The United States is a major tourist destination. Millions of people visit each year. New travelers are always shocked at how different the nation’s culture and customs are. The United States can be a very eccentric place that does things differently.
Anyone who plans on spending time in the colonies will want to prepare themselves first. Below are 15 tips to help tourists blend in as Americans.
1. Use the English System for Measurement
While most of the world uses the metric system, Americans find it to be too difficult.
Having 100 centimeters equal a meter or 1,000 grams to a kilogram would be confusing. So instead, people who live in the United States use a different system.
English measurements don’t use easy numbers like 10, 100, or 1,000. In America, 12 inches equals a foot, three feet equals a yard, and 1,760 yards equals a mile. Ask any American, and they will tell you that this system is a lot simpler.
2. Eat Giant Meals
When it comes to food, Americans always prefer quantity over quality.
As a result, all across the land are cheap buffets and restaurants that promise unlimited portions. While these places generally don’t have very good food, Americans still flock to them. Paying $6.99 for endless servings of macaroni, chicken wings, and gravy is the epitome of fine dining.
Even places that don’t provide unlimited food still dish out massive portions. Tourists who eat at an American restaurant will be blown away by the size of every meal.
3. Own Lots of Cars
Almost everyone in America owns their car.
A family with two children will usually have at least two cars. However, if the kids are old enough to drive, they will probably own four vehicles. Carpooling or taking public transportation isn’t something that many people do.
Despite having so many cars, Americans still love to complain about how soaring gas prices and air pollution are ruining their lives. This is an issue that many citizens are passionate about, and it is not uncommon for them to drive their massive gas guzzlers hundreds of miles in order to attend the latest environmental rally.
4. Brag About Being Dumb
Nobody in America will ever say that they are a lousy driver or terrible at sports.
However, most people will be more than happy to talk about how bad they are at math or geography. Anyone who is in school will likely brag about how little they study and how often they skip class.
In the United States, no one wants to be a lowly doctor or scientist — they have higher aspirations like being on reality television or becoming internet famous.
5. Put Ice in Every Drink
Americans love their ice. At bars and restaurants, it is in almost every single beverage. Water, soda, beer, they all have ice in them.
Restaurants are able to save money this way because they can fill half the glass with nothing but ice while charging for refills.
6. Only Include American Teams in the “World Series.”
There’s one international sporting event that America always dominates.
Every single year, one of the many teams from the United States somehow manages to win the World Series.
For the unfamiliar, the World Series is a massive sporting event in which American baseball teams face off against other American baseball teams. This world event spans every corner of the United States and nowhere else.
7. Treat Pets Better Than People
The United States is a place where people put their children on leashes and go clothes shopping for their dogs.
While other countries are content with just having normal pets, Americans insist on treating animals like people. They give them nicknames, dress them up, buy them birthday presents, and even take them to unique restaurants that specifically cater to pets.
8. Call Football Soccer
American football, a sport where men run around holding an egg-shaped object in their hands, is nothing like the game that every other country calls football.
In the rest of the world, football is a sport where players use their feet to kick a ball, hence the name. Americans call this “soccer” and only watch it once every four years.
9. Know Nothing About Soccer
American football is a sport that every citizen is an expert on.
They talk about how their favorite quarterback was flushed out of the pocket during the second preseason game and their favorite running back’s yards-per-rush attempts but ask them what a mid-fielder is, and they become dumbfounded.
If there’s one sport that Americans love to ignore, it’s soccer. Most of them know nothing about it whatsoever. Even basic rules are completely foreign.
10. Have Strict Rules About Alcohol
No one under 21 can buy any type of alcohol.
Americans only have to be 18 to vote or fight in the army, but drinking a beer is something that requires much more responsibility.
All stores and bars make it a point to check customer IDs. Some places even have elaborate scanning devices and computer software that help them regulate who they are serving.
11. Have Very Few Rules About Guns
At an American grocery store, customers need to take out their ID to run through a scanner before they can buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer.
At an American gun store, people just need to fill out some forms and pay cash to buy a rifle or shotgun. Some places even allow buyers to take their weapons home within minutes of purchasing them.
Gun laws are looser than regulations on alcohol. Citizens only have to be 18 to buy a high-powered 30-round assault rifle with a telescopic stock and laser sight. But they have to wait until they are 21 before they can buy some cheap beer to drink with their friends. Otherwise, someone could get hurt.
12. Treat School Athletes Like Heroes
School athletes are treated like national heroes.
A college football player who can throw a ball several feet will get all kinds of national attention. The thousands of other students, who are studying to be doctors and teachers, will be ignored entirely.
College kids who play football and basketball are the center of attention on all kinds of sports programs. Every play they make is analyzed and discussed for weeks on end. Meanwhile, college students who are members of other extracurricular groups like the science club or debate team are virtually invisible.
13. Get Mad at Things You Like
The only thing that Americans love more than sports, politics, cars, and food is complaining about them. Visit any household or sports bar on a Sunday afternoon and watch as grown men scream and throw things while their favorite athlete tries to play a game.
People will save up to buy a car and then get mad that it isn’t exactly like they had imagined it would be. Others voluntarily spend all of their free time obsessing over politicians and government events that have very little impact on them.
Next to baseball and apple pie, being outraged is one of the country’s oldest traditions.
14. Pretend to Read Books and Magazines
People in America love the idea of reading. They just hate the fact that it cuts into their television and social media time. As such, Americans will often buy a book and carry it around with them in hopes that other Americans think that they are reading it.
Coffee shops and cafes across the country are filled with men and women who have a book placed on their table as they scroll through text messages on their phone.
Despite never actually getting around to actually reading the majority of their books, American citizens will still have an expert opinion on the author and their message.
15. Own a Huge House
The American dream consists of buying the biggest house possible and stuffing it with all kinds of useless trinkets. Like with cars and food, more is always better. Location doesn’t matter, and maintenance is an afterthought. People just want the biggest place they can find.
After buying their huge house, Americans always make sure to complain about how expensive heating and cooling it is and how they have to mow the lawn every weekend.
Adjusting to American culture is easy. Anyone planning on visiting the United States just needs to remember these 15 simple steps. Then, by following along, you too can quickly blend in with the local population.
Kailey is a travel writer currently based in New York, but mostly on the move. She loves sharing interesting stories from her experiences with the local culture, food and adventure activities through her writing. When she is not eating french fries and sipping wine, you can find her traveling to different areas, capturing new stories, teaching yoga, or working on her helicopter license.