Top 10 Things Only Americans Do



Top 10 Things Only Americans Do

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Giddy-up cowboys, it's time for us to take a deep dive into what makes Merica' one of the most unique places on earth! For this list, we'll be going over the things more common in the United States of America than in most other countries. Our countdown includes Have Pharmacies That Sell Groceries, Obsessing Over the Military, The Pledge of Allegiance, and more!

Top 10 Things Americans Do That the Rest of the World Doesn’t

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Americans Do That the Rest of the World Doesn’t.

For this list, we’ll be going over the things more common in the United States of America than in most other countries. While some of them are present elsewhere, they’re not quite as widespread as in the U.S.

If there’s a particular Americanism that our list didn’t cover, please do tell us in the comments!

#10: Refer to the U.S.A. as “America”

Americans have a reputation of being a little self-centered, at least as a country. And there’s some truth to that, particularly with how they refer to their own country. Outside of the U.S., referring to the country as “America” is much less commonplace. After all, there are two entire continents called America. Referring to only one country on one of those continents as “America” too is really confusing for anyone who doesn’t live there. Referring to it as the U.S., U.S.A., the United States, or just “the States” are more commonly used by the rest of the world. Even so, everyone still calls its residents Americans, which isn’t confusing at all!

#9: Have Pharmacies That Sell Groceries

In most of the world, pharmacies sell exactly what their name implies – pharmaceuticals. While you’ll see tangentially related items, such as grooming care products or hygienic things like toothbrushes, pharmacies don’t usually carry food or toys. But in the U.S., that’s much more common. The country is all about the all-in-one experience. Not only will dedicated grocery stores have pharmacies built-in, but pharmacies will also carry groceries. Granted, the selection isn’t great, but if you’re desperate for a gallon of milk and don’t feel like crossing the street to the grocery store, you can get one. While most of the world still prefers to limit drug stores to drugs and other self-care products, we have a feeling this might catch on.

#8: Vote Before They Can Drink

The age at which a person can drink alcohol is most commonly at 18 worldwide, the age usually considered to be adulthood, though some countries have it even earlier. The voting age on a global scale is also generally at 18, for similar reasons and with exceptions. However, the United States requires young adults to wait an additional 3 years before legally being allowed to drink at 21. This was enacted during the 1980s to prevent alcohol-related driving accidents. While it helped in the short-term, it hasn’t stopped teenagers from drinking, and it has the rest of the world wondering why Americans will let 18-year-olds decide who runs the government, but not allow them to get buzzed or drunk.

#7: Tip Service Personnel

While the concept of tipping waitstaff or other people in the service industry is known worldwide, few countries have embraced the concept to the degree the U.S. has. Many workers, particularly in the restaurant industry, rely on gratuity to get by, in part because laws allow managers to pay subminimum wages to tipped workers. However, in many other countries, tipping is seen as insulting – they’re just doing their jobs, after all. While some countries’ workers certainly appreciate it, it isn’t expected like it is in the U.S. – mostly because they pay employees enough to where they don’t need it to live. Whether Americans will catch up to the rest of the world in this regard… who knows.

#6: Obsess Over the Military

The American military is probably the best in the world. They certainly spend more on it than any other country – several times more than their nearest competitor, China. Americans also have a higher-than-average obsession with their own military and its culture. While other countries certainly appreciate their troops, you don’t, say, see as many people wearing camouflage as a legitimate fashion statement. Likewise, you don’t see movies made elsewhere that glorify the military to the degree the U.S. does. Part of the American enthusiasm is certainly rooted in patriotism, or in supporting public protectors like firefighters or police. Still, it may also be a reaction to the country’s anti-military sentiments in decades past.

#5: Work Too Much

Americans are workaholics, at least compared to basically every other country in the world. The majority of Americans work more than 40 hours a week. They also lack many of the things the rest of the world takes for granted, like paid holiday, sick, and parental leave. Most countries have realized that happier, less stressed workers do better at their jobs. Iceland even recently tried a four-day workweek that proved wildly successful. Several European countries take long breaks for lunch. While the American drive is admirable, it becomes less so when it comes at the expense of the workers themselves.

#4: Put Sales Tax on Everything

Most countries enact a value-added tax, or VAT, on goods or services purchased within their borders. These taxes are collected from every person in the supply chain, from the distributors to the consumers. The United States is one of the few to use sales taxes, which not only vary wildly from state to state, but are only enacted after a purchase has been made. They’re also not listed in the initial price, which can leave foreign visitors, and many Americans, scratching their heads as to why they’re being charged more than the price on the product. Better or worse? You decide. It’s certainly more confusing.

#3: The Pledge of Allegiance

In many parts of the United States, school children, and adults in some settings, are expected to recite the pledge of allegiance. This is an expression that they will be loyal to the U.S.A. and is usually performed daily while looking at the nation’s flag. This isn’t something other countries do. They might salute or respect their flag and country, but to make school children recite an oath to the country? We can see how it could be viewed as indoctrination. The pledge has been the subject of plenty of controversy within the U.S. too, particularly since it mentions God. While some schools no longer require it, it remains a widespread practice.

#2: Go Bankrupt from Healthcare

Medical costs are the cause of over 60% of all bankruptcies in the United States. Americans experience a variety of unexpected charges while getting much-needed care, from surprise bills to even being charged for riding in an ambulance. In some parts of the civilized world, even seeing a medical bill can be an uncommon occurrence. Healthcare worldwide tends to be much more regulated than it is in the USA. It’s either funded through taxes in a single-payer system or else through individual insurers who are more strictly monitored. Bottomline – while there can sometimes be extra charges, for most of the world, medical debt is basically unheard of… except in horror stories about the U.S.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Free Refills
Restaurants Will Fill Up Glasses with Even More Drinks for FREE?! And with Lots of Ice?!

Throw Baby Showers
Many Cultures See Them as Bad Luck or in Poor Taste

Wear Shoes Indoors
Sure, Not Every American Does This, But It’s Still Considered Weird in a Lot of Countries

Advertise Drugs to Consumers
Pharmaceutical Companies’ Clout Allows This, Annoying Basically Everyone but Them

Use Red Plastic Cups for Alcohol
Who Decided on These for Every American Party?

#1: Use the Imperial Measurement System

There are only 3 countries in the world that don’t use the metric system – Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States. Of those 3, the U.S. is easily the most notable on an international stage. So why hasn’t the U.S. converted? The metric system is much less arbitrary since everything goes by 10s. Even Britain and Commonwealth countries have converted, even if they still use measurements like feet and inches casually. We’ll give you one guess. Did you say it was because of money? Because money is definitely a big factor. Converting to a whole new system of measurement is expensive. Other factors include a need for control and stability of the U.S. Inertia, basically. Why change when you don’t need to?