Different places in the world have different cultures and general outlooks on life. But we try to learn more about others and try to understand them so we can get along better. It just so happens that in some places, there is more interest about different people and in some places, there’s less of it.
Often the ones that are ridiculed for not knowing what’s happening in other places in the world are Americans. Bored Panda has a couple of articles in which we gathered lists of people poking fun at Americans. In this article you can see people joining a TikTok trend of sharing the dumbest things Americans have ever said to them and in this one you will find an assortment of screenshots of Americans being completely clueless.
But the people from the United States keep on surprising us and the stories of non-Americans meeting peculiar Americans are never-ending. Reddit user u/esq__ asked “Non-Americans of Reddit, what's the weirdest thing an American has said to you?” Nearly 12k people joined the discussion and they were sharing not only weird encounters but quite absurd questions you wouldn’t expect an adult to ask.
More info: Reddit
"Why do you brits (I'm not British) call an elevator a lift when it goes both up and down?"
I responded that Americans didn't call an elevator a descendevator when it moves down.
At customs in LAX:
Customs Agent: “Where are you from?”
CA:“Sir, please don’t lie about your nationality”
Me: “Excuse me?”
CA: “Denmark isn’t a real country, now please tell me your country of origin.”
Me: “Sir, you are literally holding my passport, which is from Denmark, in your hand. How can you sit there and tell me that my country doesn’t exist?!”
CA: “Sir, Denmark is a region of Sweden, and not a recognised independent nation”
The swedes would be fond of this encounter.
I once had an american tell me I need to try the “real” Gouda cheese they have in the US because everything else was fake Gouda… I’m Dutch and actually lived near Gouda
Talking about my SIL
“Do you look alike?” “no, she’s black” “You can’t say that!!!” “What should I call her then?” “African American” “But…. She’s British/Guyanese….”
I’m British, was travelling in the states. Got talking to a guy at a bar while we’re waiting for service, and he recommended I try a pint of Guinness while in the US. He informed me they don’t sell Guinness in the UK.
I politely explained that they do indeed have Guinness in just about every pub in the UK. He disagreed, adding that he’s never been himself but his son in law went to London on business and told him so. I explained I’d lived in the UK including London my whole life. He looked at me lost in thought for a few moments, and said: “They don’t have Guinness there,” and walked away.
I swear on my mothers life that this happened:
I was on a student exchange between my German school and a school in San Francisco in the late 90s.
When the Americans came to visit us, we had a welcome party for them at a friends place. That friend had a dog, and at some point he gave the dog a command in German. The dog obeyed, and one of the American kids asks how we managed to teach German to the dog.
He wasn’t joking either, he seemed convinced that all pets are somehow born with knowledge of the English language, but all other languages need to be taught to them.
When an American asked me what it's like to have an accent. They thought that they had no accent and their voice was 'default' basically
“I don’t need affordable healthcare. I need freedom.”
This is an actual quote.
Anyway, the full cost of my kid’s birth including all scans, midwife, obstetrics appointment, labour, innoculations, heel stick and follow-up antenatal was $180.
I live in the southern hemisphere. Talking to an American online in December, and I mentioned it was summer for me. She kept asking which month I was in (kept insisting it must be June) and couldn't seem to wrap her head around the idea that it was simultaneously December and summer in the southern hemisphere.
An Austrian friend and I were told about about this magical thing they have in America called Fireworks and how we should go see it at least once in our lives.
Canadian here. I was 7 and in Florida telling my new also 7 year old friend about our money system. I told her we don't have dollar or two dollar bills they are coins and called a loonie and a toonie. She goes and asks her parents and they told her I was lying.
"Ya'll are part of the USA, you just have a different flag 'sall."
Umm... no. I assure you Canada us not part of the US.
I was asked if France is part of the United Kingdom. When I tried explaining him what the United Kingdom is, he told me England is no longer part of the UK because of Brexit.
"Speak english this is america!" It was online, but yeah. The sheer stupidity struck me hard.
Met a cool group in Belgrade, they were very surprised they could have beer at 21. That was so sincere, I kinda felt sorry for them in a good way. Decided to be a good host and show them the REAL good time. Took them parties, river clubs, cave clubs, found them drugs (they asked) ...all in all we had a pretty epic week, the kind of young people of 21 can make for themselves in capital city.
Somehow the conversation went to God, I mention I don't really believe in that, and they were so f*****g pissed. Literally, instant change. Whole group started explaining me Jesus stuff, angrily, they were disappointed and angry they spent a week with me.
I was so f*****g surprised, I mean we drinked, drugged, and did a lot of s**t Bible I presume doesn't approve. Couldn't held a conversation that evening, couldn't change subject, they kept pushing. Aggressively.
Went to the bathroom, went home.
"How can Canadians offer free healthcare? Why would any doctors want to work for free? This is slavery!"
Had a black american assume that I was "african-american also" because I'm black. I had to explain to him that the ethnically specified title "african-american" is only used to describe black people from america, not black people from other countries, and that black people from other countries are not specifically labeled by heritage, race or ethnicity. Afterward I revealed to him that I am actually bahamian.
Despite all that explaining, he still proceeded to ask "Oh! so you're an african-bahamian then?" I felt the vein on the side of my head twinge a little lol.
Edit: The term is not "african-bahamian" because I am not inherently attached to african citizenship or heritage. This term would be used for someone who is actually from africa, but is also a bahamian/ vice versa, OR someone who is closely attached to that heritage (say, a bahamian whose parent/s were african.) Over here we would just say that we are Bahamians of african decent, but only if the topic came up.
"How long did you take you learn to use metric instead of normal measurements?"
He genuinely didn't understand that metric was a system we actually used every day, we weren't constantly having to mentally convert meausrements to feet or pounds to understand how big they really were.
'I didn't know it was this cold in Cuba' we are in Spain. Spain, Europe. Stupid f****r came to university here on a scholarship for six months and didn't even know which country was coming into nor thought it was strange how long the flight was, he also didn't think about googling the place to see where it was, the weather... dunno, INFORMATION about the place he was going to live for six months. Only packed flip flops, tshirts and shorts. We're in the North of Spain, we have UK weather. He had to spend quite a bit for winter clothes in October because he had nothing to wear. He was also bummed because he couldn't find tacos here (you can)
As a Brit, I had to bite my tongue when asked 'Do you celebrate Independence Day?'
“I love the African-American culture here!”
— said in Cape Town, South Africa
I live in NZ and worked in retail, so there's been a few.
Funniest was "You have to serve me!" after they made a racial remark (wasn't too bad, but still f****n rude), threw a tantrum in the store because they didn't look at the prices before they used one of our products, then started trashing the place.
When my manager told them no I certainly did not have to serve them (by law) and she was calling the cops for destruction of property the lady made an O face then took off without paying. Cops got her like an hour later. I just wish I was still at work when they brought her in to pay for all the stuff she broke/stole/used.
I’d say it’s a toss up between:
“Is England in London?”
“Do you still like, drive horses to get around in Europe?”
And a guy trying to smack talk on Xbox who after I told him nobody cares said “Who cares what you think?! You’re foreign!” I said “So are you?” And he laughed and said “No r****d, I’m American”
I met an American tourist who was adamant that my country [Iceland] was a home ruled territory under the US government.
He said this during our nations independence day.
He assumed we shared a similar status with Puerto Rico.
He was convinced of the error of his ways after confronting two other natives and a Google search.
"Are your parents Democrats or Republicans?"
eh, have different political parties here luv
The typical stuff. Do you have cars /trees/dogs/in Germany. Another favourite : Is Hitler still alive?
Asking how much I copay for insurance. I don't even know what copay means.
A middle aged American was surprised to find out Venice was so old (and an actual city for centuries), and not built in the 20th century for tourist purposes
Englishman, living in the US for 15 years now. I’ve been asked a lot of bizarre things but one of the best was someone who asked what language we speak in England, and how long it took me to learn English when I moved here.
Poking fun at me with France stereotypes. I'm not from France, my parents are not from France, and I've never been to France. My first language is French, that's enough for Americans to treat me like I'm from France.
"Ah, you're from Denmark. Where in Canada is that again?"
you can't be from country that doesn't speak English, you are white!!
"I can't believe you would live in a country where you're living under the dictatorship of the queen."
I am Canadian.
"You speak real good English for a foreigner" - I'm British and she knew that.
Edit, because a lot of people seem to think that no American could ever say this and mean it: it was a lovely, sweet, older woman who thought she was paying me a genuine compliment. We sat and chatted in her garden for about an hour as she plied me with her homemade lemonade and asked me about my life and what brought me to Washington State. I thanked her, because she was saying something lovely (albeit weird), and we continued chatting.
Had a taxi driver in New York ask how we got there (from Ireland). When we said by plane, he was like „you have airports?!“.
Also thought we were still getting round on horses.
I’m Australian and in 2015 I was doing a cruise around New Zealand with my family. Might add that I have an Autistic daughter who was 14 at the time and despite being Autistic is incredibly sociable, but has a tendency to strike up unusual conversations with strangers. We needed to get to one of the restaurants a few floors above us and decided to use the lift instead of the stairs. The lift arrived on our floor and we entered with an elderly couple already inside. My wife and I greeted them and they duly greeted us back and we soon ascertained they were American. Seconds later, my Autistic daughter stated the obvious that we were all travelling in a “lift”. A random throw-away comment, but that’s just who she is. The female literally barked at my daughter and told her the correct word was in fact an “elevator”. At this point I interjected and politely mentioned that where we are from it’s called a “lift”, but this couple were adamant that it was an “elevator”. Their attitude was we were wrong and they were right. Fortunately we never did get to see them the remainder of the cruise. We share a common language being English and there are going to be differences how we say things depending where we’ve been brought up - it’s about being open minded and accepting. Unfortunately it appeared that the world revolved around this couple.
“Wow you speak American very well for a foreigner”
Thanks lady, I’m Canadian and “American” is the only language I know
"why didn't they walk around the berlin wall?"
I once spoke to an American that was surprised that black Australian individuals had an Australian accent.
It's so weird but you can also see it coming somehow in how they often think about race: the same thing that one was surprised that black Dutch individuals of course had Dutch names.
A friend was dating an American, and a bunch of us went out for a pub meal (UK).
Now, there's a stereotype that Americans can be a little loud. And, unfortunately, this was the case with this girl. Literally everyone in the pub was giving her side-eye, but noone says anything because that would be rude.
My friend very subtly tries to make her aware of the noise level, and she talk-yells, "oh no, honey. I'm not loud. All y'all are just too quiet! Such a quaint little country, y'all need to use your outdoor voices!"
We were quite clearly inside...
One American guy I met instantly told me where he lives, why he left America, why he married his foreign wife, when he shot his first gun and how his father made him do it (7 years old IIRC), and why he thought that was a good thing and built character, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember.
I genuinely couldn't get a word in edgeways to get away. My wife had to come pull me away saying we needed to leave. This was in a supermarket in southeast Asia. He just came over and said "Are you American". I said no. He launched into his life story and wouldn't stop.
Wife said I'm way too polite but how do you deal with that, just walk away while he's still talking?
That I must be a socialist because I'm from the UK where we have the NHS.
I lived for a while in an old house in Somerset. It was once owned by Rev Thomas Budd who travelled to America on The Mayflower. Had quite a few Americans turn up on the doorstep (there's a blue plaque) expecting me to drop everything and provide a house tour and have expert knowledge of Thomas Budd.
My wife was staying at a hostel in Athens a few years ago. She shared a room with an American in her 20s. They got talking about where they’ve stayed in the past, and my wife told her that she used to live in Sweden for a few years. The American didn’t know where or what Sweden was. My wife said “It’s a country, next to Norway”. “Oh Norway!”, the American burst out, “Ole is from there! Do you know Ole?!”
Canadian here, worked for AT&T. Where I worked in Windsor, I could SEE America. The number of questions about snow and igloos whenever anyone found out was too high. I swear I spent 15 mins trying to convince a woman FROM Detriot that the criss crossing lights in the sky came from Ceasars Windsor and that there is no snow here right now, it's July