If you’re a traveler, you know very well how the rest of the world is completely different from America. But have you ever thought about how the rest of the world sees everything that is happening here? Have you ever asked yourself: “What do Americans think is normal for everyone, but actually it’s not normal for anyone but Americans?”
One thing we know for sure, you’re not ready for this answer. Because there are things that you’re so used to doing, you’ll have a hard time understanding how it’s not that usual for others. But the good news: knowing these things might help you next time you’re traveling abroad!
Restaurant etiquette: we call our dishes by the wrong name
To everyone’s surprise, an “entrée” at a restaurant isn’t what we thought. As far as we’re concerned, we’re calling the main course an “entrée”, but there’s something you should know. “Entrée” is French for “entrance”, so it stands for the starting point of a meal, which is usually an appetizer.
So, what Americans know as “entrée”, in other countries, like England for example, is the main dish, or like in France, where it’s called “plat principal”. Of course, the Italians are the winner of this contest by far: they have a first plate, a second plate, and so on. Voilà!
We order water differently
The difference lies in the phrase “I’ll just have water”. By saying that at a restaurant in a foreign country, you can’t still expect not to be charged for it. Because that’s what you may not know: In Europe, if you say that, the waiter will ask you what kind of water do you want.
You’ll have three options: still, sparkling, or tap. But you have to remember, they are asking you ‘what kind’ because still water is bottled water, so you’re going to be charged for it. If you want tap water, you’ll have to specify that, but not everywhere in the world you’ll find drinkable tap water.
We tend to eat sweets at the wrong time of day
Some foreigners can’t seem to understand why we like our mornings so sweet. Apparently, we’re eating for breakfast what others consider as dessert elsewhere. Donuts, Belgian waffles, delicious pancakes with syrup and icing, sugary cereal (you name it!).
But while is the most delicious way to start your morning, it sets you up for constant cravings as your insulin levels spike early. More hunger means more calories, so, in an ideal scenario, we would stop consuming this type of breakfast. But, for some reason or another, banana chocolate chip muffins, buttercream cupcakes, and pancakes are the best way to start our mornings, no matter what!
There are many foreigners who simply don’t understand our tipping culture. In fact, there are many users on Reddit who recalled their disputes with Americans about this matter: “I have gotten in a few arguments with Americans when they heard I don’t tip where I’m from.
It may be pretty normal in our country (and others too) but not every country has to tip. Apart from restaurants, Americans are also tipping taxi drivers, hairdressers, beauty therapists, porters, and those who deliver food. In general, 15 percent is fine, but if you’re paying cash, they would expect you to add a couple of extra dollars. For food deliveries, they’ll expect you to tip 10%.
We drive too much
Many foreigners suffer a cultural shock in America when it comes to car culture, including how much Americans drive or how the long distances don’t affect us in any way. One user on Reddit made an interesting and witty remark: “To Europeans, 100 years is a short time but 100 miles is a long distance; to Americans, 100 years is a long time and 100 miles is a short distance.”
And while in other areas of the world, you wouldn’t blink twice when it comes to walking a mile to a restaurant or a corner shop, in America, it looks like an eternity.
We’re a little too patriotic
As we’ve recently discovered, other countries don’t flaunt their flag as we do. As a Canadian user from Reddit said, in America, there are flags everywhere. “We love our flag up here in Canada, but it’s nothing like in America.”
We wear shoes inside
Apparently, wearing shoes inside is unusual in many countries, and what foreigners find even more strange is that not all Americans do the same. One user from Reddit recalled his childhood experience when he was living in America, and he recalled how weird it was for him to see people wearing shoes inside. Most people take them off at the entrance.
We got our dates wrong
There are many jokes about this: two friends were planning to go to a concert. The American friend was in charge of the traveling and the British friend was in charge of the tickets. By the time they arrive at the concert, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere, with no one else there.
Apparently, the British friend read the date all wrong. In America, the date goes like this: MM/DD/YYYY. But for many, this makes no sense. The system in other parts of the world is the day, month, and year, and that’s the order most people know. But not us.
We’re obsessed with baseball
Apparently, there are only other 2 countries, Japan and the Dominican Republic, that are as obsessed with baseball as Americans. Other foreigners don’t get it. As they see it, it’s the most American sport ever, and only we understand the rules and the beauty of this game. Outside the US, nobody has a clue what’s happening there.
We have a pretty funny way of greeting people
Here, you’re being asked a thousand times “How are you?”. Many foreigners exchanged experiences in this matter and said how in other countries, people are just greeting you. No one asks you how you feel, or how are you. Moreover, there is only one answer generally accepted by everyone: “I’m fine.”
If you really want to see the differences between our habits and other cultures, then there’s truly no better way to do that than live in another country. You might want to plan a longer trip to Europe, and then, trust me, you’ll be shocked by the differences!
However, it’s worth noting that you can truly get other culture’s vibe if you live there for longer, so 2 weeks won’t do the trick. If you have the option of taking a sabbatical year or even half a year, choose your favorite country or a culture that you’ve been interested in and move there!
You will get to meet new people, share experiences with them, and also learn about their culture and maybe teach them a little bit about yours! In the end, these types of cultural exchanges will help you grow and develop, so there’s really nothing to be afraid of.
If you want to read more on how to adjust to other country’s cultures, we highly recommend you read Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, a wonderful novel that will truly inspire you.
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