11 things you'll hardly ever see in the United States

mangostock / ShutterstockAmerica has plenty to offer, but there are many things you can only find outside the United States.
  • America has plenty to offer, but there are many things you can only find outside the United States.
  • They include food items like brown sauce and bizarre sports like sepak takraw.
  • We chose 11 of our favourite things you usually won’t find in America.

The United States has plenty of good things going for it – from food to sports to culture – but it doesn’t have everything.

Most Americans have never tasted the wonders of brown sauce from the UK, for example, and they have probably never seen a high-flying match of sepak takraw, a sport popular in Southeast Asia.

Here’s a sampling of 11 things that you usually won’t find in America:

Brown sauce


People from the United Kingdom are familiar with brown sauce, a condiment similar to American steak sauce that’s available at many restaurants. HP Sauce’s brown sauce, a tangy variety made from tomatoes and vinegar, is especially popular.

Sinks with two faucets


In most places, including the United States, sinks have just one faucet. In the United Kingdom, it’s common for them to have two, one for hot water and one for cold.

Subway delay certificates

wikimedia commons

In the United States, you can blame public transportation delays for making you late to work, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get any sympathy from your boss.

But in two countries, Germany and Japan, railway companies issue official delay certificates to passengers who were delayed by five minutes or more during their commutes. The documentation can then be presented at work or school as a valid reason for one’s tardiness.

Sepak Takraw

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

There are plenty of unusual sports that are completely foreign to most Americans, but my personal favourite was sepak takraw, which you can find throughout Southeast Asia.

Sepak takraw is basically a hybrid of volleyball and soccer. Like volleyball, teams take turns striking a ball over a net and into the opponent’s side of the court. But instead of using their hands, players are only allowed to do soccer-style moves, such as using their feet, heads, and knees. The only equipment is a net and a ball made of small, woven rattan fibre.

Although you’d be hard pressed to find sepak takraw played in the US, it’s been a staple of the Asian Games since 1990.

Free college

Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin

Anyone who’s attended an American university knows that higher education in the United States is anything but cheap.

That’s not the case in several European countries, including France, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, where national governments cover the costs of attending public universities. Free European colleges are even starting to attract American students.

Outdoor (legal) drinking

Public drinking laws vary from country to country. In most parts of the United States, it’s prohibited to carry an open container of alcohol in public places like footpaths or parks.

That’s not the case in countries such as Austria, Brazil, or Japan, where public drinking is legal, and many other countries, where public drinking laws are not strongly enforced.

Long vacations

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Americans who travel abroad long enough will start to get jealous of the generous vacation policies other countries give workers.

Although many American companies allow their employees to take two weeks of paid leave each year, there’s no federal law requiring them to do so, making the US the only developed nation without a federal paid leave policy.

Meanwhile, in Europe and Asia, many countries guarantee four weeks or more of paid leave, meaning more vacation days for the non-Americans.


Wikimedia Commons

Castles proliferated in Europe during the Middle Ages, so it’s no surprise that there aren’t any in the United States. The ability to tour ancient castles are part of what makes Europe so appealing for history buffs.


Nigel Treblin/Getty Images

America has nothing like the Eurovision Song Contest, the delightful and eminently cheesy music competition that pits country against country each year.

The competition helped launch the careers of international stars such as ABBA and Celine Dion, but the majority of performers have been forgotten by time. Although America has its fair share of music TV contests, there’s nothing that compares to the mix of cultures and languages you get with Eurovision.


Wikimedia Commons/Adisurahman

While roundabouts are ubiquitous in many countries, they are very rare on American roads. According to The Washington Post, there are only 3,700 roundabouts in the entire United States, or about 74 per state.

Bullet trains

Japan has enjoyed the benefits of ultra-fast “bullet trains” for 53 years. Shinkansen, as they’re called, can travel up to 200 miles per hour and can get passengers from one end of the country to the other in just eight hours.

Plans for a bullet train in the United States have been discussed, but so far, there’s nothing in the works.

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