13 Things You Miss When You Move Away From the United States

Good luck with that abroad | © serge seva / Flickr
Good luck with that abroad | © serge seva / Flickr
Photo of Elizabeth Nicholas
21 August 2017

America—the land of the fried pickle and the all-night drive-thru, coffee to go and aggressive air conditioning. Make fun of the United States’ many quirks all you like when you live here, but the second you leave the go live elsewhere, you’ll find yourself missing these 13 distinctly American oddities.

Fried food

Other countries just don’t have the same relationship with a deep fryer as the United States does. While you may find yourself developing a newfound affinity for the more flavorful vegetables that other countries tend to have, if you’re craving a fried pickle or a fried green tomato, you’ll be simply out of luck.

Wearing yoga pants to run errands

Just try this once in Paris, and the looks you’ll get from chic Parisians will cure you of the habit in no time flat. And don’t even think about showing up to brunch in “athleisure.”

Coffee in a to-go cup

If you ask a café outside of the United States for a coffee to go, you’ll likely be met with the same stares you would receive if you’d just started eating soup with your hands. Get used to drinking your coffee out of a proper china cup at a table or the bar.

coffee not to go | ©

Pumpkin spice lattes in fall

These fall-inspired drinks are not really a thing outside of the U.S.

Air conditioning

If it’s really hot in August in Italy, the Italians will act like the only cure is to simply down more icy spritzes, and throw open the windows as if they weren’t only letting in more hot air.

5G or even 4G

You may be used to walking around with Spotify streaming from your phone through your headphones in the U.S., but the same cannot be said for data speeds abroad. With few exceptions (think Singapore and Japan), data speeds overseas just don’t make the cut.

Good luck with that abroad | © serge seva / Flickr

Your normal metrics

Forget inches, pounds, feet, dollars, cups, teaspoons, and miles, your life is now in kilos, meters, liters, grams, and some other unit of currency. Luckily, there are multiple apps for that.

Lax credit card security

If you haven’t signed the back of your credit card, you might be asked to enter your PIN and show six backup forms of identification every single time you go to complete a transaction. You’ll also be subject to a lecture from every café clerk and waiter about credit card security, and just how dumb you really are.


Cheery customer service

American customer service professionals often cannot actually help you. But they will be so cheery and optimistic during your conversation that you will almost forget the answer they give you is no. Customer service in other countries is more often delivered with a frown than a smile—although sometimes this befits the tenor of the conversation more honestly.

Aggressive friendliness from strangers

In the U.S. (outside of New York), complete strangers will often ask you how you are doing and tell you as many personal details about their lives as you seem game to receive. Not only will this not happen abroad, but you will also most definitely annoy anyone you try to befriend using this tactic.


Search as far as you like, but you just won’t find anywhere you can coast up to without expending any effort and order a burger and fries outside of the United States.

only in AMerica

Mexican food

Even (and especially) in Mexico, you quickly come to realize that the insane goodness that Americans think of as Mexican food just isn’t available elsewhere.

Department stores

While they might have been the bane of your existence when you lived in the U.S., you’ll start to appreciate Target when you have to go to a special light bulb store in France just to purchase one—and it’s a Sunday, and the store is closed.

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