What are the things that will likely surprise you when you come to the US?




Judi Goldstein

The size of the country. For those that come from Europe, where countries are compact, the size is frequently a surprise.

The phrase ‘how’re you doing?’ is a greeting only. No real response is expected.

Most displayed prices aren’t what you’ll actually pay. In most places, you’ll pay more than the price due to the addition of sales tax.

In restaurants, tipping is expected. 20% is the usual amount. If the service is terrible a bit less. If the service is great, then 25%. Why? All wait staff are typically underpaid.

In most restaurants, you’ll always get free water. No need to order bottled water. And portions in US restaurants are large.

Laws vary by state. So it pays to check with a local. Some states have legalized marijuana, but not all. Liquor sales customs, rules and laws vary a lot by State. In my state, I can buy beer and wine in my supermarket, but to purchase hard liquor such as whiskey, I have to go to a special store. Even traffic laws vary by States.







I’ve had foreign visitors perplexed by signs before Election Day that say things like ‘Vote for Police’ or ‘Vote for schools’. They wonder do the Police or Schools get closed if we all vote against them. Nope, these are for extra money for these institutions.

The school calendars are set locally. So school holidays may vary between states or even within different areas of one state. University calendars vary even more.

Broadcast TV, what you might see in a hotel, is filled with commercials. There’s one every 10 to 15 minutes.

Our dogs are licensed. We have to provide proof of vaccines to get a license for our dogs. An unlicensed dog maybe seized.

Some visitors have been shocked by the size of American refrigerators. They’re surprised that we don’t shop each day.







Joshua Justice

I’m American but my wife moved to the USA with me after we had been married and started a family overseas. She really expected homes to look like they do in the movies (instead of the realistic homes in Breaking Bad) even though I told her that wouldnt be the case.

That wasn’t too much of a surprise but there were things that were surprising over the years:



1. A cereal aisle that’s 100 feet long at each grocery store. I joked about it before we moved back and we went a couple days after we arrived and she took a picture… it’s insane when you think about it.

2. How tough life in the USA can be. She is from the Philippines and the perception is that you arrive in the USA and it’s easy… and she quickly realized a good job in an area with a decent COL area wasn’t easy to come by even with both of us having degrees

3. We’ve been here about 5 years and she’s equally as disappointed as I am at the lack of empathy that Americans can have for each other, especially in the Christian community. She’d be surprised at some of the things said by Christians in our own community - as it’s apparent many fail to read the Bible.

4. How students and people in general treat teachers. She’s been cussed out by elementary school students and they’re simply sent back to class. The disrespect is something that is not often seen outside of the USA.

1. 每个杂货店的谷物商品货架都有100英尺那么长。我们搬回美国之前,我就曾拿这个开过玩笑,我们搬回来没几天,她就拍了张照片……想想就觉得很疯狂。

2. 在美国生活会是多难。她来自菲律宾,人们都以为来美国后生活很轻松……但她很快意识到,即使我们都有学位,可要在一个气候适宜的地区找到一份好工作也并非易事。

3. 我们在这里生活5年了,她和我一样对美国人彼此之间缺乏同情心的现状感到失望,尤其是在基督教社区。她会对我们社区里基督徒的一些言论感到惊讶——因为很明显,很多人都不读圣经。

4. 学生和多数人对待老师的态度。她被小学生咒骂了一顿,结果孩子只是被送回教室。这种不尊重老师的情况在美国之外可很少见。

5. How people can be so lazy and not seek out education (if they don’t work in a trade). We know plenty of people that struggle that could have gotten a degree and improved their situation and they just seem content making very average money. Some have access to discounted tuition or a cheaper way to get a degree and they won’t go for it.

6. How often people don’t think critically and fall for blatant propaganda and outright lies. I’m also shocked by it after living overseas for years but 2020 has left both of us baffled. Her hometown and home country took covid seriously yet so many people we know that barely finished high school are somehow smarter and somehow figured out everything.

5. 人们太懒了,不爱学习(如果他们不从事贸易)。我们知道很多人努力一下就能获得一个学位,改善他们的生活水平,但他们似乎对能赚取平均水平的收入就很满意了。有些人可以享受学费优惠或能通过更便宜的方式获得学位,但他们也不会努力争取。

6. 人们往往不会进行批判性思考,轻信明目张胆的宣传和赤裸裸的谎言。在海外生活多年的我也很震惊,但2020年的魔幻现实让我们都困惑了。她的家乡和祖国都很严肃地对待新冠疫情,我们认识的很多只有高中学历的人,都更为聪明,都通过努力解决了所有问题。


David Sandbrook

Used to work for the Forest Service. We had tourists that wanted to pay us for answering questions. They would come into the visitor center expecting to be charged to get any information. There are racks of brochures about trees and animals, places to hike, etc, and visitors were perplexed there was no charge for these free handouts. “Really, they are free. They are just Word documents we print from the computer when we need more”. There are larger books that have a fee, but the one-page folded brochures are free. They couldn’t grasp that.

One European family came in asking about fishing. The receptionist couldn’t answer the question, so called to the back office for one the Fishery Biologists. He came to the front and answered their questions. It was a Friday afternoon, then he suggested they accompany him tomorrow (Saturday, normal day off), as he planned to go fishing himself. The family later wrote a nice thank you note about how friendly and helpful the Biologist, had a wonderful fishing trip, and that was unexpected ‘from Americans’.



Then, there is the tragic story of the German tourists in Death Valley. Driving a rough back road in a rented sedan, the car got stuck, and tried to walk out. It was mid July, the temperatures were over 50C and they only had a couple of water bottles between 5 of them. Their bones were found a few years later way off trail in a remote rugged section of the Park. Death Valley is named that for a reason. Summertime can be deadly in the desert. There is no such thing as having too much drinking water in summertime deserts, and services may be over 130 km distance.

As others mentioned, I might have to say supermarkets are the biggest surprise. Food stores the size of warehouses with an incredible array of different foods. One local store routinely has on display has over 15 varieties of apples and 6 different varieties of bananas (I didn’t even know there were that many different kinds of bananas). All available year around. There may be 20 different kinds of mustards for sale. An average US full service supermarket stocks around 50,000 different items.




Ricky Smith

I've been living in Germany for 30 years. I came back the the states,as an American, and found that the food consumers eat are full of High Futrus Corn Syrup HFCS. You don't find that in Europe. It's usually cain sugar or beat sugar. HFCS is many times sweeter than sugar. It's in soda, jam, cereals, sausages, cold cuts, chocolates and other food items. Then you have all your GMO produce which includes meat products such as cattle. Companies have even manipulated salmon. GMOs are banned in most countries in the European Union. The EU uses 7 kinds of pesticides and herbicides while the U.S. uses 27. Many which are banned in EU. Aldobthe tap water, water coming out of faucets have fluoride and chlorine in them. EU not. Corporations have put cancer causing agents in hygiene products such as talcom powder which they knew about. J&J were fined $402mil. But no one went to jail.


译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/p/51048.html 译者:Joyceliu

I found making friends is difficult. The five years I've been back I've made just 2 friends that I can trust. It seems Americans mistrust and really don't won't to make friends. I left so many good friends in Europe. But I do Skype with them a few times a month. More racism here in the U.S. which I'm not use to. I had black friends in England to where they also became good friends. Every is difficult.

Health care here is a sham. Many font have it and some do but can't afford. seeing a doctor is even difficult since they require payment. Even getting test made cost out of pocket. Those that are in this situation gets a hard slap in the face of the have a stroke, get into an accident or just any kind of serious life threatening situation. Some have good insurance that covers most of what poor people cannot pay. But for myself while in Europe I had the best if medical you cannot get here. That paying half and my boss pays half. So a total. S0 a total of $800 a month was paid. Go figure.




Doug Freyburger

 “What are the things that will likely surprise you when you come to the US?”

If was born here and some stuff is still surprising.

We have what we call “fly over territory” for a lot of our land. Much of it is grain fields. Some of it is too marginal for grain so livestock is grazed there in huge but very thinly spread herds.

What I find surprising is when I drive through so called “fly over territory” there is industry EVERYWHERE. Some random driveway? It leads to a plant that employs hundreds. There are concrete plants on almost every highway I remember. Trucks delivering industrial loads appear out of driveways that don’t even have signs.






Jack Stalnaker

The biggest thing that will surprise you is that it won’t match your preconceptions. Especially the negative ones. You get filtered media reports that make it look like a wasteland full of guns and violence and stupidity. You get movies that generally take place in two cities. You’re presented a homogenized American culture. But everyday life for nearly everyone here is peaceful and normal. I haven’t even seen a gun since I shot one in a camp when I was 12, except for the ones for sale at a store. And I live in Texas, which movies seem to think is still stuck in cowboy times.

Geographically, the US runs the gamut from hot to cold, deserts to tropics. Rural to urban. There are subcultures, many of whom are proud of their heritage.

Legally, most people not from the US don’t realize the US go nment doesn’t have much control over your day-to-day life. Most laws you are subjected to are state laws, because the US was originally conceived as a loose federation of independent countries (hence the name United States).




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