30 Non-Americans On The American Norms They Find Weird

30. Waceronm

Big list of everything I remember being different when I visited the US:
Everything is very far away. Big country, I guess.
Americans are very loud, laugh a lot and can also be a bit touchy-feely. Not that this is bad; when I was in the US, everyone was very friendly and I had a great time. But they’re always laughing and shouting and going “Oh my god”, it’s like everything is super exciting for them. The bit that was kind of strange was that they’d often touch my arms or shoulders or hair, or gesture towards me. That’s something that’s generally a bit intimate and intrusive in England. Again, everyone was friendly so I’m not saying this to be mean, but it does take some getting used to, because it’s a bit in-your-face at first.
Weird as hell ice cream flavours. I bought “dinosaur eggs”-flavour that was blue with chocolate eggs in in a regular supermarket. Is this an American thing, or a strange-town-I-visited thing?
Motorised mobility wheelchairs in supermarkets. I’ve only ever seen maybe 1 or 2 emergency-only selfies in Tesco, but in the US, they had a lot of these and you could walk right up and take them if you wanted to. It seems strange, that someone who needs a motorised wheelchair wouldn’t have their own, but I think this could be a knock-on effect of expensive healthcare, maybe…?
Jaywalking is a crime? I did this a lot in the US without realising it was supposed to be illegal (albeit one of those crimes no one really ever gets caught for). Oops. Sorry, guys!
Flags all over the place. Flags are a little more common in England since the Olympics and royal wedding though.
Bread is sweet and chocolate isn’t? Pancakes for breakfast was weird too, but there was an IHOP right next to our hotel and that was pretty great. I kinda miss it.
Waiters that are really, REALLY pushy about special offers. OK, you already told me I get free chips if I get a Large burger, but I didn’t even want a burger. No, please don’t tell me about all the extras and sides I could get for the burger as well. I DON’T WANT IT.
Sarcasm and self-depreciating humour is not as well-recieved. As someone who uses a lot of self-depreciating humour, Americans were always trying to comfort me after I made a joke about myself. In England, people tended just laugh or join in by making a similar joke about themselves. It was rather sweet though.
Toilets with giant door gaps. Why, why, why?
Terraced and semi-detached buildings are not very common at all, and streets are really wide. I suppose because most of American buildings were built relatively recently, whereas a lot of Britain was built up before cars were around, so we often have smaller streets and compact houses.
I’m a big lover of documentaries, but I could not watch them in the US. There is lots and lots and lots and LOTS of talking, cartoon sound effects, and loud music. You could be watching a lion lazily looking at a gazelle miles away and it’s blaring music that sounds like an action film finale, whilst the narrator talks about lions for twelve paragraphs using all sorts of weird, casual expressions, and every time the gazelle moves it plays a loud “BWOOOIING” sound effect. Well, that was an exeggeration, but do you get what I mean? It felt like – and I don’t know how true this is – that documentaries in the US are treated like educational shows for reluctant children whose parents made them watch it, rather than proper a series an adult might watch out of genuine interest.
This sounds so patronising and I’m really sorry if it is but… we went to a lot of theme parks and it always entertained us how Americans say “vehicle”.
Not a difference but also pretty funny: Americans seem to underestimate what foreigners know about the US. I know you say “eggplant”, “cilantro”, “restroom” and “truck” instead of “aubergine”, “coriander”, “loo” and “lorry”. We get tonnes of films and TV programmes and books from the US, probably more than you get from Britain, so we have heard these terms before! Again, though, I do appreciate their consideration, but it’s still a bit funny how they act as if you’re learning a whole new language being there.
Another apology for if this sounded patronizing or mean-spirited. People from the US were all very lovely people when I went there, I had a wonderful time, and I mean no offence. 


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Timmy Parker

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