Common Practices In The US That Confuse Non-Americans

Common Practices In The US That Confuse Non-Americans

If you’re from the US, there are probably a ton of common practices and societal norms that you’ve witnessed for so long that they are like second nature. But if you’re a non-American, these common tendencies, preferences, and habits might actually seem totally bizarre or confusing. So Redditor u/Surimimimi asked, “What things do Americans like and the rest of the world not so much?” And people chimed in. Here are the “American” things that are actually quite confusing or abnormal to the rest of the world.


“College sports. Particularly football and basketball. The rest of the world loves soccer, but nobody gives a hoot about it at the university level.”


“Bumper stickers. Sometimes I get the impression people put their entire political philosophy in the form of bumper stickers on their car.”


“Ice, which is usually filled to the brim of a glass before any drink is poured.”


“Food coloring. When I moved from Japan to the US, I was surprised at how colorful American foods were. These days Americans are now more into to organic natural stuff so I see it less, but it took me a while to realize that prevalent blue raspberry is not a real.”


“Peanut butter and jelly. It doesn’t help that outside the US ‘jelly’ often refers to a gelatin dessert like Jello. Some folks who hear Americans eat peanut butter and jelly are therefore horrified.”


“Root beer and Ranch dressing. I brought some to Germany and had my friends try it and they said the root beer tasted like medicine. They politely tasted the dressing with celery and said it was interesting, but the look on their faces said they thought it was terrible.”


“Stores open 24 hours. I was in Chicago working with a colleague from Switzerland who suddenly realized around midnight that he needed a network cable to configure a mobile router for a job the next morning. I told him that I’d meet him in the hotel lobby to drive him out to Walmart. He was shocked.”


“Chicken and waffles. As a non-American, I saw this on the menu at an American restaurant a few months ago and ordered it out of curiosity. I’d never seen it before but it was awesome, and I can’t wait to go back and eat it again.”


“Signs outside peoples’ houses stating an opinion or belief, such as ‘in this house we support…’. As a non-American, I find it weird and unusual.”


“MM-DD-YYYY Date format. 😅”


“Flags. So many American flags everywhere.”


“Processed cheese. There are so many delicious cheeses that are actual cheese. Why eat the gross fake stuff?”


“Driving everywhere you go. In rural America you are not walking anywhere. Not even to your own mailbox.”


“Delis. All of the places I’ve visited so far in the US have the best delis. I don’t know if I could live somewhere without a great Jewish or Italian deli.”


“Commercials about pharmaceuticals. ‘Ask your doctor about taking xyz… side affects can include everything under the sun.’ It’s honestly such a wild American concept.”


“Ranch dressing. Ranch is effectively unknown in Europe, Doritos packages label ‘cool ranch’ as ‘cool American’ flavor.”


“How mainstream it is for Americans to eat extremely sugary desserts for breakfast. Donuts, pancakes, most cereals, Pop-Tarts, etc. All contain huge amounts of sugar and little nutrition. There is literally Oreo cookie cereal that kids eat for breakfast.”


“Walmart. I went to buy a SIM card and some groceries, but I also discovered that I could also buy pet fish, car parts and shoes…all in one building?!?!”


“Casserole. My mother, who is British, thought casseroles were weird and disgusting. Once her British friend came to visit in the US and asked that we not eat one of those dishes ‘where all the food is mixed together in an awful jumble.'”


“Handicap accessibility. Old buildings and towns in Europe are nice…if both of your legs work.”


“Americanized Chinese food. I’m Chinese and I crave American orange chicken.”


“Desk lunch. People in the US have lunch at their desks and usually it’s just a snack. Where I come from, lunch is the most complete meal of the day.”


“Unyielding optimism. Ted Lasso is an excellent representation of the relentless, annoying American optimism in the face of European practicality.”


“All the things you can do in the US before you can legally drink. You can get into lifelong debt with a mortgage or university fees, you can drive a car, you can buy a gun, you can have kids, you can join the army and kill people, and you can get married. But at the wedding, even having done all of the above, when the father of the bride makes his speech and ends with a toast, you’re at the kids table raising a glass of orange juice because you’re not allowed champagne!”


“Having an average of only 10 days of PTO per year… and sometimes even being looked down on for taking it.”


“Saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school. It’s like a brain-washing tactic. Does any other country do this? If a teacher tried something like it in the UK they’d be laughed out of the classroom.”


“The imperial system. The whole world uses the metric system, but ya’ll just had to be different.”

What’s something commonplace or beloved in the US that the rest of the world finds confusing or bizarre? Tell us in the comments!