20 Things That Are Normal To Americans But Bizarre To Everyone Else On The Planet

Life in America is absolutely one-of-a-kind – and that’s both a good and bad thing. Or rather, it’s mostly a strange thing, at least to the rest of the world. Indeed, there are plenty of customs in the U.S. that must seem totally bizarre to everyone else, from supermassive cars to the most confusing unit system ever seen.

20. Air con addiction

Is there anything more fundamental to American life than the air conditioner? Maybe, but maybe not, considering how heavily the U.S. relies on it to manipulate temperatures. For the rest of the world, it’s absolutely baffling, particularly considering the environmental cost. But it’s so universal in the U.S. that it probably doesn’t cross anyone’s minds how weird it is.

19. Frequent commercial breaks

Imagine sitting through an episode of The Simpsons, only to have it cut to commercials straight after the intro. And then again every few minutes, including between the end of the episode and the credits. Sounds insane, right? Well, that’s exactly what Americans have to put up with.

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18. French bread that isn’t

According to Americans, the picture above is French bread. The rest of the world, of course, knows that French bread – or a baguette – is actually thinner and crispier than the gargantuan loaf this woman has baked. Indeed, this may be the most implausible Americanization we’ve ever heard of.

17. All the different flavors

Outside the U.S., most people like to keep things simple. After all, if Oreo perfected its recipe with regular Oreos, then why would anyone need a hundred different varieties? Well, just ask anyone stateside, where you can find altogether too many flavors of pretty much everything.

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16. Taxes aren’t included in prices

You know what’s great? Knowing exactly how much something is going to cost before you get to the checkout. Alas, that’s a luxury most Americans will never know, as sales taxes are rarely built into the shelf price. As if budgeting wasn’t difficult enough already…

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15. Laws change from state to state

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Because the U.S. is so huge, traveling between states is basically like traveling to a new country – new laws and all. For example, right turns at red lights are permissible in some states and forbidden in others, making driving a nightmare for tourists. Indeed, it can be a minefield for unfamiliar U.S. travelers.

14. Wide highways

Maybe it’s just in keeping with everything else in the U.S. being so much larger, but the roads really are a sight to behold. At least, they are for everyone else in the world, where they aren’t considered normal. After all, how many lanes does one highway realistically need?

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13. Large cars

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Yes, it’s not just the roads that are huge in the U.S., but the vehicles too. In the rest of the world, there’s no need for such enormous cars, as long as they can fit enough passengers. So it’s no surprise that to everyone else, America’s obsession with huge cars is totally weird.

12. The unit system

This is something that will only ever make sense to Americans, and even then, we doubt many people truly understand every facet of the U.S. measuring system. Indeed, there are more than 300 units of measurement in use, including both yards and meters, along with nine different meanings for “ton.”

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11. Prescription drug commercials

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Usually when you fall ill, you’ll go to your doctor and they’ll prescribe meds to help you get better. Unless you’ve been watching TV in America, that is. Then you may end up telling your doctor what you need, because you’ve already seen a commercial for it. Talk about bizarre.

10. Icy cold water

We’re not saying ice is unheard of in other countries. It’s just more of a seasonal addition to a drink, rather than something you’d have year round. And even then, it’s used sparingly. In America, though, the opposite is true – so it’s no wonder tourists find the ice obsession so weird.

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9. Pharmacies selling cigarettes

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America is perhaps the only place where you can buy the poison and the cure in the same place. Indeed, many pharmacies are known to sell cigarettes, and often at a cheaper price than other stores. So much for promoting people’s health…

8. Wall-mounted shower heads

Stay with us here: after all, if your shower head is mounted to the wall, it sure makes washing all those crevices a lot more difficult. And tall people are more likely to have a hard time of things too. Everywhere else, meanwhile, has shower heads on hoses, which is far more sensible.

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7. All the money looks the same

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Paying in a hurry must be an absolute nightmare in the U.S. After all, how exactly are you supposed to quickly tell the difference between dollar bills when they’re all exactly the same shape, size and color? In the U.K., for instance, five-, 10- and 20-pound notes not only increase in size, but are different colors too.

6. Easy cheese

As if there weren’t already enough ways to consume cheese, Americans came up with “Easy Cheese.” We’re not saying this is totally unnecessary, we’re just saying it’s not like cheese was particularly difficult to consume in the first place. So it would be no surprise if non-Americans would find it weird.

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5. Tipping

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While certain restaurants in the U.S. have begun incorporating tips into their food prices, most places still present a headache for customers. What percentage is fair? Do you increase or decrease that percentage for particularly small or large bills? What about for bars, or in cabs? Good luck, basically.

4. Portion sizes

How hungry are you? Hungry enough to eat an entire meal in the U.S.? We doubt it. Just look at the size of this “large” pizza, for instance, which a British tourist ordered while visiting New York. Yes, portion sizes are practically unfathomable for the rest of us.

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3. Flags everywhere

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Let’s face it: in no other country can you find the flag in such abundance. Sure, other nations are still proud of their country and some do fly their flag, but it’s nothing compared to the U.S.’ adoration of the Stripes and Stars. It’s little wonder then that tourists are so taken aback by it.

2. Toilet door gaps

In most countries, toilet stall doors have an “occupied/vacant” sign, so you know whether it’s safe to enter. In the U.S., though, the solution is apparently much simpler: there are gaps between toilet doors, so you can literally see whether someone’s in there. Clearly, privacy isn’t quite as big a deal stateside.

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1. Expensive tuition

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It may surprise you to learn that the cost of higher education is actually higher per student in Europe than the U.S. The difference is, Americans pay far more of the cost out of pocket, which is why you’ll often hear them complaining about their insane student debt. To countries with subsidized systems then, the American way must seem crazy.

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