Misconceptions people have about other countries

Often exhibited by people visiting said country, or voiced to people visiting from said country. E.g., we had a few stories in “How does American food manifest in other countries?”, which I’ve quoted below.

My only personal examples involve people not really getting how big the U.S. is. Such as the Irish woman I was talking to who was amazed at how far away western NY was from CT. Not so funny, but I enjoyed the stories below and hope others may have something to share.

German food is bland (it’s not).
Italians eat nothing but pasta and pizza (they don’t).
The French are all snooty and smelly (they aren’t).
Spanish people look just like Mexicans (they don’t).
If you speak Spanish, you can understand Portuguese (good luck).
British food is bland (well. . .okay).
Americans all loudmouths who carry guns.
Africans all look alike (not even close).

There are still a lot of misconceptions right here in the US about other parts of our own country. A lot of people are shocked to find out that there are cities in Alaska and that a large part of it has warmer winters than most of the northern tier of the contiguous states.

Agree on the whole, just one nit. Personally, as I’m originally an Spanish speaker, I have to report that reading Portuguese is not impossible, one can get a lot of what the writers are telling you. Now listening to it… yes, I can get lost but it is not impossible to get a general feel about what they are talking about after a few tries.

Several American friends were surprised to discover:

  • Americans can go to Iran
  • Westerners in Dubai do not live on compounds
  • Women in Dubai, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar etc can drive.

I thought learning Portuguese would be a breeze, as I had a passing knowledge of Spanish. After six months of daily training, I eked out a level two rating (out of five). Plus, it was Brazilian and I was being posted to Lisbon. :smack:

I visited Australian & New Zealand when I was 15 as a Student Ambassador with People to People. My Aussie host family was very surprised that my family didn’t have any guns at home (granted they were thinking more long the lines of hunting rifles than handguns), and in New Zealand were actually got to shadow our host siblings at school. The town had 2 single-sex high schools. There was a Q & A session, and the big things I recall were that the boys were very fascinated by the idea of a coed high school without uniforms. They also though drug use was much more common it really is and that American girls were sluts. Presumably this was all based on American TV, but I was surprised that the teacher didn’t say anything when a boy actually asked the word slut in class.

Thats because outside of the USA corn on the cob is NOT sweet corn usually, it tastes horrible eaten off the cob.

I dunno man, my wife’s nephew moved to the USA and went to his last year of high school in NYC, he said he was floored by how open and how common marijuana use was.

Not universally true, corn on the cob is common in the UK and is wonderfully sweet. I some local (Kent) corn in my veg box this week.

It’s more common in other parts of Europe, as well, and is sold by street vendors. Corn=pig food is an old meme.

St. Patty’s day is a much bigger deal in the US than in Ireland. Red hair and green eyes aren’t noticeably common over there. Also, I love British cooking. I accept this may be evidence I’m from outer space.

I second the whole “distances on US maps are much, much bigger than you think” for European visitors. When my relatives came over from Ireland, one time they wanted to take a “day trip” to Niagara falls - a 7 or 8 hour drive. On the flipside, I’ve often walked into a completely normal, everyday pub over there and been freaked out that it was hundreds of years old.

yeah, work is sending me to Plano, Texas for a weekend next month, and I was just nosing about to see if I’d be able to get to any notable sites while down there. Remembering the Alamo (see what I did there?) I found that to drive from Plano, TX to San Antonio, TX would be roughly equivalent to driving from Budapest to Munich.

oh, and:

Americans think 100 years is “old,”
Europeans think 100 miles is “far.”

There’s a story dating back at least as far as the Second World War or maybe the First, in which a Vancouver, B.C., couple received a letter from a relative in England asking them to visit a son who had been stationed in St. John’s, Nfld.

They replied, “Visit him yourself. You’re closer to him than we are.”

A good amount of the corn grown in various parts of Europe is meant for consumption by pigs. Others may also consume it, more power to them, but corn=pig food is pretty accurate

St Paddy’s day, on the other hand…:slight_smile:


Based on what I have seen on TV, after a building is built in India, it is never painted or maintained in any way.

Is that about right?

That’s also true in the US. Most corn is grown for silage and is pretty much inedible.

If an Irish car bomb is offensive, what happens when somebody orders a Black & Tan?


I’ll say 15 Hail Marys. Or something.

Sweet corn is commonly available in U.S. supermarkets for much, if not all of the year (though best when locally harvested corn is sold in the summer).