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Old 06-11-2009, 09:40 PM
 
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I would like to hear some interesting stories from people who grew up abroad...What shocked you the most about the US, its culture and people? Please include which country you are from and what you expected the US to be like. I love hearing these stories from people. Thank you very much.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:57 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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A friend of mine who was born in Japan (he was a military brat) and moved back to the US was surprised how fat everyone was, then complained about it and never did anything about it.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:01 PM
 
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I'm from Australia and spent some time in the US last September.

What shocked me most was at particular times during my stay I forgot I was in the US.

I specifically recall sitting in a traffic jam in the car park of an ampitheatre after a concert and observing how people were attempting to get themselves out of the jam. I forgot several times that I wasn't home, the behaviours and the situation was so familiar to me.

Oh and when I became aware of it, it also shocked me that I wasn't particularly conscious of being surrounded by American accents.
OH and that Americans and Canadians kept discussing England with me WHICH was very confusing at first until I realized several weeks into my trip that they were mistakenly taking my accent for an English one.

I have to say that when driving for the first few days (or being a passenger in a vehicle) turning right absolutely sent me into a panic for some reason. I was sure we were all going to crash.

So I guess most of my shock was based on not being shocked. Our cultures, day to day life is very similar, very familiar.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
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When I come back to the US, I constantly have to acclimate myself to proper driving etiquette. In Sao Paulo, driving is far more harrowing and nightmarish than anything here. You have to be quite brazen to drive there.

Likewise when I return to Sao Paulo, people there tell me I drive like their Grandma. LOL

Drivers actually follow traffic laws here and down there-the traffic laws are more suggestions.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:41 PM
 
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I'm from New Zealand, but spent a couple of years in the US when I was younger and am in the process of trying to move back (fingers crossed).

I'm sure this could be a long list if I really thought about it, but here are just some that spring to mind now.

Positive shocks:
-How few stereotypical "loud Americans" there actually are. The overwhelming majority of people I met in the USA are warm and friendly, and completely different to the image those of us from outside the states often have. Sure, the US has it's fair share of idiots, but no more and no less than anywhere else.
-That I never saw a gun other than those carried by the police.

Negative shocks:
-That so many people I met were surprised to learn that countries other than the US or Britain speak English as a first language.
-That some people could name the capital of every state, but had almost no concept of where other countries in the world are. (This one may not be completely fair really, when you grow up in a little country like NZ, you have to be more outward looking than you probably need to be in the US)
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:43 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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Depends on where the foreigners are from and where in the states they go. When my relatives from Taiwan visited my family in the 'burbs of LA, they're usually impressed by the size of the houses, the amount of conspicuous consumption, the little to do in suburban towns, the lack of guns everywhere and the girth of a lot of people (media from the US that makes its way over tend to have far thinner and fitter people).
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:46 PM
 
Location: In them thar hills
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcNZ View Post
I'm from New Zealand, but spent a couple of years in the US when I was younger and am in the process of trying to move back (fingers crossed).

I'm sure this could be a long list if I really thought about it, but here are just some that spring to mind now.

Positive shocks:
-How few stereotypical "loud Americans" there actually are. The overwhelming majority of people I met in the USA are warm and friendly, and completely different to the image those of us from outside the states often have. Sure, the US has it's fair share of idiots, but no more and no less than anywhere else.
-That I never saw a gun other than those carried by the police.

Negative shocks:
-That so many people I met were surprised to learn that countries other than the US or Britain speak English as a first language.
-That some people could name the capital of every state, but had almost no concept of where other countries in the world are. (This one may not be completely fair really, when you grow up in a little country like NZ, you have to be more outward looking than you probably need to be in the US)
Many in the US have no concept that NZ is as close to the date line as it is. They picture is being further west. Also, many cannot fathom how southerly it is in latitude ... miss it and you're talking Antarctica! - LOL!
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaHillbilly View Post
Many in the US have no concept that NZ is as close to the date line as it is. They picture is being further west. Also, many cannot fathom how southerly it is in latitude ... miss it and you're talking Antarctica! - LOL!

speaking of the International dateline, my family is from Tonga, right on the Intl dateline and when my paternal grandfather came to the US in 1985 we went to SFO to pick him up from the airport and when he walked out of the airport the automatic doors of the airport terminal opened and he started crying. I asked him why he's crying and he replies "Now I know that I am in the Promised Land" and I ask him 'why?', to which he replies "Because God just opened the door for me".

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Old 06-11-2009, 10:51 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
4,494 posts, read 5,161,138 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcNZ View Post
I'm from New Zealand, but spent a couple of years in the US when I was younger and am in the process of trying to move back (fingers crossed).

I'm sure this could be a long list if I really thought about it, but here are just some that spring to mind now.

Positive shocks:
-How few stereotypical "loud Americans" there actually are. The overwhelming majority of people I met in the USA are warm and friendly, and completely different to the image those of us from outside the states often have. Sure, the US has it's fair share of idiots, but no more and no less than anywhere else.
-That I never saw a gun other than those carried by the police.

Negative shocks:
-That so many people I met were surprised to learn that countries other than the US or Britain speak English as a first language.
-That some people could name the capital of every state, but had almost no concept of where other countries in the world are. (This one may not be completely fair really, when you grow up in a little country like NZ, you have to be more outward looking than you probably need to be in the US)
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.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LINative View Post
...but who cannot tell the difference between Austria and Australia.
Was standing outside the laundromat in Port Angeles while my clothes were washing having a ciggy and using my "green" ashtray when a nice American chap wandered up to me, curious about the ashtray.

He: Oh that's cool where did you get it?
Me: At the supermarket but I'm from Australia and I don't know if they have them here in the US.
He: Oh! I've been to Austria! LOVED the Alps.
Me: I've been to Europe but I've never been to Austria. Saw the alps from the plane over Switzerland and Italy though. Very beautiful.

The look of confusion on his face was priceless until it dawned on him I meant I was from Downunder.

I have to say I'd heard about this confusion regarding Austria and Australia but thought it must have been an old wives tale until I was having the conversation.
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