As opposed to the stuff that we thought was American, when it wasn’t, there are the typically American stuff, even if the Americans themselves don’t realize it. Yeah, that sucks as a title. You could also say “top stuff from America but actually Americans think it’s the same everywhere when it’s not”, but that’s still a pretty lousy phrase.
1. Walk around with a weapon
More than a constitutional right, guns constitute a large fragment of American culture. In 2020, there were approximately 400 million weapons held for 370 million inhabitants… That’s more weapons than people and that’s scary. Between 2000 and 2020, the United States has gone from 2,222 active arms manufacturing companies to 16,963. As of July 12, 2022, the association Gun Violence Archive already counted 23,374 deaths by firearms since the beginning of the year (suicide and homicides combined). On June 23, 2022, the Senate passed a bill to restrict their access, a first in three decades.
2. Refer to your region when asked about your nationality
Okay, it’s not very clear as a point title, but don’t move, I’ll explain! If you ask any foreigner where he is from, he will answer with the name of his country. If you ask the same question to an American, you have a good chance that his answer will be “Texas”, “New York”, “Idaho”… But not “United States”. Afterwards, it must be said that life, and even justice, from one state to another, are very different.
3. Les “red solo cup”
Aka, the famous red cups. What we see in all the series. All movies. That we pulled out of high school after seeing Project X (sad life). Well, in the USA, you find these cups on every street corner, in any small convenience store. It’s a bit like the Americans tearing off our white plastic cups.
4. Show tax-free prices in stores
Hard hit when you checkout. Taxes are added at checkout. To make things even simpler: these consumption taxes are set independently by each State. Within these states, cities can also apply their own percentage. Basically, shopping in the USA is about liking suspense and tightening your buttocks so that the surprise at the checkout isn’t too big.
In most states, it is even against the law to display prices including VAT. Illegal, downright. Smart (no).
5. Unlimited drinks
Whether in fast food, some diners or restaurants, it is very common to be entitled to “free refills” (unlimited drinks)! To say that in Paris, we pay 50ct extra for a slice of lemon…
6. Tip waiters
In the USA, waiters and bartenders live mainly on their tips. Their salary is very meager: only a few hundred dollars a month. In fact, not tipping in the United States is very frowned upon. In general, we will leave between 10 and 15% of the sum for a service deemed average. 20% if acceptable. 25% if it is of quality. Basically, the average tips oscillate between 15% and 25% of the note. Not much on a daily menu, but not gross for a meal for 15 people!
7. The notion of “XXL”
Excess. Ask for an XXL format (I’m not talking about clothes, of course), and you’ll get what we would call in France XXXXXXXXL. Say hello to huge Pick-ups, 6-storey burger joints and malls bigger than a city. Sweaty ecology.
8. Patriotic Feeling
In France, if an individual decorates his balcony with large blue-white-red flags… We can quickly imagine who he voted for in the last presidential elections (ok, maybe that’s a little bit cliché). In the States, the Stars and Stipes (American flag) is absolutely everywhere. In front of houses, garages, in gardens, and even… In front of churches. In the same way, the national anthem is sung at the slightest opportunity, even when the events do not concern any other foreign country.
9. Pumpkin Love
Pumpkin loveeee. Americans love pumpkins so much that you can find them everywhere. Really everywhere. In places where you least expect it. Like… In lattes, cookies, candies, porridge, tea, smoothies, and even… In Oreos (yes, yes).
10. Universities at High School Musical
No, students do not communicate through Disney songs and dance steps. On the other hand, these large buildings, these green spaces, these schools that look like castles, these hundreds of university associations, these completely crazy brotherhood parties… It’s very true. The Sorbonne, next door, well… It’s a bit boring.