get what they want more easily and quickly without having to park the car somewhere, go inside the establishment, and obtain the necessary thing. Though foreigners apparently scratch their heads in confusion at this concept, Best Life claims.
8 Take Frequent Showers
When one doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands, a shower seems more preferable than a bath despite the latter being arguably more relaxing than the former. Yet when it comes to how many times one showers, no two countries are the same in their approach. For instance, in a survey by Euromonitor they found out people in America tend to shower “More frequently than the Chinese, Brits, and Japanese” according to The Atlantic magazine. Though it’s hard to say why this is the case, it probably has to do with a number of factors related to culture.
7 Serve Drinks in Red Cups
For those living in America, the cups in the above picture have become synonymous with parties and drinking. Whether it’s at bars, houses, or even the grocery store, it’s hard to take our eyes off of them. Yet they are “Rarely seen outside of the U.S.” Best Life claims. So what does make them appealing? According to Slate magazine, the red Solo cup is appealing because of its opacity since it’s hard to tell what kind of liquid is in it from a glance and its color which is “Appealing to both men and women” due to its neutrality.
6 Use a Lot of Air Conditioning
Of the various modern conveniences we have in the world today, air conditioning is one of the most important. During the unbearable months of summer, it keeps us cool indoors. But compared to other countries, people in America use air conditioning more frequently. In fact, those who are temperature sensitive will often “Bring a sweater when going to the supermarket in the summer” according to Best Life because of how cold it is inside. While this may seem annoying at best, it is becoming increasingly problematic as “Air conditioning is more energy-intensive than heating” according to The Economist magazine.