Author Topic: What surprised you about the U.S.?  (Read 41607 times)

acroy

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #50 on: November 21, 2013, 07:19:54 AM »
(why do people use "how you doin" instead of just "hello"?!).
I understand that greeting goes hand-in-hand with the cultural work ethic. The States for generations was the 'promised land', the 'land of opportunity' where you come to work to build your fortune. Look at George Washington, Father of the Country - Entrepreneur!

so when people ran into each other, it was common to inquire about how things are actually going. Not just a greeting 'hello', but 'How's it going?' or 'what are you up to?' because you must be doing something!

zhelud

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #51 on: November 21, 2013, 07:36:25 AM »
My husband, who has been here for almost 20 years now, is still surprised by:

1) How civic-minded people are. They don't throw trash on the street, they get together to do volunteer projects, they are law-abiding for the most part, officials don't solicit bribes, etc.

2) How publicly religious many people are.

3) How bad people are at math.

CommonCents

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #52 on: November 21, 2013, 12:20:14 PM »
1) How civic-minded people are. They don't throw trash on the street, they get together to do volunteer projects, they are law-abiding for the most part, officials don't solicit bribes, etc.

I was pretty startled to visit India and discover how people really do use bribes to grease the wheels!

Albert

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #53 on: November 21, 2013, 12:28:02 PM »

1) How civic-minded people are. They don't throw trash on the street, they get together to do volunteer projects, they are law-abiding for the most part, officials don't solicit bribes, etc.

That is true for many countries except maybe volunteering part.

gimp

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #54 on: November 21, 2013, 01:27:11 PM »
I moved here when I was 5... it's been a long time.

- Not much surprises me anymore. People are complex. We have over 300 million people here, all of them complex creatures, and society is fairly flexible - enough that people generally can do whatever legal thing they want, and some not so legal things, with impunity. Add to that a large handful of cultures, and several hundred subcultures, and boy do we have some of everything.
- Despite what you hear on the news, most people here agree on probably 99% of various topics. We're divided over relatively small issues. Put those divisive issues aside and walk the country... people are mostly going to be pleasant to you, and they will want to know how you live, and tell you how they live. That's surprising compared to what you read on the news.
- Corruption is very low. Where I came from, this was not the case. Here, you can generally move already legal things, or minor illegal things, along faster with a folded up bill - such as getting a seat in a restaurant, or getting into a club, or whatever people do - but it's pretty difficult to get someone to do something overtly illegal. And law enforcement is very rarely out cruising for supplemental income.

But really, once you're used to it, most things can be taken in stride. It's great!

Roses

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #55 on: November 21, 2013, 02:59:39 PM »
One thing I forgot to mention that I've heard from more recent immigrants (I didn't notice this when I came because I was a kid):  People in other countries sometimes think Americans are very sexually liberal and promiscuous.  This is because of what they see in Hollywood movies and exported TV show where all the characters sleep with each other.  I've had lots of family in other countries ask me if this was true.  And because of this they're surprised when I tell them about the conservatism in many sectors of the population.

Regarding friendliness: I don't think Americans are thought of either as friendly or unfriendly it's just that in many countries it's not common to smile at a stranger or the street or chat up a cashier.  Like others have said, this is in sharp contrast to how many friends the average person has.  In Latin America you'd never smile at a stranger but your dinner parties include 20 something of your best friends and your bigger parties are crowded with many more close friends.  People seem to keep up relationships from childhood while continuing to make many new close friendships all through adulthood.  Not so much here.

Some industrious person should tally up these responses and see which are the top most common! :)  Interesting stuff.


Norrie

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #56 on: November 21, 2013, 03:14:24 PM »
When we moved to the U.S. (in the 80s), I remember being blown away by cable TV, specifically the Dukes of Hazard, WWF wrestling, and Mtv. I had never seen anything like Twisted Sister, but it was rad.

Also, microwaves. I'd never seen one before moving here, and my mind was blown.

Finally, how classist and snobby kids at school were. I quickly grew to distrust anyone wearing a shirt with a little horse on it, because in general, they treated me like shit. I had no idea that kids even gave a crap about clothes, because in Australia I was too busy riding my bike and being awesome in hand me downs.

Nudelkopf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #57 on: November 22, 2013, 01:21:34 AM »
(why do people use "how you doin" instead of just "hello"?!).
I understand that greeting goes hand-in-hand with the cultural work ethic. The States for generations was the 'promised land', the 'land of opportunity' where you come to work to build your fortune. Look at George Washington, Father of the Country - Entrepreneur!

so when people ran into each other, it was common to inquire about how things are actually going. Not just a greeting 'hello', but 'How's it going?' or 'what are you up to?' because you must be doing something!
We say "how are you"/"how you going" in Australia as well. Often no hello. So.... I'm sure it's just because it was polite to inquire after someone's welfare, and now it's just the norm.

Having never been to America, I always assumed they weren't polite/friendly (in the way that cashiers etc greet you).

marty998

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #58 on: November 22, 2013, 04:15:06 AM »
owyagoinmate
yeahgoomateowyu
orrightmate.
bloodyhotmate
toorighthowsthemissus
shesrightgotthecricketscore
yeahmatealloutfa136shouldwinfromhere
bloodyoathyeahdamnpomsabouttimewestartedwinningagain

etc etc

(makes perfect sense to me, but I've been speaking Orstralyen for years mate)

ArcticaMT6

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #59 on: November 22, 2013, 09:35:31 AM »
U.S. varies widely, as some have said.  I had to go to NE US a couple times over the last couple years.  Both times I was amazed at how cold the people were.  Also there didn't appear to be any gentlemen!  I was happy to come back home where, if we had a subway, men would give up their seat for a lady.  There were many times that a young man would nab a seat and an older woman would have to stand.  :(


The whole North East corridor as a whole, contains more assholes per capita than the rest of the country. I moved out west and the people here are vastly more friendly. Lots of quirky people in Seattle, but everyone is polite.

Driving in the North East is a competitive sport. I'm still getting used to driving out here. It can be super obnoxious at times though, when you come to a stop sign with 2 or 3 other cars, and no one tries to go first. Or when a car (90% of the time with oregon plates) is doing 10mph under the speed limit in the left-most lane or HOV lane.

dodojojo

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #60 on: November 22, 2013, 10:05:36 AM »
When we moved to the U.S. (in the 80s), I remember being blown away by cable TV, specifically the Dukes of Hazard, WWF wrestling, and Mtv. I had never seen anything like Twisted Sister, but it was rad.

I moved to Kentucky in the early 80's and one day at school, I was outside playing and out parked in the open field was the General Lee.  Not something you see everyday in New Zealand!

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #61 on: November 22, 2013, 11:19:10 AM »
All of my design professors came here from either Europe or Russia. One of them said he was surprised that so many people were always smiling at him. He had to go look in the mirror to see if there was anything in his beard they were laughing at. LOL


brewer12345

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #62 on: November 22, 2013, 01:31:52 PM »
U.S. varies widely, as some have said.  I had to go to NE US a couple times over the last couple years.  Both times I was amazed at how cold the people were.  Also there didn't appear to be any gentlemen!  I was happy to come back home where, if we had a subway, men would give up their seat for a lady.  There were many times that a young man would nab a seat and an older woman would have to stand.  :(

Cowboy boots are trendy right now, so you would find those places you wouldn't have five years ago.

When you have to fight 1000+ people for a seat on the train, don't be surprised that the lucky winners of the 3 meter dash are not eager to give up their spots.

Eric

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #63 on: November 22, 2013, 01:40:40 PM »
U.S. varies widely, as some have said.  I had to go to NE US a couple times over the last couple years.  Both times I was amazed at how cold the people were.  Also there didn't appear to be any gentlemen!  I was happy to come back home where, if we had a subway, men would give up their seat for a lady.  There were many times that a young man would nab a seat and an older woman would have to stand.  :(

Cowboy boots are trendy right now, so you would find those places you wouldn't have five years ago.

When you have to fight 1000+ people for a seat on the train, don't be surprised that the lucky winners of the 3 meter dash are not eager to give up their spots.

And even if you were willing, there's as much chance that you'd get bitched at for assuming the woman was feeble and unable to stand as there is that she'd accept your offer.  Totally not worth it unless you can tell that someone really needs it.

Annamal

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #64 on: November 22, 2013, 02:02:41 PM »
As a kid in the early nineties from New Zealand:

1) The size of supermarkets and the variety of brands, an entire aisle devoted to cereal blew my tiny kid mind. We eagerly bought Adams family cereal and then didn't eat all that much of it because:
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.
3) There was natural butter that was a pasty shade of white...ick!
4)No kettles, here every hotel and motel room comes complete with a kettle.
5) Eggs in the fridge (apparently the sight of non-refridgerated eggs here, freaks people out but as long as they're in the shell it's safe).

All very shallow and in the intervening years, sugar has been creeping into more stuff in NZ  but there you go.

Honestly a number of the observations in the article could apply equally to most of New Zealand (including the one about lousy public transport).

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.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #65 on: November 22, 2013, 02:42:12 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.

Not everything is sweet.  Particularly with cereals, there are a lot of highly-sweetened kids' cereals, and basically unsweetened adult cereals.

Quote
Eggs in the fridge (apparently the sight of non-refridgerated eggs here, freaks people out but as long as they're in the shell it's safe).

Depends on how long you plan to keep them.  Unrefrigerated might last a month or so, refrigerated 6+ months. 

Oh, and the butter?  Color depends a lot on the breed of cow the milk comes from.  When I was a kid, the grandparents kept (IIRC) Jerseys, and the butter from that was almost orange.  When we made butter (what, you've never made your own butter?) from the neighbor's Holsteins, it was about the same pale yellow as store-bought.

Quote
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.

Depends when/where you do it.  When I was actively windsurfing, it was a fairly new thing, and there just weren't many boards at garage sales.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2013, 09:11:09 PM by Jamesqf »

dodojojo

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #66 on: November 22, 2013, 04:20:53 PM »
Hmm...seems like Kiwis or those who had lived in NZ (me) are disproportionately represented in the thread.

I moved to the US in the early 80's so the sense of wonderment has long disappeared in the fog of time.  This thread is bringing some memories back.  One thing that blew my little mind was cable TV in the states.  I remembered watching HBO and MTV forever. I must have watched Flash Gordon dozens of times.  Good thing we only had access to cable for about 3 months because I just remember watching lots of TV!  That was in contrast to NZ in the early 80's when there was exactly two channels--with memorable names of 1 and 2.  Not only did both go off the air at midnight, they weren't even on much of the day.  I remember one started broadcasting in the afternoon.  I would make it a point to be home in time for the children's show that kicked off programming in the afternoon.

This is how broadcasting ended each night (though I remember an older version of it from the early-mid 80's):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H2BOGGUbm4

gimp

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #67 on: November 22, 2013, 05:43:38 PM »
U.S. varies widely, as some have said.  I had to go to NE US a couple times over the last couple years.  Both times I was amazed at how cold the people were.  Also there didn't appear to be any gentlemen!  I was happy to come back home where, if we had a subway, men would give up their seat for a lady.  There were many times that a young man would nab a seat and an older woman would have to stand.  :(

I'll offer my seat to the old, infirm, pregnant. Or if they have a kid, or if they're carrying a bunch of stuff, or whatever. I will sure as hell not offer my seat to a woman because she's a woman. Gender doesn't make it more difficult to stand.

Supertaster

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #68 on: November 22, 2013, 08:00:20 PM »
When we moved to the U.S. (in the 80s), I remember being blown away by cable TV, specifically the Dukes of Hazard, WWF wrestling, and Mtv. I had never seen anything like Twisted Sister, but it was rad.

I moved to Kentucky in the early 80's and one day at school, I was outside playing and out parked in the open field was the General Lee.  Not something you see everyday in New Zealand!

I live in Lexington, KY. I saw the General Lee while driving home from work not two months ago.

Some things never change.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #69 on: November 22, 2013, 09:13:46 PM »
I live in Lexington, KY. I saw the General Lee while driving home from work not two months ago.

Some things never change.

Including the fact that some of us native-born Americans don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about. 

ArcticaMT6

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #70 on: November 22, 2013, 09:55:29 PM »
I live in Lexington, KY. I saw the General Lee while driving home from work not two months ago.

Some things never change.

Including the fact that some of us native-born Americans don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about.



From the Dukes of Hazzard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Lee_(car)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #71 on: November 23, 2013, 06:40:25 AM »



It's that thing behind Jessica Simpson. It sometimes appears in other pictures with her. I was unaware that it had a Proper Name.

Rural

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #72 on: November 23, 2013, 07:01:23 AM »
When we moved to the U.S. (in the 80s), I remember being blown away by cable TV, specifically the Dukes of Hazard, WWF wrestling, and Mtv. I had never seen anything like Twisted Sister, but it was rad.

I moved to Kentucky in the early 80's and one day at school, I was outside playing and out parked in the open field was the General Lee.  Not something you see everyday in New Zealand!

I live in Lexington, KY. I saw the General Lee while driving home from work not two months ago.

Some things never change.

The General Lee runs up and down my road two or three times a day, only it's an old Ford Bronco. There's another, properly a Charger, that lives ten miles or so south.

By the way, the General Lee is that thing behind Catherine Bach.

Annamal

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #73 on: November 23, 2013, 10:52:36 AM »
Hmm...seems like Kiwis or those who had lived in NZ (me) are disproportionately represented in the thread.

I moved to the US in the early 80's so the sense of wonderment has long disappeared in the fog of time.  This thread is bringing some memories back.  One thing that blew my little mind was cable TV in the states.  I remembered watching HBO and MTV forever. I must have watched Flash Gordon dozens of times.  Good thing we only had access to cable for about 3 months because I just remember watching lots of TV!  That was in contrast to NZ in the early 80's when there was exactly two channels--with memorable names of 1 and 2.  Not only did both go off the air at midnight, they weren't even on much of the day.  I remember one started broadcasting in the afternoon.  I would make it a point to be home in time for the children's show that kicked off programming in the afternoon.

This is how broadcasting ended each night (though I remember an older version of it from the early-mid 80's):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H2BOGGUbm4

Heh,  I remember the grand arrival of *gasp* a third channel.

emu

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #74 on: November 23, 2013, 12:33:57 PM »
A few things from some business trips to random places in the states:

Sales tax not included in the price. Wtf? I want to know what to pay, end of story.

No way to get from a to b without a car, even if it's just across the street. No sidewalks or crossings

Huuuuge cars

Superficial friendliness - compare that to Paris or London for example

Tipping is of course a mess. Ok we get the 15 or so % at restaurants but what about other situations? Very confusing.

 

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #75 on: November 23, 2013, 03:18:42 PM »
Re Americans being stereotypically rude or friendly, here's how I see it:

Americans *on holiday* are thought to be rude (push in, loud, brash, ignorant - in that no you can't use dollars, etc)
Americans *at home* are thought to be welcoming, friendly, etc

So for example if one was to go on a package holiday somewhere, it could well be "Americans" who were always complaining, etc. Go to an airport and you can always hear the Americans.

Now of course these are both very stereotypical, but might be the root of things. It could explain a few things, like so proud of home - so little travelled - welcoming to people to home because of pride - uncomfortable when overseas because so little travelled and hence overcompensating.

I guess what surprises me is the wealth disparity - how badly the "dirt" poor are paid and how a few are so so hungry for success, vs how comfy the middle class are; and, yes, the strength of religion, pride, and military strength + gun-loving when coupled with ignorance of the rest of the world (but no shame felt for invading parts of it - but WTFDIK about how the average American feels, I believe Bush and Blair both should be in prison for Iraq). The word that strikes me is *convenience* and how marketing is all about that (new car for only one easy biweekly payment!).

The sheer abundance of the US is amazing - the availability of good weather year round, amazing mountains parks glaciers deserts etc. You do literally have pretty much everything the rest of the world has to offer, all in one place.

I am very much looking forward to spending more time in the US over the next few years, I love reading road-trip books and vandwelling journals and the like.

*Edit* and how cheap housing is, and how cheap the mortgages are considering how long you can lock them in for... and how sad that there is such bullshit and so on that meant people got mortgages for more than they could afford with the teaser rates.. I mean come on, WTF really, how was that ever going to end well? Like.. the greed, the sheer 'capitalism' turned 'evil' - how cutthroat it can be. And yet combined with helpful guys in pickups giving you lifts and a place to stay and whatnot - the generosity of some people vs the greed of the system... It's a paradox, perhaps.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 03:54:14 PM by daverobev »

Melody

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #76 on: November 23, 2013, 03:55:13 PM »
So many giggles! I lived in Arizona for a while and loved it, but was happy to come home at the end of it. The main differences I noted:
- Pace of life. I live in a city of 2million where shops only began opening on Sundays 2 years ago. (A referendum was held, the people said they wanted shops to stay shut on Sundays, the government passed the law anyway - B*stards!) So the whole 24 hour walmart thing shocked me... Everyone seemed to work a lot and be rush rush rush all the time.
-Just how hard life is for minimum wage earners and that it's ok to make someone work Friday to Tuesday for minimum wage (refer to Sunday trading thing above - we still have weekend penalties).
-That people were suspicious of the concept of public healthcare - "is the quality of care any good [in Australia]?" (yes, it's fine.)
-Sales Tax not included... WTF
-Tipping? ... I hated having to tip for average or bad service. And tipping in bars? WTF
-That College was "an experience" not a qualification (said to me by multiple kids living on campus when they could have easily stayed at home and driven/caught the bus to campus each day as kids would have done in Australia).
-Public transport - I'm looking at you Phoenix! 8 miles of light rail for a city of 4million? Really? I think Perth has about 100miles plus an extensive bus system and a few ferries. Also in many cities getting on the bus and being the only white person on the bus... here it is perfectly normal for people to use public transport (to avoid heavy traffic, because there are not enough taxis and they want to drink alcohol, because they would rather read books than drive, because of environmental reasons etc.)
-The Greyhound: Poverty on Wheels! (We have greyhound here where is mostly senior citizens and students!)
-The low quality of the food (especially meat and cheese) in the supermarket (unless I went to an upmarket organic grocer).
- A lot of posters have mentioned the superficial friendliness (true) but there was also heaps of real friendliness. The number of people who drove me places and helped me out was amazing!I lost count of the number of times people offered me somewhere to stay, a ride, advice etc.
-Garbage disposal units - Best idea ever!!! Although I had to ask my landlord what it was!
-Sport at university...
-Religion is actually a big deal in the US. (In contrast our last prime minister was an unmarried atheist female... I couldn't imagine her being elected in the US. Her boyfriend is commonly referred to as "the first bloke")
-that swearing offends people... Crap/badass are not even swearwords here...
-everyone has cable TV (my apartment complex came with cable TV but not internet... WTF!)
-That you go to jail if you have a blood alcohol level over 0.08 (here it's no harm no foul - a $2000 fine and a possible license suspension and you are on your way).
- the national parks and hwy system... best road tripping ever!


Gerard

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #77 on: November 23, 2013, 07:16:45 PM »
People keep asking and I'm not sure many people are answering, so I'll suggest that the thing about "friendly" is just straight up friendly, not that y'all are friendlier than we expect because we expect so little. A line you sometimes hear up here (Canada) is that in Canada the opposite of rude is polite, and in the US the opposite of rude is friendly. A particular kind of friendly that I run into a lot in the US: people who do shitty jobs and still manage to smile at you, or say hello like they mean it.

Other stuff: big displays of religion and patriotism, flags, gated communities and other large social disparities, ethnic employment/social segregation, huge restaurant portions, dirty cities (Philadelphia smells like bacon and urine!), cheap groceries, lack of knowledge of the rest of the world, willingness to share details of your lives after knowing me for half an hour, disproportionate amount of processed food in supermarkets. And better Mexican food.


randymarsh

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #78 on: November 23, 2013, 08:39:41 PM »
-That College was "an experience" not a qualification (said to me by multiple kids living on campus when they could have easily stayed at home and driven/caught the bus to campus each day as kids would have done in Australia).

I think this is in part due to our babying of young people, even adults. See: high drinking age. Since many families are so religious, college is the first chance young adults have to really make their own decisions.

We can drive at 16 though, so it's definitely a country of contradictions.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #79 on: November 23, 2013, 09:41:30 PM »
...that it's ok to make someone work Friday to Tuesday for minimum wage...

I have to ask, what's wrong with that?  Back in the days when I was working similar days (for not much over minimum wage, either), I loved it.  Got to go to beaches, hiking trails, and similar places without having to share them with the weekend crowds.  And even today, when I set my own schedule, I'll often work weekends by preference.

 
Quote
-Sales Tax not included... WTF

I have just the opposite reaction to other countries' VAT and similar.  I want to know how much of what I pay is real cost, and how much the government is taking.


Melody

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #80 on: November 24, 2013, 01:54:57 AM »
...that it's ok to make someone work Friday to Tuesday for minimum wage...

I have to ask, what's wrong with that?  Back in the days when I was working similar days (for not much over minimum wage, either), I loved it.  Got to go to beaches, hiking trails, and similar places without having to share them with the weekend crowds.  And even today, when I set my own schedule, I'll often work weekends by preference.

I guess this comes from growing up in a place where nothing was open on Sundays. I am used to being able to say to my group of friends "lets all go to the beach on Sunday" and everyone can come, no one has work... to me I think it contributes to the slower pace of life which I like - more relaxed! It's not that no one works Sundays, but those that do are compensated for their time away from family/friends and it might lead to a more coherent social structure (e.g. families can go on family outings as they are less likely to be working opposite rosters, as parents are less likely to be working weekends there is more support for children's sports etc. ) But hey, I voted "no" in the referendum ;-P

Irishmam

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #81 on: November 24, 2013, 05:17:21 AM »
1. How BIG everything is, from milk cartons, to margarine tubs, fridges to supermarkets.
2. How overwhelming a supermarket can be, so many choices!
3. How spread out every town is, how challenging it can be to walk anywhere.
4. Lack of sidewalks, to do said walking.
5. Very little vacation time; Europeans are much more generous with paid time off (Maybe that's why we're broke?)
6. Poor public transport infrastructure.
7. Lawn pride.
8. Competitive materialism; bigger n' better phones,TV's,cars, houses, lawns than the Jones's
9. Cost of prescription medication
10. Medical bankruptcy; Elderly people choosing not to take medication or split it in half to decrease costs.
11. Inadequate mental health services.

However, there are many, many positives to living here and raising a family here. American people are generous with their time, the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well.
 American people, in general, are very friendly and helpful.
There is a general level of civic pride and order and people follow it!!
This country is naturally beautiful and bountiful.
National Parks system is wonderful.
The spirit of science, research and pursuit of knowledge is alive and well. We love it here and are happy to be raising young Americans!

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #82 on: November 24, 2013, 03:47:00 PM »
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-Sales Tax not included... WTF

I have just the opposite reaction to other countries' VAT and similar.  I want to know how much of what I pay is real cost, and how much the government is taking.

Because it's completely irrelevant - the government is "taking" in lots of other ways for the sticker price already, ie payroll tax, corporation tax, etc. At "what point" the tax is being taken is (IMO) just not helpful.

And at the end of the day, if you get to the checkout in Canada with a basket of... here's the thing, nuts are a luxury item (and you have to pay HST) but, oh I don't know, smoked sausage is not. Coffee is not, ice cream is, breakfast cereal is not - it does make "some" sense but I can get to the checkout and be, oh, so that's how much HST because fucking tampons are taxable as is toothpaste but cherries are not?!

Show the final price, put the pre-tax price or "no tax" if you like (or "zero rated" because some things are...) smaller.. but tell me how much I have to pay the shop to leave with this item.

Personally, I might choose to or not to buy an item if I knew it was $8 not $7; but I wouldn't choose NOT to buy a $7 item because it was $7 including tax. The dollar cost is what matters - it's all "after tax" income for the private person (now, as a small business, I can claim HST back... but in the UK at least, business-focussed sites show the before VAT and after VAT price).

daverobev

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #83 on: November 24, 2013, 03:53:02 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 shoulderpads a foot wide or whatever!

Oh yeah - something I noticed when I went down a couple of months back - in other countries we have this awareness of American companies, the true multi-nationals. I was a little surprised when visiting how small an impact those companies had on their own ground, and how many other companies there were that I'd never heard of - banks, pubs, whatever - just that I only recognised a few of the shops.

Now, we were in a nice place nearish to Detroit, so I don't know what other parts of the country are like - but again there's that thing with on TV or the internet you see so much advertising for Wal-Mart, Best Buy, whatever - I kinda expected every shop to be something I recognised. No doubt I was silly to be surprised and that obviously there are hundreds and thousands of American only companies. I was just struck by how Global Mega Corp it wasn't.

One final thing - I was surprised that there is a surcharge to pay for gas with credit. I guess there are so many premium cards that charge the merchants more, that it makes sense. 10c/gal - I mean, it's not "bad" or anything - but it kinda wipes out the point of a 3% cashback card!

Albert

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #84 on: November 24, 2013, 04:05:19 PM »
There are a lot more chains in US than elsewhere and not just for grocery shopping. For general shopping it's fine, but for eating out and sleeping I dislike it intensely and try to avoid as much as possible but in US I sometimes had to give up ...

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #85 on: November 24, 2013, 08:56:33 PM »
The other thing is, that pretty much the entire rest of the world has seen some US TV...

Probably more US TV than I have, too.  That's probably the main thing that has surprised and disappointed me about the countries I've visited: just how damned Americanized they are.  And that they adopt what are (to my taste, anyway) the worst aspects of American culture, while ignoring or rejecting the many good parts.  It's really a letdown when, just to pick a instance, you go into a restaurant in Donegal and find they're playing country "music".

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One final thing - I was surprised that there is a surcharge to pay for gas with credit.

Strictly speaking, you have this backwards.  There is a discount for paying cash :-)

gooki

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #86 on: November 25, 2013, 12:19:33 AM »
The reality is we have more US TV than local TV.

Rienk

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #87 on: November 25, 2013, 03:08:04 AM »
I'm from the Netherlands, went on a few holidays and business trips in the US. Things that actually surprised me, as opposed to just strange things I already knew from TV/internet:

1. There is a whole category of fast food places that are just slightly better than McDonald's/KFC but just as standardized. These qualify as "restaurants" apparently.
2. Pickup trucks everywhere.
3. You can never get anything for the advertized price, there's always a sales tax and for food a very hefty expected tip.
4. Outside of the big cities' centers there is a huuuge amount of space, cities are layed out over an enormous area and every place you need to go to has a massive parking lot.
5. Friendliness is a tough one, people are always really friendly but I can never tell if they real mean it or if they're just being polite. In the service industry in particular I often feel like I'm served by a very cranky person who then proceeds to call me sweety or darling, which is just weird.
6. Jesus is everywhere. It's not just that a lot of people are religious, but they put up billboards and everything.
7. Ads for lawyers! This whole "better call Saul" business is completely unheard of in the Netherlands. Lawyers are for serious business here, but in the US it's like they're trying to sell you a telephone subscription.

Nothlit

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #88 on: November 25, 2013, 09:59:00 AM »
5) Eggs in the fridge (apparently the sight of non-refridgerated eggs here, freaks people out but as long as they're in the shell it's safe).

There is apparently an actual reason for that.

Rural

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #89 on: November 25, 2013, 10:14:43 AM »
5) Eggs in the fridge (apparently the sight of non-refridgerated eggs here, freaks people out but as long as they're in the shell it's safe).

There is apparently an actual reason for that.

Which is why I refrigerate store-bought eggs but not fresh ones.

HappierAtHome

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #90 on: November 25, 2013, 06:06:12 PM »
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

Roses

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #91 on: November 25, 2013, 06:06:29 PM »
The other thing is, that pretty much the entire rest of the world has seen some US TV...

Probably more US TV than I have, too.  That's probably the main thing that has surprised and disappointed me about the countries I've visited: just how damned Americanized they are.  And that they adopt what are (to my taste, anyway) the worst aspects of American culture, while ignoring or rejecting the many good parts.  It's really a letdown when, just to pick a instance, you go into a restaurant in Donegal and find they're playing country "music".

Quote
One final thing - I was surprised that there is a surcharge to pay for gas with credit.

Strictly speaking, you have this backwards.  There is a discount for paying cash :-)

When you spend more time in other countries you realize the apparent 'Americanization' is actually quite superficial and hasn't permeated the real culture and their norms.  Many are just passing fads limited to pop culture.  And I suppose what they absorb has everything to do with what is exported ('Friends', Britney Spears, Hollywood Blockbusters and, yes, country music).  That's the image the US is projecting to the rest of the world.

geekette

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #92 on: November 25, 2013, 08:28:26 PM »
The other thing is, that pretty much the entire rest of the world has seen some US TV...

Probably more US TV than I have, too.  That's probably the main thing that has surprised and disappointed me about the countries I've visited: just how damned Americanized they are.  And that they adopt what are (to my taste, anyway) the worst aspects of American culture, while ignoring or rejecting the many good parts.  It's really a letdown when, just to pick a instance, you go into a restaurant in Donegal and find they're playing country "music".

Quote
One final thing - I was surprised that there is a surcharge to pay for gas with credit.

Strictly speaking, you have this backwards.  There is a discount for paying cash :-)

No clue if this is state by state, but there's no surcharge for paying with a credit card (or discount for cash) here.  Or for that matter, any of the dozen or so states I've driven through in the last year or two.

The US is so VAST no wonder it's different depending on where you go.  I think you could fit a couple of copies of western Europe on either the US or Australia.  I have a feeling there are fewer people in central Oz than central US, even if we do call them the flyover states.

ichangedmyname

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #93 on: November 25, 2013, 10:52:01 PM »
It also surprised me that it's actually cheaper to buy things in bulk.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #94 on: November 26, 2013, 12:22:25 PM »
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.

Khao

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #95 on: November 26, 2013, 12:47:48 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. Talking about shit, (warning: NSFW coming up) my poop was disgusting while I was there. My stomach couldn't handle the amount of crap that goes in U.S. food. I pooped oily shit that was annoyingly hard to wipe and smelled like death.

Jamesqf

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #96 on: November 26, 2013, 01:32:33 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.

Ms Manageable Muttonchops

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #97 on: November 26, 2013, 01:37:32 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.

-Non-public health care is a real thing...it will actually cost you thousands if you visit the emergency room because you tripped and broke you wrist or something. Actually. This is for real. And there are advertisements for hospitals...like...so you will choose that one over a different one. Because the first thing on your mind when you get hurt is "hmmmm what was that hospital with the cute smiling kid on the ad?". Weird. Seriously weird. I am not sure where I stand on the 100% private vs. 100% public spectrum...but definitely more public than this.

-Church on the radio...??

-Food is crazy cheap. CRAZY. Even produce and healthy stuff.

-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.

Albert

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #98 on: November 26, 2013, 01:43:31 PM »
Somewhat related to a post above, one of the most memorable days for me in US. It was a summer 10 years ago, but a picture is still in front of my eyes. Myself, girlfriend and my visiting parents (first time in US) are driving from California to Grand Canyon. We stayed a night in a motel in Williams, AZ. Around 8 am we go across the street to some cheap eatery (not much higher class than McDonalds) for a breakfast. Myself and father order pancakes with a jam thinking that we know how it will look and taste like. What the waitress actually brought was about three times as big and with some kind of syrup (probably corn). We both are tall guys, nevertheless 2/3 is all we could manage. While we are eating two police officers come in, sit down and order the same thing. I don't think those guys would have been capable of running half a mile without stopping, no problem eating the whole pancake though. After this somewhat memorable meal we go back to our motel, pack our things and are about to drive onwards to the Canyon. My mother goes to the reception to pay the bill for all of us, comes back and tells that she thinks the receptionist is on some kind of drugs, acting weird and everything. Ok, who cares? What she noticed only while already on the road and looking at the printed check was that instead of withdrawing 2x70$ for our rooms 2x700$ had been withdrawn. Back to the motel to explain the situation… A different woman was there at the time and we got back our money promptly, but still a bit of stress and lost time.

Albert

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Re: What surprised you about the U.S.?
« Reply #99 on: November 26, 2013, 01:45:04 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...