16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here

2. Triya Bhattacharya

Okay, so I know that there’s loads of answers here, and I couldn’t read all of them, so I’d probably be repeating some points. I’ll mention that I’m from India and that I’m writing from an Indian point of view, and what struck me as unusual based on what notions I’d built up after watching so much Hollywood and TV series.

  • Dependence on GPS – I knew people who went to office everyday since the past 5 years and could not tell their way without a GPS. It was amazing! I made some friends there and they were so impressed that I could tell my way back to their home without help from a GPS.
  • Cashless Society – Coming from India, where we just need cash because cards are not accepted at most places, I was really surprised by the cashless system in the US. Every place accepts credit cards. Even a small picnic I went to, which had an entry fee, had some sort of mobile app and a device attached to accept credit cards. It was amazing.
  • EMIs for everything – It’s like the people there live on EMIs. Cars, phones, everything. And even the lower middle class can afford this stuff. It’s like everyone has an iPhone. Which also reminds me of the extremely bad coverage that AT&T provided. I’m used to better coverage in India. Almost forgot! Worst part was being charged for incoming. Calls and messages! It’s like a nightmare for Indians.
  • Baby Car seats, Strollers – The extremely confusing rules and regulations that pervade America were already too much, but the emphasis on car seats and strollers was something new. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a car seat in India. And parents carry their children mostly, most people can’t afford strollers here. Also the cost of childcare in US is astounding because of these things that keep adding up.
  • Tipping – Enough has been said about this, but I hated it too, so I’ll include it. Specially for services like a haircut. So I pay you for cutting my hair…..and then I tip you because you were gracious enough to cut my hair?!
  • Public Toilets – Indian public toilets are usually in unmentionable conditions, and this was a refreshing change. Specially because half the stuff was automated. I remember thinking at first, that Americans are so lazy, they don’t want to flush their toilets.
  • Cashiers talking to you – Every cashier will greet you with “How are you today? You find everything okay?” with a smile, and you’re quite thrown off the first few times. Also, I had this really great cashier at Harris Teeter give me discounts because I always checked out at his counter :) Really nice people! In general also, people were extremely polite, and many just complimented you too!
  • The above point reminds me, that Americans find it very odd if people use different words than them, like British English for eg. people looked at me funny when I asked where the “Chemist” is (Drug Store). Biscuit (Cookie), Billing Counter (Cashier), Coriander (Cilantro), Petrol (Gas) are others.
  • Awesome Traffic – Coming from India, I found it amazing the way traffic behaved without any intervention from traffic policemen. Just everyone following the rules. It was a bit bad in NYC, but not even comparable to where I live right now (Kanpur, India). People don’t try to cut you off. People let pedestrians cross. Also, the parallel parking is really efficient! The roads are so well maintained, and the scenery is always beautiful.
  • Speed limits – The US has really high speed limits for us people following the metric system. The highest speed limits are around 75mph or 121 kmph which seemed like gross overspeeding to me. But it contributed to great drives!
  • General Safety – I was travelling in Manhattan, late night Subway, when a group of loud, drunk people entered, and we were kinda scared. Immediately at the next stop, two NYPD officers entered, and stood at the doors until they were in the car. It was awesome! I felt pretty safe overall, which I didn’t even expect to.
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