Foreigners Explain Which Things Surprised Them Most While Visiting America
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

When I first went to Paris, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the city's architecture, its rich history, and the plethora of local pâtisserie options.

I was also extremely disoriented and not ready for the cutlure shock.


Maybe it was just the particular establishments, but I was berated for changing the position of my chair at a sidewalk café to face my lunch date. I didn't realize all chairs had to face outward towards the traffic view on the street.

Again, maybe I was unlucky with the restaurant choice.

At another restaurant, my coke was brought to the table in a can with an empty glass. No ice.

When I asked for it to be cold with ice, the server came back with a single ice cube perched on a spoon and proceeded to pour the can's contents directly over the ice cube on the spoon, which hovered over the glass. He then took said spoon away – with the ice.

I guess that's how they roll.

And yet, I wondered if the French visiting the states were appalled at finding "cold" beverages being diluted with the melting ice cubes in their glasses.

Curious to hear of examples of culture shock from strangers on the internet, Redditor FloridaLife96 asked:

"Non-Americans of Reddit, what surprised you the most on your trip to America?"

Eating Out

You can expect cuisine to be a huge difference from what you're used to back home. But there's more to what your palate experiences when it comes to food experiences in America.

Frosty Delight

"Chocolate soft serve ice cream. I could not understand why we didn't have that in Norway as it had to be the best invention i the history of mankind. I was 8 BTW."

mellomschmomsen

Portion Control, Or Lack Thereof

"The size of your popcorn portions when I went to watch a film. My whole arm could fit in the box." – Stapes89

Cup Overfloweth

"I bought a popcorn+soda combo and the soda was like 1L. Hurt my arm holding it. I don't know how anyone can finish 1L in one sitting. My family can't even finish a liter during dinner."

OpalEpal

More Options

"I was on a trip to LA a few years back. We went to see a movie, and holy sh*t there are so many types of soda. Where I'm from there's 2 versions of a soda: sugar or no sugar."

"These crazy motherf'kers got cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, orange, pineapple, birch beer???, Cherry limonade, grape, Banana, fruit punch, peach, Mango, cranberry, lemon lime with cucumber and the list just goes on."

Op-e

Different Surroundings

Contrasting environments were either pleasantly jarring or completely disappointing for these Redditors.

One The Road

"How on one side of a highway there can be a full-on ghetto, and on the other side of that highway there can be a relatively nice middle-class or even upscale neighborhood."

"Also, just how many police cars you see all the time."

-domi-

Unobstructed Views

"I was awestruck when on my coast to coast roadtrip we first entered the plains of Texas. You could see for miles and miles in any direction. It felt like you could see tomorrow's weather in the distance. Later I was even more awestruck at the sights of your country's deserts and the canyons, including a grand one."

TheBassMeister

Blah-Blah-Land

"How unglamorous LA actually is, compared to how it is depicted in TV shows/movies."

lakskanxnx

"Hollywood is the absolute worst."

bus_snacks

Mini-Countries

"When I first moved here I couldn't believe how different things were state to state. Some states are more different from one another than neighboring European nations are."

legdisabledbyacid

Poop Show

"The spaces between door and door frames in public toilets...I mean do you want to make eye contact with someone while sitting there ?"

Emmaus4

Perceptions Of People

People say New Yorkers are rude. We're just direct and tell it like it is.

Some say Los Angeles is too slow. Maybe you're too fast.

How people engage in different parts of the country can be fascinating for sure.

Outgoing

"How open people were to start a conversation with a stranger(me). Where I'm from people are much more closed off. The restaurant food portions. One meal is equivalent to two or three meals for me The lack of proper public transport ( except in NY) The fact that a lot of people consider a 2 or 3 hour drive, a short drive."

RosenJasmine

People Are Direct

"How direct people are. Been to the US only once (NY, Queens, 2011) as part of a student exchange. People are straight to the point. Most of the times they are nice about it, while still being very concise. Love that. Also, how big everything is. From roads, to the campus, to the dorm room we were staying in etc"

TimeKillsThem

Reactions To Accents

"The number of people who find a British accent difficult to understand (asking for water was a consistently humiliating experience)."

prolixia

Vets

"You guys really are obsessed with your military."

"People in the military and vets get treated like celebrities. Unless they're homeless of course, then nobody gives a sh*t about them."

svenson_26

As a Japanese-American, I was blown away by how different things were even in my native country.

What stayed with me after visiting Tokyo was how clean the metropolitan areas were and how the locals respected cleanliness. Even more shocking was the absence of litter on the streets and sidewalks despite the lack of garbage cans in public.

People literally carried their snack wrappings or empty beverage cans with them until they were able to dispense them in receptacles found in convenience stores.

I look forward to being able to travel again and explore other worlds and learn from their cultures.

CW: Suicide

There is so much to learn in life.

And once you acquire certain things mentally, you regret it.

How much 411 have you come across over time that made you think... "How can I unlearn that?"

Yeah, not possible.

Knowledge is power and sometimes it's a nightmare.

Don't we have enough to keep us up at night?

Damn curiosity.

Well let's do some learning.

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