Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 47776 times)

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Two Ravens

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I think this board is the best place for this. A very interesting article on things people could not believe about America (& Canada). I wonder if any other posters have opinions or something to add.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/michael-koh/2013/11/16-people-on-things-they-couldnt-believe-about-america-until-they-moved-here/#QVCi2tDAywsOrL2r.01

The one that struck home for me was:
Quote
I wasn’t from Chicago, New York, or Hollywood. Or Sacramento. That’s all there is in America, according to movies/I-dont-know-what.

When I was abroad, someone I met told me they had a cousin living in Chicago, and seemed bewildered when I said I'd never been there.

mumma to KMC

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Years ago, my dh did a project in Paris and met a great group of people while working on it. One of the people from the project was coming to the States (NYC) and wanted to get together. Well, we lived in Ohio at the time and told him he'd either have to rent a car or catch a flight. He was pretty sure he could catch a train and make it to our house. We tried to explain it to him, but he just didn't quite get it...until he got to the States and saw how trains work here. :)

GlitterIsMyDrug

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I think this is just the most intreasting thing to read! I worked in a hotel for a few years and my favorite thing was talking to people from other coutries about how different the US is. I remember once I was driving two men to dinner in our shuttle and they noted a cross and some flowers on the side of the road and asked what it was for. I explained that when someone dies in a traffic accident there are often memorials by the sides of the road, I still remember one of them saying "And that's allowed? It's not against the law to display a cross?", I said no not at all and that generally the memorials are left alone. They told me in their country it would be illegal to to display a religious symbol in such a public place.

One of my friends from China, she was surprised when she met me that I was in my early 20s, unmarried, and lived completely on my own. She just couldn't fathom it (why was I not living at home?), she even asked once if my father was ok with this. When I told her that I didn't know my father and he'd never been involved in my life, well I've never seen someone's eyes get so big! She told me, point blank, that would never go over in her culture. My father would've married my mother, no questions asked. He would've provided for us. She even said "Where was his father? Or your mothers? To make sure he did the right thing?", at which point I decided explaining my family to her was going to require a lot of time. She finally got it but it still baffles her, how a man could just leave a girl her got pregnant. Her exact words one night "Not much of a man", I agreed completely. I've actually had a lot of friends from other cultures who can't fathom a man just not being there when he has a child. They can't understand how this allowed. If you get a girl pregnant, you marry her, her support her and the child, you make a family. End of discussion.

I love reading everyone's reactions to our country. I loved how they talk about how nice and smooth our traffic is! That's like, our number one complaint. Teaches you to be greatful.

menley

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I'm an American living in Europe and it's always fascinating to be having an ordinary conversation with my European friends and to find that something in my life that is very typical is unusual or unheard of to them. I can't really think of a good example offhand but I think the one that comes up the most often is that my husband has a concealed carry handgun license and has firearms, but he's not either a police officer or a Mafia criminal ;) They are truly baffled that an ordinary person who is not a criminal has firearms.

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Quote
The credit system in America will create a numerical value (credit score) to asses everyone’s financial fitness. No one know how the score is calculated but you need that to get a loan… or two… or three… and beyond.
However, in order to get a credit score, you need to get a loan e.g car financing. In order to get a loan… well… you need a credit score (notice the circular reference). Your credit score can also be created by using credit card. You just need a credit score to apply for a credit card.

This made me laugh. As someone born and raised in the US...I feel the exact same way.

MummySweet

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When I lived overseas I was always surprised at how many people thought all of the US must be like Florida or Texas.   I am originally from Minnesota and was asked more than once if I usually wore cowboy boots at home.   Minneapolis...not so much unless you're going to a country western bar.   :)

When we moved from the UK to Alabama, people couldn't wrap their head around the fact that the entire UK and the single state of Alabama have nearly the same land mass in Sq. miles.

In reading the link I am left with both pride that so many of the points were very positive, and sadness that we don't use our resources more responsibly. 


Lynn2000

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What a fascinating article. Some things I'm not surprised about, like how big the US is (I get that a lot from my co-workers from other countries), how big the food portions are, how necessary cars are, how big the houses are, moving away from/not living with family. The part about America consisting of only a few major cities was kind of funny... I tend to think that even people in America, at least in the media, seem to believe this as well!

I was surprised that several people said they found it unusual to build a house out of wood--someone from I think Germany said that there, you only build a wooden house if you're poor or making an environmental statement. What other material do people use? Steel and concrete would be typical here for, say, a skyscraper, but do people use that for ordinary homes in other areas? Another person made the point that sound travels through wooden houses, which is a peeve of mine, so I want to know how I can build a house that's quieter! :)

I was also surprised at other people's surprise about religion being more prominent in America than they were expecting. I suppose it depends on what kind of country they're from, and if their expectation of America as being more secular was positive or negative to them. I couldn't tell from a lot of the comments which angle they were coming from. For some reason I have it in my head that a lot of countries are more religious than America is--kind of the "Old World conservative traditional" stereotype. I've worked with people who originated in a lot of other countries (South Korea, India, Bangladesh for example) and they generally strike me as being more religious (for example, attending religious services regularly) and holding views that in America would be called traditional/conservative (for example, that women should not travel alone but only with their husbands, which of course they have). I kind of got the sense that many of these people found America alarmingly liberal and secular.

Another thing that I've heard from non-US natives is their amazement about the gun culture. Interestingly, in this article one person was surprised that they weren't always being shot at (so, fewer guns than they were expecting), and others said there were more guns than they'd expected. My co-worker from South Korea is quite shocked that I have cousins who enjoy recreational hunting with guns and other weapons. And at the number of criminals who use guns--a few months ago there was a report in town of something being swiped from someone as they sat outside, and the person who ran off with it had a gun. My South Korean friend said that in his country, a group of people would probably have started chasing the thief, who would not have had a gun. But of course here that would be very odd, and quite likely dangerous. His mind has also been boggled by the history of slavery in this country.
~Lynn2000

MrsJWine

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I thought this was really interesting, too. It's nice to see that many of them realized that yes, in most place in the US, it is necessary to drive nearly everywhere. We're not just lazy.

I loved that almost every single one cited the large portions. That's something I love about going out to eat. I get a huge plate of food that I didn't have to make and that tastes delicious. I take 2/3 of it home and get to eat two more delicious meals that I didn't have to make. You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.


I have a blog.  I hate that word.


Utah

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You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.

That's another thing that boggled a brain or two, that you can get part of your meal wrapped to go home with you.  On the other hand, my brain is slightly boggled that other countries don't do that.  Sure, the portions are much smaller, but what if you aren't feeling well or the appetizer was more filling than you expected?

nutraxfornerves

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Wooden houses--in many countries the common material for building houses is concrete blocks. Older houses might be stone or brick.

I've mentioned that I hang out on a travel board. I'd say that the biggest surprises for visitors and potential visitors have to do with transport. People are very surprised that there are so many famous places that you can't get to by without a car or a tour. Yellowstone, Death Valley, Big Sur, for instance. People are also surprised to discover that there is only one passenger train company and one major long-distance bus company.

Car buying. Australians seem to be the most surprised at how hard it can be to buy a car. In the US, laws are set by the individual states, but Registration includes some insurance. So, in Australia there is a traveler's market in used cars. You just buy one from someone who is finishing a trip, take care of minor paperwork and you are on your way. In the US, each time a car changes hands, it must be registered anew. You have to produce an address in the state where you want to register it. Some states require you to prove you live there, say, with an electric bill in your name. Some states have ID requirements that are impossible for most non-residents to fulfill. Then there's having to get the mandatory insurance.

Camping. In the US, camping is seen as a way to experience nature, so most campgrounds are out in the wilderness. In many countries, camping is an inexpensive lodging alternative. Campgrounds are located in or near cities, with convenient public transit. They may have cafes, laundries & other amenities. People are surprised that they cannot visit a large city, stay in a campground, and use transit to get around.

People are also surprised to find that it is hard ot find campervans for rent, as opposed to larger RVs, and that a rental car + a cheap motel may be less expensive.

In many countries, "Wild" or "free" camping is allowed or at least tolerated. That's were you pull over at a likely spot at the side of the road & set up for the night. As long as you are respectful and quiet, you are probably OK. In the US, you may just meet a police officer or an angry landowner. So, people are surprised that they can't save money by renting that campervan and doing wild camping.

Distances, yes. We once had someone planning to drive from Chicago to the Grand Canyon in one day.

That American B&Bs are usually luxury lodging, often in restored old homes furnished with antiques. Not some rooms with shared bath in a home or small hotel, often described as "cheap and cheerful."

Edited to add: a visitor from Brazil wondered if the high number of wooden buildings was the reason there were so many fires. Every day in Los Angeles, he saw fire trucks racing somewhere. He was surprised to find that the Fire Dept responded to everything--fires, medical emergencies, traffic accidents, hazardous waste spills… (My local FD recently released a report showing that something like 80% of calls were medical.)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 03:12:27 PM by nutraxfornerves »

Nutrax
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Ticia

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This topic has the potential to get very political. Please keep the controversial stuff (such as gun control) off of this forum. However, all is not lost! We invite serious and thoughtful political discussion over on http://www.civilizedpolitics.com

We'd love to hear your thought on gun control or other political issues over there. Thanks so much!
Utah

CakeEater

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You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.

That's another thing that boggled a brain or two, that you can get part of your meal wrapped to go home with you.  On the other hand, my brain is slightly boggled that other countries don't do that.  Sure, the portions are much smaller, but what if you aren't feeling well or the appetizer was more filling than you expected?

Part of the issue in Australia with this is that eating establishments are worried about people not storing the food properly, getting food poisoning and suing the restaurant. It just doesn't happen here. You eat what you can, and leave the rest on your plate.

I haven't been to the US, but things that have surprised me from reading here are just how small things are different that you don't see on TV.

Coupons - they're not nearly as prevalent here. You can't spend time clipping coupons and save money on your weekly shop.

Holidays - everything is a celebration there, it seems. Valentine's Day, Halloween, and other holidays exist here, but they're just not as big a deal, and not as widely celebrated by everyone.

Banking - I find it amazing that the banking systen there is so complicated.

Pyjamas - (Contoversial here, I know) People on this site insisting that it's OK to walk around in public, attend university lectures etc in pyjamas. I have never in my life seen anyone walking around in public in their pyjamas, and certainly never at something like a university lecture, or on an aeroplane.

And one from TV:
Kids speaking confidently - I'm always amazed at how confident children being interviewed in the US are. They speak like they're assured that they have something important to say and that everyone should be listening.




GlitterIsMyDrug

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Holidays - everything is a celebration there, it seems. Valentine's Day, Halloween, and other holidays exist here, but they're just not as big a deal, and not as widely celebrated by everyone.

The last time Partner and I went to church and the pastor was talking about celebrations and said "I know we love to celebrate here, but I'm from Trinidad, and if you wanna talk celebrations, we have celebrations to prepare for the celebration and afterwards, we celebrate that we celebrated!", so I ran this by one of my friends who isn't from Trinidad but has family who is and she confirmed that yes. If people think the US do it big, they need to see how they do it!

Peppergirl

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Pyjamas - (Contoversial here, I know) People on this site insisting that it's OK to walk around in public, attend university lectures etc in pyjamas. I have never in my life seen anyone walking around in public in their pyjamas, and certainly never at something like a university lecture, or on an aeroplane.


Oh dear, no.  Many, or dare I say *most* of us find it appalling that people wear pajamas in public quite often here.

This is one topic I've railed against, yet several of my friends and acquaintances think it's absolutely fine.

Mind boggling!

marcel

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I was surprised that several people said they found it unusual to build a house out of wood--someone from I think Germany said that there, you only build a wooden house if you're poor or making an environmental statement. What other material do people use? Steel and concrete would be typical here for, say, a skyscraper, but do people use that for ordinary homes in other areas? Another person made the point that sound travels through wooden houses, which is a peeve of mine, so I want to know how I can build a house that's quieter! :)
concrete or bricks are the most common building materials here. (Off course, here we have loads of sand and canals everywhere to easily transport sand by ship.)

Off course, with these materials houses tend to last much longer. I once read here about people thinking that a 20 year old house is getting old (for maintenance etc.) I just bought an 18 year old house, so it is still relatively new and in great condition, only the interior needed a cosmetic fix-up and the wooden window- and doorframes were badly maintained. People live in 400 year old houses here that are still in good condition (though they have often been completely upgraded on the interior to make them suitable for modern standards.)
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