Author Topic: What surprised you about the U.S.?  (Read 41643 times)

Khao

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #100 on: November 26, 2013, 01:50:09 PM »
My stomach couldn't handle the amount of crap that goes in U.S. food.

Except you weren't eating US food, you were eating restaurant food.  It's perfectly possible to buy decent foods in US stores.

There are very nice restaurants in US as well. Obviously not for 10$. You get what you pay for...

Of course if you cook yourself this doesn't apply, my experience was with restaurants in the U.S. Plus we went mostly to nice restaurants. I think we ate fast food only 3 or 4 times during the 2 weeks we were there.

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #101 on: November 26, 2013, 06:09:24 PM »
As a Canadian who moved here for work (I may be naive):

-Sidewalks just END? What is up with that? "Tra la la I will just walk along this sidewalk to the store since it is only a mile away and I need milk"...BAM sidewalk just ends at the highway overpass. It is like they decided it was too expensive to widen the bridge enough to include a sidewalk, so you just have to walk IN THE TRAFFIC LANE now because there is also no shoulder. This is for real the weirdest thing. It is all over the place too. How is there not city-wide outrage? You can't walk places!! There is actually several instances of a sidewalk rolling along to a crosswalk and then on the other side of the crosswalk...FENCE. No sidewalk. Nowhere to go. It is a crosswalk to NO WHERE. Weird.

<snip>

-Everyone drives everywhere. Everywhere. Like...down the street even. I actually feel a little scared walking or on a bicycle because people don't know what to do with you and it causes major traffic issues. Mind you, this could all be part of the whole "sidewalks just end" problem.

Where in Canada are you from? Because... I can say the same things for here, not an hour from Ottawa...

geekette

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #102 on: November 26, 2013, 08:46:20 PM »
I don't think anyone mentioned it yet in the thread but I went to the U.S. for a road trip not long ago and while there I learned to love my coffee black. Nearly every place we ate (be it "breakfast" at the hotel lobby or in a real restaurant) only offered weird non-dairy creamers or half-and-half or whatever weird shit that's filled with high fructose corn syrup. Fucking corn syrup. It's in EVERYTHING! You want butter with your toasts? Nope, you get "buttery spread" which is a gross mixture of vegetable oil and corn syrup. Jam? Corn syrup. Maple syrup with pancakes or waffles? Nope. Corn syrup. Sugar? Nope. Splenda or some weird substitute. No wonder the U.S. is leading in obesity and health related issues, everything is made out of corn syrup and other weird shit.

Not sure what they serve with coffee in Canada, but half-and-half is half milk and half cream.  Is that weird?  And I've never seen a restaurant that didn't have sugar.  Restaurants cook with a LOT more fat than you would at home because fat carries flavor. 

Yes, we grow a lot of corn, so yes, we have corn syrup (which I think is called glucose syrup in other countries), and also HFCS, which some people object to because it has fructose.  Why fructose is bad when it comes from corn and good when it comes from fruit, I don't know.

And I think Mexico is beating us in obesity now - and their Coke is made with real sugar.

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #103 on: November 27, 2013, 11:36:26 AM »
I don't think anyone mentioned it yet in the thread but I went to the U.S. for a road trip not long ago and while there I learned to love my coffee black. Nearly every place we ate (be it "breakfast" at the hotel lobby or in a real restaurant) only offered weird non-dairy creamers or half-and-half or whatever weird shit that's filled with high fructose corn syrup. Fucking corn syrup. It's in EVERYTHING! You want butter with your toasts? Nope, you get "buttery spread" which is a gross mixture of vegetable oil and corn syrup. Jam? Corn syrup. Maple syrup with pancakes or waffles? Nope. Corn syrup. Sugar? Nope. Splenda or some weird substitute. No wonder the U.S. is leading in obesity and health related issues, everything is made out of corn syrup and other weird shit.

Not sure what they serve with coffee in Canada, but half-and-half is half milk and half cream.  Is that weird?  And I've never seen a restaurant that didn't have sugar.  Restaurants cook with a LOT more fat than you would at home because fat carries flavor. 

Yes, we grow a lot of corn, so yes, we have corn syrup (which I think is called glucose syrup in other countries), and also HFCS, which some people object to because it has fructose.  Why fructose is bad when it comes from corn and good when it comes from fruit, I don't know.

And I think Mexico is beating us in obesity now - and their Coke is made with real sugar.

The whole thing is that the corn harvest is at a certain time of the year, sugar another (in different parts of the world), etc. What the multi-nationals have done is figure out how to not be dependent on any one 'stock' for sweetness production - through chemical processes they make 'sweet' from things that aren't (starch, I guess). And that they are chopping down the rainforests to grow more corn to put it in petrol.. madness.

It's 'bad' mostly because of the total amount we intake, though I personally would still take sugar over aspartame ('Diet' stuff).

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/is_high_fructose_corn_syrup_bad_for_you

No Name Guy

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #104 on: November 27, 2013, 01:28:33 PM »
daverobev and geekette:  It's trade restriction / subsidy driven for the most part on why HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is used in lieu of real sugar from cane in the US. 

In the US, sugar farmers (mostly beets in the US, while in Brazil and the Caribbean it's cane at a much lower cost) can't compete on price, so basically, cheaper foreign sugar is taxed to protect the domestic producers.  As a result, for industrial use like in soda production, HFCS is less expensive.  The sugar tariffs have the knock on benefit of a secondary subsidy to the corn farmers as well, artificially creating demand for HFCS where none would exist otherwise. 

rocksinmyhead

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #105 on: December 17, 2013, 02:29:41 PM »
2) It felt like everything was extra sweet, even bread and peanut butter(in NZ even budget peanut butter just consists of peanuts, salt and oil), I adored sugar as a kid but even I was a little grossed out.

This one makes me laugh, because when I went to NZ a few years ago my travelmates and I were all kinda grossed out by how weird/different the peanut butter tasted there! :)

Oh yeah one weird thing that I've noticed from consuming American culture, sailing and wind-surfing seem to be markers of wealth, instead oh what you do on a $50 board you picked up from a garage sale.

This is also something that has always made me laugh about stereotypes in the US, especially because often the people who most associate sailing with being an elite, fancy-pants kind of activity actually have hobbies that are A LOT more expensive than my sailing hobby (hunting, snowmobiling, fishing w/fancy boats, etc)... my boat cost $1500, no fuel costs (trolling motor when needed), and I store it on a trailer in an empty lot next to my house fo' free :)

Nickyd£g

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #106 on: December 18, 2013, 05:53:48 AM »
I'm Scottish, but lived in California (San Rafael/San Francisco) for a few years.  There were several things that astounded me about the U.S.:

You can't walk anywhere.  We tried several times to walk to the mall, about 5 minutes away and found that the sidewalk ended abruptly at a main road; we also had neighbours constantly stop and ask if we wanted a ride.  It was a 5 minute walk!

Portion sizes were HUGE and food was cheap.  And very sweet.

Cashiers were genuinely friendly. In Glasgow you barely get eye contact and a grunt!

Americans are friendly but cool.  Superficially they are very approachable, helpful, friendly but not friends...don't really know how to put it.  Most people I met were extremely family/partner oriented - nothing wrong with that - but they didn't seem to have close friends, unless they knew them from childhood/school.

It was frowned upon to drink alcohol.  Hey, I'm Scottish!  Seriously, when I mentioned drinking wine at home or going to the pub at lunchtime it was recommended I join the AA....

The States is vast, largely empty and very beautiful.

Quite a few people I spoke to had no knowledge or interest in other countries.

Kids I met were all absolutely confident in their ability to do anything they wanted.  Not arrogant (maybe entitled?), just extremely confident, and seemed confused when I asked what would happen if they couldn't be the next Britney Spears or George Bush, as though it never crossed their minds that not everyone gets to do what they want. 

Guns and God were spoken about with fervour, which made me a tad uncomfortable.  I've never seen anyone with a gun here in the U.K. and religious beliefs are not discussed usually.

I found it weird that medicines were advertised as better than similar alternatives, as though anyone without a medical background would be able to make an informed decision about self medicating.  And the whole paying for health care - and the extortionate prices involved - baffled me.  The NHS in the U.K. (and even better, Scotland, where we have free prescriptions as well as free health care (covered by our taxes)) is a wonderful thing in my opinion.

Overall my experiences in the U.S. were amazing and it's a wonderful country, but definitely different to Europe :)

madgeylou

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #107 on: December 18, 2013, 06:05:20 AM »
I have a friend and colleague visiting from Brazil right now and she says that Americans are very friendly and that our country is beautiful, but she doesn't understand why our food is so spicy and everyone is obsessed with bacon. Haha she may have gotten this impression just based on hanging out with me!!

Miamoo

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #108 on: December 22, 2013, 11:08:36 AM »
The other thing is, that pretty much the entire rest of the world has seen some US TV - Dallas or whatever, and have preconceptions that are pretty strong - that everyone has shoulder pads a foot wide or whatever".

That reference to Dallas is hysterical.  That was a show in the 1980's.  "Humor ar ar" as Mork said.  Dave,  You must have been watching 'Mork and Mindy' at the same time.

Thanks for the giggle.

luigi49

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #109 on: December 22, 2013, 12:47:46 PM »
I thought EVERY americans are smart.   My first year in college my roommate wrote an essay and left it on my desk.  Not knowing who the essay was I read it to figure it out whose it is.  The whole essay was spelled incorrectly and the only word spelled correctly was the guys name.   It took me three years believing that all americans are smart. 

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #110 on: December 22, 2013, 02:14:38 PM »
I'm Scottish, but lived in California (San Rafael/San Francisco) for a few years.  There were several things that astounded me about the U.S.:

You can't walk anywhere.  We tried several times to walk to the mall, about 5 minutes away and found that the sidewalk ended abruptly at a main road; we also had neighbours constantly stop and ask if we wanted a ride.  It was a 5 minute walk!

That's very much a local thing, and not even true of the whole Bay Area.  When I lived in the south end of San Jose, I could easily walk to stores.  Would have been about an hour walk to work, but an easy bike ride.

I don't think any country is all that homogeneous.  Certainly I wasn't thrilled with my one walking experience in Glasgow (between two train stations), considering the streets were filled with what I at first took for a rioting mob, but which turned out to be a horde of football fans celebrating a victory.  Quite different from biking from Ft. William to Inverness, or hiking around Skye...

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #111 on: December 22, 2013, 05:16:24 PM »
The other thing is, that pretty much the entire rest of the world has seen some US TV - Dallas or whatever, and have preconceptions that are pretty strong - that everyone has shoulder pads a foot wide or whatever".
That reference to Dallas is hysterical.  That was a show in the 1980's.  "Humor ar ar" as Mork said.  Dave,  You must have been watching 'Mork and Mindy' at the same time.

Thanks for the giggle.

Ok, but it still stands - people in *many* countries have seen Friends, or whatever (I dropped out of TV about.. hmm.. 12 years ago I guess). NCIX. Columbo. Whatever - people ALL OVER THE WORLD see this stuff, and get an idea of what the US is like.

I mean - sure, they see  Agatha Christie dramatisations and imagine the UK is like Poirot or Miss Marple, or Dr. Who, or whatever!

mm1970

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #112 on: December 22, 2013, 07:54:06 PM »
We lived in small apartments in family student housing for awhile.  Threw a big Thanksgiving dinner for 14 people by squeezing folding tables into the living room, and cooking and doing dishes into the wee hours in our "one butt" kitchen.

A couple of years later we moved into an apartment off campus.  A friend from grad school days came to visit.  He was from Germany.  He and his girlfriend were AMAZED at the SIZE of our kitchen and oven.  The oven especially was 2X the size of the ovens they had in Germany.

Nudelkopf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #113 on: December 22, 2013, 09:44:13 PM »
Quite a few people I spoke to had no knowledge or interest in other countries.
I met an American engineer in Europe a few years ago, and we went to the museum. We walked past a neanderthal exhibit, and she asked me if Aboriginals and Neanderthals were the same. And I did another tour (in Europe) with another group of Americans, who seemed oblivious to the fact that the seasons were swapped in the Southern Hemisphere.

CanuckExpat

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #114 on: December 22, 2013, 11:37:00 PM »
I don't think anyone mentioned it yet in the thread but I went to the U.S. for a road trip not long ago and while there I learned to love my coffee black. Nearly every place we ate (be it "breakfast" at the hotel lobby or in a real restaurant) only offered weird non-dairy creamers or half-and-half or whatever weird shit that's filled with high fructose corn syrup. Fucking corn syrup. It's in EVERYTHING! You want butter with your toasts? Nope, you get "buttery spread" which is a gross mixture of vegetable oil and corn syrup. Jam? Corn syrup. Maple syrup with pancakes or waffles? Nope. Corn syrup. Sugar? Nope. Splenda or some weird substitute. No wonder the U.S. is leading in obesity and health related issues, everything is made out of corn syrup and other weird shit.

Not sure what they serve with coffee in Canada, but half-and-half is half milk and half cream.  Is that weird?

Not sure if this is what Khao meant, but I've noticed it in US supermarkets and thought it was odd as well: They sell fat-free "half-and-half", I was perplexed, since I couldn't figure out how half milk, half cream could be fat free. It turned out to be something made of corn solids

stripey

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #115 on: December 23, 2013, 12:49:27 AM »
Just yesterday my colleagues were noting that Americans and Canadians are much more gracious in their manners, and much more polite generally, than Australians. But maybe that's more of a comment on Aussies :-P

To be fair, Oz was created to be a penal colony. Might explain it a bit.

I think the point here is that courtesy is very culturally determined. I know Americans living in Aus often find Aussies rude as they can be fairly informal. My trip to the Midwest was confronting at how direct advertising was. Also the 'over-servicing' (at least to my tastes) presumably to furnish a better tip. To a lot of Aussies I think these two things are often interpreted as being pushy, and thus rude.

Just a general thought... most people, US American or not, are more patriotic than is initially obvious. To the non-US posters, just be aware that some features of your experiences may be considered more critical than was actually intended and careful wording is a good skill to have. To the US posters, don't be too sensitive or defensive! I bet nobody here intends to offend. To the mods, I hope this is okay for me to say.


happy

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #116 on: December 23, 2013, 05:52:48 AM »
To add some extra things not already mentioned:

- Some of the terminology was unexpectedly confusing e.g. when getting directions "go street side" or "go kerbside". I mean which side of the street is streetside, and there are kerbs on both sides. (despite growing up with American TV shows as part of daily life: when I was young Aussies didn't make anything but Skippy)

- Many  savoury foods tasted unexpectedly sweet due to the addition of sugar(or maybe HFCS) e.g. bread, tomato ketchup etc, which was always a surprise

And +1 to Stripey's comments.  Service in Australia is often appalling and I find myself often wishing we could take a leaf out of the US in that regard. That being said when actually in US  I find the American service culture overwhelming: it seems contrived and either makes me feel embarrassed ( if too obsequious or subservient) or irritated (if too cloying).  So I agree a lot of courtesy is culturally determined.

marty998

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #117 on: December 23, 2013, 03:38:19 PM »

And +1 to Stripey's comments.  Service in Australia is often appalling and I find myself often wishing we could take a leaf out of the US in that regard. That being said when actually in US  I find the American service culture overwhelming: it seems contrived and either makes me feel embarrassed ( if too obsequious or subservient) or irritated (if too cloying).  So I agree a lot of courtesy is culturally determined.

At this point I'd step in and try and defend our fair land but I can't. Our service is truly awful. We rely on the beauty of the country to bring in the tourists, definitely not the people.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #118 on: December 23, 2013, 09:44:44 PM »
I met an American engineer in Europe a few years ago, and we went to the museum. We walked past a neanderthal exhibit, and she asked me if Aboriginals and Neanderthals were the same.

Which is really not that dumb of a question.  Consider that aboriginal settlement of Australia took place 40-80K years ago, and there was little if any contact with the rest of the world until just a few centuries ago.  The Neanderthal people (and they were people by any rational definition) didn't go extinct until 30-40K years ago.  So it's certainly possible: only DNA analysis could give an absolutely definite answer.

marty998

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #119 on: December 23, 2013, 10:24:03 PM »
Well I think it's a dumb question, and quite plainly jawdropping to me anyway. .

Whilst there is still ongoing debate as to whether you can class Neanderthals as a subspecies of Homo Sapiens (notwithstanding recent interbreeding and DNA evidence), there is absolutely NO DOUBT that Australian aboriginals are Homo Sapiens, out of Africa like the rest of us.

Nudelkopf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #120 on: December 24, 2013, 01:55:55 AM »
I know Aboriginals are referred to as apes sometimes (e.g. the Adam Goodes story) but surely most people know that Neanderthals did go extinct howevermany years ago, and it would otherwise be huge scientific news if there was an entire continent of surviving Neanderthals.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #121 on: December 24, 2013, 11:25:43 AM »
...there is absolutely NO DOUBT that Australian aboriginals are Homo Sapiens, out of Africa like the rest of us.

Sure.  And there is absolutely no doubt that H. sapiens neanderthalensis originated in Africa, too, just like the rest of us.  Indeed, DNA evidence suggests that something like 4% of the genome of Eurasian humans comes from Neanderthal ancestry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal  So they are us :-)
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 11:32:04 AM by Jamesqf »

Undecided

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #122 on: December 24, 2013, 12:03:19 PM »
Although I was born and raised in the U.S., when I moved back after loving in a notably clean and organized city abroad, I was surprised by the level of litter (and minor littering). I don't think I'd really noticed it until it was missing.

marty998

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #123 on: December 24, 2013, 04:19:59 PM »
...there is absolutely NO DOUBT that Australian aboriginals are Homo Sapiens, out of Africa like the rest of us.

Sure.  And there is absolutely no doubt that H. sapiens neanderthalensis originated in Africa, too, just like the rest of us.  Indeed, DNA evidence suggests that something like 4% of the genome of Eurasian humans comes from Neanderthal ancestry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal  So they are us :-)

Ahh Wikipedia. Not saying it's wrong, but I always have a chuckle that our Minister for Science admitted to doing his own climate change policy research on Wikipedia, rather than listening to actual expert scientists.

We also share a significant proportion of our DNA with mice and worms, and a host of other creatures out there. What makes us human is a very interesting question indeed.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #124 on: December 29, 2013, 06:06:13 PM »
I don't think anyone mentioned it yet in the thread but I went to the U.S. for a road trip not long ago and while there I learned to love my coffee black. Nearly every place we ate (be it "breakfast" at the hotel lobby or in a real restaurant) only offered weird non-dairy creamers or half-and-half or whatever weird shit that's filled with high fructose corn syrup. Fucking corn syrup. It's in EVERYTHING! You want butter with your toasts? Nope, you get "buttery spread" which is a gross mixture of vegetable oil and corn syrup. Jam? Corn syrup. Maple syrup with pancakes or waffles? Nope. Corn syrup. Sugar? Nope. Splenda or some weird substitute. No wonder the U.S. is leading in obesity and health related issues, everything is made out of corn syrup and other weird shit.

Not sure what they serve with coffee in Canada, but half-and-half is half milk and half cream.  Is that weird?

Not sure if this is what Khao meant, but I've noticed it in US supermarkets and thought it was odd as well: They sell fat-free "half-and-half", I was perplexed, since I couldn't figure out how half milk, half cream could be fat free. It turned out to be something made of corn solids

OMG, is that what it is?!!?? Ew, ew, ew. I just saw this product for the first time at my boyfriend's parents' house over Christmas and was really confused, haha. Why the hell would I want fat-free half-and-half!?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 06:53:49 AM by oscarsmom »

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #125 on: December 29, 2013, 10:17:17 PM »
Ahh Wikipedia. Not saying it's wrong...

But it does tend to be accessible.  If you're so inclined, you can go to e.g. Google scholar and wade through a few thousand hits on academic papers related to Neanderthal DNA.  I have other things to do with my time, though.

Also remember that the original question wasn't about to what degree modern humans are related to Neanderthals, but whether it's stupid to ask about possible relatedness of Australian aborigines and Neanderthals.  Given the research, probably not all that dumb :-)
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 10:22:14 PM by Jamesqf »

ArcticaMT6

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #126 on: December 30, 2013, 11:53:05 AM »
Just yesterday my colleagues were noting that Americans and Canadians are much more gracious in their manners, and much more polite generally, than Australians. But maybe that's more of a comment on Aussies :-P

To be fair, Oz was created to be a penal colony. Might explain it a bit.

I think the point here is that courtesy is very culturally determined. I know Americans living in Aus often find Aussies rude as they can be fairly informal.

Depends on where they are from in the US. People out on the West coast are very informal. Out of towners from the East Coast are distraught by the informalness here as well. When I was interviewing for jobs in the East coast, I wore a suit and tie and that was expected. First job I interviewed with out here I got laughed at because I wore a suit and tie. My interview for the current job I wore my normal work clothes from the previous job (button down and khaki's), and got lunch at a mexican restaurant with my now supervisor. That wouldn't fly at all back east.

oldtoyota

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #127 on: December 30, 2013, 11:57:58 AM »
I love the list. The GPS thing is so true. A friend of mine could not find her way around a small town based on a grid system. I was going to give her directions but I was worried she'd be insulted. I could tell where we were based on the sunlight and the town's grid.

And how Americans think it's normal to be charged for incoming/outgoing texts and calls...

Friends--from Iran, Indonesia, Canada, Sweden, and Colombia--have told me the following:

Americans...

eat a lot
are loud
know little about geography
drink a lot of soda
love flags everywhere
love them some Jesus and will tell everyone allll about it
are fat.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 12:02:54 PM by oldtoyota »