18 Things Americans Do That Confuse The Rest of the World


1. Calling the bathroom the ‘restroom.’

Why? Is this a room in which you take rest? Is this designated space a vaccum of respectable mention, a place of denial? Clearly the titles, ‘bathroom,’ ‘toilet,’ ‘lavatory’ or ‘loo’ are too crude for the everyday American. This is often a point of mild amusement for many of us non-Americans.

2. The World Series.

In which only Americans take part. Wait, what?

3. Jelly. Jelly in general.

How on earth is ‘jelly’ the fruit substance you spread on your toast? Jelly, for every non-American, is jelly. That wobbling, coloured dessert made from a packet, mixed into trifle and served in hospitals. Jam is most certainly the homemade preserves (strawberry, plum, apricot), bottled in little jars, lidded in chequered cloth, and served on scones. Whoever heard of scone and jelly?

4. Hanging up the phone, without saying goodbye.

Hanging up without telling the other person on the end of the line that you are planning to leave the conversation and getting on with your day, is a huge social faux pas for every non-American. To hang up without both parties wishing each other well, and spending some time doing so, is almost unheard of.

5. Turning 21,

You’re not an adult until you’re 21? You can’t drink… non-American 18-year-olds discuss this one endlessly.

6. Gun laws

Buying bullets from the shops is an oft-discussed point of confusion for nearly every non-American. How is this normal? How is this sound? Do you think they will change the Constitution to adjust this policy?

7. Referring to a retail or grocery premise as ‘store’.

It’s so cute. We have to use the banal title of ‘shop’. And while we’re at it, calling a pharmacy a ‘drug’ store somehow feels a tiny bit illicit.

8. Mixing sweet with savory.

Other than the odd bottle of sweet and sour sauce, the rest of the world do not combine the two ideas. We haven’t even heard of marshmallow salad yet. I’ve heard tell it exists for the occasional American, but this must be baseless rumor. But bacon on pancakes? Are you joking? Is this normal? Do people eat this?

9. Buying bottled water.

You don’t drink from the tap?

10. College sports.

Celebrating college athletes is slightly bizarre. Cool, but bizarre. It seems to be a practice that only happens in America. Every now and then you’ll hear of a fellow student from high school that was offered an educational scholarship in the States thanks to their sporting prowess. You’d never hear of the university of their own homeland offering them the same thing.

11. The Metric System

Fahrenheit? Who invented anything as confusing.

12. Free Refills

Other than the odd Hungry Jacks (the Australian title for ‘Burger King’), you’ll not find a single cafe or restaurant that offers free refills. You want another drink? You’ll be spending a minimum of two pounds to four dollars on that, thank you very much.

13. Announcing your country of origin at every possible chance.

Confirming to everyone close by when traveling outside your own borders that you are, in fact, an American seems unnecessary at the best of times. We know. We can hear it, plain as day. The moment you open your mouth we go, ‘ah! An American!’

14. Tipping

It’s all a bit confusing for the rest of us when we visit America. How much is appropriate? How much is too much? Tipping is a relatively dead practice elsewhere, so laying down extra coin that was not the agreed upon price of the meal is not much of a novelty to many tourists in America. I apologise to all the wait staff who may have had any stingy foreigners at their tables today. This is why.

15. The Flag

You hang it from every spare piece of sky. The only time you’ll see a flag raised on a non-government establishment outside of the States will be because of a national holiday celebrating the fallen in war. Hanging a flag from your house itself is completely unheard of.

16. Spell check.

Please please please Windows let me get away with spelling ‘flavor’ with the ‘u’ it is supposed to have. Just today.

17. Sweetening everything.

Including bread. American white bread would be considered part of the cake family for the rest of the world. Not lying.

18. Work Holidays.

The average American received 13 days off a year. HOW DO YOU LIVE?