It may not be so obvious (save for the accent), but even Americans have their funny quirks, and there’s no one better suited to notice them than non-Americans. Have you seen an American abroad? Have you looked at a person and thought, “That’s so American!”
Discover how the rest of the world identifies Americans from a distance. Forum users weigh in on what makes them stand out most.
1. It’s Always the Ice
One of the easiest giveaways that you’re American is the request for ice in restaurants for almost any drink.
One American says, “Asking for refills, ice, or iced tea has outed me more times than I’d care to admit.”
2. Branded T-shirts
Americans abroad all tend to wear branded clothes of the country they’re in.
One online user says, “I’m an American & when my family and I went to Ireland, every person we met wearing a shirt that just said “Ireland” on it was an American.
3. The American Uniform
Someone noticed that Americans seem to wear the same type of clothes, especially when they’re on holiday.
They ask, “We get a lot of American tourists here; why do you all wear the [exact] same clothes? Ireland t-shirt, shorts, socks with sandals, or those awful trainers, sunglasses, and baseball caps.”
4. A Smile for Everyone
Another way to tell an American from most of the other nationalities is by their niceness to others, even strangers.
A contributor says, “[Americans are] extremely extroverted and talkative. I’ve lived in Germany for 14 years, and I’ve never seen strangers talk, really. When I went to America, everyone was so nice and talkative. It was a nice but strange experience.”
5. Imitating Accents
Tell an American you’re not American, and they will almost immediately attempt to do your accent (often unsuccessfully).
A Briton says, “[Americans] Attempt British accents when you say you are British.” They’re not fooling anyone.
6. A Little Too Loud
It seems to be a common American trait that most Americans are loud.
One user says, “[Americans] Yell in the streets when they are on holiday in Europe. You can spot them from a mile away.”
7. Do You Take Dollars?
The dollar is one of the strongest currencies in the world, and it’s no wonder that most Americans would expect it to be acceptable in any country. The breaking news is it’s not.
An online forum contributor says Americans always ask if the dollar is acceptable when paying for stuff. He adds, “Once overheard two American folks complaining loudly to each other that ‘They don’t take American money anywhere!’ In Florence, Italy. Made me chuckle. You’re in the ‘Old World’ guys.”
8. Dumbing Things Down for Others
Some online users feel that some Americans talk to others from different cultures and countries in a rather condescending tone, especially if the said culture doesn’t speak English.
One says, “I’m always super embarrassed by other Americans who do this. They almost always dumb down what they’re saying and use the same voice and mannerisms they would use to talk to a small child.”
9. Baseball Caps
Every culture has its own dress code that works for most people, and Americans are famous for their baseball caps. If you see tourists wearing baseball caps, chances are they’re American.
Someone says, “Grown-up males wearing baseball caps all the time [equals] American.”
10. Cheese in Everything
If the Americans are not putting ice on every drink, they are putting cheese on every meal. If you see a tourist with a heap of cheese, that’s most likely an American.
Many other cultures, particularly in Europe, love cheese too- it may be the type of cheese (cheddar and other hard cheeses) that gives it away more than anything.
11. Eating on the Move
As one user noted, Americans do not have a problem eating their lunch as they walk down the street. Some nationalities would frown upon these “table manners,” but if you see a man abroad crossing the street while eating a bagel, they’re most likely American.
12. Shoes Indoors
In most European, African, and Oriental cultures (aka a lot of the world), shoes are left on the doorstep. However, American culture allows wearing shoes indoors, to the amazement (and not amusement) of people in those cultures.
Why do they want to bring all those germs from outside into people’s homes?
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JayDee Vykoukal is a writer, author, mom, and Doctor of Physical Therapy. She has been writing about everything motherhood and health-related since 2018 when her first daughter was born, and she wanted to stay home. She loves to research new topics and fun facts with her kids to teach them about the world.