39 Non-American Tourists On What Surprised Them About Visiting The USA

Flickr / Marty Barr
Found on AskReddit.

1. Fucking one whole aisle of just cereal in the supermarket?

“Fucking 1 whole aisle of just cereal in the Netherlands we just have like 8 choices.”


2. So many squirrels!

“That there are a lot of squirrels.”


3. Free refills!

“Free refills! Here in Europe you pay for every refill. In America I paid for one glass of coca cola and drank 4.”


4. How open people are to talking and making friends on the street.

“How open people are to talking and making friends on the street. As a Brit it is often not that common here in the UK anymore, people like to keep to themselves.

Everywhere I went people tried to talk to me. There was even an American lady on my underground who kept touching my hand in a friendly pat and tried to make conversation, I looked like a deer in headlights. I can’t handle not being Brit.”


5. The huge gaps in the doors of public toilets.

“The huge gaps in the doors of public toilets. Why is that even a thing?”


6. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


We haven’t even heard of the treat which is called peanut butter jelly sandwich.”


7. You guys will talk to anyone, complete strangers, as if they are your friend.

“From the UK—the way you guys will talk to anyone, complete strangers, as if they are your friend. its not a bad thing, but when I visited I was staying with an American relative and he would start talking to anyone in public. eventually I said ‘wow you sure do know a lot of people around the city’ he laughed and replied ‘I don’t know any of them, its just nice to talk to strangers.’ You are seen as weird/predatory here if you start up conversations with people buying groceries or waiting for a train.”


8. When you’re in America, you cannot walk from one place to another.

“How far away everything is. In places like Europe, you can walk everywhere, there are paths next to the road, everything. When you’re in America, you cannot walk from one place to another. The weather, roads, and distance just don’t allow for it.”


9. TV commercials for prescription drugs!

“TV commercials for prescription drugs! Pretty sure it’s the only country in the world which allows this, and it’s just mental to the rest of us!”


10. GUNS.

“I walked into a gun range and had a loaded, full auto weapon in my hand within ten minutes. I’d never even seen a gun in real life before that…it was in Florida, and yeah I’m 100% sure it was fully automatic. I wasn’t buying the gun, just renting it to shoot.”


11. Your bread is too damned sweet.

“Sweet bread. I don’t know how many loafs of American bread I went through trying to find some that didn’t taste sweet but…damn, you guys got some sugared up bread.”


12. People don’t return phone calls.

“I grew up in Guatemala. When I moved to the US, I noticed that Americans simply will not respond to you if they want to avoid you when called.

In my culture, people will turn you down with a reason and won’t leave you hanging. I would even know if the excuse was a lie but would let the subject go knowing there’s some kind of closure. In the US, if someone doesn’t feel like talking to you or do business with you, they just don’t answer. Examples are Craigslist people, asking someone out, etc.

Sadly, I’ve just picked up the bad habit myself and to be honest, it makes things really easy to deal with sometimes but I feel guilty af the few times I’ve done it.”


13. Huge food portions.

“Serving size.

Coming from a 3rd world country (Philippines), serving sizes are usually over advertised making them appear more than what it usually is. A meal for one for example is a small cup of rice and a disappointingly disproportional fried chicken. Eating out downtown, I was surprised how huuuge everyone eats to get their fill. A single hotdog bun in the US is literally 3 times the content and showered with too much condiments it makes you gag thinking about eating it. But I’d be damned if it isn’t ridiculously delicious. Yes, I’m fat now.”


14. How your tax isn’t included in the overall price of items but rather at the checkout.

•How your tax isn’t included in the overall price of items but rather at the checkout. In Australia we just include it in the overall price.

•At the airport I had random strangers ask me ALL the time to look after their bags when they went to the toilet. I saw others asking other people to do the same thing. I would never do that and it seemed strange to me you were so trusting given you guys are post 9/11.

•Free refills/bottomless refills on soda and sometimes fries. Awesome but also totally surreal.

•Everyone having knives with them all the time was strange—you get a huge fine or jail time in Aus for that. Gun culture is pretty intense too. But I’ve been told Australia’s was just as bad if not worse until we had the Port Arthur massacre. Now our gun culture is almost non-existent unless you’re a farmer.

•Automatic toilet flushes in some public bathrooms.

•Having such a variety of fast food chains. Australian maybe has 10 well known chains. You guys had sooo many.

That said, when I went to the US everyone said I wouldn’t be able to find any ~healthy food. But really your supermarkets were very similar to ours in Aus, just with even more variety. I’ve spent most of my time in California, Illinois and Minnesota when I’ve gone but honestly the U.S. is so unique and flawed and captivating. I can’t wait to be back.”


15. Ranch dressing!

“Ranch! The dressing/sauce for everything. Americans dip everything in that stuff. Couldn’t believe my eyes when someone dipped his Pizza in some white sauce.

But while it’s odd and unknown at first, it’s the best fucking thing ever! Man I miss Ranch so much….”


16. Homeless people.

“How common homeless people are. Even in very rich cities (Boston, NY) they are just part of life.”


17. The God Channels on TV.

“The God Channels! Oh my goodness, when my family went to america in about 2003, we watched them non stop. It was pure comedy and we were hooked.

There was a show where people released their sins into a vat of oil, and then they were selling it for a couple dollars for a vial of it!

There was another show where they were saying that if you sent in money you bought an inch of carpet for their new church.

People kept saying ‘REVERSE THE CURSE’ which doesn’t rhyme in our accent, so my sister and I spent the whole trip yelling ‘REEEVUURSE THE CURRSE’ at each other.

I had never seen anything like it in my life. Also, gunshots in the night that I thought were fireworks until a cleaner saw me out in front of the hotel and started yelling at me to get out of the street.”


18. Drive-thru pharmacies.

“Drive-thru pharmacies. Colombian here, and in Colombia they deliver your prescription or medicine to your door.”


19. Obligatory tipping.

“Obligatory tipping. Ordered pizza for my girlfriend at the time (American) and myself. It was roughly $20 and then there was a $2.5 delivery fee. Pizza guy comes and brings us the pizza taking his sweet time to bring it… I take it and walk inside as I’d already paid online. He continues standing there and staring at me even as I’d turned around and walked away. Suddenly then-gf starts hectically looking around for money and runs to the door to hand him like another maybe $3 as a tip.”


20. Few benefits for workers.

“That sick days, vacation and maternity/paternity leaves are not common and paid for.”


21. All the obese people.

“The amount of morbidly obese people was the most shocking thing and evident immediately as I stepped off of the plane in Florida.”


22. No drinking til 21.

“No drinking til 21. I travel to countries where there is a total ban on alcohol. If you are in a ‘dry’ country, so be it. But when America can try children as young as 14 as adults for crimes but you can not drink until 21 is strange.”


23. Chanting “USA!” in clubs.

“USA chantings. It’s really weird to start chanting USA in a club. Never seen that in another country.”



24. The aversion to free healthcare.

“The aversion to free healthcare. How can you not want the peace of mind of knowing that if you lose your job and get sick, your needs will be taken care of?”


25. All the TV ads.

“How many ads you guys had during shows, took twice as long to watch an episode of The Simpsons when I was there.”


26. Healthcare prices.

“Lived in the US for 8 years. Healthcare prices. Not abnormal—morbidly ridiculous. A semi-serious illness can make a person bankrupt EVEN if they have insurance.”


27. All the plastic and styrofoam.

“What upset me most during my visit to North America a few years back was the abundance of plastic wrappings and styrofoam cups and containers every time I would go eat somewhere. Like, I’m not exactly an environmental activist myself but shit I don’t want to fill an entire trash bin every time I had a meal…”


28. Routine circumcision.

“Obliged tipping culture. It’s fucking weird. The onus should be on the business not the customer. I’ve heard some people say that people earn way more with tips but the thing is in my country (Australia) a typical wage for a waitress is $20-25 an hour and they get to keep tips anyway. Yes, people still tip for good service.

Portion sizes. Why are they so fucking big? I’m convinced it’s definitely contributing to the obesity statistics because people feel obligated to finish their meal.

Your white bread is so fucking sweet. It’s pretty gross.

The pledge of allegiance. It’s nothing but propaganda and indoctrination for children. It’s creepy as shit.

Routine circumcision. Luckily, it’s trending downwards and not upwards, so that’s positive.

Gun culture. I know it’s in your 2nd amendment. I know it’s your right. It’s a weird thing to take serious as an outsider when your military would clean you up with no effort whatsoever, no matter how many guns you have.

The imperial system. Just the whole thing. Makes no sense.

Your blind admiration and obsession with people in the military. There are plenty of shitty people in the military.

Drinking age is 21. For some arbitrary reason, because you can do everything else at 18. So weird.

Just want to say, I love the USA. I lived there for two years (in Jersey if you count that) but there are some weird fucking customs and things you have to get used to if you’re not from the USA.”


29. Student debt.

“Student debt.

I got a job in the US after college alongside a number of US students. I had zero debt, but some of them were carrying 6-figures.

A great country ensures its youth can become productive members of society without drowning themselves in debt. But America would rather spend its money on its right-wing bullshit than actually help its own citizens.”


30. The rampant patriotism.

“The rampant patriotism… at first I thought it was a great thing but after visiting Fort Sumter in Charleston and having listened to a half-crazed guide screaming ‘THIS IS YOUR FLAG!!!’ to rapturous applause by teary-eyed Americans whilst me and my wife stood there feeling like we’d just walked in on some kind of cult, scared to speak incase the guy wearing the confederate flag in front of us shouting obscenities about the British manages to actually identify us as being British, it just made you realize how brainwashed some people are. Scary stuff.”


31. Gore is OK, but not swearing.

“That you have no problem showing movies/shows with blood and gore but gods forbid if you swear…better censor that.”


32. Cheap fuel.

“Fuel/gas prices, in the US you can get a gallon of gas for the price of a liter in Europe, that’s like 3 times cheaper! If we europeans paid US gas prices we’d be driving big block V8’s for econocar prices….”


33. Fiber-free food.

“The few times I’ve been to the US I haven’t really seen that many very obese people, and the prison system wasn’t part of my itineraries. But your lack of fiber in food is very odd to me, and the portions! the excuse of its meant for you to bring half back home as leftovers is bullshit, I saw the Olive Garden ad during my last visit, they’ll make a new dish for you to bring home. But the most abnormal thing for me is how friendly you guys are. You’ll talk to anybody, while superficial, its very welcoming, and different from the Nordic countries.”


34. Not using water to wash your ass after taking a shit.

“Not using water to wash your ass after taking a shit. I know this is a thing that isn’t only in the US but still, TBH just the thought of just cleaning your ass with a toilet paper after taking a huge dump and then just going on with your day disturbs me. I use the bidet or bidet sprayer (Shattaf) and then use toilet paper or a towel to dry it.”


35. Drive thru ATMs.

“Drive thru ATMs I never saw before I lived in the US. TVs at the petrol pumps and so many god damn tv advertisements. The ridiculous size of fizzy drinks (the big gulp lord have mercy). Dogs are allowed everywhere and receive the same treatment as children. Fruit and vegetables are so expensive. Driving is terrifying, everyone drives way too fast.”


36. Sugar everything.

1.Sugar everything. In massive amounts. Sugar in the sauces, and bread, and drinks, and..well, everything. Not that we do not have too much sugar on the EU but the USA was a sugar fest for me.

2.Portions. WTF guys, one of your portions could feed me almost for a day.

3.Obese people. Like, yeah, there are morbidly obese people in the EU but they are RARE and they tend to actually have a hormonal/dietary disorder. Not because they can’t stop eating.”


37. Homeless veterans.

“Homeless veterans.”


38. Not walking anywhere even if it’s just half a mile or so down the road.

“Not walking anywhere even if it’s just half a mile or so down the road.

I get not walking 10 miles to the nearest grocery store and stuff like that. But when I was living in the US as an exchange student I was walking to a meeting hall for one of our pre-graduation things which was maybe a kilometer away (probably even less than that). 5 or so of my classmates stopped and asked if I wanted a ride. It was very nice of them but I politely declined and just kept on walking.”


39. How open and friendly people are to strangers.

“How open and friendly people are to strangers. I once stayed at a friend’s house in New Jersey and commonly walked the mile or so into town to look around. Without fail, at least 3 people would pull up alongside me when I was walking and offer me a ride, they looked guilty when they drove away after I declined, like they were leaving the site of an accident or something.”

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