Let's be real--the USA is a weird place.
If you live here, you know. It's like 50 small countries all tied together by a loose governmental structure. That in and of itself is already weird.
But there's so much more to the story that even Americans really don't grasp. Those who have come in from out of the country have an entirely new perspective.
Here were some of those answers.
Not The Telly You'd Like
How your medical ads show an old guy living life well because of X-drug. He has the best time, the wife is having the best time and it's all because of the drug making things better.
The end of the ad is full of warnings about how this happy drug can potentially kill you and your family, nuke your dog and make cats impotent.
Recap the cliff-hanger episode of life in Alaska before another ad break.
I went to Seaworld with my mum when I was in my mid teens. Halfway through the show, the performer (Not the whale) asked everybody in the military to stand up and the whole crowd gave them a round of applause. They sat back down and the show continued as if nothing had happened. Couldn't imagine anything similar happening back in Blighty.
When we were flying between cities, I found it weird to look out of the side of the plane and see towns mid-flight. In Australia, once you leave the city's airspace the landscape is completely barren until you arrive at your destination.
Wholesome Holiday Content
Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas is over:
The weirdest thing is that Americans will ask what you are doing for thanksgiving. Are you going to your family etc... When you say no. They invite you to their home.
(I was a student, My family was thousands of miles away, and I'm happy that the local Cracker Barrel is open and looking forward to a meal there)
My Professor did that. Invited me to his home. I had a good time, but it was strange. I'm meeting his uncles and aunts. and one little girl threw a tantrum, I had to take her to calm her down etc...
It was weird. But also wonderful. In my country things like this would never happen. You don't bring a stranger to a family event.
But I'm thankful things like this happen here.
American that just traveled overseas. I went to a great bookstore in Edinburgh and the cashier asked if I wanted to sign up for a rewards membership. This led to a conversation about how their CEO or something just took over Barnes and Noble in the States. I stated the closest B&N to me is an hour away, and the other cashier jumped in, saying how easy it is to forget how far apart things are in the States. He was just kind of baffled and said it often blows his mind. I moved 13 hours away from my hometown and I still manage to be in the same country, which seems like a foreign concept for most Europeans. When, in reality, I could have moved even further away and still been in the US.
Too Much Of All
Everything in America is huge. I don't just mean the people or portion sizes, because we all know about that- but the roads, the buildings, the ceilings, the space between everything... America is gigantic. It just feels larger than it does here. I'm Australian but I've been to Asia and size-wise it's similar to Australia, and I've seen Europeans say the same about America. Everything is bigger.
Free refills. Went to a restaurant with my dad (both German) and all of a sudden the waiter took away my drink with another perfectly good sipp in it and I must have looked pretty shocked. It was only then when my dad explained to me that you guys have free refills.
All Around Largely Different
For me as British bloke who only travelled for 6 weeks in the US:
Your public transport is largely poor but everything is built for cars and your cars are big.
You advertise not businesses but personalities a lot. So it's not that KGH Estate Agents will well your property but MARY HUGHTON WILL PERSONALLY SELL YOUR HOUSE (with a big picture of her face).
Random people will talk to you. I'm a Londoner so it is different up north in the UK but especially when I got to the southern states people were so happy to talk to random strangers.
You guys actually sit at the bar in bars. When we go to a pub/bar, we'll go with friends and rarely interact outside of that group really. You guys jump up at that bar and just start chatting.
Where homelessness is visible it's bloody awful. San Francisco was horrible for this, me and my (now) wife ended up making a load of extra spag bowl to give to the homeless people outside our hostel because it was shocking to us.
If I think of anymore I'll add them but it's Christmas Day and I should probably talk to my family.
Different Social Cues
Canadian here, I was blown away by how weirdly social people are with strangers. Like some random guy I've never seen before just starts telling me his life story on the street. He is super normal, and doesn't seem crazy, just wants to talk to me for some reason. But then also, the dude at Wendy's is loudly threatening some 16 year old cashier in front of like 45 people. I got the impression the Wendy's guy was uncool, but the other guy seemed normal, and where I live I generally assume that a stranger talking to me for no reason is either crazy or high.
Making New Friends
I lived for a long time in different places around the world, and something that I really missed when moving to a new town was the lack of a US-style bar where it was easy for a stranger to meet people. Outside of the US, it is rare to find a bar where everyone just sits and faces the same direction, whether or not a sporting event was playing on the television. Instead, they have a more 'pub-like' environment, where everyone is sitting in groups at their individual tables.
This makes meeting new people extremely difficult. Think about it, with the "table-style" bar, in order to strike up a conversation with a stranger, you literally have to approach them while they are sitting at their own table with their own friends. It's almost impossible to not look like a total freak! In a proper "Cheers" style bar, you can just say some random phrase to the bartender and if the person sitting next to you wants to talk, they'll just join in on the conversation.
Basically, In non-US bars, if you aren't invited ahead of time by someone, you are damned to sit alone in some corner of the bar.