17 Things That’re Typically American

When living in a country, you may overlook its unique traits. Only upon traveling do these differences truly stand out. A user inquired, "What seemed typically American only after going abroad?" Check out the responses!

GIGANTIC TRUCKS AND SUVS

"In the UK and France big vehicles like 4x4s and Suburbans are rare," says a user. Americans love the big, bold spirit of trucks and SUVs. They symbolize freedom and rugged individualism. But travel reveals a world beyond these giant vehicles.

UNPAID MATERNITY LEAVES

"My British friend was shocked I couldn't afford maternity leave," says a user. Many Americans accept no paid leave after childbirth as a norm, rarely considering other systems.

TIPPING CULTURE

"Tipping is ingrained in American culture but not expected or seen as rude in many countries," says a user, leaving Americans confused about gratuity abroad.

PAYING FOR TOILET

"Paying for toilets! I learned this in Greece. It's more common in the US due to its individualistic, consumer-driven society," says a user. Free public restrooms, funded by taxation, can cause culture shock in the US.

AMOUNT OF ESPRESSO IN A COFFEE DRINK

"Espresso is more common abroad, often served with a bit of milk. American coffee tends to be milder with larger portions," says a user. In contrast, European, especially Italian coffee culture, emphasizes espresso's rich flavor. []

DRINKING TAP WATER

"Americans enjoy high-quality tap water. This habit surprises foreigners, especially from areas with unsafe tap water supply. Thus, not a worldwide norm."

SMILING

"Smiling for no reason outlays Americans," says a user. In the U.S., smiles are common, often going unnoticed until confronted with cultures favouring a neutral expression.

DRINK REFILLS

"Drank my entire drink before meal arrived. Had to buy another one," says a user. Many Americans only realize free refills are uniquely American after traveling abroad.

CHEESE FLAVORED SNACKS

"In NZ, I couldn't find cheese-flavored chips or Cheez-its. Instead, they had chicken chips," says a user. In the US, cheese snacks like Cheetos, Doritos, and Cheez-Its are common. Other countries favor different flavors.

PAPER TOWELS

"We're more addicted to paper towels than oil," says a user. Travelling exposes Americans to places where paper towels aren't common, resulting in alternative methods. This highlights how much we take them for granted.

FOOD PORTIONS

"Dining abroad, Americans note meals are half the size compared to home. This shocks those used to the 'value for money' in U.S. dining culture."

WATER FOUNTAINS

"Water fountains are less common outside the US and often go unnoticed in the States," says a user.

FLYING FLAGS EVERYWHERE

"I came from abroad and noticed that Americans display their flags everywhere. It's less common elsewhere," says a user. Seeing the US flag is so commonplace, it often blends into the background.

ICE IN DRINKS

"I was shaking like someone who likes more ice than a beverage," says a user. Many Americans realize that their love for iced drinks is a cultural quirk only after traveling abroad.

FRITOS

“I did my student teaching in England. Got a care package with Fritos. A friend likened them to fingernail clippings,” a user shared. Frito-Lay isn’t marketed much outside North America.

EATING POORLY

"Europeans savor their food more than Americans, with mealtimes often seen as social occasions," says a user. US eating habits tend to be on the go with less attention to quality.

MAC AND CHEESE FROM A BOX

"My German friend couldn't believe the cheese is powdered," says a user. Boxed mac & cheese, a childhood comfort food, is typically an American invention. Most countries prefer making it from scratch.

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