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Culture Focus

10 Weird Aspects of American Culture

Huizhi Zhang March 14, 2018

1. AMERICANS LOVE GIVING RANDOM COMPLIMENTS

Americans love to compliment random people. I first realized this during my first month in the United States. In the elevator of Anderson Hall, a girl got in and said to another girl, “Oh I like your dress! It is really cute”. I thought they knew each other before or at least were classmates, but it turns out they were complete strangers! I personally experienced this interesting cultural quirk when I got a compliment from a person I had never met before. It was very embarrassing for me because I didn’t know how to react, but I felt happy that I gained a random person’s praises!

2. WHY DON’T AMERICANS USE UMBRELLAS?

Americans seldom use umbrellas. In Asian countries, people always carry umbrellas on sunny days, rainy days or snowy days. However, on a sunny day, American people always wear caps instead of using umbrellas. On rainy days, people still wear caps instead of using umbrellas. On snowy days, people continue to wear caps instead of using umbrella. I do not get it.

3. AMERICANS HAVE LAX CLASSROOM RULES

Classes in America do not have strict rules about student behavior. In class, students can put their feet on another empty chair or sit cross-legged. Students also can sit wherever they want and change their seat every class if they so please. American students can even go to the restroom or get some water in the middle of the lecture. In China, these behaviors are considered disrespectful to professors. Students need to raise their hands and ask for permission to go out of the classroom.

4. AMERICANS LOVE SMALL TALK

Americans like to have “meaningless” conversation. People usually say things like, “Hi, how are you today?” or “How’s it going?” when they greet other people. In reality, these greetings don’t mean that they actually want to know how your day is going; it is just a way that Americans like to start a conversation.

5. AMERICANS ARE FRIENDLY AND OUTGOING

Americans are easy to talk with and generally, Americans are outgoing. It is easy to start a conversation with them. If you are an international student and want to practice more often, then try to start a small conversation every day. It is very helpful!

6. AMERICANS ARE ALWAYS DRINKING COLD BEVERAGES

Americans like to drink cold water and beverages. Even if it’s in the middle of a really really cold winter, Americans still like to drink cold drinks! Also, they put so much ice into the beverage bottle and then hold it in their hands. I mean, it is freaking cold outside! Why do you guys want to get cold stuff in this kind of weather?

7. FREE REFILLS ON SODA?

Americans love soda and unlike in other countries, ordering a soda in America usually means free refills. Americans tend to order food with a bottle of soda. Sitting in a restaurant and spending your day with free refills of your favorite soda…… sounds like a cheap (and American) way for students to hang out with their friends!  

8. HUGE FOOD PORTIONS

American food portions are huge. Americans can eat appetizers, main courses, and all with a huge jug of soda and dessert at the end. Everything is so BIG! How can Americans eat so much food and how can their stomachs bear such massive meals?

9. AMERICAN FOOD: EITHER TOO SALTY OR TOO SWEET

American food is too sweet or too salty. For instance, cupcakes, cookies and candies are sometimes way too sweet. Whenever I eat one, I can feel the tons of sugar entering my body and can only imagine my rapidly rising blood sugar. Similarly, snack foods like pretzels are too salty. I need to drink almost a whole bottle of water to weaken the salty taste.

10. AMERICAN FLAGS, EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK

American flags are everywhere and the patriotism of the American people seems to be expressed by putting national flags all around the city. In America, you can see flags in the streets, houses and even in cars. Hmm… I wonder… is this a way to remind the American people that they are indeed Americans?