LIFE

10 American Customs That Other Countries Find Puzzling

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Travel to a far-off land with customs different from your own, and you may feel suddenly out of place.

Everything seems so different and strange.

But back at home, you take comfort in the fact that things are normal again. However, what might be “normal” to us might be very “abnormal” to others!

Since normalcy is relative, the things we Americans consider totally commonplace — or even celebrate as tradition — might warrant a double-take if you’re not from the country.

Just like our unusual roadside attractions or our beliefs in spooky local monsters, many American practices and beliefs are totally foreign to others.

In a recent Reddit thread, one user asked readers to answer the question, “What is the weirdest thing about America that Americans don’t realize is weird?”

The answers were pretty surprising — and sometimes hilarious! Scroll through the surprising responses, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Please SHARE if you love America, unique quirks and all!

1. Americans Say "Please" And "Thank You" A Lot

1. Americans Say "Please" And "Thank You" A Lot
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

It might seem like good manners to you, but to people from other cultures, saying “please” and “thank you” isn’t the constant requirement it is here.

This leads some people to perceive Americans as super-polite!

2. "The Pledge of Allegiance" Is A Little Odd

2. "The Pledge of Allegiance" Is A Little Odd
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

The Pledge has caused controversy since its installment in U.S. schools in the 1940s, and it is still surrounded by debates.

Still, many Americans remember reciting it each and every morning in school.

But to someone not from here, the somewhat robotic recitation seems very strange, and even alarming!

3. There Are American Flags Everywhere

3. There Are American Flags Everywhere
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

In front yards, on cars, in restaurants, and even on clothing, American flags are seen everywhere across our great country.

Americans so love their red-white-and-blue flag that there’s even a whole day dedicated to celebrating it!

In other countries, though, the flag use is strictly reserved for government buildings and national holidays.

4. Americans Are Very Chatty And Friendly

4. Americans Are Very Chatty And Friendly
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Americans are known for being outgoing — but for people from more reserved societies, their friendliness can be surprising.

Here, striking up a conversation with a stranger isn’t considered abnormal. In fact, it’s totally commonplace and encouraged.

5. American Bathrooms Aren't Very Private

5. American Bathrooms Aren't Very Private
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Public bathrooms in the U.S. often have a gap around the door, and if you’re not mindful, you can catch an eyeful of a stranger inside.

In many countries, public bathrooms are more like closets, with full doors and ceilings — so the openness of American stalls is uncomfortable for people who aren’t used to it.

6. The Portions Are Huge!

6. The Portions Are Huge!
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

A giant American helping might seem overwhelming to someone from a country of more modest portions.

Another surprising dining difference? Free refills in restaurants! This is not a very common practice in countries abroad.

Of course, many Americans make double use of their large portions and take half home to eat later so they can get two meals for the price of one!

7. Tipping The Waiter Or Waitress

7. Tipping The Waiter Or Waitress
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

In places like Europe, tipping in restaurants is not done.

This is because servers in those countries are paid significantly more than their American counterparts, and they don’t need tips to live.

But in the U.S., servers are typically paid well under minimum wage, so tips are necessary to make ends meet.

8. Bills Of Different Value Look The Same

8. Bills Of Different Value Look The Same
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Other countries differentiate their bills by varying the papers’ images, colors, and sizes — but in the U.S.? All bills, no matter their value, are green and similarly decorated.

Though newer bills feature blushes of different colors, the bills are all incredibly similar to the untrained eye.

Another criticism of our currency? It’s ugly.

9. No Kinder Eggs

9. No Kinder Eggs
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

In what might be the most shocking difference of all, Kinder Surprise — also known as Kinder Eggs — are banned in the U.S.

The hollow chocolate eggs come with a small plastic toy inside, and the FDA feels that it poses a choking hazard, especially for small children.

10. America Is Huge

10. America Is Huge
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

If you come from a small country, it can be baffling to consider that in the U.S., you can drive for three days straight and still be in the U.S.

But that also means that each region of the country has its own unique culture and customs, and its own set of quirks to get used to!

What are some quirks you’ve noticed in other countries? Let us know in the comments below!

Please SHARE if you love America’s unique customs!