Have you ever wondered what people from around the world think of American customs and traditions? We decided to dig into a social media thread where non-Americans shared their thoughts on some of the quirkiest and most unusual aspects of American culture. It turns out, there’s a lot that baffles people from different corners of the globe. From the never-ending election campaigns to the fascination with college sports and even the perplexing world of child beauty pageants, we’ve got it all covered. So, let’s take a virtual journey through some of the American customs that have left people scratching their heads!
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#1 Never-Ending Election Campaigns
“I find the length of your election campaigns so crazy.”
Many users from different corners of the globe express sheer amazement at the seemingly interminable length of American election campaigns. Presidential races can span years, leaving our non-American friends bewildered. They’re left wondering if it’s a marathon or a sprint to the White House. With primaries, caucuses, and a seemingly endless stream of campaign ads, it’s no wonder that this practice can leave non-Americans wondering how Americans have the stamina for it.
#2 The Enigma of Groundhog Day
“My friend from India once asked me (an American) to explain Groundhog Day to her. I had no explanation- it’s just weird.”
It’s not just non-Americans who find this perplexing – even some Americans are baffled by Groundhog Day! Many people around the world find it odd that a groundhog’s prediction about the weather could be such a widely celebrated event.
#3 The Mysterious Disappearance of Your Card at Restaurants
“The waiter taking your card away to pay.”
Non-Americans are baffled when the waiter takes your card away to settle the bill. They wonder if it’s a trust exercise or just a unique way to handle transactions. Maybe it’s a secret test for aspiring magicians? In many other countries, your card never leaves your sight, but in the U.S., it’s common for the server to take your card and return with the bill. Some users find this practice a bit unsettling, as they’re not used to their card leaving their hands during a transaction.
#4 Medication Commercials Galore
“The Canadians I worked with in the oilfield were blown away by all of the television commercials for medicines.”
While direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is common in the United States, it’s a rarity in many other countries. The barrage of medication ads on American TV screens is indeed a unique phenomenon.
#5 The Leftover Conundrum
“Let me pull the Uno reverse card on this. I am an immigrant, living in the US for a very long time. Getting your leftovers to go at the restaurants was a surprise to me… But my reaction was, “yeah, why is that not the norm?” Rather than “Americans are strange.””
The tradition of taking home uneaten food after dining out might seem unusual to immigrants or people from other countries. Instead of thinking, “Americans are strange,” as one user mentioned, they often find themselves wondering why this practice isn’t more widespread globally.
#6 The Sneaky Sales Tax
“Not including tax in the price tag.”
Many non-Americans are puzzled by the absence of tax in the price tag. “Not including tax in the price tag” is a head-scratcher for those accustomed to seeing the final price upfront. It’s a revelation that hits hard at the checkout counter and prompts the age-old question: What you see is not always what you pay.
#7 Tipping Everywhere
“Tipping, so much tipping.”
Tipping is a custom that’s often perplexing to non-Americans. In the United States, tipping is not just a way to show appreciation; it’s often an essential part of a server’s income. Some users are astounded by the complexity of when and how much to tip, from the restaurant to the taxi to the hair salon. It’s a custom that keeps both visitors and locals on their toes.
#8 Sports Spectacle from Middle School to College
“The obsession with college sports…and in some places even high school or middle school! I just came back from a work trip to Texas and one of my colleagues told me the football stadium for his daughter’s middle school held 20,000 people!”
Many non-Americans are perplexed by the passion Americans have for college sports, particularly football and basketball. The size of some college stadiums can rival those of professional teams in other countries. To some, this devotion to amateur athletics can seem a bit over the top.
#9 Swift Return to Work After Birth
“That new parents, especially fathers, are expected to show up to work within days of having a newborn.”
Many users have highlighted the expectation for new parents, particularly fathers, to return to work shortly after the birth of their child. Lack of paid parental leave can put added stress on families as they juggle the demands of a newborn alongside work responsibilities. The assumption that swift returns to work are necessary for financial stability or job security is a reality for many, especially those with limited resources.
#10 Child Beauty Pageants
“Child Beauty Pageants – Just Stop.”
The contentious issue of child beauty pageants draws universal disapproval from non-Americans. The glitz and glamour of these events leave many questioning the values at play. These events, where young children are dressed up and made to compete in beauty and talent contests, can be seen as bizarre to those from cultures that prioritize a different kind of childhood.
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