Non-Americans Sharing Moments Of Culture Shock In The US

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“To me, this was totally bizarre. You just don’t see it where I’m from.”

If you’re from the US, you’re probably used to a whole lot of things that might seem totally strange to an outsider. So Redditor u/Miserablemermaid asked, “Non-Americans of reddit, what was the biggest culture shock you experienced when you came to the US?” Here are some of the responses.

1.

“Advertisements in between the title credits of the show and the actual show. Americans have a LOT of advertisements.”

2.

“The fact that I can’t order a beer with my burger at McDonald’s. Come on, America.”

3.

“Lack of public transportation, which is what I usually rely on to travel around back home. In the US, I always had to take Ubers or hitch a ride.”

4.

“Costco. I took a friend from France to Costco, and he just walked around saying ‘wow’ and touching everything. He thought it was incredible how one place could sell you a casket, put new tires on your car, give you an eye checkup, sell you 10 pounds of king crab, a Hawaiian vacation package, a 75-inch flatscreen, a new bed, or a 100-pack of pens.”

5.

“The idea that you can drive 11 hours in the US and travel from one state to another.”

6.

“Right on red. This tripped me up. There were some aaaangry people behind me wondering why I wasn’t moving at the traffic light.”

7.

“People really care about their teeth in America. There’s lots of whitening and straightening happening.”

8.

“The concept of sharing pizza. I was with a group of American friends and they looked at me like I was an alien when I ordered my own personal pizza. I realized that in America, it’s the norm to share pizza with a group, but back in Italy everyone typically orders and eats their own.”

9.

“One thing that really surprised me was the sheer number of flags flying. It felt like almost every building had an American flag. I’m from Belgium and if I see a house with a national flag I assume there’s some kind of sport event going on that I didn’t know about.”

10.

“I was shocked by how many Americans I met who didn’t own a passport. I know that international travel isn’t an option or a desire for everyone, but as a European, I can’t imagine not having one.”

11.

“The importance of the college or university you attend. It felt like the name of the college you attended is more important than your actual skills and knowledge. This is totally different from what I am used to in Germany, where people are mainly focused on skills and grades rather than the name of the place you got your degree.”

12.

“The beer selection. Seeing the selection in an American liquor store is the only time I’ve ever experienced legit culture shock. The number of options and different kinds of beer was so extremely overwhelming when I’d basically been drinking three light beers forever.”

13.

“The whole concept of the word ‘entrée.’ In the rest of the world, entrée means starter, but in America it means the main course. It’s straight-up confusing.”

14.

“How basic and boring American McDonald’s was. We have some pretty exciting stuff on the menu here in Southeast Asia. Come on America, you can do better than just a Big Mac.”

15.

“How early everything starts in the states. School, work, etc… all require a 6 a.m. wake-up. That was hard for me.”

16.

“Root beer. The taste was foreign, but I found it absolutely delicious and so refreshing.”

17.

“The toilet doors…or rather lack thereof. There’s not enough door in public restrooms. Seriously, you’re a wealthy enough country that you shouldn’t need to leave an inch gap at the sides and a foot and a half at the top and bottom!”

18.

“All of the different flavors of beverages. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Until I came to the US I had no idea I liked Blue Raspberry flavored soda. Then I discovered that it’s delicious to mix different sodas from the fountain to make a soda ‘cocktail.'”

19.

“The level of water in your toilet bowls. I want to take a pee… not go for a swim.”


Calvin Chan Wai Meng / Getty Images

20.

“Tipping. Not just tipping, but tipping so much that the entire meal I just ate is now in an entirely higher price bracket.”

21.

“The American obsession with trucks. I have a friend who got a truck purely because it was the ‘manly thing to do.’ He has no use for it.”

22.

“Medical advertisements. This was so strange to me. When I go to the doctor, he or she tells me what medication I need, but all the ads in America say to ask my doctor to prescribe me a certain medication. It’s so odd.”

23.

“The lack of sidewalks in American towns. If you’re not in a major city, you often can’t walk safely from point A to point B.”

24.

“Everything is loaded with sugar. Even the bread in the US tasted like cake.”

25.

“For me it was the sign at the front door of a restaurant reminding patrons to not bring firearms inside and to please leave them in your car.”

26.

“As an Australian, I was shocked to see that everything in America is massive! The roads are so wide, the buildings are so big, the portions are enormous, and so are the cars. Everything is just bigger.”

27.

“The fact that a server actually takes your credit card when you’re paying the check. This is bizarre to foreigners. In France you’d never let anyone take your card anywhere you can’t see it.”

28.

“How long American commutes can be. Some Americans really think it’s normal to drive for a couple hours to and from work each day.”

29.

“Two weeks of paid vacation is often considered ‘generous’ by employers. Where I’m from, two weeks is nothing.”

30.

“Free refills. It was so weird. I felt obliged to finish my drink because I was trying to be polite in restaurants, which resulted in me constantly going to the toilet.”


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31.

“The air conditioning. It’s on everywhere all the time. And the temperature shock between the outdoors and inside any freaking building.”

32.

“There was an insane amount of space just…everywhere in America. As a European who is used to being crammed into every little nook (even in rural areas), the size and space in American towns and cities was unimaginable.”

33.

“There was a 24-hour “pharmacy,” across from my hotel, which on its own wasn’t shocking…except that it also sold booze and cigarettes. What the…??”

34.

“Doggie bags. My dad was eating out at a restaurant in America. When the waiter came over and asked if he wanted a doggie bag, he said ‘no I didn’t bring my dog with me from Denmark.’ The staff laughed their asses off, but we don’t have that back home.”

What has seriously surprised you when visiting a new country for the first time? Tell us in the comments below.

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