30 Things That Bamboozle Americans When They Travel, As Shared In This Viral Thread
Traveling abroad can be an enlightening experience, offering a fresh perspective on one’s own culture. Redditors recently shared their revelations about what they considered distinctly American traits after venturing outside their homeland.
From healthcare to portion sizes, sugar consumption, cars, restaurant service, and more, these insights provide a glimpse into what makes American culture unique. Scroll below to see some interesting answers.
There are obese people everywhere and obesity is unfortunately apparently on the rise in most Western countries at least, but the obesity rate in the US is particularly remarkable, and not in a good way. I’ve had the good fortune of traveling to Europe three times in the last three years and I’ve gone to Brazil every year since 2010 to visit my in-laws. Do I see obese people in Europe and in Brazil? Absolutely, but they are often Americans visiting. And it’s interesting because I never really seem to notice all the fit people in Europe and Brazil when I arrive there, but I do notice all the obese people when I return to the US. Very striking.
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.
The walk-ability of non-American cities is something out of a utopian dream.
Whenever I order a soda in Europe and it arrives with no ice in it, a bald eagle dies.
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.
Image source: No-Method-7736
Paying for ambulances and health care…
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.
Free refills on soft drinks. On our study abroad trip to Italy we jokingly called Hard Rock Cafe the US Embassy because that was the only place for it.
Tipping. I had a waitress in Okinawa chase me into the parking lot with some change I left on the table.
Went to Europe and tipped 20% and the servers acted extremely grateful. Like, a weird amount. After a while we finally asked a server what was up with that, and they said that in their country they are paid a living wage so tips don’t really mean much for them. They were very happy even with 10%.
Lived abroad 7 years. We’re LOUD. I can hear my countrymen coming up the street going on about how they just had to pay to use the RESTROOM. :D
It scared me so much when I was in the USA for the first time! Is like those happy people doing happy things while someone described the most terrifying side effects ever!
Root beer is apparently disgusting and an offense to most of the world’s palate.
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.
I remember the Germans all being shocked that to do anything like drinking or smoking you needed to be 21 but to buy a rifle you only need to be 18. Well they were also just shocked you can just go buy a gun in most places here whenever you like pretty much.
Hearing gunshots all the time. My wife and I were in the UK, and there was a holiday happening in one of the boroughs in London (can’t remember which one). We were staying in an Airbnb and we asked our host if it was a dangerous neighborhood . We got a look as if we were aliens and she said something along the lines of, “are you scared of fireworks?” My wife and I laughed saying, “we thought they were gunshots.” Our poor host looked so horrified at how cavalier we were about how many “gunshots” there were (it was not a lot of fireworks, maybe a bang every 10-20 seconds). We had to explain that it’s not out of the ordinary to hear gunshots most days where we live in the US. I hope she’s ok and we didn’t cause her any permanent damage. She may never visit the US though….
Sugar. When I visited Japan, even some of their sweetest desserts pale in comparison to how much sugar is in American food.
When I moved to the UK, my flatmates asked how in movies people would stick their hands in the sink drain and it be ripped apart. I told them about sink garbage disposals and they were very weirded out.
Yellow school buses. They are all over the US and Canada, but apparently not in the rest of the world.
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.
Eating so damn 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.
Our portion sizes in restaurants.
Image source: chortle-guffaw
Ketchup. There’s only one bottle of ketchup in France. They pass it around from restaurant to restaurant when an American requests it.
Image source: Rejotalin79
I have dual nationality and live in the USA, but I still travel a lot to Europe.
Why the hell do we pixel women’s nipples on TV? It is a f*****g nipple. We sell arms to kids, and we have violent movies, but we pixel a nipple.
Image source: Krovixis
Minimum parking laws and garbage public transportation.
Going to Japan and seeing how accessible everything is made me question my whole life. Bikes and trains are just the better option and I’ll resent oil executives for the rest of my life for the way they sabotaged the US transportation system.
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I was born in America, then we moved to Japan from the time I was 4 until I was 8 (my dad was military) when we moved back to America, the first place we went was Dennys. I vividly remember asking my parents why the waitress kept coming to check on us, and if she thought we were doing something wrong because she seemed suspicious of us. As far as I’m aware, most countries outside of the US just leave you be and let you eat in peace. You get them when you’re ready. America is very pushy because they survive on tips and need the next table to come along to make sure they can have a livelihood.
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The cost of medication and how easily accessible it is.
The stupid hoops I had to go through to get my prescription in America is so frustrating. I’ve been on the same medication for well over a decade, and my last refill, my insurance decided to deny it for some stupid reason. Took 3 weeks for them to refill it.
When I was in South Korea, took less than an hour.
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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 at the register because it costs more than the price tag. Every other place I’ve been, the price is the price. (And coins have numbers on them!).
Image source: DudebroggieHouser
I was in Germany and had people asking how far I lived from certain American landmarks. They would get a strange, kind of “wow” expression on their face when I told them.
Turns out they were just getting a kick out of the fact I was explaining it by time and not distance.
Image source: Mrcostarica
Constant competition. I realize that competition exists around the world in one form or another, but the concept of “best vs worst”, or “good, better, best” is deeply engrained in the American psyche. Things can’t be simply different, there must be good vs bad.
Image source: FriedrichHydrargyrum
A bizarre obsession with the national flag.
It’s not like countries dislike their own flags—you’ll see plenty of them at political events or international sporting events like the World Cup or Olympics—but they don’t typically fly a 6-foot flag from their trucks or hang them up in their churches. I don’t think most of them have a big national anthem ceremony at their domestic sporting events or have the military jets fly over them.