20 Things That Make America Unique From the Rest of the World

America is one of the most powerful countries in the world, and it has significantly influenced many countries. Even so, the country and its people do so many things that are foreign to other countries. Some could be positive or detrimental to the United States and its citizens. But whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: they make America a very unique country!

Noticeable Gaps in Public Toilets and Doors

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One of the main issues people encounter when they go to public restrooms in America is the lack of privacy. This is because public toilets and doors typically have gaps where other people would be able to see through. American public bathroom stalls usually don’t have door frames, so builders can’t mount moldings; because of this, partitions usually have gaps at the edges. However, Times Now News provides another perspective, saying, “The gap provides visibility so that others can take note if a person is in distress.”

Fixation on Perfectly White Teeth

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The big, straight, white smile is usually equated to the American smile. For most, it’s an indicator of good oral hygiene. However, on a deeper, more psychological level, white teeth are considered desirable because they help people attract partners. Perfect white teeth communicate affluence, good health, youth, and attractiveness.

Preference for High Fructose Corn Syrup Versus Sugar

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The United States is big on its desserts and sugary drinks, especially soft drinks. However, while most countries have shifted to using table sugar or sucrose in their drinks and desserts, America still uses high fructose corn syrup or HFCS. HFCS is sweeter than table sugar, easier to use, and overall cheaper.

Use of Shoes Indoors

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More and more people are adopting the Asian or Eastern culture of removing one’s outdoor shoes before entering a room or a home. This is especially important when the house is lined with carpets, and outdoor shoes are full of dirt. However, Americans are known to keep wearing their shoes, even inside the house, because they believe they can protect their feet from even more dirt or potential hazards on the floor. Aside from this, some people want to keep their feet warm, preferring not to take off their shoes before entering the house.

Consumption of Sweet Bread Versus Savory Bread

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American desserts are known for being overly sweet. However, beyond desserts, the country is becoming more and more notorious for sweet, cake-like bread. When someone from America moved to Australia and complained online that Australian bread was “salty” and “weird,” Australians clapped back and said things like, “’Cause we don’t put half a kilogram of sugar in each slice,” and “Bread is meant to be savory. Your bread is what we would call cake in Australia,” as reported by an article from Daily Mail.

Insistence on Using the Imperial System Over Metric Measurements

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As the world progressed, old units of measurement became harder, more complicated, and more impractical to use for trade. So, the world slowly transitioned to a decimal-based system known as the metric system. Today, around 95% of countries use the metric system. In contrast, only three countries—the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia—still use the imperial system.

Preference for Fahrenheit Over Celsius

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In line with the use of the imperial measurement system, the United States is notorious for being very close-minded when it comes to shifting to the use of Celcius instead of Fahrenheit when talking about temperature. Celsius is very simple to understand, as it uses 0 degrees as the point where water freezes and 100 degrees as the point where water boils; in Fahrenheit, it can get quite confusing as the freezing point of water is 32 degrees, while the boiling point is 212. Reader’s Digest explains, “They took a crack at introducing the metric system in 1975 with Congress’s Metric Conversion Act. This act made adopting the metric system ‘voluntary,’ and to no one’s surprise, people had no desire to voluntarily upend the systems of measurement—quirky and unwieldy as they may have been—that they were familiar with and operated with.”

Complimentary and Bottomless Drink Refills

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People who come to America are usually surprised that the drinks they order, especially at fast-food restaurants, are refillable. However, this is the norm and what’s expected by all Americans. It is a cultural and historical tradition of attracting more customers to establishments, and it still happens today!

Constant and Widespread Display of the American Flag

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Americans often display their flag as a symbol of patriotism and pride for their country. Aside from this, displaying the American flag is also a sign of allegiance and respect to the United States. In addition, Statista notes, “67% of the American population seems to be very to extremely proud to be American, and they aren’t afraid to show it off. Around 64% of the population owns an American flag, and around 51% own apparel branding patriotic imagery or symbols.”

Cultural Norms Around Tipping

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The tipping culture is one of the main things that make the United States so different from the rest of the world. Other countries, such as Japan, see tipping as disrespectful or demeaning to the worker. In other places, tipping isn’t required but is greatly appreciated. However, in America, though it’s not stated to be mandatory, servers often get mad and lash out at customers who don’t tip or those who tip less than a certain percentage.

Preference for Automatic Transmission Over Manual Transmission in Vehicles

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Manual vehicles are the more popular choice in Europe and Asia, with over 80% of cars sold having manual transmissions. Meanwhile, less than three percent of vehicles sold in the United States have a manual transmission. Given America’s geography, automatic transmission vehicles are believed to be more cost-effective for long distances on relatively straight roads. They are also considered cheaper and more powerful than manual cars sold in the country.

Advertising of Prescription Medications

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In the United States, drug companies commonly advertise prescription medicine to the public. These ads educate people about various treatment options and encourage them to discuss them with their doctors. However, this practice is less prevalent in other countries due to varying regulations around medicine advertising.

A Unique Timekeeping Method

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The United States uses the 12-hour clock system, with AM and PM designations, as the norm for timekeeping. This system is commonly used on digital clocks and watches. On the other hand, most of the world uses the 24-hour clock system, which is recognized for its clarity and international standardization. It assigns a unique number to each hour of the day, ranging from 00:00 to 23:59.

Having to Go into Debt Just to Get a College Education

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Most people can’t understand why the United States, a prosperous country, cannot afford to subsidize its citizens’ education. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that the government has become notorious for pushing its citizens into debt even before they finish school. On the flip side, many other countries, especially those in Europe, make education more affordable—sometimes free—for students.

Date Notation Starting With the Month

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There are different ways to write dates worldwide. In America, the month usually appears before the day and year. However, in many other countries, the day comes first, followed by the month and year. This can sometimes be confusing, especially when looking at an item’s expiration date!

Generous Servings of Ice in Beverages

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Other countries typically keep the drinks chilled and add a couple of ice cubes when serving. So, when tourists arrive in the United States and get served drinks with whopping amounts of ice, they feel as if they’re being cheated, as there’s more ice than liquid. However, they soon understand why this is so once they learn of the unlimited free refills that most restaurants or fast-food chains offer.

Getting Automatic Smiles From Service Staff

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In the United States, it’s common for service staff to greet customers with a smile. This aims to create positive customer interactions; some people also believe this act is done to get more tips. However, in many other parts of the world, such as some European or Asian countries like Japan, service staff don’t usually greet customers with a smile. Instead, they prioritize providing efficient and respectful service over overt displays of friendliness.

Consumption of Oversized or Giant Meal Portions

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Gigantic portions are almost synonymous with the United States. It’s often associated with a culture of abundance or value for money. However, it’s also due to this norm or custom that more and more Americans are getting diagnosed as obese or overweight.

Popularity of In-Sink Garbage Disposals

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America is all about convenience. Because of this, they’ve developed the in-sink garbage disposal as a convenient way to dispose of food waste. However, in Europe and Asia, this practice is not that popular. In-sink garbage disposal can eventually put a strain on the sewage system, leading to clogged sewer lines, maintenance issues, and more negative environmental impacts.

Intense Work Culture With Minimal Vacation Time

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The costs of living in the United States have been increasing. Because of this, people are pressured to prioritize work over anything else. They need to work and work and work to earn enough money to live comfortably. In contrast, European countries are usually believed to be more affordable; plus, they offer more vacation time and put a premium on work-life balance!

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.