This is Why Americans Are So Easy to Spot AbroadBy Yuri S.
Americans are very easy to spot when they’re abroad for many different reasons. Some of them are good, but plenty of them are bad! Each country has its own culture and set of customs, but many Americans never seem to understand this.
There are also those quirks that only Americans do, which the rest of the world likes to laugh at. Here, we’re going to take a look at all of the ways that Americans stick out when they’re in a foreign country. Let’s check them out.
You Demand Ice for Your Drinks
One thing that isn’t very popular among other nations is ice in all of their drinks. Many places and restaurants might give you a drink at room temperature or cold. Usually, having a beverage from the fridge or just a little cold isn’t enough for most Americans. Instead, they want you to bring out the ice!
This is one of the easiest ways to spot Americans as many seemingly want to have a glass half full of ice all the time and have their drink as cold as scientifically possible. Most others are happy with a cold drink on its own.
Baseball Cap, an Easy Sign
You may think that this is a great trend, but the truth is, not many places in the world wear baseball caps. In most of Europe, people haven’t much of a notion of what baseball is or what teams are known for it. They may have heard of the Yankees, but that’s about it.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a baseball cap, but it’s a very American thing to do. Combine it with the same style for t-shirts and shorts, and it’s the perfect combo for recognition as a resident of the USA.
Even Fashion Can Get You Recognized
In some countries known for a high sense of fashion, some unwritten rules rarely change according to the region. Even in a more rural area or in the heart of Paris, some styles just don’t change. For many Europeans, this includes what they wear on their feet.
Something that stands out is the classic white socks, as some fashion critics will just throw a tantrum at you for wearing something that isn’t the same tone as your pants. Regardless of what pants you’re wearing, the white athletic socks are a classic American look.
A Perfect Set of Teeth
This is a positive one! For any American, the orthodontist period in our lives was something common, and braces were just a normal stage in an adolescent nightmare. It wasn’t the best time in our lives for sure, but perfect teeth aren’t as important for other nations.
Therefore, the next time you go on your holiday and just smile at all wonders you see and admire, you might give those around you a clue about yourself. Nothing wrong with that, of course, as it’s something Americans can be proud of.
Happy Clapping to Everything
For all Americans, it is customary to show enthusiasm with clapping and shouting. It’s just a normal way to express that the show or concert was great. This shouldn’t be an issue, but some Americans take it too far.
The problem comes when the habit occurs in every facet of their everyday lives. An example is that round of applause when the waiter saves those beers from falling off the tray one time in the bar. In many parts of the world, applause sometimes means that you’re making fun of someone.
The Language of an American
Each country has its own slang, and there are a few words associated with specific nationalities that immediately give people an idea of where you’re from. This is true of every country, but you get used to the slang words when you’ve watched enough American films.
While this stereotype is derived from films that say “brah” almost every two sentences, anyone saying something like, “Sup, bro!” will instantly stick out as an American. There’s no reason to be ashamed of how you speak, as every place in the world has its quirks.
Americans Love a Fanny Pack
Films through the years have depicted the typical American tourist sporting one of these bad boys, together with sunglasses and camping shorts. It’s not really the best fit if you don’t want people to know exactly where you’re from.
Even though they’re fading from the typical attire, it’s a popular stereotype associated with an American tourist. So, if you want to get with the crowd the next time, you better stick to a good old backpack. Also, the word “fanny” means something very different in the UK, but I’ll let you Google that one.
Remember Football Is Not Football
For most Americans, football usually means people in armor running with the ball while trying to score to the other side of the field as the competition tries to stop them. If you think about it, it’s kind of the same for Europeans too, except the ball is delivered by foot and not with a hand.
Europeans just love their football (soccer). If you find yourself in another country and everyone talks about the game last night, they usually mean soccer. So don’t be unimpressed with a measly 3-1 score. Soccer is a religion in many parts of Europe. Just remember to call it football on your vacation.
People Usually Take Their Time to Eat
For many countries out there, it’s considered weird for people to eat on the go, especially when they put such a big focus on healthy eating. Meals usually take longer and people take their time, and respect the dining hours more than we do.
The next time you’ll be eating your croissant and traveling at the same time, and people might give you a weird look, especially if they take 30 minutes to order one in a café. Next time, take your sweet slow, time to eat if you want to look like a typical resident in a foreign country.
Imperial vs. Metric System
One thing that separates America from the rest of the world is the use of a different measurement system. While we calculate things with inches and pounds, everyone uses meters and kilograms in other countries. An easy way to spot a tourist is when they struggle to understand how big the portion is.
Be careful when you drive because all the traffic signs are in kilometers, so do the calculations if you want to travel without being stopped for going 100 in a 30 zone. It’s even more confusing in countries like the UK, which seems to switch randomly between imperial and metric.
McDonald’s Is a Big Thing for You
What better way to feel a little at home than to visit and eat at a place that is familiar to you? That is particularly the case with fast food, as people expect you to eat at local establishments to understand the culture. But having a familiar meal is sometimes better.
Even if you choose to go there, take your time eating something new and exciting. While those golden arches might look familiar, the menu may not be the same. While you’ll find plenty of Americans in a Mcdonald’s, people all around the world love it too.
Be Careful How Much You Drink
Well, something that just screams the USA is probably the 21 years we waited to have our first beer. That is definitely not the case in places like Europe, where teens as young as 16 can drink freely in any place. Well, that is a culture shock.
Maybe that’s the reason people tend to drink a glass of wine just for the taste and then stop. If you go to a place and get a little more than you can handle, people will assume you are American. Remember, one glass is good. A fifth, not so much.
Nudity Is a Hot Topic for You
With not so many public nude beaches, non-private saunas, or even in day-to-day living, Americans aren’t accustomed to being naked or half-naked in a place where people will look at us and judge. Many other countries take a more liberal approach.
Whether you find yourself in a Japanese public sauna surrounded by older men or on a beach in Europe, don’t expect to be seeing much in the way of clothes. Many Americans would be shocked by the nudity, but it’s just not a big deal for many other places around the world.
A Little Bit Too Friendly
Something that will really make you stand out as an American will be the volume of small talk. As many people from different cultures like to keep to themselves, we just love to talk as much as possible, and that is why the next time someone from another country might ask, “you are from the USA, right?”
It’s probably because they saw you trying to speak to the woman in front of you while asking for directions and constantly gesturing. It’s good to be friendly, but many places around the world aren’t accustomed to a stranger being chatty.
TMI With Random People
You might give too much information to a stranger because you think you’ll never see them again or for the simple reason that you want to talk to someone in person about your awesome vacation. But doing so might be a little weird for them.
While we love to talk and make small talk, talking about personal things with a stranger can be a little weird. Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are sometimes too open about their personal life. Some foreigners may love this quirk, but it definitely makes you stand out.
When Men Wear Shorts in Public
This is something that varies on the region you go to. But in the middle of Paris, don’t go out in shorts while other men wear a suit unless you want to shout American. For some reason, American men seem to love wearing shorts.
They may be comfortable and suited for a day of exploring, but they’ll attract attention when you have shorts on in certain places. There are also some religious places where you’ll be expected to cover up, so check on that before you visit.
You Know How to Tip
We are accustomed to tipping to show our gratitude for workers we think are underpaid. It’s a great way to respect them for their hard work. But there isn’t such a big fuss about tips in other countries.
In some countries, tips are considered just like in America, a nice gesture to show gratitude for those that worked hard for you. In others, it’s better to think a little before you go. In Asia, tipping can be one of the worst things to do because the culture will think you are looking down on them or thinking of them as poor.
The Common Accent You Have
There are some things you can`t change even when you want to! After all the special attire and keeping your mouth shut the whole time, there will be a time when you need to talk. For many, that’s when you’ll be recognized as an American. The accent is a dead-end, and people will immediately ask the question.
After all, you can’t change every aspect of your American self when you visit a new country. It’s better to be yourself. No sense in hiding who you are. It’s not that you’ll get something out of it anyway. Many people love Americans and recognize an accent from all the TV shows and movies they watch.
Stop Disguising Your Accent
Your accent is an easy giveaway, and that can lead some to try and fit in by changing their accent. When you try to imitate the local accent, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. That “G`day mate” won’t get you too far.
It’s almost impossible to try to copy an accent the first time you visit a new place, and your failed attempt will make people think you are making fun of them. You’d be better to stick to your own accent and try not to stand out in the crowd.
Speak American English, Only
All over the world, Americans are quite infamous for having just one language. Europeans usually speak more than one due to the free flow of traffic and trade between EU countries. Citizens of many countries often have multiple languages to make it easier to talk to locals.
Citizens of underdeveloped countries also learn a second language to improve their chances of being hired to offer services to foreigners and foreign institutions. Americans don’t usually feel the need to learn a second language, and this creates a language barrier when dealing with locals of the country they’re visiting on vacation, especially when asking for help or directions.
Probably the Loudest in the Room
Americans are also stereotyped as the loudest people in a place while on vacation. This could be due to the confidence of being a citizen of what they call the greatest country in the world. Perhaps this confidence gives them the freedom to be as loud as they want.
This seems to irritate Europeans, and honestly, being loud is quite obnoxious. No one likes to sit next to a loud person in the diner or restaurant. Whenever you’re on vacation outside the USA, abide by the “when in Rome” quote in public spaces.
Not Particularly Aware of Customs and Tradition
Visiting another country may require you to learn about some of their customs. Americans need to realize that other countries’ cultures and traditions aren’t even remotely similar to theirs. For example, In Asia, it is respectful to greet with a bow, after which you can offer a handshake.
The reverse peace sign in the UK is the equivalent of the middle finger in America, and the OK sign is not very much appreciated in Germany either. While in the Czech Republic, you are booing someone by whistling and having a conversation on the subway is considered rude in Asia. Before you travel, research their customs online or pick up a quick book guide.
Gets Deafening Meeting Another American Abroad
One American tourist is already considered loud. Now imagine two American tourists randomly meeting each other in another country. Yeah! They go off! “Where are you from? What city? Oh! never been, but my cousin lives in your city!”
These are total strangers who wouldn’t normally bat an eye at each other if they met in the States. But here they are in another country, and the locals assume they’re relatives or friends from a distant past. Americans react wildly when they see each other abroad, which is really quite sweet when you think about it.
You Order Coffee to Go
Want to be tagged an ‘ugly American’? Visit a coffee shop in a European country and order a coffee on the go. Europeans are accustomed to enjoying the coffee at the coffee shop before going about with the rest of the day. It’s such an inherent part of their culture that many coffee shops in Italy and France will refuse to serve you espresso on the go.
Just as England takes their tea culture seriously, European countries are just as committed to their coffee culture. They aren’t in a rush to consume their coffee, and unlike Americans that dash in for a cup of coffee to go, they prefer to sit back and take their time while enjoying every sip of their coffee.
Pack Lots of Purell in Your Bags
If you want to pick out an American tourist in a foreign country, simply look out for the fellow that pulls out their Purell at a restaurant right before they attack a meal with their bare hands. Americans are generally not considered a model for personal hygiene, but they seem to have a compulsively inseparable relationship with hand sanitizer.
At a museum? Getting out of a cab? Opening the door to enter or leave a building? At the local market? You‘re guaranteed to see an American tourist whipping out a travel-size bottle of Purell and generously applying it on their hands.
North Face is Your Go-to Sports Jacket
North Face outerwear is another giveaway for an American tourist. The high-quality sports jacket that can withstand the Arctic cold is not widely popular outside the USA. An American tourist is definitely bound to stand out amongst the more fashionable Europeans, whose choice for warmth is woolen coats.
It would be poor and unfair financial advice to have you change your wardrobe for every country you visit. You would still have to wear your American brands regardless. You may not stand out in South Korea as the North Face sports jacket is fast becoming a fashion trend there.
You Love Wearing USA Apparel
One of the most identifiable traits about Americans is their patriotism. They live, eat, breathe, and sleep the red, white, and blue. As tourists, they practically wear the flag on a graphic T-shirt or accessorize in red, white, and blue. All of this can make it very easy to spot an American.
Americans also find a way to make every conversation about the greatness of Uncle Sam. Whether it’s a conversation about the sky, the time of day, or the scenery, we always end up making it about the awesomeness of the greatest country on earth, the United States of America.
Americans Are Highly Optimistic
Americans are a strong people with an unshakable belief in the American dream. This attitude dates back to when ragtag colonies defeated Great Britain and won our freedom from them, turning our world upside down, for better or worse, ever since!
Americans believe anything can happen if you try hard enough, which makes this land unique. Among all others, Americans have a sense that everything is possible, and they’re deeply optimistic. This isn’t always the case in other cultures, where people are more realistic about change or lack thereof.
Not Afraid to Be Patriotic
Americans are optimistic, patriotic, and proud of their country. They love to show off the flag, which is why you’ll find them all wearing shirts with graphics representing America or accessorizing in red, white, and blue!
One thing that might identify an American more than anything else would be if they start yelling “U-S-A!” at any given time. We Americans are a proud people, and that’s how it should be. But, just like listening to someone boast about how good they are, sometimes other countries just don’t want to hear it.
You Leave Your Hotel Room Messy
It’s true that when we need a break from the dreariness of housework, we’ll choose a hotel room over a house. Having said that, it’s not nice to leave a hotel room looking like a junkyard. While every hotel has its cleaning staff, there’s no need to make their job a nightmare.
American tourists have such a reputation for leaving their hotel rooms a mess that if an American books a room, that staff knows it’ll take more effort to clean. Even still, there might be a considerable tip left for the housekeeper. American tourists are also known for their big-tipping nature.
You Need More Space
In the U.S., you’re used to having a lot of space, whether on the road, at a hotel, the malls, or anywhere. Still, Europe is not as huge as America. The U.S. covers fifty states, and each state is similar in size to a country in Europe.
So, American tourists, please bear that in mind before hitting the airport. In Europe, most things are smaller, so you need to be more aware of personal space. It seems as though Americans always seem to get in the way when they’re abroad.
You Carry Your Whole House in Your Bag
At the airport, it’s easy to spot an American tourist. Anyone dragging a suitcase twice their size will probably be an American tourist. They tend to carry every item they want from the kitchen to the bedroom in their bags. Americans always go big, so why not have big bags filled with a lot of stuff?
American tourists are miles away from the concept of light packs. A huge suitcase, several bulging bags, and a tightly packed backpack will easily identify an American. Bags are so tightly packed that there is no space left for even air to flow.
You Are Over Frank
Americans think they’re funny when they crack jokes, put on unique attire, click random photos, or do other tactless behavior. In fact, it isn’t cool, but rather, it’s rude. An American might just think of it as a tourist spot, but for the people of that country, it’s their home. Americans sometimes forget to respect others’ cultural norms and values.
In some countries, it’s considered offensive to their culture to wear overly casual attire at some of their cultural sites. For example, in some countries like Nepal and India, it is strictly prohibited to wear sandals or shoes in and around temples and monuments.
You Spend Lots of Time with Cell Phones
What is the reason behind Americans’ obsession with phones? If your travel mate is an American, you’ll likely find them scrolling or staring at their cell phone. God knows what’s on their phone! You’re on a journey to get some refreshment, to be away from the hectic daily schedule. Enjoy your journey.
Spend time with your travel mates, learn from them, share something with them, and enjoy the moment. But no! Facetime is necessary, they must do this, and they must do that. Americans seemingly can’t take a breath without a cell phone in their hands.
You’re Obsessed with Photos
American tourists view sights more through camera lens than their naked eyes. Their eyes are always on the camera, while their fingers are on the click button. Americans are so obsessed with photos and selfies that before they visit a tourist site properly, they waste no time taking pictures and posting them on social sites when they reach a tourist spot.
Nowadays, people visit a site just to take photos and post them on social media to show others, “Hey, I’ve been here.” Sometimes it’s best to put down your camera and take it all in.
You Flaunt Your Wealth
Those who carry Louis Vuitton bags, wear sparkling accessories, and don designer dresses with the brand’s logo sewn onto the front are surely American tourists. Wealthy Americans leave no doubt whether they are rich or poor and flaunt their wealth.
To showcase the lifestyle of the prosperous and famous is a kind of trend in Americans. Maybe it’s due to Hollywood’s reputation for its glamorous lifestyle. There are a bulk of Americans who prefer to be down to earth. They live simple lives, and those who travel often don’t have these values.
You’re More Likely to Bargain
When an American steps out from their country to vacation on foreign land, they seem to love arguing over prices, all the way from the airport to hotel to the art shop, and everywhere they go to buy something. Americans always seem determined to get the best possible price for everything.
Although they have no idea about foreign prices and currencies, they can be spotted loudly haggling over some souvenirs and reveling in the art of the deal. Don’t be amazed if you find someone bargaining even for little things. Sometimes you just need to admire their confidence.
You Don’t Use Your Headphones
Don’t be surprised if you encounter someone playing music loud on speakers. They are probably an American visiting your country. I wonder why Americans carry earbuds and headphones, as they seem to find it cool to use, and instead, they blast rock songs on their iPhone speakers.
You may have good taste in music, but others might get irritated by your free iPhone concert. Everyone listens to music according to their moods, so no one is interested in songs playing on your phone. It would be best if you use headphones or earbuds.
You Don’t Think Twice Before Throwing Litter
Not all Americans are litterbugs, but it’s a bitter truth that many American tourists are found throwing litter here and there. If you’re visiting somewhere, you must maintain cleanliness. It’s not cool to be known as a litterbug around the globe.
It’s our responsibility to maintain the beauty our earth holds. If you get annoyed by litter in your home, you must think twice before making other places dirty. Take an oath now to keep our earth clean and fresh.
You Love Going to the Gym
The golden era for bodybuilding started in the ’90s on the west coast of the United States. Bodybuilding got popularized as most of the competition took place in America, where bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger participated.
Americans are usually taller and more muscular than Asians. Not all Americans are into bodybuilding. Some work long hours, have a sedentary lifestyle, and eat unhealthy foods. But, many work out in the gym to stay fit and in shape. If you spot someone with a chiseled physique, they are probably an American.
You Love Your Athletic Wear
Americans and their sportswear obsession are so real that they take it to another level by wearing it on vacation too. Wearing athletic clothes creates an impression that they’re healthier than they really are. Sweatshirts, Nike pants, and Adidas shoes are the things they pack first for vacation.
They prefer to be comfortable in their casual clothes and mostly don’t care about their appearance. Americans love wearing sweatpants and shorts, and it is okay until they wear them to a religious site and disrespect the local people and their culture.
Thinking That Everyone Speaks English
English is the world’s lingua franca, making Americans believe that everyone in the world speaks English. Some Americans go as far as insulting someone if they can’t speak English. American tourists must know that repeating the same thing loudly will not make locals understand English.
This is one of the most annoying traits of Americans because the least you can do while visiting a country is to learn some basic words of their language as a sign of respect. You can learn a few phrases in their native tongue to enrich your travel experience.
Not Knowing Your Hand Signs
Not all hand gestures you do back home are universal. Some are very offensive in other countries. An okay sign which is made by making a circle with your thumb and your fingers is not okay to do in Brazil. In fact, it is considered the same as showing the middle finger to someone. A thumbs-up gesture that is commonly a sign of approval in America is equivalent to a middle finger in many Arab countries.
People who are heavy metal fans must be familiar with the ‘devil horn’ sign. People use them often in the states while clicking some cool photos. However, this gesture is considered quite obscene in many European countries and a few others too.
Don’t Understand That America Is Not the World
People in America are too naive to believe that everything is American in foreign countries. They expect restaurants to give free ketchup. However, many countries charge for condiments. Americans also expect stores to be open till late at night, whereas they’re usually closed by 8 p.m. in many European countries.
When in a restaurant, Americans are surprised if they aren’t served ice in their cold drinks, even if it’s freezing outside. Italians are pretty serious about their cuisine, so asking for pizza with a filled crust or a weird combination of toppings is very American and should be avoided.
The Time and Date Confuses You
To avoid confusion that can cause trouble, it’s better to know the date and time format beforehand when visiting a country. Americans prefer writing dates in the MM/DD/YY format. However, many European and Asian countries use the DD/MM/YY format. Without knowing this, you might find yourself wondering why Europe has 31 months in its year!
When reserving a seat in a restaurant, this ignorance might ruin your travel experience. As for the timing, most European countries use a 24-hour clock, which is more organized and leaves no chance for misunderstanding.
Everything Is Compared to America
Americans are proud of their country to the extent that they hardly fail to compare everything to back home, usually referring to it as better there. It is a fact that America is a pretty awesome country, but trying to assert dominance over the traveling country is not welcome by locals.
Americans are critical when they’re served a small portion of a meal in the restaurant and make comparisons by saying they’re served large portions in their country. When in Italy, they’ll tell you how New York-style pizza is the best in the world.
You Love Clothing with a Sports Logo
It’s cool to wear merchandise of your favorite home sports team in your country, but not when you’re traveling abroad. Americans never fail to root for their favorite sports team wherever they go. MLB t-shirts or NFL jerseys with big logos on them all scream America.
Even though people outside America aren’t much aware of these sports teams, this doesn’t stop Americans from wearing what they want. It isn’t very unusual to spot an American wearing their favorite sports merch in a city like Paris. The finishing touch of their look is a baseball cap.
Politics Is Always a Hot Topic
Americans aren’t very aware of what’s happening outside in the world, and they don’t always prefer to talk about politics. But, if you’re someone who likes to talk about it, then be cautious! We usually don’t know what our relations with other countries are!
Everyone feels like they’re walking on eggshells when talking about politics. Nobody would want to ruin a travel experience by getting into hot water over political talk. To avoid a chat turning into an argument, ask someone in another country about their national politics, and try being neutral and unbiased to be on the safe side.
You Don’t Know Subway Etiquette
Americans aren’t often familiar with the subway and unintentionally make many mistakes while using public transport. A pole in a subway is only to hold, not to hug or lean on, as it is considered rude in many countries.
You might also want to move away from the door when people board a train. Americans have a thing for eating on the go, and you might find them eating in the subway. This behavior could be a turn-off for local people because it’s considered uncivilized in many European and Asian countries.
Americans Call a Koala a Bear
It is somewhat annoying when Americans call a koala a bear. To anyone who knows better, it’s incorrect. Australians find it particularly frustrating when they encounter an American calling their famous marsupial this term. Koalas are not placental mammals; they are marsupials.
It’s wrong to call them koala bears. As an American in Australia, don’t mistake calling a koala a bear, because you might end up getting yourself in trouble with Australians. Well, perhaps not trouble, but they’re sure to make fun of anyone who gets this wrong.
Americans Ask for Ketchup Everywhere They Go
Ketchup is in most American food. For instance, in some countries like Europe, an order of hamburger and fries or any other kind of food doesn’t come with ketchup at all. It’s easy to spot an American in a restaurant because they’re always asking for ketchup. It’s easy to spot an American in a restaurant because they always ask for ketchup.
It’s a culture shock for tourists from America since some countries don’t add ketchup to their food, and they even charge extra for it. Ketchup in other countries like in the U.K. is often called “tomato sauce,” which might bring confusion.
Americans Go to India to “Find Themselves”
Since “Eat, Pray, Love” showed up on the New York Times bestsellers list, many Americans have been going to India in the name of “finding themselves.” Although the book promotes tourism in India, many locals don’t like Americans going there for that reason.
Americans flock to Ashrams, India, to partake in a journey of self-discovery. For many Americans, it’s an ego trip, and this spiritual tourism trend seems fulfilling to them. But, it might be regarded as an offense, especially in a country that’s troubled by poverty. India isn’t there to be used for some good Instagram posts.
Occupying Space While Taking Pictures
American tourists are known for taking up too much space taking pictures. For instance, some Americans take pictures while standing in the middle of busy roads just to get that perfect snap. Some of these tourists are known for taking inappropriate pictures or simply getting in the way.
These photographers take pictures of almost everything they encounter, and most of all, they take pictures of the local people as if they’re a tourist attraction. These photographers are rude to the locals and often don’t ask permission to take such pictures.
Americans Aren’t the Only “Americans”
If by any chance you’re American visiting other parts of America like Central America or South America, don’t call yourself an “American.” It’s appropriate if you say you’re from the United States or call yourself North American. Any other citizen from another American country is an American too.
It’s offensive to other Americans like the Southern American people how Northern Americans have taken up the name of the continent all for themselves. These Southern or Central American people are American too. If anyone asks, say you’re from the USA.
Americans Are Known to Ask for Menu Substitutions
It isn’t an issue for most restaurant staff abroad when you ask for substitutes. However, Americans are considered somewhat annoying in other countries like France when they order substitutes. This might discourage the chef, who spent a lot of hours in the kitchen perfecting the dish.
It also frustrates the waiter who has to deal with the frustrated chef. If you’re an American in France or you’re planning to visit France, don’t ask for a special order. Just take what is available or leave it.
Speaking Too Loudly Inside Restaurants
Americans are known to be rude, and often when you’re in a restaurant, you’ll know exactly which table is the Americans as they are always loud. Some will also talk loudly, thinking the other people won’t understand what is being said.
English is now taught in schools in many nations like France and many other parts of the world. So, if you are an American sitting in the corner of a restaurant making fun of a local or the waiter, then you should know they probably understand what you’re saying.
Americans Are Always Stuck on the Subway
American tourists sometimes get stuck on the subway or at another public transportation station. They are stuck there trying to figure out where to pay or which train to board. They get in the way and end up frustrating locals who are going about their normal routine.
These Americans take up too much space and annoy locals who come across them. As an American planning to visit abroad, it would be best to research how things are done to avoid inconvenience.
Americans Trouble the Guards
It’s easy to spot an American tourist in England simply because they’re easily drawn away by the Queen’s guards. Americans are known for harassing and annoying the fuzzy-hatted soldiers while trying to make them blink.
Americans should understand that this is disrespectful to these people and the English locals. England has many tourist attractions, and it would be great if you spent your stay enjoying these attractions rather than troubling these soldiers. While they may look interesting, they have a very serious and important job and are not for show.
Giving the O.K. Sign
In some countries abroad, the O.K. hand signal is considered a good gesture, and most Americans use this sign everywhere they go. However, in some other countries, i.e., in Germany, the sign is considered rude, and it’s not appreciated.
The okay sign may seem like an innocent gesture to you, but this sign might end up offending a lot of people. Before visiting a country, do enough research to understand what locals do to avoid any offense. Before heading out on any trip, it’s always good to know some cultural tips to avoid mishaps.
You Like to Rebel in Public
Have you heard about Oktoberfest? It is a grand tradition celebrated in Germany. During Oktoberfest, it is a ritual to sip on the finest beer while enjoying the cozy autumn breeze. But there is more. It is a folk fest that runs from late September to early October.
A common scenario at Oktoberfest is to see the festival nuts get loud once they’re drunk. Americans just love beer. But it isn’t just tourists. Even Germans act wild in a nightclub, and anyone who gets rambunctious will likely be asked to leave. Who says it’s welcomed? If you see someone rioting in any of the fests, know that it’s an American.
You Think Flip-Flops Are Fancy
When you’re on vacation, are you comfortable wearing formal shoes? Imagine going to the finest beach in Italy and wearing a three-piece suit with shiny leather shoes. You wouldn’t like that, would you? We Americans also don’t like it.
While on vacation, we prefer wearing sandals or flip-flops. During summer, flip-flops are all we wear. We like to believe that we were the ones who invented flip-flops. However, flip-flops are the creation of Japan, not America. It made its way to America after the Second World War.
You Go Over the Speed Limit
In Germany, people seldom break the traffic rules. Even though multiple roads in Germany have no maximum speed limit, you’re still expected to respect the local traffic etiquette.
This is a major difference between Americans and Germans. Germans would only cross the road when the signal was green. Furthermore, the German traffic law imposes a hefty fine on pedestrians who cross the street illegally and break the traffic light. It’s important to know the traffic laws and stick to them.
You Always Look for Mineral Water
Asking for mineral water is the preferred norm in America, and we don’t care for tap water. Europe is different as Europeans think tap water is quite nice to drink. If the place you dine at doesn’t have mineral water, ask for sparkling water or simply carbonated water.
Countries, such as Germany, have clean and safe tap water. Even then, asking for mineral water is admired. Not every country is like Germany. For example, in Russia, tap water is not safe for drinking. It contains heavy metallic elements that alter the taste of the water.
You Think Your Sole Contribution to the Overall Economy is Massive
It might appear snooty, but Americans consider the host country lucky that they have picked it for their vacation. Due to the sheer number of Americans that go on offshore vacations every year, cumulatively, Americans do have a significant impact on the host countries’ overall economy.
According to an estimate, in 2019, roughly 30 million Americans visited Europe, which is a considerable number. But that doesn’t mean that you should believe you’re the only person that matters. That restaurant, hotel, or shop is going to survive if they don’t have your patronage.
You Visit Spain Thinking You’ll See a Bullfight
Did you know that surgeons who specialize in operating on horn wounds can only be found in Spain? Even though bullfighting has been a popular sport, it’s become a bit too extreme for both the spectators and matadors in recent times.
Many animal rights organizations have raised red flags on how bullfights are carried out and how bulls are treated. Currently, bullfighting is banned in many parts of Spain, including the Canary Islands and Barcelona. So, next time you visit Spain, don’t ask where you can enjoy a bullfight.
You Try Speaking Dutch to Pick Up Girls in the Netherlands
Who wouldn’t like an American trying to speak the language of their native country? Many consider this as a kind and respectful gesture. However, there are exceptions, like the Dutch, who will often frown upon you getting their phrases all wrong.
The Dutch might get outright annoyed if you mispronounce a word. They wouldn’t cut you slack for trying to speak a foreign language for the first time. If you still want to work your charm, make sure you’re pronouncing the words correctly and using the proper subject-verb agreement.
You Think the Bike Lane is for Walking
The sidewalks of America have many similarities with the bike lanes of the Netherlands. Both of them might have pink-colored paths. When visiting the Netherlands, don’t mistake them for being sidewalks. Those pink paths are meant for bikes only.
Bike lanes play an important role in keeping the traffic in Netherland at a minimum level. Most locals use bikes to commute to their work. They wouldn’t like a tourist blocking their path during the rush office hour, would they? No matter what you do, don’t use the pink paths as sideways for light strolls.
You Get in Each Other’s Way on the Escalator
Americans prefer escalators overtaking the stairs. But there are fundamental differences and expected norms for taking the escalator in the Netherlands. There are primarily two lanes in Dutch escalators. Not knowing this can get you into trouble.
The left lane is for a fast commute, and the right lane is for a slow commute. Every mall has escalators in the Netherlands, and each of them follows the same set of rules. So, if you’re in a rush, use the left lane. On the other hand, take the right lane if you’re out sight-seeing.
You Prefer a Fist Bump Over a Bland Handshake
When it comes to general knowledge, Americans aren’t that good at it. They don’t think a handshake can be a casual way to greet someone, which is actually the custom in the Netherlands. It’s customary to greet everyone with a handshake there.
If you visit the Netherlands and someone greets you, make sure you don’t refuse a handshake. Dutch people take great offense when someone rejects their invitation for a handshake. If you visit the Netherlands during the pandemic, make sure you carry a hand sanitizer as you’ll probably need it.
You Have Plenty of Tattoos
Americans are known for their obsession with tattoos. Their inked bodies strengthen their confidence and make them feel proud of it. The Japanese, however, perceive these tattoos completely differently. They associate such artistry with gangsters and other criminals. In the past, these tattoos were a part of the criminals’ identities.
In Japan, tattoos are prohibited. They were first banned in 1936. Today, if someone exposes their inked body part, it might lead to them getting banned from certain places, such as pools, onsens (the traditional Japanese geothermal hot spring baths), and gyms.
You Are Demanding of the Waiter
Sometimes, Americans are a challenge to deal with at restaurants. If by any chance eye contact with the waiter is not made, there might another way they try to get the server’s attention. Nonetheless, waving a hand to call the waiter is considered rude.
Japan has got an alternative way to solve the issue. Most Japanese restaurants provide customers with a little black box with a button attached. This helps avoid the mess and chaos that might ensue otherwise. It is a better way to work out the problem.
You Never Take Your Shoes Off
In general, leaving your shoes on and not taking them off when entering a Japanese household is considered rude and unethical. On the other hand, an American tourist might take this lightly and not care about it. There are many other countries where you’d be expected to take your shoes off.
Certain restaurants exist in Japan where entrance with shoes on is not permissible. This custom is even practiced in some dressing rooms. Slippers are allotted to these rooms and even homes where shoes can’t enter. This also helps the place remain tidier.
You Presume Peanut Butter Is a Thing
Peanut butter is an essential American food as it evolved and grew in the region entirely. Unbelievably, the product doesn’t even exist in some parts of the world. Americans love peanut butter, and their daily intake is quite high compared to the rest of the world.
Many Americans will head abroad and expect peanut butter to be readily available. But, in many other countries, it’s just not a thing. If you want to eat peanut butter while traveling out of the country, then you may need to bring it with you.
You Say Exactly Where You’re From
If you ever come across a tourist from the states, try asking them where they came from. In response, you won’t hear the typical answer like, “I’m from America.” Rather, it might seem strange to hear a more precise answer such as “I’m from Albany, New York.” Or “I’m from Dallas, Texas.”
The United States is a huge place. Perhaps, this might be one of the reasons for its residents to answer in such precise detail. Hence, people from other countries might seem to be simple in their answers.
You Know All the Words to “Sweet Caroline”
Identifying an American in any crowd anywhere is as simple as recognizing Neil Diamond’s song, “Sweet Caroline.” In response to the phrase, “Sweet Caroline,” an American will generally feel the impulse to respond with rhythmic words like “Ba, ba, ba!”
According to legend, “Sweet Caroline” was initially played at a game in Fenway Park in 1997 to commemorate the birth of a baby, and it soon caught on to be a common tune played at sports events. If you ever hear it in a bar when abroad, you’ll soon be able to hear the Americans.
You Don’t Use Basic Foreign Language
The French resent you for not using basic phrases. In France, Americans ask for directions without any greeting. It’s impolite to ask for information without first saying “hi” or “bonjour.” Etiquette is an essential component of culture and language in places like France.
Even if you’re in a hurry, you’re supposed to say “bonjour” to the service provider at the counter. Don’t underestimate the power of a few French words. By introducing yourself in French, you’ll always get superior service and earn the utmost respect, even if it’s only a few sentences.
You Think Stores Are Always Open
There are no 7-Elevens in Europe. Don’t even bother searching. On Sundays, everything is normally closed. European stores shut down on holidays, even grocery retailers, unlike the US. On weekdays, shops remain open until 7 or 8 p.m. Work-life balance is why stores close early, and Sunday is still the only day they choose to close.
The local populace highly desires a daily dose of recreation and leisure. They’d rather not sacrifice family dinners or time with their loved ones to make more money. Small retailers, post offices, and independent enterprises are usually closed for two hours during lunch as well.
Leaving Locks on the Seine
Don’t leave locks on Seine bridges. The sentimental behavior was outlawed in 2015 on the famed Pont des Arts because it’s risky. The weight of the padlocks buckled one bridge. The Paris bureaucrats feared the bridge collapsing.
Despite the warnings, individuals continued to leave their expressions of affection, resulting in the bridge railings being replaced with glass panels. There is no point leaving locks on a bridge when you’re abroad, as they’ll soon be removed. It can be a romantic gesture, but there are too many risks.
You Care Deeply About Your Appearance
America has manscaping, which means all facial hair is mowed, plucked, and molded to perfection. To describe an impeccably groomed person is a difficult task for most people. It’s not like the celebrities who parade on the red carpet at award shows, but rather a liking for how a person looks.
What matters isn’t what they’re wearing, but rather how they’re dressed. Paying close attention to the smallest of details goes a long way toward keeping one’s appearance impeccable from head to toe. Many Americans obsess about the well-groomed look.