29 American customs that surprise the rest of the world


You might think over the last few years America’s popularity around the world has taken something of a battering. Yet the annual Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, an international survey measuring the popularity of countries around the world by polling 20,000 people across 20 countries, says otherwise. In fact, in this year’s survey, the United States came second behind Germany and just ahead of the UK. But despite all the love and respect for many aspects of the American way of life, there are many American customs that non-Americans find, frankly, bizarre. To see for yourself, here are 29 recently shared on Reddit.

1. Enormous gaps around toilet doors.

2. TV commercials for prescription drugs.

3. “You motherbeeeep ” …. no swearing on TV.

4. 21-years old drinking age. You can drive before drinking your first beer.

5. Showing decapitations in TV/movies while hiding nipples.

6. Banning Kinder Surprise chocolates.

7. Fat cops.


8. Not putting sales tax in the original price.

9. Holding elections on Tuesdays.

10. The fact that filming of porn is legal, but prostitution isn’t.

11. Beauty pageants for children.

12. How people ask “How you doing?” without expecting or wanting a real answer.

13. The huge amount of food that goes into every single meal.

14. Black Friday.


15. That lobbying isn’t seen as legal corruption.

16. Having a “Thank you for your service” attitude, with so many homeless veterans.

17. Swearing allegiance to a flag.

19. The urge to call so many bars Irish when they’re so clearly not.

20. The fact that healthcare is considered a privilege.

21. That the lack of minimum mandatory paid leave and parental leave is so readily accepted by people.

22. That rather than pay a decent living wage tipping is made mandatory.

23. All those guns.

24. Leaving your shoes on when you enter a house.

25. College fraternities and sororities.


26. The worship of work and lack of vacation time.

27. Getting rid of a monarchy, yet giving hereditary power to political families.

28. Unerring patriotism.

29. Cheese. Square, yellow, processed cheese.

29 replies

    • It’s not “swearing,” it’s pledging allegiance. I pledged allegiance every day as a grade school student. It’s a perfectly harmless statement of collective values. The original version did not include the “under God” bit which is a good example of the sort of the sort of questionable alteration of American tradition that conservatives impose on the nation whenever they have the upper hand.

      • Wizz is probably from France. They only like the American military when the Germans are in downtown Paris sipping coffee.

        • Hahahaaa so true, my friend. How many times have we bailed France out now, and what thanks do we get? Next time they need help, I say, vas te faire foutre, France!

          • Haha so true my friend if you’ve never read a history book. If it wasn’t for the French, you’d have got your asses kicked by your colonial overlords. As for bailing out the French, in both the world wars you were late. In WW1, the USA only bothered showing up in 1917, 3 years after it kicked off and in WWII in Dec 1941, more than 2 years after it kicked off.

            If anyone saved the French in WWI it was the British, in WWII it was the Russians destroying the Nazis on the Eastern front. Seriously, your pathetic jingoism is as embarassing as it is flawed

      • What, the invasions? Or the gall of someone to mention it. It must be pretty humiliating for you or you would not comment on it.

  1. I’m American and have lived in Europe for over 20 years. Great list. Almost all of these are correct and embarrassingly US-American. I’d take issue with Number 12 as “How are you doing?”–or variations like “You all right?” (British) “How ya going?” (Australian)–is a matter of intimacy between the speakers. If a perfect stranger says it, it’s clear he doesn’t want an answer; if your mother asks, she probably does. Almost all languages have a variation of this.

    30. Fat flight attendants. I’m an aisle person, so I know. I get an enormous butt in my face all the time on airlines from the US. I think one of the qualifications of a flight attendant is that he/she must be able to fit down the aisle.

  2. hey, bang up job writing up this ace article. No wonder your site is literally awesome. One think you missed though is why yanks are so damn loud. Especially those from Wesley Chapel in Florida. Is it big gobs or bad hearing? 🙂

  3. This is what EUROPEANS find bizarre about the US.

    What the US finds bizarre about Europe? How they can still think themselves so important in the world when they’re clearly OVER.

    • The inferiority complex you have about Europeans really is both painful to behold and bizarre. North America, like the entire western world is a product of Europe. That’s simply a fact. Why Jodie even the fact you’re writing in English is because the country you hold so dear was an English colony. Deal with it and enjoy it rather than bitch about it.

  4. The list is great, true and correct, and that is what makes us FREE AMERICANS, the country which Europe wants to drag down to it’s gutter level.
    We have some problems, problems caused by political correctness and attempts to placate the euros and Africans. But we are still FREE THINKING WELL FED AND EWLL ARMED AMERICANS.

    • @desertman I am married to an American, I have lived in America. Understand this, everything you claim as being unique to America such as freedom, is more or less universally available to a lot of people in a lot of countries. Outside of that I have seen the US to be unbelievably oppressive. And paranoid, yourself a perfect example of that, oh and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  5. Haha very great post! After living abroad I honestly hate going home and paying extra on top of the price i see. Everywhere else, if something is 7.99, you pay that. But in America you pay what? 8.76 or whatever, haha.

  6. It must be fun to be a college student in the U.S. It is clearly not as fun in Germany, everyone takes it too serious….

  7. Don’t forget the insane American obsession with driving and hatred for public transit, walking and cycling!

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