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Old 03-20-2011, 08:32 PM
6,431 posts, read 10,957,577 times
Reputation: 6749


Originally Posted by debzkidz View Post
We had 2 German exchange students who lived with us for about a month, a few years ago. I think the thing that surprised them the most was how spread out it was here. They told us they thought that Americans were silly and wasteful for having so many cars until they visited here. When they realized that in this region of the country, everything is so spread out that it would be almost impossible to live without cars, they changed their minds.
The other thing that really shocked them was WalMart. They were from a very small village in southern Germany, and one of the places they requested to see as soon as they arrived was WalMart. We spent 3 hours roaming the isles of a Super WalMart one Sunday afternoon. They just could not get over all the selection, or the idea that you could buy tires put on your car, ammo for your guns, new shoes and food for dinner all in one store.
When I was in middle school, there was a German exchange student who was living with a friend of mine. His favorite thing about America? Pop Tarts. I'm pretty sure he shipped about 10 boxes of Pop Tarts back home, no lie.

Sometimes it's the little things...
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:11 PM
Location: Chicago
931 posts, read 1,326,589 times
Reputation: 704
Originally Posted by Stefan_from_Germany View Post
The biggest "shock" (if you will) to me has always been the amount of energy used per capita in the US. by that I mean fossil fuels as well as electricity (mostly nuclear). Energy is cheap in the US and unfortunatelly that translates into careless use (waste). The tendency to supersize everything (homes, cars etc) doesn't help. Another thing I find a bit sad is the massive use of things such as styrofoam cups, plastic plates and cutlery etc even in decent middle class hotels for example. There is still not much of an effort to significanty reduce waste. Sure, recycling is getting more and more common but surely not creating waste in the first place is the much better option. Why have drinks in aluminum cans in your fridge at home instead of bottled drinks? Why bottles that are only used once instead of ones that can be re-used. etc? This may sound strange to some but for someone who has lived in Europe most of his live this is very noticable. Here people don't want an espresso from a paper cup or a beer in a plastic cup. At our bierfests you get a proper glas or stein and pay a deposit that you get back when you return it. Same for plates and cuttlery. This may sound like a minor thing to many but it reflects a mindset that is not too concerned about waisting precious resources (in my opinion).
This is a great point. When my father-in-law last visited a few years ago, he went into a cafe and refused to accept coffee served in a paper cup. Finally the manager got involved and they gave him a proper coffee cup. His complaint wasn't about the waste of resources, but about cheapening the experience of sitting in a cafe and drinking coffee.

Other things I often hear about: How much cheaper electronics, cars and gas are than in Europe. The huge portions in restaurants. Despite stereotypes that the US is a rich country, there's a large amount of visible poverty, and the roads and transportation networks here are in poor condition. Also, the amount of tipping that is considered normal, and the types of services where a tip is expected.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:53 PM
2,294 posts, read 3,968,836 times
Reputation: 2063
Originally Posted by vivelafrance View Post
I'm surprised by that because in France the superstore idea is very commonplace and has been around a long time...maybe even longer than the walmart supercenter. I would have assumed that Germany was the same but I guess not. I actually find that Americans are shocked to learn that France has these types of stores.
..or maybe those 2 people being from "a small village in southern Germany" also might mean they couldn't appropriately be labeled "average Germans"?
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:56 PM
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,245,346 times
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Originally Posted by LINative View Post
Unfortunately the last negative shock you mentioned about geographic ignorance is sadly all too true! There are people here who could name every player on the local baseball or football team --- but who cannot tell the difference between Austria and Australia.
Austria has better beer and food.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:59 PM
Location: Santiago, Chile
44 posts, read 206,776 times
Reputation: 46
A friend of mine (We're from Chile, southamerica) just came back from NY and he was shocked on how rude the car drivers were with the police men and how little respect the people showed to the police. Insulting a police man in this country is a fast way to the jail.

He also got surprised on how dirty NYC was, with garbage all over the streets, etc.

I'm flying to NYC, Miami and Orlando in April so I'll came here to let you know what surprised me most about the USA!
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:33 PM
Location: Edmond, OK
4,035 posts, read 9,265,063 times
Reputation: 4189
Originally Posted by nashvols View Post
When I was in middle school, there was a German exchange student who was living with a friend of mine. His favorite thing about America? Pop Tarts. I'm pretty sure he shipped about 10 boxes of Pop Tarts back home, no lie.

Sometimes it's the little things...
For our 2 exchange students it was Dr Pepper. They loved it and couldn't get enough. Unfortunately, Dr Pepper is a little harder to ship than Pop Tarts.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:04 PM
Location: World
3,733 posts, read 3,573,139 times
Reputation: 2535
Positive Shock: people are very friendly and well mannered towards foreigners. If if they are unhappy, they will try to be polite.

Negative Shock: 1)most of the cities in usa have no public transit (trains/tram/bus) services which is very strange and weird. If a person dont have his/her own car, his life is hell. cannot even purchase a loaf of bread or milk without car.
2) People here in USA do not like city life. They are happy in camping in forest and flipping burgers in their suburbs house or going for fishing. But people in good jobs also from small towns of south / mid-western states have never visited New York, Disney World or San Francisco. They say cannot afford visiting there. American people hate their own cities like New York which contributed a lot in making this great country.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:29 PM
Location: Amman
7 posts, read 16,445 times
Reputation: 11
i lived in the middle east for 19 years and when i came to the states(alabama) it was very different than what i had in mind.

-Everything is BIG.people,houses,cars,food..etc
-you can buy everything from one place.(walmart for example)
-poor public transportation.everybody has a car.
-people are friendly and nice.
-a lot cheaper than i expected.
-percentage of people who smoke is very low.
-getting a weapon is very easy.
-every high school i saw have a big parking for students ,big football stadium,big soccer fields.
-people watch TV a lot .
-people believe anything you so and trust you.
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:45 PM
Location: Kentucky
2,927 posts, read 7,607,226 times
Reputation: 1327
Originally Posted by LondonUSA View Post
Yes that is mainly it. I am just tired of London and want to relocate to somewhere smaller. I have looked though the possibilities and visited a number of areas and the Midwest was the most desirable place.
I suggest Kansas City. I just love it and it's a true Midwest city.
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:17 PM
Location: West Cedar Park, Philadelphia
1,225 posts, read 2,238,874 times
Reputation: 686
My friend who is French found Philadelphia to be somewhat similar to some Dutch and English cities, but he says our panhandlers and homeless, as well as our thieves and pickpockets are way more in-your-face and scary whereas in Europe they're much sneakier.
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