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12 Things That’re Typically American

Growing up in a country often means you get so used to its unique parts that you stop noticing them. It’s only when you travel to other countries that you start to really appreciate what makes your home special. Seeing how different other places can be helps you recognize and value the things that make your own country unique.


The truck runs on the highway with speed. 3d render and illustration.

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Americans love things big, bold, and in-your-face. Trucks and SUVs embody that spirit perfectly. They’re a symbol of freedom, independence, and a certain “rugged individualism” that’s deeply ingrained in American culture. 


Happy mother with newborn baby

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Most Americans grow up knowing and accepting the fact that they won’t receive paid leave after having a child. This becomes the norm, and the thought of a different system rarely crosses their minds. 


a plate of coins for a tip or fee toilets. in english

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While tipping is practically ingrained in American culture, in many other countries, it is either not expected or considered rude.

Accustomed to calculating and leaving tips, Americans might feel confused when faced with bills that don’t include gratuity. They might wonder if the service was included if they are expected to tip, and, if so, how much. This can be particularly awkward in countries where tipping is not customary, as Americans might worry about unintentionally offending someone.


Toilet bowl and bidet in the modern bathroom. 3d illustration

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Paying for public toilets is more prevalent in the United States than in many other countries. As American society became increasingly individualistic and consumer-oriented, paying for individual services, including restroom use, became more normalized.

On the other hand, in many other countries, public services like restrooms are funded through general taxation, which means they are accessible to everyone free of charge. This approach is less common in the United States and sometimes comes off as a cultural shock.


Young beautiful girl with glasses drinking water from hand in the kitchen

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Americans drink tap water due to its high quality and safety standards. Although people from many other countries also enjoy this privilege, not everyone does. When Americans travel abroad, especially to developing countries, where tap water might not be safe, they realize this isn’t a norm everywhere. 


Young woman at outdoors keeping the arms crossed in frontal position

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In the United States, smiling is considered as a social norm, expected in interactions regardless of context. This can feel automatic and go unnoticed by Americans until they encounter cultures where a neutral expression is the default in everyday encounters. 


Young beautiful multiethnic woman outdoors drinking from reusable bottle - ecological, sustainable, no waste concept

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Many Americans take free drink refills for granted. However, stepping outside the US often reveals this practice as a uniquely American phenomenon. After experiencing the world without free refills, Americans often develop a newfound appreciation for this homegrown custom. 



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In the US, cheese-flavored snacks like Cheetos, Doritos, and Cheez-Its are ubiquitous and readily available. This makes it seem like the norm, and many Americans might not be aware of the wide variety of snack flavors available abroad. In other countries, there may be a greater emphasis on different flavor profiles, like spicy, sour, or umami, which might not include cheese.


paper towel kitchen couple cook

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 Visiting countries where paper towels are uncommon or unavailable can be the first eye-opener for Americans. This forces them to utilize alternative methods like hand dryers or cloth towels, highlighting the prevalence of paper towels in their daily lives. Realizing that paper towels are not a global norm can lead Americans to appreciate their convenience and affordability more.


Woman eating tacos, fast food, restaurant

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When dining out abroad, Americans are initially surprised by the significantly smaller portions compared to what they are accustomed to back home. This can be a shock, especially considering the emphasis on “value for money” in American dining culture.


flag american proud

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Seeing the American flag everywhere, from government buildings to homes and businesses, becomes so familiar for Americans that it blends into the background. Visiting other countries where extensive flag display isn’t normal and commonplace can offer a contrasting perspective.


Young beautiful girl wearing glasses drinking sweet drink soda over red background surprised with an idea or question pointing finger with happy face, number one

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For Americans, ice in drinks is as natural as breathing. They expect it, crave it, and rarely question its presence. But stepping outside the US borders can be a shocking experience for many Americans. The realization that their beloved ice habit is a cultural quirk, not a universal standard, can be pretty eye-opening.