16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here

I must laugh at this, b/c the first time I ran into this was at a wedding talking to a Swedish guy who asked what I knew about Sweden and all I could think was the chef from the Muppet Show.
‘Bork bork bork’ neither translates well nor leaves a good impression of the speaker.

So, stretching is an American thing?

Car seats may have gotten way too complicated. If I had to deal with transporting kids now, I think I’d give up and tell them to walk.

That was a fascinating read! I was struck by how some of the opinions were inter-related. Yes, we have abominable mass transit options and our cars are huge and we have too many of them, but much of that is related to the sheer distances we have to travel and the relative sparsity (is that even a word?) of population in many areas. For instance, it doesn’t pay to have a bus system when you’re only likely to have a few dozen passengers a day.

There’s also the relationship between portion size, obesity, and our vast and confusing array of grocery items. Does anybody honestly think we need 2 dozen types of ketchup?

I also like it that people from other cultures are struck by how diverse our population is. Something about that is just so right.

I think that’s just because they didn’t really know how big and empty Oz really is. LA to New York is 2790 miles but Perth to Sydney is 2445 miles so they’re really pretty comparable distances.

Oz is wayyyyy more empty than the US. it’s not even comparable really. I mean yeah, we have our “flyover” land but even there, there is a lot of farming and a lot of small to mid-size cities and towns.

But one of the consequences of it being way more empty is that most people don’t live in or even see the really empty parts. Our more developed emptiness is also more accessible, and the fact that there are larger cities all across the US (as opposed to mainly just on the coasts) means that people have to travel through the emptiness a lot.

I found a lot of these comments came from people from less developed parts of the world. These things (and other such examples, like labelling government offices, wasting food and take the piss out of the President) are equally true of other western countries.

Thing that surprised me when I first visited the US - the food was so sweet! Even the bread! And the butter!

When I was teaching English in Czechoslovakia, I was amused by the some of the views the locals had of the US. A random sampling:

Washington, like every other city in the US, is full of skyscrapers (it isn’t, by law);

Blacks left the South en masse immediately after the Civil War, and they all went north (uhm … no, they didn’t);

Some years there are 50 states, some years there are more, and Guam is one of them (I almost laughed out loud when I heard this).

Less funny was hearing my Russian ex-wife say “Well, you can drive drunk in America!”

(One other Czech misconception, this one about the British Commonwealth: A Dominion is a country where most of the population is of white/European descent.)

My experience (from the general San Francisco area) is “Yes, you can”. I was amazed at how much people were drinking and still drove home.

I wonder if this is somehow related to the parties’ Presidential primary system, where people living in the various territories and possessions get a vote in the primary (since, after all, they’re just selecting a candidate and it’s totally internal). Normally no one really hears or cares about these votes and it’s only in the last couple of cycles–the Democrats in 2008 and the Republicans in 2012–where things were either so competitive or so fluid that these little contests actually made the news.

Yeah, I don’t get that anecdote. Australia is roughly the same size as the contiguous US states. Maybe they were just idiots?

I think part of it is that in Japan (and many other countries), people typically rely on public transit (and walking) to get their groceries home, so they can’t carry much. Here in the US, you fill a grocery cart (instead of a handheld basket), and load it all into the trunk of your car. My wife and I shop for groceries once a week.

A store like Costco probably would not do so well in Japan; you’d have trouble getting home with just one 24-pack of paper towel rolls.

A fellow from the UK once came to Wisconsin for some post-doctoral work. At one point he and some friens rented a Cadillac and drove to Utah. He said that after driving all that distance he finally appreciated why Americans like big-ass cars like that. Indeed, even if you’re not taking a cross-country trip, the typical American spends a lot of time in his/her car just commuting: comfort becomes much more imporant than if you only use your car once every week or two for a special errand.

For some people that live in urban areas in the US with no cars it is like this.

I had to do this for a while in DC. It was terrible. I hate going to the grocery store. Having to go practically every day and carry my stuff back by hand like a mule was a nightmare.

It was only a few weeks but I swore I would never again live in an area that I could not have a car.

I did it one Chicago winter. Never again. It was only 4 or 5 blocks each way but it was through unplowed streets and alleys. I ate a shit load of delivery that winter to the point that on Tuesdays I’d call the pizza place and they already knew the order and the address. When your pizza guy says “What happened to you last week, no call?” you know you need to get out more.

I believe that except what’s up with sweet butter? I just checked the ingredients on the butter in my fridge and it said “cream, salt.” Where would the sweetness come from?

Our cows are addicted to Pixie-stix.

This is probably much more prevalent in suburban areas than cities; being from NYc and now living in suburban NJ, I realize that there’s often no other way to get home. It’s not easy to get a cab late at night.

This is probably taken from the concept of the “White Dominions”, which was a term that distinguished Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, and the like from places like India.

The term has fallen out of favour (as is the term “dominion” itself), but you could see how someone learning some British colonial history could learn the concept, and then misconstrue “dominion” as meaning only that.

Here you make w/ the funny-haha, but seriously they have been fed candy.

I had to hold back on commenting when I went to Virginia and a bar owner mentioned his place had history because it was older than JFK, I’ve got underpants older than that.

But yeah, the scale of the place is … something else