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Americans Are Sharing The Things They Didn't Realize Were Highly "American" Until They Went Abroad

"The massive gaps in public bathroom stalls. You can see an entire person and all their shame through those gaps."

If you live in the USA, you're probably used to certain things that you don't even realize might seem abnormal to an outsider. So Reddit user u/TJBullz asked, "What is something you didn't realize was typically American, until you went abroad?"

Will Ferrell wearing a "USA" crop top and underwear on SNL

Here are some of the responses they received. If you have another one to add, share in the comments!


1. Free ketchup with your meal:

A burger, fries, and lots of ketchup
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"At a buffet in Germany, I had to pay for ketchup." β€”u/doublex12

"No ketchup on burgers. In America it’s like an automatic thing to have ketchup. If you don’t want it, you gotta specifically say no ketchup." β€”u/TrueRusher

2. Ranch as the default dressing:

"Ranch dressing, especially at fast-food places like McDonald's. Sour cream and chive sauce is not a worthy replacement." β€”u/DesignatedDiverr

"Ranch dressing. Or, as they say in Europe, 'No, we don't have any American sauce.'" β€”u/AnonymousBromosapien

3. The ubiquity of red Solo cups:

People playing a drinking game with red solo cups
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"Red plastic cups for parties. So much so that people outside of the US use them as an accessory for American-themed parties." β€”u/thiswasagutpunch

4. Strong water pressure:

"When abroad, showers are like a flower watering pot. I like to feel my shower. Like, make the pressure strong enough to tear my skin off, then back it off like 10%." β€”u/petertmcqueeny

5. Giant gaps in public restroom stalls:

A woman in a public restroom stall
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"The massive spaces in the toilet stalls. You can see an entire person and all their shame through those gaps." β€”u/valonxhar

"Those damn gaps in bathroom stalls." β€”u/lindzaluuo

6. Garbage disposals:

"When I moved to the UK, my flatmates asked why, in movies, people would stick their hand in the sink drain and have it be ripped apart. I then told them about garbage disposals and they were very weirded out." β€”u/ShayBriar

7. Bacon being called "bacon":

A plate of bacon and eggs
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"In the UK, the word 'bacon' is not the same as the US kind. You call US bacon 'streaky bacon.' This caused me to be very sad the first time I ordered bacon while on holiday." β€”u/Maltaltin

8. Convenience stores that stay open 24/7:

"It's weird not being able to buy random shit at 4 a.m." β€”u/TheSensualSloth

9. Clothing colors that aren't "neutral":

A rack of brightly colored T-shirts
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"How colorful people dress. In pretty much every European country I've been to, people dress in really neutral colors without big logos or graphics. In America it's pretty common to dress in bright colors or have a shirt with a cool graphic on it." β€”u/DoesRedditHateImgur

10. Guesstimating tax when buying something:

"The prices abroad don't add tax after the fact. You pay what the price shows. No need to figure the tax." β€”u/ChicagoTrader71

11. Generous portion sizes:

Takeout containers of Chinese food
Lauripatterson / Getty Images

"During my high school senior trip to London, as an 18-year-old with a typically ravenous appetite, I couldn't get over how small everything was." β€”u/scott60561

"American portion sizes are two to three times bigger than what I saw in Europe or Asia." β€”u/VeggieVendor

"By the time we got to Rome on our trip, I was tired of the small portions and just straight-up ordered two entrΓ©es for lunch. I heard the waiter tell the cook, 'Por americano.'" β€”u/All0uttaBubblegum

12. Strict rules around drinking:

"People can just drink in public in other countries? That was wild to me." β€”u/Raze321

"When I studied in the UK, the lack of public drinking laws was a bit of a culture shock. Being able to walk outside with a bottle of beer was very freeing." β€”u/OneCoolStory

13. Enormous grocery stores:

Guy Fieri in a grocery store
Food Network

"How large grocery stores are here. My wife is not American, and we lived in China. She didn't really grasp the size of American grocery stores until our first week in the USA. Here, there's 150 feet of different cereals in one aisle." β€”u/wtjax

"Ask any soldier after multiple deployments what one of the most remarkable things about America is, and it would be massive grocery stores." β€”u/gjbbb

14. Constant air-conditioning:

"Keeping AC on 100% of the time in the summer. I visited Madrid for about a month to see the exchange student we'd housed, and found that they typically only turn on AC at night to sleep or when it reaches a damned 105 degrees." β€”u/GardenGnome35

15. Getting fined for jaywalking:

People crossing the street in a city
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"The rest of the world thinks this is a made-up crime you only see in movies with corrupt cops." β€”u/theassassintherapist

16. Wearing shorts in general:

"I swear there are 14 million people in Istanbul and I was the only one wearing shorts." β€”u/Gerreth_Gobulcoque

"I stayed in Mexico City with my sister once, and one of the locals told us the easiest way to spot a tourist was to look for the guys wearing the shorts." β€”u/CaptainRogers1226

17. Refills on water (without having to ask):

Someone being poured water at a restaurant from a pitcher
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"Having your drink constantly refilled at restaurants. I just wanna drink a ton of water, alright?" β€”u/33whitten

18. And tons of ice in that water:

"Ice in your water." β€”u/12Madeline12

"Cold drinks. In every European country I visited, the drinks would best be described as cool, but definitely not cold like in the US." β€”u/chuckles65

19. Cashiers bagging your groceries:

A man bagging his groceries at a supermarket in France
Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

"Buying stuff and the cashier putting your items in a plastic or paper bag. Went to Germany and found it strange that they don't bag your items. Everyone just brings their own bag or dumps their stuff in a backpack." β€”u/powerchoice

20. Constantly "dieting":

"Or, rather, thinking you’re dieting. Americans will eat margarine instead of butter. They will eat egg whites instead of the whole egg. Fat-free milk instead of full-fat milk or cream. The rest of the world eats the whole egg, drinks milk with fat in it, and doesn’t drink diet soda all the time." β€”u/spaghatta111

21. Wide, multilane highways:

A truck driving on a highway
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"Massively wide roads and lanes. All of Ireland made me feel claustrophobic, but when I got back home, the roads felt like way too much wasted space." β€”u/thehoddy

22. Free public restrooms:

"When I visited Europe, I thought it was the strangest thing that you had to pay to use a public restroom." β€”u/bikeboy3

23. The sweetness level in desserts:

Lots of different desserts
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"Sugar. When I visited Japan, even some of their sweetest desserts pale in comparison with how much sugar is in American food." β€”u/willbo2013

24. Being obsessed with sports (other than soccer):

"The rest of the world loves soccer. They really could give a baker's fuck about any other sport." β€”u/lifeishardasshit

25. Adding cheese to everything:

Grated cheese
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"My British friend makes fun of me for how much cheese I use in my cooking." β€”u/Iximaz

26. Being overly friendly:

"I grew up in the US and moved to Europe about 10 years ago. I learned quickly to get out of the habit of smiling or saying hello to strangers on the street. I didn't understand why people found it so off-putting at first, because I thought I was simply being polite. A European friend explained that it comes across as phony or untrustworthy and puts people on their guard. It can still be hard sometimes to shake the feeling that I'm being 'rude' by not smiling at everyone I pass by." β€”u/let_them_eat_kale

27. Eating pizza and burgers with your hands:

People grabbing at a pizza
Getty Images

"I just assumed everyone did this. I went to Sweden with my boyfriend, and we stopped at a burger joint. Small, local place. When the chef heard we were American, he immediately wanted us to try a specialty burger he made and tell him what we thought about it. They were all excited when we picked it up with our hands, and we realized that everyone else in the place was using a fork and knife. Burger was 11/10." β€”u/dumplinmuffin

28. Being loud:

"The stereotype about us being loud is true. I never thought of myself as being loud until I went abroad and would hang up the phone after speaking in what I thought was appropriate volume, to find that everyone around me was staring at me, and I realized how much more quiet they were." β€”u/ProfanePly

29. Working late nights and after hours:

Someone sleeping at his desk
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"The 'Protestant work ethic' is truly American. Making people work anytime after 6 p.m. is alien outside the US." β€”u/GhastyGaster

30. "Rooting" for a team:

"When I went to Australia, I found out very quickly that no one down there 'roots' for a team β€” they 'go for' a team. So when I said I root for the Red Sox, I got a lot of weird looks. ('Rooting' means 'fucking' in Australian.)" β€”u/ConfidentMarionBerry

31. Peanut butter:

Peanut butter and jelly spread on bread
Getty Images

"Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On a related note, no, Vegemite and butter is not an adequate substitution." β€”u/Mr_beeps

"Peanut butter. I have no idea how the world lives without it." β€”u/fog1234

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Have you discovered something peculiar about America only after traveling abroad? Tell us in the comments below.