14 Quirks About Americans I’ve Learned From Traveling

Maridav / (Shutterstock.com)
Maridav / (Shutterstock.com)

1. Americans are finicky.

We demand that things should be exactly to our liking. This is most apparent in ordering food and beverages. My German friend pointed this out in the Philippines when I asked a waitress for salad dressing on the side and no milk and sugar in my coffee. I then realized that I request modifications for almost every food item I order, and I know I’m not the only one. People in other countries tend to get a little flustered when dealing with requests deviating from the menu, like when we ask for “simple syrup, but just like a splash” or “burnt just a little so it’s crispy, but not too burnt.”

2. We are confident and won’t hesitate to be the first to introduce ourselves.

Extroversion is emphasized in American culture, and we’re taught to be assertive and self-assured in carrying ourselves around other people. Thus, in a room full of nationalities, an American will usually be the first one to announce their name and shake everyone’s hand.

3. We could work on our geography skills.

I believe this has to do with our education. I’ve attended public school my entire life and have never had to take a geography class.

4. Americans like using euphemisms.

In America, old people are “senior citizens”; handicapped people are “physically disabled”; and being shell-shocked has evolved from “battle fatigue” to “operational exhaustion” and now “posttraumatic stress disorder.” (I love you, George Carlin.) Some words and phrases are cushioned to protect people; others can be a bit of overkill.

5. We embrace little white lies.

Americans do not like to offend others. We are raised to be unfailingly polite and to smile at strangers. The following are some questions with good ol’ American answers:

“Do you think I need to lose weight?”
“Oh my God, shut up, you are so skinny.”

“Do these shorts that are two sizes too small look good on me?”
“They fit perfectly.”

It can be a bit frustrating if you are looking for an honest answer.

6. Other cultures find our imperial system of measurement illogical.

“You Americans and your weird metric system,” said everyone everywhere.

7. We describe distances in driving time rather than metrics.

In America, we have poor infrastructure for public transportation in most states, making cars an essential part of life. Naturally, then, we think about distances in driving time. I have no idea how far away something is when described in kilometers. Psh.

8. Apparently, we have a volume-control issue.

“How can you tell there is an American in the room?”
You can hear them from outside.


9. Our religion-influenced policies attempt to cloak us in morality, but we drink, party hard, and have frivolous sex just like everyone else.

We set our legal drinking age at 21, we can’t buy liquor in many states on Sundays, our clubs and bars close at 1-2AM in most of the country, and we place an emphasis on abstaining from sex before marriage or only having sex within the confines of a relationship. However, everyone knows we indulge in all these things anyway, often excessively. Time to drop the front! Most of this behavior is harmless anyway. Let’s own it.

Dear America, this is a personal plea. Please feel free to keep clubs and bars open all night like most other places in the world. It’ll actually keep us occupied with dancing so we won’t cause trouble in the streets or drive home when we’re at the peak of wasted.

10. We only speak one language.

I used to think I was super-special for being able to speak both Chinese and English in the States because people kept telling me it was awesome. Outside of America, meeting people who speak two, three, or even four languages is extremely common.

11. Our men wear clothing meant for doing sports for an entire day.

Jerseys, basketball shorts, sneakers for any occasion, sport backpacks and Nike and Adidas socks pulled up high as the sky. It’s comfortable.

12. We have an affinity for using sweeping adjectives in normal conversation.

“You went to Alabama for vacation? That is so awesome.”
“You got a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s? That’s so interesting, wow.”

Guilty again.

13. We do not know how to deal with nipples.

While we freak out over nip slips, they are showing nipples on TV in Europe.

14. We’re amazing at small talk.

Many of us have mastered the fine art of talking to strangers with genuine friendliness and interest. Don’t be suspicious and worry about our intentions because we repeatedly use the word “great,” rest of the world! We’re just being nice. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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