Reddit user AlainasBoyfriend asked: 'What should a foreigner avoid while visiting the United States?'
When I was in college, a cousin of mine who lived in London all her life came to visit me. We went out to my favorite restaurant on her first day and I warned her right of the bat not to order too much. She'd never been to New York, but I had been to London, and I knew there was a difference in portion sizes.
Portion sizes in England are usually just enough to satisfy you while potion sizes in America are usually too much to finish in one sitting. I explained this to her, but she waved me off. It was a point of pride for her that in any given group of people, she was always the one who ate the most, and the one who never slipped into a food coma.
She was surprised to find that the chicken finger appetizer she ordered, which she refused to split when I suggested it, came on top of a mountain of loaded fries. She was struggling to finish it when the entree she ordered came out. She paled when she remembered it came with four sides.
In the end, she had to pack up a lot of the food, which was a totally new concept to her.
Ordering too much thinking you are going to finish it all is just one of the things foreigners should avoid doing when visiting America. There are plenty of other things to avoid or places not to go, and Redditors are eager to share what those things are.
It all started when Redditor AlainasBoyfriend asked:
"What should a foreigner avoid while visiting the United States?"
"Don’t be bullheaded when it comes to the weather. If the locals are worried, you should be worried."
"Friend was gored to death by a mountain goat. Right through the femoral artery."
"If you go to the national parks, don’t attempt to take selfies with the wildlife. A full grown bison will throw you through the air like a crumpled piece of paper."
"In Washington DC, avoid taking pictures in front of DC District court thinking it is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is 6 blocks away."
"Also, the White House is MUCH smaller than you think it is."
"And eat and eat..."
"Ordering a large at a restaurant, or especially a movie theater. I don't care how hungry you think you are, you will not eat/drink it all in one sitting."
"Especially stupid if there are free refills on drinks lol."
City Folk, Beware
"If you are visiting a more rural area, like Montana where I live, don't underestimate the rural-ness. You might not be able to get a hotel in a small town and there are plenty ty of places where there aren't any hotels or accommodations. You can take highway and run out of gas because there aren't any gas stations for 70 miles."
"Also, if it is a dirt road, and there are a lot of them in the rural U.S., don't ever assume that you will have cell/GPS reception or that the dirt road goes anywhere besides 50 miles into the mountains where you can get stuck or break down. It's hard to conceptualize for people who live in more populated areas."
"Your best bet is to plan ahead and read reviews. It is absolutely worth it to visit areas where there is wilderness. That is why I live here. That being said, it's dangerous in a different way than visiting a city."
"Damn, as an American city dweller, you made me scared of Montana."
"Driving from New York to LA."
"Unless you're planning to spend 2 weeks visiting places in between. The drive will not take just a few days!"
"We had an exchange student from France staying with us (NY). one day, we saw her with a map of the US, said she was going to take a bus to California because she had heard so much about it on television."
"We had to sit down and explain it was going to take a week, each way."
"Yep. I lived in France for a longtime and took the bus everywhere. on a 10 hr ride there you could easily cross three countries..."
Six Feet Apart
"I find a lot of foreigners have about 2 1/2 inches of a personal space bubble, while us Americans value our space. Keep at least a 2-3 feet distance when conversing with strangers. I've had an Italian guy come so close I thought he was going to kiss me. Very uncomfortable for someone who isn't used to a lack of personal space."
Keep Your Mind Wide Open
"Leave all your stereotypes about America home, it's a hugely diverse country and your experience in one part of the US will be very different to your experience in another. Keep an open mind and have fun."
"Well said. I don’t think most first time visitors to the US get just how different one state can be from the next."
"Don't smoke in public buildings, this is illegal."
"Don't smoke in someone's house, apartment, or condo without asking for permission. This isn't illegal, but it's still extremely rude."
"This feels like common courtesy anywhere in general. Even in houses where people smoke, I still go outside to smoke. I'm really uncomfortable smoking in other people's houses."
Don't Forget To Tip You Waiter
"Remember that our service staff do not get paid a living wage. They rely on tips to survive. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t eat out."
"Tipping is compulsory here. It's super fucky, and really shouldn't be. But it is. Especially if you plan on sticking to one area and eating in a place more than once, you'd best tip. Don't toy with the people who handle your food out of eye-shot..."
Where To Eat
"Don't go to the big chain type places. Go to the mom and pop little restaurants and coffee shops and specialty shops. You will usually find new cool things you enjoy."
"Agree but check reviews. Not all small businesses are created equal. Chains are good if you don’t have time to do research. You know what you’re getting (probably)."
American Health Care
"Avoid a hospital visit. Whatever you think it costs, it’s more."
"Whatever a European thinks is a cartoonish amount, and then triple it, and that'll cover the ambulance ride there."
"Right? I remember listening to a Dutch person complain that their Healthcare wasn't actually free despite what Americans said. He went on to explain that he has to pay something like a $20 copay to go to the dentist and some vague circumstance where you might theoretically have to pay close to a hundred dollars at some point. It was cute."
Get Me A Map!
"Avoid looking lost and unorganized in areas of big cities with high crime rates. Dress functionally, always keep the illusion of knowing where you are and where you're going, pay attention to your surroundings. Bad people will target folks who look lost and unorganized more often than people who appear oriented."
"That kind of applies to any big city in the world."
"If I am legitimately lost, I will walk with purpose until I find somewhere to sit. Once seated, the phone comes out and I try to make it look like I am texting someone and not studying a map. Nothing stands out like a group of people, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, all staring at one person's phone."
I'm not even a foreigner and I follow this rule all the time. Extremely important!