As an outsider in this country for the past four years, I’ve managed to pick up on a few things that makes America, well, so American! Being in its own, strange little bubble is actually fascinating in a way. Here’s a few things that I found kind of out of the ordinary for me.


1. Ice is a part of everything!



“Can I have my water without ice please?” This is my go-to statement at every restaurant/cafe/bar. Americans love their drinks cold, irrespective of the weather outside. Iced water, iced alcoholic drinks, iced teas, iced sodas, and even iced coffees! The soda or water might be coming straight out of the freezer, however 3/4 of the glass has to be filled with ice either way.


2. Measuring System



Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, ounces instead of litres, and miles instead of kilometers. Americans have their own system of measurement, and they take pride in it! Everytime I check the weather, I end up converting the Celsius degrees to Fahrenheit, so that my friends can understand what I mean when I say, “Oh, it’s going to be relatively hot out today, with a temperature of 15 degrees.” If that was 15 degrees Fahrenheit, we’d be shivering.


3. Terminology




The boot and the bonnet of the car are replaced with the trunk and the hood, footpath is replaced with sidewalk, zebra crossing with crosswalk, pram with stroller, and most importantly football with soccer. You get my point - everything has a different name. While you guys might chuckle at this, I had a tough time the first few weeks at college. Whenever it said that the class was on the second floor, I would end up going to the third. This is because in America, the ground floor is considered the first floor. I look back and laugh at this today too, but trust me, as a freshman it was pretty nerve-wracking to be late to class almost everyday.


4. Over-Apologizing



*Brushes against someone’s arm while standing in line*

“Oh my god, I’m so so sorry!”

This is definitely pretty out of the ordinary in any other country.


5. Greek Life



College is a whole different world in America. From having an entire campus including a bookstore, a clinic, the dorms, all the sports fields, and different buildings dedicated to different programs, college also has its own Greek life. This concept is so uniquely American, that I had only seen it in movies before I came to the U.S. Greek Life involves sororities and fraternities that bring like-minded people together to form a community. Many colleges even have individual houses dedicated to individual frats and sororities.


6. Patriotism



The American flag is everywhere. In most other countries, I’ve seen their national flag displayed in government buildings, historical monuments, or other national buildings. However, in America,  it's not uncommon to see flags on mailboxes, doorways, schools, even on sweaters and T-shirts, purses, and earrings.


7. Tipping



Should I tip 18% or 20%? Tipping is a very weird phenomenon for me. We tip the waitresses, the cab drivers, the delivery guys, and even the manicurist. Sometimes I get so confused, that I don’t know whether I should tip at the cafes when I order up front. Tipping is embedded in the daily lifestyle of Americans. In other countries, the tip is almost always included in the bill.


8. The GINORMOUS food portions



The entrees are often enough to serve two, if not three people. Even when I go to get ice cream, the “kids” size is often bigger than the “kids” sizes in other countries. The burgers here never fail to baffle me with their enormity, and the size of a normal burger in another country would probably be a little bigger than a slider.


9. The greeting



If you are a foreigner in the US, don't be fooled when an American says "Hi, how are you?" This does not mean that the person actually cares about how you are, and is going to go into detail about your answer. You're just supposed to say "I'm doing great!" and move on. This is because the “how are you?” is usually synonymous with “hi.” That’s just the way it is!


10. Tax



In the rest of the world, tax prices are included in the list price.  This actually makes a lot of sense. How is it at all logical to decide on buying something without knowing how much its actually going to ring up to when checking out? Same goes with food at a restaurant or cafe.


While these things might just be routine or habit for you all, it is a little hard to transition into as a foreigner. However, America has its own appeal, and I wouldn’t have loved this place so much, if it didn’t have its own quirky little charm.