What are the biggest differences between the USA and the rest of the world?
Having spent much of our time traveling outside of the USA in the last five years, Randi and I have taken note of many differences between the United States and basically everywhere else.
Some are quirky silly observations, and others are pertinent social issues that we feel should be addressed. All of them stand out to make America rather…unique when compared to the rest of the world.
Disclaimer: Before anyone gets upset the point of this article isn’t to criticize, we just had a bit of fun writing out some of the immediate differences between the USA and the rest of the world that come to mind.
Table of Contents
Differences Between the United States and the Rest of the World
Eggs in the Refrigerated Aisle
We start off with the biggest and most important question of ALL TIME. Why are eggs unrefrigerated just about everywhere in the world that we have visited?
America is one of the only countries that sells its eggs in the refrigerated section of the store. Unrefrigerated eggs scared us when we first saw them stacked in egg crates in the middle of stores in Mexico. Surely these eggs must be disease ridden ovals of death.
Gathering up all the courage we could muster we purchased, sniffed at, scrutinized, cooked, and gingerly ate said eggs and…they were perfectly fine. Pretty damned tasty actually, with darker and more flavorful yolk than the eggs we purchased in the States. Which was a tad confusing. Surely eating so many warm eggs would lead to death or worse? Yet… we were ok. Not a single mutation, not as much as a tummy ache.
So we Googled it. Here’s an interesting explanation.
In most places around the world the short hand for dates is DD/MM/YEAR. In America we put the month first, for some reason.
Do you know why? If so, let US know, because we have no idea! Either way, it can be confusing at first, but eventually you get used to backwards dates.
24 Hours in a Day
In the USA (and the U.K.) the day is divided into two sets of 12 hours, AM and PM. Many other countries are on what we in the States call Military Time, a 24 hour cycle that starts at 0 and ends at 23:59.
Nice and simple.
Why can’t we ever pick the simple options in America?
Speaking of time, every feel like all you do is work, go home, eat, sleep, and repeat?
Work, work, work. Americans spend a large chunk of their lives at their jobs. We rank next to last in vacation time offered by countries with advanced economies according to this article.
This also extends to maternity leave, where the USA ranks second to last among the 21 “advanced economy” nations across the world. It is the only “First World” country without mandatory maternity leave. Sorry moms (and dads)!
In many European countries, dinner is had around 8 PM, or hour 20 of the day. In some places, such as Spain, dinner can start as late as 10:30 PM.
We have stuck with the early dinner, having found that it’s hard to adjust to late meals, but that has made us outliers in countries such as Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain where you eat and drink well into the night.
Gallons of Milk
Another dairy aisle oddity. (Yes we spend a lot of time in grocery stores) No other country we have visited sells packaged milk in such a large quantity.
Do Americans just drink more milk?
A quick search of the internets revealed that the USA is third in per capita cow juice consumption. I guess we just like to do things BIG in the States.
Speaking of Large: Super Highways
The USA is the undisputed king of super highways. Our good friend Wikipedia tells us that America is the road king with over six million kilometers of roads and highways. That’s 2 million more than the second leading country, which is India. And most of the Indian roads are barely paved.
We have never seen an eight lane highway anywhere else in the world. But we won’t stop traveling until we find one.
Guns, Guns, Guns (and Ammo)
We’ll let this article speak for us.
“While the U.S. houses less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the country has approximately 35-50 percent of civilian-owned guns worldwide, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.”
Americans purchase 10 billion rounds of ammunition EACH YEAR. That’s 10,000,000,000, which is umm…a lot.
AKA Crapplebee’s. Thankfully these do not seem to exist anywhere but the United States. If they do we don’t want to know about it. Makes us rest easier at night knowing that this chain “restaurant” isn’t spreading around the globe.
Price of Antibiotics
India, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala, Panama – What do these countries all have in common? Cheap antibiotics, for one. And not just cheap for tourists with money, but really cheap for almost everyone. We pay a premium for “brand name” drugs in the USA while the developing world uses the (just as effective) generic variety.
We’ll spare you the diatribe and won’t rant about pharmaceutical companies here.
Meters vs yards. 100 centimeters vs 36 inches. Kilograms vs Pounds. 100 grams vs 16 ounces. Kilometer vs mile. 1000 meters vs 5280 feet.
Again, as with measuring fluid in gallons why did we always seem to pick the more complicated system???
Big cars to fill those gigantic highways. We love them.
The SUV trend started in America and spread across the globe for a while but thankfully it seems to be going out of style in most parts of the world.
Young American Travelers
Aside from a handful of gap year kids and surfers, American youth seems absent from the open road. We have met many people in their early 20’s during our travels and maybe .000000000000000003% of them were American. The numbers are a bit higher in European cities like Barcelona and Paris, but American youth was still badly outnumbered.
We want to see young Americans travel more, we think it would be great for them and even better for American society as a whole. So if you are an American reading this do yourself a huge favor and go check out the differences between America and the rest of the world yourself. It’s well worth it, we promise!