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15 Things That Foreigners Don’t Understand About Everyday American Life

A netizen recently asked, What is a fact about everyday American life you have had trouble getting foreigners to believe or understand?

What Does OP Say

proud american

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The Original Poster adds, “Especially other than the USUAL things we get here: that we aren’t living in a constant shootout with everyone carrying guns everywhere, life isn’t exactly like a TV show or movie, we really do have supermarkets with fresh produce, we have cheeses other than Kraft singles, etc.

Are there more mundane things about everyday life in America that you’ve found foreigners to be incredulous about when you tell them or they hear about?” Most people could relate to the following fifteen responses:

The Concept Of Large-Scale Collegiate Athletics

soccer or football college

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“My brother-in-law is British, and the concept of large-scale collegiate athletics was astounding to him. Like how 100,000 people will attend a college football game with others still tailgating in the parking lot.” 

“Every time I watch non-Americans reacting to college football videos (especially the entrances), they’re blown away at the crowd sizes and fanfare and that this happens at every home game, not just for rivalry games or championships. They have a hard time wrapping their heads around that level of devotion to amateur sports because it’s not a thing in their countries. To us, it’s just another Saturday.” Another added.

Yellow School Buses And Black & White Police Cars  Are Real

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“Yellow school buses are real and everywhere.” Said one. 

“Also black & white police cars. I dated a British guy and he was in awe seeing the real-life black & whites. He thought they were only in movies.” Another added

The Way Laws Vary From State To State


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“How much laws vary from state to state.” Said one. 

“It was really fun explaining to the British kid in high school that MA and NH have the exact opposite laws on a lot of things and their capitals are only 70 miles apart.”

The Fact That People In Here Know Geography


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“The fact that some of us know geography. 

I’ll admit I’ve seen the videos where some dude asks a bunch of people on the street to find X country and none of them could. As a map-loving American, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve surprised people abroad by knowing just basic geography. It’s quite infuriating.” 

Just How Empty Parts Of The Nation Are


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“Just how empty parts of the nation are. Like massive swaths of the country with zero development, no roads, no structures, nothing.”

Many Americans Don’t Have A Passport And Don’t Travel Internationally

travel upset

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“The one thing I’ve actually fought with a foreigner over was with a Belgian coworker who was working remotely for my company’s British office and genuinely did not believe that many Americans don’t have a passport and don’t travel internationally.

To him, crossing an international border was a regular part of life, and he could drive for 8 hours and cross 20 borders. I don’t think he could grasp the idea of driving for 8 hours and still being in the same state.”

Most Americans Rely On Cars To Get Around

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“I think a lot of people don’t actually comprehend just how much most Americans rely on cars to get around and how little we generally walk to places.

It is not like most people just choose to drive everywhere, we literally *cant* do anything else but drive everywhere in the large majority of the country. When I lived in Georgia, in a suburban area, the closest supermarket was a 20-minute walk away.”

American Houses Are Not Poorly Built

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“Unless your house is a military-style bunker, a brick or stone house is not going to survive an EF5 tornado. It seems like every tornado season we get these tone-deaf Europeans asking why Americans choose to cheap out and build their homes out of wood in lieu of brick as if the idea of building our homes to best withstand our climate is totally lost on us. 

In fact, the notion that American houses are poorly built seems to be a widespread idea worldwide.”

Americans Don’t Rely On Junk Food & Obesity Is A Global Problem


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“Food. When foreign people come to us for the first time usually it’s “fat people get fat because of poor choices, not me!” Then they proceed to gorge themselves on every form of bad food they can find until they start to gain weight.

The US has incredible food, not just junk food. We have incredible locally available produce and fresh meat. Incredible chefs and restaurants.

The idea that we eat everything with cheez wiz really frustrates me. Also the complete lack of understanding of how obesity is a common problem, or really that Americans don’t want to be fat.

As if Britain or Mexico or other countries don’t have the same goddamn problem.”

The US Has A TON Of Really Good Beer And Chocolate

A girl tries a beer with an expression of disgust in a street bar. Concept of alcohol poisoning and quit drinking

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“That the US has a TON of really good beer and chocolate. It’s understandable that foreigners believe that we only have Bud Light, and Hershey’s because of how much we export them, but there are SO many more options out there for both. 

The craft brewery scene in America has exploded in the last few decades. As for American chocolate, I’m less familiar with its history, but there are lots of small chocolate shops where I live. Not like Belgium’s levels of chocolate, but not nothing either.”

Americans May Identify Themselves With The Place Their Ancestors Immigrated From

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“When someone American says they’re “Irish”, “Swedish”, “Mexican”, etc, they don’t actually believe they’re from those countries, they’re referring to where their ancestors immigrated from. For some reason, I’ve heard many Europeans insist that Americans are crazy for thinking they’re from some country they’re not actually from and also not accept any alternate explanations as to differing cultural understandings of demonyms.”

People Do In Fact Know About The Metric System

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“People do in fact know about the metric system. You do not have to explain it to use. I once asked an international student classmate if he wanted to join a few friends in a 5k run and he was shocked that I knew what a kilometer was” 

We Pet Dogs Who Live With Us

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“One particularly amusing one was the time my mom was out walking her two 100+lb Great Pyrenees dogs and encountered an older woman who had recently immigrated from India. She was shocked to find out that not only do the dogs have names (and they know their own names and answer to them!), but they also live inside the house with us and are perfectly safe with children of any age. 

The younger kids with her seemed to have had more exposure to American media. They understood the situation perfectly, but that poor old lady’s mind was absolutely blown by this revelation.” 

How Convenience-Oriented We Are

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“How convenience-oriented we are. The biggest manifestations of this are the ubiquity of drive-throughs, and right turn on red (I remember a Brit saying to me “You Americans can’t even wait for a traffic light to turn green”).”

We Ain’t THAT Different From The Rest Of The West

looking angry, annoyed and frustrated

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“That the US isn’t really all ***that*** different than most western countries in day-to-day life.” Said one. “Yeah, I’ve lived in or spent extended time in Philadelphia, NY, Geneva, Stockholm, Dublin, and Toronto. My day-to-day genuinely wasn’t THAT different. 

Life in rural areas compared to urban ones is more different than between western cities.” Another added. 

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The article was originally published on Mrs Daaku Studio.