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25 Ignorant Things Americans Said Abroad That Prove Many Don’t Have a Clue

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Embarking on an expatriate journey in an unfamiliar land is an adventure filled with excitement, perplexity, and occasionally, sheer exasperation. As you immerse yourself in the customs and quirks of a foreign culture, certain encounters may transform into amusingly vexing anecdotes along the path.

Non-Americans shared their ludicrous and laughable experiences with Americans when an online forum user asked, “Non-Americans of Reddit, what’s the weirdest thing an American has said to you?”

1. What language do you speak in England?

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Imagine asking an Englishman what language he speaks? Well, one gentleman wasn’t imagining at all. He narrates, “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.”

Another Briton was told, “You speak real good English for a foreigner.” He adds, “I’m British and she knew that.”

2. Is France in the United Kingdom?

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Geography questions are hard to answer, right? Maybe not, if the person answering them knows what they’re talking about. One user says, “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.”

Political boundaries can be blurry. Or not.

3. Do the Swedes have IKEA?

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One Swedish shared a shocking moment when she was asked, ““Wait, y’all have IKEA?”

Another user says, “When I visited a friend in the US they told me about this amazing furniture shop they had there called IKEA. I’m Swedish.”

FYI: IKEA is a Swedish store. Founded 80 years ago.

4. Are there cars in Europe?

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How do the Europeans get around again? One user was shocked to be asked, ““Do you still, like, drive horses to get around in Europe?”

5. When they think you’ve never seen fireworks

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Despite their popularity, one American imagined fireworks were only native to America. They educated an Austrian about this ‘magical thing in America called fireworks’ and advised them to ‘go see it at least once in (their) lives.

Class dismissed.

6. Hitler’s whereabouts

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One German was stunned to be asked, “Is Hitler still alive?”

A fellow user suggested an appropriate answer, “Yes, Hitler, a man born in 1889, is very much still alive. Gives interviews and everything.”

7. The sensitive topic of color

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The quest to be politically correct where skin color is concerned comes with its own awkwardness. One user was castigated for calling someone ‘black’ instead of ‘African-American.’ “But she’s British/Guyanese…” she bemoans.

Another black man from the Bahamas was told, “Oh! so you’re an African-Bahamian then?” He says, “I felt the vein on the side of my head twinge a little, lol.”

8. Say, ‘Gouda,’ please

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An American told a Dutch online user they were pronouncing ‘Gouda’ wrong. The user was amused. She narrates, “I’m from a small town in the Netherlands close to Gouda, so I’m glad he enlightened me.”

9. Republicans vs Democrats

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One American didn’t know these two political parties are only exclusive to American politics. They stunned a foreigner by asking them, “”Are your parents Democrats or Republicans?”

Well, neither.

10. National Days Confusion

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Did you know that not all countries celebrate Independence Day? Well, one American didn’t. One user says, “As a Brit, I had to bite my tongue when asked, “Do you celebrate Independence Day?”

We wish his tongue a quick recovery.

11. Everyone is American, no?

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A Canadian recalled being told, “”Y’all are part of the USA; you just have a different flag.”

He didn’t quite agree.

12. Assuming ALL white people speak English

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Is it possible to be white and not speak English? Apparently, not, as one user found out. They were told, “You can’t be from country that doesn’t speak English, you are white!!”

Another user said they were told, “Stop speaking Spanish, you are white!”

He was from Spain.

13. Denmark isn’t real

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One user narrated having a hard time explaining to a customs agent that Denmark was a real country. The customs agent responded, ““Sir, Denmark is a region of Sweden not a recognized independent nation.”

The agent was holding the traveler’s Danish passport in his hands.

14. A little confession is good for the soul

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A German user had a cringeworthy moment when an American asked him, “How many Jews have you killed?”

15. Do you know my dog?

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A different German user narrated his encounter with an enthusiastic dog owner. He comments, “When he heard I was German he asked me if I know his dog. A German shepherd.”

16. Imperial or Metric, that is the question

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For one user, their lack of the Imperial system was not understandable to the American in his life. He remembers being asked, ” Why don’t you just use Fahrenheit, it’s so much easier to understand.”

In retrospection, he muses, “Says the person who only knows Fahrenheit. Which I was not taught.”

17. Australian bear? Really?

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An Australian was thought to be lying when they said that there were no bears in Australia.

18. Elephant ride, anyone?

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It’s a common misconception that there’s little civilization in Africa. A South African user was asked, “Do you guys actually ride elephants and giraffes to school?”

He adds, “It still annoys the h**l out of me.”

19. Hindi? Hindu? Confusion galore

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One is a language, one is a religion, but which one is which? An Indian was asked, “You’re from India? Do you speak Hindu?”

He sarcastically replies, “Yes, I speak Hindu and am also fluent in Christian and Islam.”

20. Greek Dogs

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A baffled online platform user was asked, “Do you have dogs in Greece?”

One user summarises the mood of the thread by saying, “As an American, I am relatively ashamed by these comments. Not surprised, but ashamed.”

Relatively? Mortifying is more like it.

21. Touristy Destinations

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A user shares, “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.” Another joked they must have confused it with the “Its a Small World” ride at Disneyland.

22. Politically Correct Race

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Americans seem to think “African-American” is synonymous with “black.” But there are a lot of shades of skin color out there that didn’t originate in neither Africa nor America. Someone writes, “I say “Black.” Because you say someone is “African-American” when that person is neither american, nor identifies as “african” it tends to bother them more than anyone has ever been bothered by the term “Black.”

These days my reply when people try to “correct” me is by saying “Nah, Elon Musk is African-American.” That tends to mess with people’s heads.”

23. Guinness in the US?

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When an American man recommended Guinness while in the US to a British man, he wasn’t sure how to proceed. He says, “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.”

24. Speak Canadian, Eh

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Someone shares, “I’m a dual citizen of Canada and the States, but grew up in Canada. We’d visit family in California in the summer growing up, and one time—I kid you not—my cousin (around 16 at the time) looked me dead in the eye and asked me to “say something in Canadian”. As in, she thought Canadian was its own language and that was what we spoke as our mother tongue.

I was so bewildered I just said “hello, how are you?” and she thought I was joking.” Wow.

25. Asking Stupid Questions

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Someone writes that they were once asked, “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.”


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