Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 45058 times)

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jedikaiti

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Me either. I haven't purchased checks for any of my accounts in YEARS.

Buying checks is something completely alien to me. Here, the bank supplies checkbooks.

And one in reverse. Some people seem to think that the USA is the only large country. I took my parents on a long trip to the USA, from Miami up to Boston mainly by car. More than a few Americans took pity on me and told me it would take a long time. Yup, I was quite aware: we were taking 4 weeks to do it. They insisted that I didn't have an idea of how large the USA is.

Yes, I do. I come from a country that is larger than the continental US. I planned a lot of trips in my life. Cue jaws dropping and people saying "but America is huge." Yes. So are several other countries.

Miami to Boston in 4 weeks is a really leisurely trip. Sounds like fun.

In my experience, banks in the USA provide only a few starter checks, and if you need more, you buy them. When I used checks, I would usually buy mine from an outside vendor.
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jmarvellous

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My bank provides checks, as did my other banks in the past. If you want "cute" checks, they cost something extra, though.

dawbs

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My bank provides checks, as did my other banks in the past. If you want "cute" checks, they cost something extra, though.

IME, checks from the bank cost an arm and a leg.
You can get checks from an outside place (cute or otherwise) for 1/10th the cost.

Elfmama

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Me either. I haven't purchased checks for any of my accounts in YEARS.
Buying checks is something completely alien to me. Here, the bank supplies checkbooks.
In my experience, banks in the USA provide only a few starter checks, and if you need more, you buy them. When I used checks, I would usually buy mine from an outside vendor.
Our credit union will give you free checks, but only the plain safety paper ones.  Most people who still use checks want fun pictures on them, so they buy them, either from the bank/credit union, or from an online dealer.

Most of our regular bills are paid electronically. DH still writes 4 or 5 paper checks a month, as his weekly donation to his church.  They keep urging him to let them do weekly electronic transfers, but neither of us like the idea of letting someone else have access to our account.  Especially since the church's last pastor left under implications of  "financial mismanagement." 
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Library Dragon

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(This is a perennial arguement with him.  He insists that it's not raw, it's rare.  I say that if it's still cold and red in the middle, that part is RAW.)
A blue steak is one that's barely seared on the outside, vaguely lukewarm on the inside.
And totally delicious!  I generally order my steak "as rare as you will serve it".

I assure my servers that I'm happy if my steak moos a little.

DH and I were reminiscing that when we were first married and living in Germany it was cheaper for us to eat out than at home. 

My non US friends vary greatly on perception.

Our German friends are shocked at the low cost of housing here in the gulf states. 
Our Belgian friends are surprised not at the amount, but how inexpensive it is to eat out.
In Italy I've been teased about how seriously Americans take religion or encountered shock that we go to church at all.  The nun who wanted to serve a nice roast beef on a Friday during Lent. When reminded her comment was, "Oh, you Americans are so strict."

Churches here split over big and small issues.  In the 70s one local church was featured in Life Magazine. The congregation split over the issue of a member who wore a bathing suit in a beauty pageant.  The elders wanted her disfellowshipped and those who disagreed formed their own church.  Soon after lightning struck the original church. 

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katycoo

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Me either. I haven't purchased checks for any of my accounts in YEARS.
Buying checks is something completely alien to me. Here, the bank supplies checkbooks.
In my experience, banks in the USA provide only a few starter checks, and if you need more, you buy them. When I used checks, I would usually buy mine from an outside vendor.
Our credit union will give you free checks, but only the plain safety paper ones.  Most people who still use checks want fun pictures on them, so they buy them, either from the bank/credit union, or from an online dealer.

Most of our regular bills are paid electronically. DH still writes 4 or 5 paper checks a month, as his weekly donation to his church.  They keep urging him to let them do weekly electronic transfers, but neither of us like the idea of letting someone else have access to our account.  Especially since the church's last pastor left under implications of  "financial mismanagement."

I have never had to pay for cheques, and I've also never seen or heard of 'fun' cheques.  I don't think they're available here.

Re donations to church etc, here setting up an electronic donation wouldn't require giving the church access to our account.  They wouldn't come in and take the money like a service provider, but rather we would have it set up to send over whatever amount we set it to.

MommyPenguin

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I think some just glossed over the time, some reacted  immediately, before I could describe our plans ("oh-oh, another foreigner who thinks she can get from Miami to Boston in a couple of hours"). And, yes, we did all sorts of wonderful things along the way: Savannah, Charleston, Asheville, the Blue Ridge mountains, Civil War sites, Pennsylvania, DC, Baltimore, NYC, etc. But the second part of the trip was by train, since I did not want to drive into NYC.

4 weeks definitely doesn't sound bad to me!  We drove from Alabama to Maryland in about 14 hours, driving straight through.  And we've done Maryland to Boston, about 9 hours driving straight through.  Of course, I've never done both in a row.  14 hours is enough for me.  :)

My husband and I are considering driving from Virginia to California (and back) for my brother's wedding.  We'd probably take a month, at least, to do it.  The sightseeing would be cool, but... that's a lot of driving with small people.  We might also consider flying Space A, so I think I will root for that.  :)

lady_disdain

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I can solicit one or two checkbooks per month, free, from the bank (I am not sure since I don't use a checkbook a year, let alone a month). Buying checks from outside vendors is unheard of. Quite honestly, I am not sure I understand the concept of wanting a cute check. I won't be looking at it much, the people who receive them won't care, as long as they don't bounce. I prefer the uniformity, since it makes it harder for scammers (they can't just order checks in my name based on real checks I wrote). The bank will only send them to my confirmed address.

I guess this is a real "what you are used to" subject.

baglady

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I buy checks online because it's quicker and cheaper than ordering them through the bank. I buy a fairly simple design, although I have been tempted by some of the cute ones.

I've found non-Americans' perceptions of travel times in the U.S. to vary wildly. One person may see a car trip from New York to Florida as taking several days (I know people who have done it in one solid day of driving, although most will factor in a motel stay and do it over two), while another is surprised to discover that Niagara Falls isn't just a short hop from New York City.

Heck, I *am* American, and this sort of thing trips me up on occasion. I can get from Albany to Boston in about three hours, so I was shocked to learn that I couldn't take a similar day trip from San Jose to Los Angeles, or Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.
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katycoo

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Oohh, I just thought of another one:

That it is common for entire rooms in USA houses to not have inbuilt lighting and must be lit via lamp.

So strange.

iridaceae

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Oohh, I just thought of another one:

That it is common for entire rooms in USA houses to not have inbuilt lighting and must be lit via lamp.

So strange.

It's a fad. My apartment is mainly "light the room yourself" and it annoys me. But because some idiot fashion designer or other liked it.....

Margo

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How does buying checks from an online dealer work? Here (UK) I get cheques from my bank - they are pre-printed with my bank details and cheque number. Do you have to give the dealer all your bank details to get checks? Or register them with you bank so they know that they are genuine?

Some banks do offer the option of different cheque designs - I have a chequebook for one of my accounts where the cheques have pictures of wild birds on them (I requested this option because I have two accounts with the same bank, and having different designs on the cheques means I can't accidentally write a cheque from the wrong account)

I don't know how many banks have this option as I haven't ever asked any of the other banks I have accounts with, but based on the cheques we get in at work from people paying their bills I don't think it is very common.

You don't pay for chequebooks here. My banks all automatically send a new chequebook out when you get close to the end of the book, unless you have manually disabled that  option (I have - I prefer to order online when I need a new chequebook, as that way, I know when to expect one so I will know if one were to go missing in the post)

I think most banks do offer variations such as left-handed chequebooks.

camlan

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Oohh, I just thought of another one:

That it is common for entire rooms in USA houses to not have inbuilt lighting and must be lit via lamp.

So strange.

I can think of two reasons for this, in addition to what iridaceae said.

One, it is cheaper to build houses or apartments without built-in lighting. Especially in large apartment complexes, the builders save money on paying people to run the wiring, the wiring itself and the light fixtures. For one house, it's not that much money; for a complex of 200 apartments, it's a lot.

Two, older houses. Mine was built in 1900 and originally had gas lighting. Usually, when older houses were electrified around here, the wiring was simply run through the old gas lines. Not in this house. With the plaster walls and ceilings, the two rooms that do now have overhead lighting only have it because the ceiling was lowered, to allow for running the wires.

It doesn't bother me much, because I prefer lamps.
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Dazi

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How does buying checks from an online dealer work? Here (UK) I get cheques from my bank - they are pre-printed with my bank details and cheque number. Do you have to give the dealer all your bank details to get checks? Or register them with you bank so they know that they are genuine?

Some banks do offer the option of different cheque designs - I have a chequebook for one of my accounts where the cheques have pictures of wild birds on them (I requested this option because I have two accounts with the same bank, and having different designs on the cheques means I can't accidentally write a cheque from the wrong account)

I don't know how many banks have this option as I haven't ever asked any of the other banks I have accounts with, but based on the cheques we get in at work from people paying their bills I don't think it is very common.

You don't pay for chequebooks here. My banks all automatically send a new chequebook out when you get close to the end of the book, unless you have manually disabled that  option (I have - I prefer to order online when I need a new chequebook, as that way, I know when to expect one so I will know if one were to go missing in the post)

I think most banks do offer variations such as left-handed chequebooks.

I don't know about others, but my bank has an approved outside vendor for their checks.  You go to the banks website, log into your account, then click on the order checks icon and it takes you to the check website.  All the details are auto imported from my bank directly to the check website.  I only have to pick my check design and font design, check all the spellings are correct, and confirm what I want.  The payment is taken directly from my bank account too.

It's super easy.  Plus it's fun to tease my DH that I ordered something like Care Bears, My Little Pony, or Hello Kitty checks.   >:D
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Hmmmmm

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Me either. I haven't purchased checks for any of my accounts in YEARS.
Buying checks is something completely alien to me. Here, the bank supplies checkbooks.
In my experience, banks in the USA provide only a few starter checks, and if you need more, you buy them. When I used checks, I would usually buy mine from an outside vendor.
Our credit union will give you free checks, but only the plain safety paper ones.  Most people who still use checks want fun pictures on them, so they buy them, either from the bank/credit union, or from an online dealer.

Most of our regular bills are paid electronically. DH still writes 4 or 5 paper checks a month, as his weekly donation to his church.  They keep urging him to let them do weekly electronic transfers, but neither of us like the idea of letting someone else have access to our account.  Especially since the church's last pastor left under implications of  "financial mismanagement."

I have never had to pay for cheques, and I've also never seen or heard of 'fun' cheques.  I don't think they're available here.

Re donations to church etc, here setting up an electronic donation wouldn't require giving the church access to our account.  They wouldn't come in and take the money like a service provider, but rather we would have it set up to send over whatever amount we set it to.

With our bank and our church we can do it either way. We can set up an auto-transfer to them, or manually transfer to them.

Or we can give them the ability to set up an auto debit of our account. The church obviously prefers they set up the auto debit as it assures the monthly tithing ;).

Between DH and I, we write about 25 checks a year. Most of those are for things like buying school or youth fundraiser stuff.

I seldom have cash. I use a debit or credit card everywhere. We were at a Polish festival a few months ago that had vendors selling crafts. Each of them had a credit card processor attached to their cell phones so even then I didn't need cash but could use either a debit or credit card.