As citizens of the U.S., we don't think twice about the overly generous food portions in restaurants or flinch when strangers want to engage with us with small talk when in public.
Food portions are significantly smaller in Japan, and the French typically prefer not wasting their breath in asking people what they think about the weather.
"Non-Americans of reddit, what was the biggest culture shock you experienced when you came to the US?"
People must think we're a gluttonous country.
Food, Glorious Food
"Food advertising EVERYWHERE."
"The portion sizes in restaurants are huge too."
"When we first arrived, and I walked up to a soda machine. We never had those, and I think I drank 10-15 refills of coke before my parents started yelling at me. UNLIMITED SODA ARE YOU KIDDING ME WTF."
"The different kinds of flavors for beverages. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of options."
"Just so you guys know,I enjoyed having multiple options, until I came to the US I had no idea I liked Blue Raspberry flavored soda and I found out that I liked to mix different kinds of sodas from the fountain and make a cocktail soda occasionally."
"Also, I like how you guys have a shit ton of flavors for your alcohol. I liked a lot of them but to be honest I didn't enjoy the whipped cream flavored stuff."
The general friendliness in our country is something to embrace.
"Everyone I met treated me like a long lost friend."
"Americans are as one Canadian Redditor once said 'collectively crazy, but individually the nicest people you’ll ever meet.'"
"Yea, I also experienced this. I just loved it! it is not hard to get acquainted with people if they are so willing to take the first step with saying hi!. I am an introvert and a bit shy, so I helps a lot. Also people is kind on average."
Road Worker Assistance
"I was walking down the street and there were some road workers doing something a bit ahead. When I got near them, one of them approached me and super kindly asked me to cross to the other side, halted the traffic so I could cross and wished me a nice day as I went along."
"In my country they would've probably heckled at me for not crossing, and I would've told them to go f'k themselves for not signaling things properly as I walked in the middle of the street potentially getting hit by a car."
There's apparently a size contest happening everyday in the U.S.
Go Big Or Go Home
"Everything being f'king huge. Literally. Road lanes, groceries, soda sizes. Especially distances: where i come from, 3 hours of driving are enough to cross half of the country, in the US it's just a small drive to go to see a relative or something."
Everything Is Supersized
"The huge packaging units in the supermarket.. Everything just biiig."
Magic Of Costco
"I took a friend from France to Costco once. He just walked around saying 'wow' and touching everything."
"Edit: for those who don’t know, Costco is a magical place that will plan your funeral (sell you a casket), put new tires on your car, give you an eye checkup, sell you 10 pounds of king crab, sell you a Hawaiian vacation package, or a 75 inch flatscreen, or a new bed, or a 100 pack of pens you didn’t know you wanted. They also have the cheapest gas in all the land."
People discuss the in-your-face advertising in our country.
Too Many Commercials
"Commercials were particularly obnoxious."
Can't Get Away From Them
"Yeah and they’re EVERYWHERE. Like random objects are shouting at me to buy sh*t every waking moment of the day. US TV has at least double the advertising of UK TV I’m sure of it."
"It’s got to have an impact on your sanity being bombarded with so many adverts."
"As an American who recently drove through the south WHY THE F'K ARE THERE ADVERTISEMENTS ON THE GAS PUMPS AND WHY ARE THEY YELLING!? But really I just want to get my gas and maybe a donut at 7am I don't want to learn about the latest tik tok trend at 100db.
Side Effects May Include Everything, Including Your Kitchen Sink
"Their commercials concerning health can be downright heartless."
This is how Americans roll.
On The Road
"Turn right on red. Beautiful."
"Yeah this f'ked me up too! Had some aaaangry people behind me wondering why I wasn’t moving!"
"People really care about their teeth like whitening and straightening."
"I was talking to a friend about hair transplants. I said it would be nice to get since I'm balding but I don't want to pay that much for something cosmetic. She says, 'Have you thought about whitening your teeth?'"
"Well, I hadn't but ever since that comment I think about it all the time! Thanks, friend!"
"British here, the first time I visited the US I was 11, I heard a mom scream at her daughter 'get your fanny over here' Fanny means vagina here 😂😂😂"
Rise And Shine
"How early everything starts. School, work. 6am wake ups. That was hard."
Despite the currently weird political climate, I do see how we are generally kind people here in the U.S. of A.
So it's mind-boggling to me how certain groups of people have not been treating others with enough kindness and compassion in these recent years.
I'm guessing we just lost our way and we have the capacity to eventually get back to a place where the foreigners' positive opinions about us can be validated.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny or heartbreaking moment again.
Oh America, please think before you speak. Sometimes I wonder why God gave us voices.
I understand curiosity about foreign lands, but more often than we realize we're being rude with our questions, even with a jovial mindset and good intention.
We can't just throw out whatever pops into my head. And honestly, some things are best to simply google.
Also, perhaps we should wonder what we'd rather not be asked about our land and culture and apply it.
Redditor u/esq__ wanted hear from people who have been surprised by American inquiries by asking:
Non-Americans of Reddit, what's the weirdest thing an American has said to you?
I am never shocked by the tone deafness of others, especially Americans. I worked in hospitality in NYC, an international hotbed, and the things I've heard people ask others, with a straight face... makes me laugh.
"A middle aged American was surprised to find out Venice was so old (and an actual city for centuries), and not built in the 20th century for tourist purposes."
"Englishman, living in the US for 15 years now. I've been asked a lot of bizarre things but one of the best was someone who asked what language we speak in England, and how long it took me to learn English when I moved here. They gave me a confused, rambling mess."
"They thought all the English speakers had come to found America and left behind the masses of other people who spoke European. Which, to them, was why America wanted independence, to not be ruled by Foreigners who didn't even speak properly."
Welcome to Sweden
"When I visited a friend in the US they told me about this amazing furniture shop they had there called IKEA. I'm Swedish."
"Why are there so many Americans who don't know Ikea is Swedish? I'm American and am disappointed that I've seen like three or more comments about Americans who don't know Ikea is Swedish. The store is literally yellow and blue and they have at least a couple Swedish flags around the store, also all the products are in Swedish."
"They don't have Guinness there"
"I'm British, was travelling in the states. Got talking to a guy at a bar while we're waiting for service, and he recommended I try a pint of Guinness while in the US. He informed me they don't sell Guinness in the UK. I politely explained that they do indeed have Guinness in just about every pub in the UK."
"He disagreed, adding that he's never been himself but his son in law went to London on business and told him so. I explained I'd lived in the UK including London my whole life. He looked at me lost in thought for a few moments, and said: "They don't have Guinness there," and walked away."
And Youda?Happy Life Is Good GIF by CANAL+Giphy
"I once had an American tell me I need to try the "real" Gouda cheese they have in the US because everything else was fake Gouda… I'm Dutch and actually lived near Gouda."
We really should be walking around with body cams. This way when we go to rest each night we can review our behaviors. And learn and adjust accordingly. I hope y'all are taking notes.
Oh LadyCanada Conan Obrien GIF by Team CocoGiphy
"Wow you speak American very well for a foreigner." Thanks lady, I'm Canadian and "American" is the only language I know!"
Once in a Lifetime
"An Austrian friend and I were told about about this magical thing they have in America called Fireworks and how we should go see it at least once in our lives."
A lot of countries have centralized fireworks, in the Netherlands a lot of households buy their own and set them off. If you're looking out over a city/town from a bit of height, you just see fireworks everywhere."
"In 2019 Dutch people spent 77 million euros on fireworks for new years eve. (Last year fireworks were forbidden to avoid casualties putting even more pressure on hospitals because corona.) That said, more and more people want to restrict fireworks because it causes a lot of injuries and property damage."
Parents Explain Why They Regret The Name They Gave Their Child | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
What about... Lyft?
"Why do you brits (I'm not British) call an elevator a lift when it goes both up and down?"
"I responded that Americans didn't call an elevator a descendevator when it moves down."
"Do you know where the word elevator comes from? The word elevate which means "to raise or lift something to a higher position." It's literally called a lift for nearly the same reason it is called an elevator."
In my teens, a friend and I (both males) had met an American girl while visiting the US side of Niagara from Canada. After some small talk, she asked "What kind of jobs do you have?" I responded "I work part-time at Sportchek." For context, Sportchek is a Canadian sports goods and apparel store and as a teen."
"I had no idea it was Canadian only. After explaining to her what Sportchek was, she responded with "Cool, do you guys have Dick's?" For further context, Dick's is an American Sports and apparel store and at the time, I had no idea. I thought she was asking about my penis."
Stop talking...Reaction GIFGiphy
"The typical stuff. Do you have cars trees/dogs/in Germany. Another favorite: Is Hitler still alive?"
2 American ladies...
"I was in a bar in Colorado and I had 2 guys call me a liar when I said we don't have bears in Australia.
Also when I was in England 2 American ladies on a day tour to Stonehenge got stroppy when they couldn't use USD in a shop and then told the tour guide that he didn't sound English because his accent 'wasn't English'. He proceeded to explain and perform all of the various accents from different regions of the UK. It was quite incredible."
"Canadian here. I was 7 and in Florida telling my new also 7 year old friend about our money system. I told her we don't have dollar or two dollar bills they are coins and called a loonie and a toonie. She goes and asks her parents and they told her I was lying."
The ThamesFrustrated Skip Bayless GIFGiphy
"An American asked me if he needed a passport to cross the river Thames as he thought it was the English Channel and that south London was France."
oh no, honey...
"A friend was dating an American, and a bunch of us went out for a pub meal (UK). Now, there's a stereotype that Americans can be a little loud. And, unfortunately, this was the case with this girl. Literally everyone in the pub was giving her side-eye, but no one says anything because that would be rude. My friend very subtly tries to make her aware of the noise level, and she talk-yells, "oh no, honey. I'm not loud. All y'all are just too quiet! Such a quaint little country, y'all need to use your outdoor voices!" We were quite clearly inside."
In the South
"I live in the southern hemisphere. Talking to an American online in December, and I mentioned it was summer for me. She kept asking which month I was in (kept insisting it must be June) and couldn't seem to wrap her head around the idea that it was simultaneously December and summer in the southern hemisphere."
"Ah, you're from Denmark. Where in Canada is that again?"
"You speak real good English for a foreigner" - I'm British and she knew that.
"Edit: because a lot of people seem to think that no American could ever say this and mean it: it was a lovely, sweet, older woman who thought she was paying me a genuine compliment. We sat and chatted in her garden for about an hour as she plied me with her homemade lemonade and asked me about my life and what brought me to Washington State. I thanked her, because she was saying something lovely (albeit weird), and we continued chatting."
"So an American lady who stayed in my apartment building asked to borrow my picnic basket and wanted the measurements. I gave it to her in cm and she asked for it in normal standard units. I gave it in inches and explained that normal units are cm."
"Her response was "no trust me everyone uses inches, only the English use cm because they need to be different. American inches, feet and miles is pretty much the way to go everywhere else." I then sent her the link to the invention of the BRITISH imperial system and how only 3 countries use it. She blocked me."
This LandCaptain America GIFGiphy
"I met an American tourist who was adamant that my country was a home ruled territory under the US government. He said this during our nations independence day."
"Poking fun at me with France stereotypes. I'm not from France, my parents are not from France, and I've never been to France. My first language is French, that's enough for Americans to treat me like I'm from France."
When in doubt, don't speak. Also, leave strangers alone unless you're just going to dish out compliments. This is why we have a bad wrap about being friendly.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.