Apple pie, football, country music, Thanksgiving, pickup trucks, PB&J sandwiches, Cadillacs, baseball.... Some things are just SO American. However, not everything we do is as obviously "American" to us as it is to the rest of the world. Are you guilty of these 5 dead-giveaways?
1. Wearing Athletic Clothing in Public
In most other countries: Women wear yoga pants when going to a yoga class.
Americans: Women wear yoga pants grocery shopping, to the mall, to class, to get coffee, to walk the dog, to the movies, to get lunch with friends...oh, and maybe to a yoga class.
This goes pretty much for all athletic clothing. Zip-off pants, cargo-shorts, basketball shorts, running shoes - you won't ever see Europeans or Latinos sporting these clothing items down the street, but we Americans are notorious for the "active wear" epidemic.
2. Perfectly White, Straight Teeth
I had never really noticed this myself until my Italian host mom, a dentist, explained to me how much more money we Americans spend on cosmetic dental procedures than our European counterparts. My foreign friends have also poked fun at our obsession with "perfect" teeth, and expressed how they prefer a more natural look.
3. Food On-the-Go
This was a big eye-opener for me in Italy, especially when it came to coffee. In the States, Americans are accustomed to drive-through coffee chains where we can pick up a paper or plastic cup of a sugary coffee drink and sip on it as we run errands or sit in class. In Italy, they don't even have disposable cups in coffee shops.
In both Latin America and Europe, I also found that meals were a much more important part of life than they are in the States. Fast-food and drive-thrus are difficult to find in these countries. I loved weekly dinners at Nonno and Nonna's house (my Italian grandparents) - no matter how much of a rush we were in, no meal ever lacked a tablecloth, quality wine, and a candle.
4. Restaurant Etiquette - Free Water & Tipping
In Latin America, I would pay for either plastic bottles, or more commonly plastic bags of water. In Europe, restaurants serve either natural or sparkling water, but you usually have to pay for the entire glass bottle.
Tipping is not expected in most other countries that I have visited. Of course, this is different in every culture, so I would recommend doing some research before you arrive to make sure that you are being respectful.
I think this is most notable on public transportation, though it's evident in other settings as well. I don't know why, but we Americans tend to just have voices that project REALLY well.
What are the other easy markers of an American abroad? Share in the comments below.
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.