- I’m an American who has a South African partner, and we come from very different cultures.
- Christmas isn’t as festive in South Africa, and political conversations come up less frequently.
- Some aspects of American life, like 20% tips and checkbooks, aren’t as prevalent in South Africa.
I’m a born-and-raised New Jerseyite who met my partner after moving to South Africa at the beginning of 2020.
Because we didn’t grow up in the same country, let alone on the same continent, we’ve discovered a lot about each other’s unique upbringings and lifestyles.
Based on our experience, here are some of the most surprising differences between life in the US and South Africa.
My partner’s eyes go wide when I leave a 20% tip at a restaurant
The first time I paid the bill on one of our dates, my partner’s eyes widened at the sight of the 20% tip I left our waiter.
Americans tip between 15% to 20% on average, with the understanding that tips make up a portion of many waiters’ salaries. From what I’ve seen in South Africa, it’s more common for people to add between 10% to 15% to the bill here.