Americans think these things are normal

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Americans, woman wearing glasses ordering food, hands of waitress writing on notepad

–but other people don’t. If you’ve ever traveled abroad, you may have encountered challenges while trying to immerse yourself in a new culture, especially if the culture in question was significantly different from a typical American lifestyle. As it turns out, Americans think many things are normal that people from other countries might find a bit odd.

I recall a time when I was conversing with a high school exchange student from Brazil. She thought it was strange and comical that Americans not only attempt to stifle their burps but ask people to excuse them if a belch unexpectedly becomes audible to those around them. She said she thought it odd that people in the U.S. are embarrassed by natural, bodily functions.

More weird things Americans do

bowl of rainbow-colored marshmallow cereal
Only Americans load up on sugary foods at breakfast


Raise your hand if you’re an American who has eaten a donut for breakfast. No? (Although I’m not sure I believe you if you didn’t raise your hand, unless you’re a diabetic.) Okay, how about eating sugary cereals, waffles or pancakes with syrup or another sweet type of food at the start of your day? Europeans, in particular, find the American habit of eating sugary foods at breakfast time really strange.

They consider such foods “desserts” and wonder why the average American has no problem starting his or her day out all hyped up on sugar. Here are several more things we Americans accept as normal that people in other parts of the world may not:

  • We call the main dish of a meal the entrée. To Europeans and other foreigners, an entrée is an appetizer.
  • In countries such as Japan, Switzerland and Australia, it’s not customary to tip a waiter or waitress. Numerous others countries, as well, find the American tradition of “tipping” awkward and annoying.
  • Americans may be considered narrow-minded when it comes to our approach to requesting water at a restaurant. In Europe, a waitress or waiter expects you to specify whether you want still, tap or sparkling water, and he or she also expects you to pay for it.
  • Foreigners often find it strange that Americans loiter, and also that their loitering tends to be very loud.
  • Talking to strangers is definitely something people in America find normal (except, of course, when teaching children how to be safe) that people from other countries would never consider doing. Italians, in particular, do not ask “How are you?” unless they are speaking to close friends or family members.

The list doesn’t end there.

Americans apparently whine a lot

Americans, man in shirt and tie pointing finger and looking angry
Foreigners say Americans complain too much

A customer service worker who emigrated from another country of origin said people in the United States have a sense of entitlement (that is annoying to foreigners) and tend to complain about everything.

Also, most of the world doesn’t follow a month/day/year format when writing out a date like Americans do. They write day/month/year. (I’m siding with America on this one because the other way drives me nuts!) Finally, Americans think it’s normal to ask another person what he or she does for a living; however, in other countries, people consider this private information and find the American habit quite nosy. Have you traveled extensively? Can you add to this list of things Americans consider normal that people from other countries do not?

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