10 Peculiarities About America You Don't Know Yet
Going to the restaurant and eating something there is without a doubt completely different from ours. To begin with, the service is already different. The waiter greets you when you enter and takes you to a place he/she chooses for you. You rarely walk into a restaurant and find your own place. Not only this is special, but also the fact that they immediately clear your plate when you have finished eating. Even if your partner is still eating. We consider this rude, but in America it is common. They also bring the bill when they notice that you are not going to order anything anymore. Going to a restaurant in America is therefore immediately a good test where you will notice clear differences between Europe and America. We didn’t really enjoy going to a restaurant in America. Americans also do it just to eat. Purely functional and not because it is ‘cozy’ or ‘nice’.
If there’s one thing that can be said about Americans, it’s that they come across as fairly ‘cool’. Many Americans are reserved and will not be quick to address or greet you. In shops or in cafes, this is however completely different. Here the sellers or servers are very friendly, but this does come across as fake . They will almost always ask enthusiastically and exaggeratedly, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ And in addition, they often give you a compliment. All this made us feel weird about the average American. Not very sincere and sometimes even false. Of course not every American will be like this, but we have (often) gained this impression.
Not only do we find Americans reserved, but they are certainly not humble either. In fact, many Americans often talk about themselves and like to brag about themselves. We, as humble Europeans, don’t always enjoy talking to Americans. Of course we also got to know other people, such as the family from Durham where we were allowed to stay. These people were very sweet and down to earth . Frankly, they seemed more Europeans than Americans. They even drove a European car where you have to shift (not automatic). Anyway, Americans are by no means modest and see everything big. Keep that in mind and just let them be who they are.
In America, they are also hugely ahead of us in several ways. We sometimes thought it was ‘the country of the future’. That is not always positive, but usually it is special and fascinating to see. For example, when we made our reservation with Uber, we were asked whether we wanted to be taken from A to B with a self-driving car. This is a car where there is no driver present. The car drives completely on its own. We found this a bit scary and turned down the offer. In other words: we in Europe are really not ready for this yet, but in America it is possible.
In America, it is also customary to always tip after leaving a cafe or restaurant. How much you tip depends on how well you liked the service. Usually 18 to 20% of your bill is the usual number you tip. That seems like a lot, especially when you know that the prices in restaurants are already quite high. But if you don’t, you could risk a fine. Not tipping is therefore illegal in America and you better do it. Maybe you already knew this… but we think this is part of the peculiarities about America.
As you go to the beach in Mexico , the opposite is true in America. In America you will not see crowded beaches where visitors bring a lot of food and drinks and play loud music. It is even forbidden to bring alcohol on the beach. In general alcohol is not tolerated on the street, but on the beach they are extra strict on this. We actually thought going to the beach in America was boring. There is little atmosphere.
There are also strict rules on the metro. For example, it is not allowed to eat and drink on the metro. In Belgium this is different. We often drink and eat something on the bus, tram or metro. In America we didn’t even dare to open a bottle of water on the metro because the prohibition signs look very impressive. This is also regularly checked so be warned!
You may already know this, but it may also be new to you. In America soft drinks can be ordered for free (almost) everywhere. So you order and pay once for a glass of coke (or water) and during the entire time that you stay, this glass is refilled for free by the waiter (or in self-service restaurants you do this yourself). As mentioned before, it is not the intention in America to go out for a long time. So it is not really the intention to stay in the restaurant for hours. But basically you can just keep drinking ‘free’ all evening. This does not apply to alcoholic drinks. We think this is a fun fact in this list of peculiarities about America.
Another remarkable thing in America is television. The programs they broadcast are surrounded by huge commercial breaks. In fact, there is more advertising than the actual TV show. We found this a very annoying way to watch TV. It’s definitely not relaxing. That’s why most Americans have Netflix. This way they can watch series and movies undisturbed. We think that regular television is almost certainly a dying business. In Belgium , people still watch many TV programs or certain channels, but that is not the case there. Not only the TV programs are full of advertisements, but also on the radio you hear nothing but advertisements. There is little music and a lot of advertising. And the type of advertising is sometimes very different from ours. For example, advertisements are made to take out loans and even competitors such as Apple and Samsung attack each other directly in advertising campaigns. Something that is forbidden in Belgium.
If there’s one thing you definitely need to know about America, it’s that the military and the country are sacred. Everything to do with the military and military actions is sacred to Americans. Their patriotism is therefore enormous and you can almost see it as a religious belief. In the month and a half that we were in America, we saw an enormous amount of commemorations and military actions. Everything that has to do with the military gets a lot of respect and attention. You are also constantly reminded that you are in America, because everywhere you see the Star-Spangled Banner (the flag of America) and once a week you will hear the national anthem. For a sports match or at a commemoration. They attach great importance to it. So be respectful when you hear the national anthem and try to follow the crowd in their ritual as best you can.
10 Peculiarities About America
We could tell more peculiarities about America, but we’d be going on forever. Do you find America , like us, very surprising and special? Or not at all? Let us know what you think of this huge country!
Would you like to learn more about America? We would like to introduce you to this special country in our personal blog. We are happy to share our adventures and our own opinion. Of course you can also follow us on our socials.