American Habits

Until you are abroad you do not even realize the little habits that have become part of your daily life at home. But once you are in a new culture with new rules and new routines, what you did every day in New York or what you came to expect will be out of place. Here are a few things that as Americans we would never bat an eye at, but overseas you might turn a few heads!

EATING ON THE GO – In the US, I am so used to grabbing food to go and eating it as I walked. This was not the custom in Spain. – Jasmine, Shanghai & Madrid

FLIP-FLOPS – I would wear my flip flops all the time when the weather was nice – a blatant signal of “I’m American.”– Stephen, Florence

London, unlike New York, actually sleeps. The bars are only open until 2 AM, but a good number of them actually start to slow down around midnight. Of course, there are the occasional late night places – but make sure you know how to get home by bus because the Tube closes by midnight! – Margaret, London

Walking is nice, especially in the city, but in Accra, where the stores are is farther away. It was difficult sometimes to get what I wanted. I had to always be carrying lists around with me, looking for opportunities to get what I needed whenever I spotted it. – Amanda, Ghana

I definitely took for granted the availability of things in the United States. I am used to 24-hour almost everything. In Spain, banks and some stores would close in the middle of the day for siesta. I had to work my schedule around siesta so that I wouldn’t waste my time traveling to some place that was closed. I definitely took hour 24-hour subway system for granted. When going out, if it was after 1 am, I would have to take expensive cabs to the places I wanted to go.– Jasmine, Shanghai & Madrid

“OH MY GOD” – Teenage men and women in Italy have an odd fixation on saying, “Oh my God!” to American passersby. It must have happened to me twenty times. I would be innocently walking down the street, minding my own business when the phrase would resound in my ear. I thought to myself: was that “Oh my God! You have toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe!,” or “Oh my God! I want to marry you!”? It didn’t take long to figure out the answer as my roommate Vanessa shared the same experiences. We arrived at this conclusion: Americans are accustomed to uttering “Oh my God!” before any exciting news. To Italians, this is regarded as inappropriate behavior because of our free use of the word “God.” – Lauren, Florence

FROM A LOCAL’S PERSPECTIVE

Having spent a large part of my life in Italy, I can easily tell who is really Italian and who is a foreigner. While in Florence, I knew that when I traveled with my American friends, we stood out. Americans, especially study abroad students, tend to be louder and a bit more obnoxious than Italians. – Chiara, Florence

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