Special Report

Weird Things Foreigners Say About Americans

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Cultural quirks may not be obvious to locals until an outsider points them out. Opinions of Americans vary from one individual to another, but most of them can fit into a few categories – food, technology, courtesy, and power.

Americans’ views of the United States vary with every generation. Only half of people under 35 say it’s special, but more than 80% of those over 55 say it is; however, most of them agree they are better off for being born in the country.

Whether seen as special, the greatest country in the world, or just like any other one, America is popular. More than 40 million people visit every year. Undoubtedly, each of them will have an opinion on what locals are doing wrong or right.

It may be hard to imagine that what’s typical behavior in one country seems downright weird in another. And some habits are more shocking than others.

To identify 20 things foreigners say about Americans, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed dozens of news articles, surveys, social media platforms, and travelers’ blogs. This is a sampling of what we found.

Click here for 20 weird things foreigners say about Americans.

America goes to war everywhere

“My image of America is a country that goes to war anywhere in the world,” according to an 82-year-old retired agricultural lab technician from Tokyo, Japan. And at least one Italian has a similar view: “Trump, fast food, NY, Hollywood and wars.”

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They can’t make beer

A 43-year-old man from Oslo, Norway, thinks of burgers, the American dream, and cowboys when America comes to mind. “But one thing is for sure, they cannot make beer.”

Failure is always an option

“Mythbusters,” a popular TV program about putting to test myths and urban legends, has taught at least one Reddit user that “failure is ALWAYS an option.”

TMI when talking to strangers

Many foreigners agree that Americans are friendly, outgoing, and easily approachable. But they can also over do it, and be “a little on the TMI side when it comes to talking to strangers. Especially when they’ve been drinking,” as one person said on Reddit.

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America is unhealthy food

People all over the world associate America with supersized food portions. Many foreigners also link America’s fast food culture to health problems and the demise of small family farms.

Everything is “awesome”

The British say “brilliant” all the time and Americans, according to some foreigners, say “awesome” all the time. It’s a filler word that people don’t even put much meaning into. A man from England wonders: “You can’t possibly be THAT happy all the time or think everything is that awe-inspiring to call it awesome.”

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Americans smile too much

Like “awesome,” smiles have come to mean nothing because they are overused. Americans smile so much that often people, or at least one person from Finland, will assume a stranger is a drunk, insane, or from the United States when he or she smiles. There may be a scientific explanation: Emotional expressiveness has been found to be correlated with diversity, and America is among the most diverse countries in the world.

They think Europe is just France, Germany and Britain

Some Europeans think that Americans take Europe to be only France, Germany, and Great Britain, while “the rest of us doesn’t exist.”

Americans put too much ice in drinks

You ask for water and you get ice with some water. The same goes for soda or other soft drinks. Americans also love to put ice in whiskey and even wine. America’s obsession with ice cubes dates back to the 1800s when a man was trying to expand his ice harvesting business by convincing people to use it to cool their drinks.

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You shouldn’t have to pay more than expected

It’s confusing to many non-Americans that the price you see on an item is not necessarily the one you end up paying at the register. Basically, you have to have a degree in math to calculate how much your final bill will be. This is because stores don’t include tax on price tag, and tipping is, technically, not mandatory.

Americans just can’t seem to get the temperature right

It often seems to be too cold or too hot. In the summer, you escape the scorching hot weather by hanging out in air-conditioned stores, only to be out in the street again in 10 minutes because you are freezing.

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They should stop emailing after work hours

This is one of the worst habits Americans have, according to some Europeans who think Americans don’t stop working. In Europe, people work from 9 to 5, and relax after that. They don’t like being contacted about job-related matters late or on weekends.

Americans are arrogant

Many people in Southern Europe, Greece, France, and Italy think Americans look down on people, according to Norwegian journalist René Zografos, author of “Attractive Unattractive Americans: How the World Sees America.” Ignorant and arrogant are other descriptions foreigners sometimes associate with Americans.

Americans are “gear freaks”

Some Europeans think Americans like to always have the best and latest gadgets, and they show off their expensive cameras, phones, and handbags without any respect for other cultures’ dress codes.

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They are too loud

“Why do Americans laugh so loudly? Talk so loudly? We can hear you, you know,” says one person from Israel, but his sentiment is shared by many other foreigners.

Why do they have to be polite all the time?

While many foreigners think Americans are rude, just as many think they are sweet, but also too sensitive. A person from Spain, for example, says she even feels bad for Americans because they’ll usually be nice even if they’re uncomfortable.

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Wearing pajamas in public is strange

Many foreigners are shocked to see Americans wearing pajamas in public. Some locals, however, also think wearing pjs makes people look like idiots, no matter how comfortable the loose clothes are.

Americans are shooting each other all the time

Some people love the gun laws, but many also wonder why there are so many shootings in America and why you can easily buy a gun even though you can’t get Kinder Surprise eggs because they are illegal. Foreigners often point out how frightening it is to always see news about shootings.

They are happy to give credit card info away

You go to a restaurant and you pay your bill how? By handing your credit or debit card to complete strangers, hoping they think you tipped them enough so they don’t sell or steal your information and make fraudulent purchases worth hundreds of dollars in your name. The pay-at-the-table option is available in Canada and most of Europe.

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