20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is

Ephraim Obare
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Greetings, fellow travelers and cultural enthusiasts! Have you ever taken a moment to contemplate the peculiarities that uniquely define us as Americans? Indeed, we possess an assortment of customs that may appear ordinary to us, yet leave individuals from different corners of the globe perplexed.

Ranging from our affinity for an ice-cold beverage served ‘on the rocks’ to our ingrained habit of inquiring, ‘How are you?’ without expecting a sincere reply, buckle up as we dive into 20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is. This journey promises to be intriguing, hilarious, and perhaps a touch awkward. But hey, that’s Americana for you!

Supersized Servings: When Big Is an Understatement!

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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You may have heard the term ‘Everything’s bigger in America,’ Let me tell you, it’s not just a saying—it’s the downright truth, especially regarding food servings. Americans seem fond of the ‘go big or go home’ mentality when serving food. The portion sizes are so gigantic, they almost dare you to finish them. Restaurants serve pizzas the size of wagon wheels, burgers that could feed an army, and sodas that could fill a kiddie pool.

It’s no wonder international visitors are often left with their jaws dropped, eyes bulging, and stomachs testing their limits. Supersized servings—a truly American phenomenon where big is always an understatement!

The Art of Tipping

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Next on our list is the American ritual of tipping, a peculiarly institutionalized dance between gratitude and the almighty dollar. Service charges are included in the bill in many countries but not in America. Here, we tip our waiters, hairdressers, taxi drivers, and even hotel bellboys.

It’s as though we’re on a never-ending quest to express our appreciation in monetary form. For visitors, it might seem like we’re just throwing money around, but in reality, a deeply ingrained aspect of our culture dictates we reward good service with a little extra dough.

Sales Tax: Not Included. So Close, Yet So Far From the Final Price

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Guess what, America? Whenever you’re about to pay for something, it’s like you’re in a game show with the price as the grand mystery. You pick up an item marked at $19.99, expecting to pay exactly that, but that would be too simple. Enter sales tax, the uninvited guest at the checkout counter. Most countries around the globe have the decency to include taxes in the listed price.

But America, in its unique style, keeps us guessing right until the end. It’s like a surprise party that nobody asked for. Every time you make a purchase, there’s a suspenseful drumroll in your head as you wonder, “What’s the final price going to be?”. So, welcome to the American sales tax lottery, where the only thing guaranteed is your surprise!

Sugar-Coated Indulgence: The Sweet Seduction We Can’t Resist

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Oh, the sweet allure of sugary indulgence! It’s an undeniable truth that we Americans have an uncanny knack for making the world go round, one dessert at a time. From the frosted layer cakes that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale to the sugar-laden breakfast cereals that could pass for dessert, we’ve managed to turn just about every meal into a gateway to Cavitiesville.

Believe it or not, our beloved Pop-Tarts and Cap’n Crunch don’t exactly qualify as universally standard breakfast fare. Imagine the look on a foreigner’s face when they see us washing down frosting-smothered pastries with a tall glass of chocolate milk at 8 a.m.!

Public Restroom Stalls

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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One peculiar American behavior that foreigners might find bizarre is the contemplation of life’s mysteries in the confines of public restroom stalls. For some inexplicable reason, the design of public restroom stalls is quite intriguing in a country where privacy is highly cherished. The ample gap at the bottom and the uncomfortably wide cracks around the door provide a paradoxical mix of public exposure and private introspection.

As Americans, we’ve somehow normalized this peculiar space for our deepest existential musings. In these stalls, amidst the hustle and bustle of the world outside, one ponders over dinner plans, life choices, and, occasionally, the meaning of existence itself. It’s almost as if the architects intended these stalls to be our makeshift confessionals or mini think tanks.

Pharmaceutical Advertising: Because Sometimes Even Your Headache Needs a Good Marketing Campaign

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Americans have an intriguing relationship with pharmaceutical advertising – an oddity that leaves foreigners scratching their heads. Venture to any other corner of the world, and you’ll find that the notion of promoting prescription medication directly to consumers is as foreign as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But in the Land of the Free, we welcome the rhythmic incantations of potential side effects (which often sound more terrifying than the ailment they’re supposed to treat) during our favorite prime-time shows. Nothing screams a cozy family TV night like a good ol’ ad about an unpronounceable drug for an ailment you didn’t know existed. Oh, America, you’re an endless source of amusement!

Displaying Patriotism With a Dash of Wit

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It’s hard to miss the stars and stripes fluttering in the wind, whether you’re passing by a school, a grocery store, or Aunt Betty’s farmhouse in the heartland. Americans have an uncanny knack for displaying their patriotism on their sleeves – mailboxes, front lawns, car bumpers, and, well, pretty much everywhere.

It’s like a national love letter but expressed uniquely American – big, bold, and unabashedly public. After all, nothing says “I 😍 USA” quite like a 20-foot flagpole in your backyard, does it? It’s a fascinating display of patriotism; to the uninitiated, it can feel like you’ve stumbled upon a year-round Fourth of July celebration.

Refills on the House, Because Hydration Is Key

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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On any given day in America, it’s not uncommon to see people just casually chugging down their fourth refill of soda in a restaurant. Yes, you heard it right! Free refills are as American as apple pie. It’s like a national hydration strategy. In most other parts of the world, once you finish your drink, that’s it, game over.

But here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, there’s no such thing as too much hydration (or caffeine). It’s a never-ending flow of soda, iced tea, or water. And it’s all on the house because Hydration is Key! It’s one of those things that makes America, America.

Life in the Fast Lane: Drive-Through Everything

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Life in the Fast Lane: Drive-Through Everything. Now, this is something uniquely American! We Americans love our drive-throughs, and why wouldn’t we? It’s the epitome of convenience. Need a coffee? Drive through. Hungry for a burger? Drive through. Need to drop some mail? Drive through.

So if you ever find yourself in a hurry, remember, America has got you covered. Drive-throughs – they’re not just for fries anymore.

Casual Chit-Chat, but With a Dash of Spice

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Americans have an uncanny knack for turning even the most mundane small talk into a spicy gumbo of casual chit-chat. Whether it’s a comment on the weather or a cheeky remark about the latest game, they’ve mastered the art of spinning the dreariest of topics into vibrant conversational threads. Americans are experts in the art of friendly small talk, cool icebreakers with strangers included. Those from more reserved cultures might find it refreshingly unusual! 😉

The rest of the world may find this peculiarly American penchant for lively banter a bit puzzling, but who else could make a discussion about last night’s rainfall sound like a thrilling detective novel? Only in America, folks, only in America.

Cities That Revolve Around Cars? More Like “Car-Crazy” Cities!

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Americans’ love affair with automobiles is so profound it’s like the cities were built around the cars, not the people. It’s every teenager’s rite of passage to drive alone for the first time, fueling the American dream in a four-wheeled package. Public transport isn’t an option in many parts of the US – it’s a distant urban myth.

Living without a car is like trying to eat soup with a fork. Sure, you might manage eventually, but wouldn’t it be easier with the right tools? Yes, these car-crazy cities might seem alien to many, but it’s just another day in the fast lane for Americans.

Ice in Drinks: Cooler Than a Penguin in Shades

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Oh, ice, you slippery character! Surely, there’s something cool about a drink that’s colder than winter in Alaska, right? But here’s the thing – Americans seem to have a love affair with ice that baffles the rest of the world. We’re not talking about a casual liking. No, we’re talking about an obsession, as if their favorite superhero as a kid was “Ice Cube Man.” They load their drinks up with ice until it’s practically an iceberg in a glass, even when it snows outside.

Because, hey, who doesn’t like their teeth chattering as they sip their ice-cold water? It’s more than just a refreshing beverage; it’s an experience – like being in a snowball fight with a polar bear. It’s so unique and so quintessentially American, you might just call it… cooler than a penguin in shades.

Political Polarization: Where Left Meets Right, Sparks Fly

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Americans often fall into one of two camps – ‘left’ or ‘right,’ ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’. Just casually mentioning politics can turn a friendly barbecue into a fiery debate faster than you can say “Fourth of July.” It seems like the U.S. is a land where the middle ground is as elusive as a bald eagle in Manhattan.

Given that political views exist more on a spectrum in many other countries, this black-and-white view of politics is a uniquely American phenomenon that leaves many foreigners scratching their heads.

Snackin’ Non-Stop, Cuz Who Needs Mealtime?

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We Americans have a knack for snacking – it’s a national pastime. Walk down any street, and you’re likely to see folks munching on chips, cookies, fruit, or even a slice of pizza at all times of the day. While most cultures around the world have defined meal times, we prefer to graze continuously, turning each day into a veritable buffet.

Is it 10:30 AM, and you’re chowing down on a sandwich? No problem, it’s snack time! Is it 2:45 PM, and you’re scarfing a donut? Hey, it’s snack time! There’s no judging in the land of the free and the home of the brave. After all, who needs mealtime when you’ve got a pantry full of snacks?

Dress To Impress? Nah, Just Go for the Casual Attire

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Okay, let’s talk about American fashion for a minute—or rather, the lack thereof. You see, while the rest of the world might be slipping into their finest threads for a trip to the grocery store or a casual lunch, Americans are perfectly content rocking their sweatpants and baggy t-shirts. Americans have a knack for casual dressing, even in professional settings, showing off their laid-back charm, while other cultures are stuck in the formalwear matrix.

Do you want to spot an American tourist in Paris? Look for the person in the Nike athletic wear, sipping on a to-go coffee, blissfully unaware of the sea of chic trench coats and stylish berets around them. It’s not that we don’t appreciate a good couture moment; it’s just that comfort will always reign supreme in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Spooktacular Halloween Shenanigans

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Americans take Halloween to a whole new level of spookiness. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is not just about trick-or-treating; it’s an all-out celebration of the bizarre and the macabre. People across the country enthusiastically transform their homes into haunted houses with cobwebs, skeletons, and blood-curdling soundtracks that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.

It’s not uncommon to see adults at work sporting vampire fangs or witch hats, and let’s not forget the national obsession with carving the creepiest jack-o’-lantern. So while the rest of the world may find this spooktacular revelry a little odd, it’s just another weird and wonderful tradition for Americans.

Sports: The Ultimate Obsession

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Americans’ deep-seated obsession with sports is akin to a national pastime that baffles outsiders. Whether it’s professional leagues or college ball, the country cleaves into packs of rabid fans, transforming living rooms into dedicated sports dens with alarming regularity. Tailgate parties become sacred rituals, and the Super Bowl is nothing short of a national holiday.

The intensity is so palpable that you can almost taste the nachos and cheap beer. It’s a passion that permeates every sector of society, creating a unique cultural fabric that leaves the rest of the world asking, “Is it really that serious?”

Always Advertising: Because Subtlety Is Overrated

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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In the land of the free and the home of the brave, subtlety in advertising is about as common as a unicorn galloping down Main Street. Advertising is an ever-present force, intertwining with our daily lives loudly and unapologetically. Billboards scream out from every highway, television commercials play in a seemingly infinite loop, and pop-ups relentlessly invade our internet browsing sessions.

Even our clothing isn’t safe from becoming a walking billboard for brands! Yes, in America, quiet advertising is a concept that’s taken a long, deep sleep. It’s a never-ending, neon-lit spectacle, a testament to the American ethos of ‘Go big or go home.’

Consumerism and Materialism: The Never-Ending Pursuit of Things We Don’t Need To Impress People We Don’t Like

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Here’s a quirky one, folks: our relentless pursuit of materialism and consumerism or chasing stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like. Isn’t it amusing how we’re always one iPhone upgrade away from bliss or how our self-worth is often measured by a closet bursting with designer goodies?

Why? Maybe because nothing says “I’ve made it” quite like a shiny new car that depreciates when you drive it off the lot. It seems we Americans are forever caught in this odd dance with materialism, seeking validation through possessions. And perhaps that’s just part of our charm!

Cultural Appropriation: When People Think They Can Borrow Culture but End up Looking Like a Fashion Disaster

20 Things Americans Do Without Realizing How Weird It Is
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Ah, the fascinating world of cultural appropriation: the realm where well-intentioned compliments collide with fashion-disaster reality. Americans, bless their hearts, are sometimes blissfully unaware of this social faux pas. It seems that ‘borrowing’ bits of culture – a headdress from Native American tribes, a dashiki from West African tradition, or a bindi from South Asian customs – makes for a trendy costume party attire.

But alas, culture isn’t a fashion accessory that you can wear one day and discard the next. It’s a deeply-revered manifestation of a community’s history, values, and identity. So, while it might seem like a cool, cosmopolitan idea to ‘borrow’ these cultural elements, you may end up looking less like a global citizen and more like a cultural bandit.


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15 American Things My French Neighbor Finds Absolutely Ridiculous

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  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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