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"My Teacher Said That’s A Good Way To Spot An American": 17 Distinctly American Things That People Didn't Realize Were Specific To The US Until They Traveled Abroad

Reddit user u/Technical_Till_9518 recently asked, "Americans of Reddit, what is something you didn't realize was typically American, until you went abroad?" and the results were pretty interesting! Here are the responses that prove American culture is, well, pretty specific:

woman saluting in front of an american flag
Comedy Central

1."When I moved to the UK, my flatmates asked how in movies people would stick their hands in the sink drain and it be ripped apart. I told them about sink garbage disposals and they were very weirded out."

hand peeling potatoes in the sink
Denis Shevchuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

2."Free refills on soft drinks, and ice. On our study abroad trip to Italy, we jokingly called Hard Rock Cafe the US Embassy because that was the only place for either."

person pouring coke into a glass
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3."Red plastic cups for parties. So much so that people outside the US use them as an accessory to American-themed parties."

woman in a jersey hugging a guy holding a red solo cup
The Good Brigade / Getty Images

4."I doubt this is restricted to America in any way, but when I studied abroad 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."

person drinking beer outside
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

5."I'm in Ireland right now. It’s cruel that we force our grocery store clerks to stand up for their entire shift. They are allowed to sit in Ireland when scanning items, and I don’t see any good reason why we don’t allow that back home."

cashier and customer checking out
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6."When I traveled overseas I was surprised at how the public bathroom stalls gave so much more privacy. Like, a full door to the floor in most places."

empty bathroom
Miguelangelortega / Getty Images

7."Root beer is apparently disgusting and an offense to most of the world's palate."

mug of root beer


"My friends from Greece told me it is very similar to a common flavoring for children’s medicine in Europe."


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8."Yellow school buses. They are all over the US and Canada, but apparently not in the rest of the world."

mom walking their child to the bus
Alison Wright / Getty Images

9."Sugar. When I visited Japan, even some of their sweetest desserts paled in comparison to how much sugar is in American food."

spoonful of sugar being sprinkled over cereal
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

10."Ranch dressing. I guess I was vaguely aware that it was American, but I hadn't realized how much. If you want to hear a whole pub stop and glare at you, go to Ireland and ask for ranch for your fries."

bowl of ranch dressing
Bhofack2 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11."Free public toilets everywhere you go. I cannot believe the rest of the world is a 'pay to pee' society."

restroom sign
Habesen / Getty Images

12."Peanut butter is in the international foods section, and many people don't like it. It also amazes me how much American culture is all over the world. Like our movies and TV shows."

spoonful of peanut butter
Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

13."Eye contact while speaking to people. Americans don't break eye contact easily, so depending where you go, I've been told it comes off as aggressive."

closeup of people talking
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14."Eating so damn fast. It seemed in Europe it’s normal to spend 2 hours at a restaurant, at least every time we sat down it took 2-2.5 hours. In America, you’re rushed out of your table as fast as possible so the server can make more tips."

people eating dinner
D3sign / Getty Images

15."I didn’t realize how much less common baseball hats were. I studied abroad in Prague and my teacher said that’s a good way to spot an American."

person wearing a hat
Tim Robberts / Getty Images

16."In America, we’ve normalized bad restaurants. For example, when I go to a restaurant in the US, I do so with the expectation that there’s at least a 50% chance it will suck. I’ve been to Italy and Japan. In both places I could go to restaurants expecting them to be good nearly 100% of the time. American restaurants on the whole just take food less seriously."

person looking displeased with their plate of food
Image Source / Getty Images/Image Source

17."The fact that tax is calculated on top of the price on the tag. I'd assume that every foreigner would think they're getting ripped off at the register because it costs more than the price tag. Every other place I've been, the price is the price. (And coins have numbers on them!)."

person looking at a price tag
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

What specifically American things did you not realize were American until you went abroad? Share your experiences in the comments!

Note: Responses have been edited for length/clarity.