European Travelers Share Their 'Crazy America' Moments

European Travelers Share Their 'Crazy America' Moments

America is such a great and diverse place. You can spend months driving through the many different regions, meeting new people, trying new foods, learning new things from strangers. But for Europeans, there are many aspects of the United States that are so radically different that they're hard to digest.

These Europeans who came stateside recently went online to share their best 'WTF America' moments. Enjoy!

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45. Greetings

Everyone wanted me to have a great day!

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44. Furry Thieves

Raccoons stealing our bread over night while camping. The box was closed and we put weights on it, yet these clever little trash pandas found a way in and out.

Never underestimate the thievery capabilities of animals born with natural bank robber masks.

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43. Distracted Driving

Roadside billboards scattered along the interstates in the South.






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42. Sea To Sea

The size of everything. Still shocks me that driving from NYC to Cleveland takes twice as much time as a trip across my country. Airport security is also overwhelming (and extremely boring).

I had a Swiss colleague who came to US for a 4 day visit. He thought he was going to drive from NYC to LA in a day. Bless his heart.

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41. I Approve This Message

The political ads where they just SMEAR the heck out of the opposition.

"That other bloke...he touches kids and pees on toilet seats."

"This ad is brought to you by the other politician."

Blew my mind when I saw those.

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40. At The Drive In

The fact that we have never thought of a concept like Sonic (the drive in place) blew my mind

I think it's easier for Americans because you have a lot more space. A lot of your towns and cities came up after cars already existed, so there was plenty of room for parking lots and drive-in dining. Drive-in theaters are another perk you get.

Your cities were built with cars in mind. In Europe, in a lot of places, cars were invented much later and cities had to be adapted for their sake.

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39. American Hospitality

On the first day of our US road trip we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant south of San Francisco. When we tried to pay the waiter told us that another customer that just had left paid for our meals and wished us a nice trip.

WTF, who does that? So nice! Totally made my day and honestly the whole vacation.

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38. Showing The Flag

I was in New York for a little less than a week. It was my first, and so far only time in the USA. Since there's a stereotype about Americans religiously loving their flag, I thought it would be fun to count every American flag I saw.

I gave up at 400.

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37. Ice Ice Baby

Answering for someone else (I'm an American answering for a German).

Ice machines in hotels. He couldn't understand why the hotels had so many ice machines and why there are signs for them. I couldn't stop laughing about it and honestly have no idea why we love ice so much.

He also asked what people had in the big plastic cups. I said pop/soda. He laughed and said they look like they are 1.5 liters, there is no way they are drinking soda. Silly friend, yes, yes they are.

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36. Another Brick In The Walmart

Honestly, Walmart! Went there to buy a sim card and some groceries. Then I found out that I could also buy pet fish, car parts and shoes ALL IN ONE BUILDING?!

Also, while in the queue to the checkout, we were next up and they just decided to close the lane? We had to requeue somewhere else.

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35. Mind The Gap

I thought the gap in bathroom stall doors was a myth. Didn’t get privacy for my five day stay. How do you poop when someone can look you in the eye?!

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34. Forgot The Red And The White

I ate a blue slurpee ice-drink thing in a theme park and three hours later, I kid you not, I did a VIBRANTLY BLUE POO.

No food in Europe has ever contained an ingredient that made my poo come out blue.

That made me go "WTF?" - I was WTFing so hard that eleven years later I still remember that blue dump.

Thanks America! Fond memories...

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33. Drive By

You can actually go to the ATM without leaving your car. Line for the drive-by is longer then in the coffeeshop itself.

Sorry. I mean drive-thru. In the U.S. a driveby is when you shoot at some people while driving by them in your car.

I hate drive-thrus in America. It's almost always faster just to park and go inside. I've been in places where the line at the drive-thru is out to the street, but there's not one person in line inside.

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32. But First, A Message From Our Sponsors

Portion sizes and adverts for prescription pills would be the big two. All the other differences would be either stuff you don't experience on holiday or within the kind of differences you'd expect from another country. But the meals were just unbelievably massive, and having people hawk serious medication to you through the TV was very jarring.

Oh, and the number and duration of ad breaks as well. One night me and my dad were in some small town on our way to somewhere else, decided to watch Silence of the Lambs on TV. The ad breaks towards the end were insane, completely ruined the film. They managed to put one in the middle of the finale. Remember the bit where Clarice finds the well, and then the lights go out? That's where they put an ad break. Screw me sideways.

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31. Talk To Your Doctor

That you guys buy any medicine at all after hearing the list of potential side effects.

"Suffering from dry eyes? Try Novulex! The good kind of eye watering!"

"Warning - may cause permanent blindness, hallucinations and uncontrollable spasms."

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30. Look Up

I've visited New York City several times in the period 2009 - 2014.

Positive WTF: Giant buildings with sometimes stunning architecture; Woolworth Building, 40 Wall Street, Chrysler Building, etc. Already impressive on pics but overwhelming when literally towering above you in real life.​

Negative WTF: Some employees of the TSA. Man, I don't expect you to smile and be all sunshine, but screaming with all your might at some passengers while your head turns red with saliva dripping out of your mouth might be a bit much.

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29. Life Is No Holiday

Your thing of having, like, two weeks holiday a year. I've never had a job with less than four weeks plus national holidays. I had an engineering job with six weeks plus national holidays. I've met up with my colleagues from various different countries and the US is always this one single outlier that for some reason puts up with having hardly any holidays.

How do you get anything done? How do you book dentist appointments and get your car repaired and still have any chance to actually get away for a proper holiday?

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28. Hey You!

I highly doubt this happens in any other country and maybe it doesn't happen often but when my family and I were at the airport in Orlando about to start our holiday, a random security guy came up to us and singled out my grandparents to ask them questions like how long we are staying, what we are going to do, where we were from, etc.

The problem was they didn't speak English and I think he knew this. (We came from Britain however my grandparents were Chinese immigrants and never learned that much English). Security guy ignored the rest of us when we told him they don't understand English and ignored our answering for them. Thankfully he couldn't stop us from translating and eventually was satisfied with their one word answers.

It felt like he didn't want to let us into his country unless we could speak English... Just seemed like such a pointless waste of time and so rude.

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27. Packing Heat

I'm from Australia, and I went to Vegas a couple of years ago. We went to this shooting experience thing which was pretty cool, but also a little weird to shoot fully automatic weapons with no licence or anything. While there, about 50 meters off the side of the road, several people just rocked up, pulled guns out of their cars and just started shooting at stuff. On the side of a busy road. Just casual.

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I went to Hawaii for Christmas a couple years ago. You crazy people were setting fireworks off all week, and then your ships saluted the President by firing really big loud guns into the harbor or whatever.

You guys are nutsos. Oh, right, and then President Obama became the only US President to personally inconvenience me, because our flight was delayed from boarding like a half an hour or so because the air needed to be clear for AF1 to take off, since apparently he had to go back to work.

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25. Second Amendment

I moved to the United States in 2016 to begin my masters in a small university town in Tennessee. My first culture shock was how everyone was super nice to everyone everywhere I went. On my second Sunday in the US, I walked into the community church closest to my apartment. The demography comprised of mostly whites in their mid-fifties to eighties. On many Sundays, I was the only black in church. Aside from a few kids (or grandkids), I was also about the youngest member of the congregation.

However, I found them to be the friendliest group I've ever met to this day. I remained a member until I moved out of TN. On most Sundays, I shared a pew with a retired accountant who I found to be really jovial. His wife played the piano. This man would come to church with his leather bound bible but he never, ever opened it. While I found this puzzling at first, I did not give it any serious thought. After all, a man should have a right to own a bible and a right to not read it.

Fast forward to about a year later, another church friend and I drove to his ranch which was a few miles out of town. I can’t remember how we came by the subject, but when I told him I had never held a gun, he offered to give me some shooting lessons. When he expressed his regrets of not having sufficient ammunition for me to try out, I assumed he had one gun with a few bullets.

I was wrong. After we pulled up beside his barn, he took out two firearms from the back of truck in addition to a .40 semi-auto. I was shocked beyond words. How the heck can someone have three guns on a Saturday morning he plans to spend feeding cattle? And why would anyone consider three guns only a few? If I had one bullet in my apartment, I would consider myself armed.

Anyway, I had a great time shooting paper targets. Over lunch, he told me the old gentleman at church did not open his bible because it was not a bible. What I thought was a bible all this time was a holster.

What is my biggest cultural shock in America? Seeing regular, harmless people bear arms.

Rereloluwa Fatunmbi

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24. Ps & Qs

The one thing I wasn’t expecting from the US is how polite 99% of the people I met were. Lots of thanks, good wishes and very friendly people.

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23. Big Man, Small Talk

I'm from Poland.

Before my visit to the USA I’ve never understood the concept of small talk. I’ve heard of it on numerous occasions, especially during my English lessons, but I never really got it. What’s the point of talking if there’s nothing to talk about?

Then I came to America to work and travel, and everyone started talking to me.

People asking me “How are you?” (or “How ya doin’?” in Virginia) didn’t shock me - I knew that it was just a way of saying “hi”. What did shock was that everyone was doing that - even some random people I didn’t know passing me on the street.

I’m 206 cm (6′9″ for Americans) tall. That’s a lot, and I’m constantly reminded of it by handrails on buses and trams or by doors in houses. But living in Poland, I hear one, maybe two questions related to my height every year. In Newport News’ Partick Henry Mall ten people asked me about my height in an hour.

People kept engaging me in conversations all the time - at work (when it was slow enough that we could talk), on buses, planes and trains, in public. Once I was called by a woman on a beach, because she remembered I had given her advice a day before (and I didn’t even remember it - I served thousands of customers every day).

And everyone was super freaking emotional.

What an average Pole would say: “There was a spider in my room. I killed it with my slipper”.

What an average American would say:“Oh my God, you’re not gonna believe this! I came into my room and there was a HUUUUGE spider right in the middle of it! I took a slipper and started whacking the spider with all my might, until it was dead! Omg I still can’t believe it happened!”

(By the way, I don’t want this to sound stereotypical, but the fact that most of my American coworkers were kind of like this. But still, a Polish girl would usually be much less emotional, especially after the job of killing spider was done.)

I’ve been in the USA for three months. For the first month it was a bit annoying to me - I even used the term “emotional exhibitionism” once or twice - but then I got used to it. And I even started enjoying it, especially when I finished my work and started my travel.

Because it was nice. And because I could ask random strangers on planes or trains about objects we were passing and learn about them this way. And then answer their questions about Poland (“Yes, it’s in Europe. Yes, we have shopping malls, they’re nothing new to us, and actually we kinda start getting sick of them. Yes, we’re mostly Christians, Roman Catholics to be exact, and no, I’ve never met a creationist in my life.”)

Piotr Waszkielewicz

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22. Low Rider

How low down the toilets are compared to here in the UK. Went to sit on one, dropped as I thought I'd missed the darned thing then felt like I'd broken my butt on impact. It's like missing the bottom step of the stairs, but even worse.

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21. #MeToo

"I'm Irish too." Said in a Texan accent after they heard me speak. I'm not even Irish I'm Welsh.

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20. Processing...

The most affordable way to acquire food in Poland has always been buying raw products and cooking them. If I bought half kilo of mushrooms, three kilos of potatoes, six eggs and one kilo of potato starch, it would cost me 17 PLN (about the price of single Whopper meal at Burger King) and it would be enough to make Silesian dumplings for dinner for a family of four.

And it always seemed logical to me - if someone else processed the food instead of me, this person would get paid, and this money (along with other costs of production) would be added to my bill. So the more stages of processing the food goes through, the more expensive it gets. Right?

Not in America.

In the land of the stars and stripes, for some reason the more stages of processing the food goes through, the cheaper it gets. I felt like if I bought cheese, bread and butter and made a sandwich myself I’d pay more than if I bought a sandwich someone else got paid to make for me.

It was completely against any of my previous consumer habits and I needed some time to actually acknowledge this. And I still have no idea how it works (it probably has something to do with the economy of scale, but still).

I know that many Americans don’t like it and blame the cheap processed food for the nationwide obesity problem (I actually lost some weight when I was in America, and I was on tight budget, but it might have something to do with the fact that I worked 10–12 hours a day and usually I ate only breakfast and lunch during the day). I’m not gonna pretend like I know the solution, I’m just gonna enjoy my cheap potatoes here in Poland.

Overall, America was an awesome place. But it was also pretty weird.

Piotr Waszkielewicz

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19. I Had No Idea This Was A Thing

Absolutely HUGE oranges and apples (actually most fruit in the US looks massive compared to the things here in Greece). Like... so big it's silly. I remember walking into the fruit and veg section in some shop and actually not believing my eyes when I saw the size of them. I just started laughing - they look so weirdly big. How do they even get so big??? What do you spray on them???

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18. Moon Shot

I went to the U.S. on an exchange. The two most memorable questions were "Can you see the moon in Europe?" and "Do you have Pizza in Europe?" Something else I'll never forget was the map of Europe in the school I went to which still showed the country of Yugoslavia (which doesn't exist anymore) and all the borders were messed up. A map IN THE SCHOOL.

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17. Pretty Sharp

Sharps bins in Disney toilets.

I had a real WTF moment but was also kind of humbled by what I thought was an unexpected and generous display of acceptance and concern for people struggling with addiction.

I think I vaguely assumed Disney had somehow figured it was a problem they should understand and try to accommodate but I just couldn’t work out how or why.

Anyway it took about an hour for me to realize it was for diabetics.

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16. London Is A Village, Right?

When in Boston someone realized we were British and came over to have a conversation:

"Oh my god, I have a friend in England. She lives in London. Do you know her?"

Hmm, there are 9 million people who live in London, and 65 million in the UK. The chance of me knowing one individual is quite remote!

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15. Customers First

This happened just yesterday. I was driving to the airport to drop off my wife.

Wife: I’m hungry, I wanna have a cream-cheese bagel before I get to the airport.

Me: Okay, there’s a drive thru Starbucks just around the corner. It’s very unlikely that they have a bagel at 3 pm on a weekday but we can give it a shot. Lets pick up a coffee in any case.

We reach the drive thru.

A very pleasant barista greets me.

Barista: Hello there, welcome to Starbucks. What can I get for you today?

Me: Hello. Can I get a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese?

Barista: Hold on, let me check if we have one.

After a brief moment..

Barista: I’m really sorry we are out of everything bagel. I can get you a plain bagel if you’d like?!

Me: Umm no thanks. Can I just get a tall coffee with cream and one sugar please?

Barista: Sure thing. Come on over.

I drive up to the pick-up counter with my Starbucks app open to pay for my coffee.

Barista: Here you go!! (Hands me the coffee)

Me: Thank you! Here you go. (Showing the bar-code on my phone for the barista to scan.)

Barista: No, you’re good.

Me: Whaaa? What do you mean? This is for the coffee.

Barista: We don’t need that. We couldn’t get you the bagel that you actually came for so the coffee is on us.

Me: Are you sure? I wanted a coffee too with the bagel.

Barista: Yeah I’m sure. Have a nice day!

Culture shock? Not the free coffee but the absolute delight in serving customers with a radiant smile is what I find shocking. This is not the first time I’ve experienced something like this in the U.S. All of us have jobs and we get to vent out our rage in some way or the other sometimes even snapping at our clients. Anything to the contrary I find refreshing and hope to learn something from.

Aditya Prasad

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14. Fly Like An Eagle

During my first visit, I was astonished at the number of small airports and incredible number of small aircraft. So much freedom to fly across a vast country. Amazing.

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13. American Myths Busted

I grew up in Europe and was marinated in anti-American stereotypes since birth

So it was a shock to find the following:

I typically make fun of Americans as being dumb so it was a surprise to find out The United States has won more Nobel Prizes (368)— than any country in the world. 368 is more than the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden combined. I still don’t believe it mate.

I grew up thinking they were all obese and lazy so it was really weird to discover they’ve won more Olympic medals (2,827 — more than double the second place holder) than any country in the world.

Wait a second here — you mean to tell me that the iPhone I use every day is an American invention?

Ok — so I flew to America on an airplane and you’re actually telling me that two American brothers invented and flew the first airplane? That cannot be right garçon!

The best university system in the world?? Say whaaaaaaat???

Hold on here. America is a gun mad racist knuckle-dragging creationist cesspool of dreck. And you’re telling me it’s the top choice for immigrants and it beats second place by a full 15 percentage points?? These people must be just as dumb as the Americans!

Wait! You’re actually saying that people around the world watch more of Americas films than any other country? Please stop telling me all these crazy facts it’s making my head spin!!!!!!!!

They put a man on the moon?? How did those idiots pull that off?

No, no — that can’t be right. Surely it was the Italians who were the first to explore Mars

Polio was cured by whom???

Wait a second, hombre. Americans are self absorbed and only care about making money and you’re telling me the soldiers buried in these graves died fighting to keep Europe free?

Melvin H Roosevelt

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12. Sugar, Oh Honey Honey

I saw a woman put sugar in her coke at IHOP for breakfast. I've been told that's gross for other Americans too, so I'm not trying to suggest it's normal. But it was definitely a WTF America moment.

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11. Are You Being Served?

I own a restaurant and could never be in that business if I had to do it the way Americans do. "The customer is always right" in my country means that even though a request seems unreasonable or means extra effort for you, you do your best to make it happen because you want the guest to be happy and have a memorable experience. If they complain about something you, within reason, try your best to make it right and don't argue or get offended.

However, it seemed to me that in the US that means "the customer can treat the hard working staff like trash and gets rewarded for it." Also the compensation is absolutely ridiculous.

You bought something and accidentally broke it the minute you got home? Here, have your money back and a brand new item. You didn't like the food even though you ate all of it? No check for you sir, have some free desert as well.

In my country "not liking something" is a you problem. Better luck next time. You don't get to pick something else just because you picked wrong (of course I do sometimes make an exception). And if you treat my staff like crap, you're out of my business FAST. I was shocked by the amount of people I witnessed being rude or short with wait staff or cashiers. Who are, btw, super friendly, cheerful and welcoming 99.9% of the time.

The hospitality is awesome, way better than in most places in Europe I think, but this made me go WTF.

In addition to that: the tipping system as part of the wages of the employees appalls me and the taxes not being added in the price that is shown is just inconvenient.

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10. Putting Up A Front

Two things stood out to me: 1. The number of people with expensive clothes and/or vehicles that lived in homes that didn't match their 'upscale' presentation. 2. The vastly different quality and taste of fast food meats in the states versus those in Europe.

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9. Hit The Road, Jack

Dutch here. The USA is my favorite holiday destination, I'd even move there if I could.

I've toured the west, California, Arizona, Nevada. Spent a week in Las Vegas and another week in Manhattan.

WTF: How huge your roads are, driving in the US boils down to pressing the gas to go, pressing the brake to stop. Just point it in the general direction you want to go and you'll be fine, lanes are too wide to hit anything.No engine braking though, drive up to the traffic light, hit the brakes at the last possible moment. I've had multiple people honk at me for letting go of the gas and just letting the car roll when I saw a red light in the distance.

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8. Speed Demons

The speed at which you guys repair roads. I mean WTactualF. My dad and I went to LA and the day we arrived they tore open a 2km strip of road. When we went to visit Warner studios next day they had started to pave again. When the tour was finished at 4pm and we walked back the road was in full freaking use again. Seriously that project would have taken at least half a year usually a year for that much of a project. I am truly amazed.

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7. Thank You For Your Service

Went there as a german soldier on a semi work related trip, wearing uniform. The sheer number and the way people thanked me for my service (apparently as a german I qualify for this by extension), gave me discounts or even stuff for free (Starbucks) was astonishing. In Germany, the public treats its servicemen with what one federal president called "a friendly non-interest".

The US showed me a different world... But I also gotta admit that it was frightening to a certain degree. It feels like... a bit too much of everything. Too much admiration, too much trust in what the uniform stands for, too much "automatic repetition" of the phrases and as a result too little normality. Still a memorable and enjoyable one-time experience

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6. Better Bring Your Card

Being carded to get in a bar when I was 29 years old. I'd been drinking in pubs in England for 13 years without having to show ID.

Oh and the general weirdness surrounding drinking was pretty off-putting. Us Brits went for a drink at lunchtime once and our American friends were literally referring us to AA.

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5. Not The Gang You Were Expecting

Two things:

Seeing an actual chain gang working (less wtf and more wow it's not just a TV thing).

And a man, dressed in a fairly nice suit, eating out of a bin in Miami.

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4. In Therapy

The amount and relative state of homeless people. It's not like homeless people don't exist in other countries, but clearly disturbed people covered in urine and faeces are unique to the United States.

Other than that, it's loud. The trains are loud (due to old old tracks/stations as well as the constant announcements), the cars are loud, the people are loud. Everything makes a ton of noise all the time.

Medication/Depression/Therapy. Far far more common. I couldn't for the life of me understand why students need to go to therapy, have such horrible depression, and are taking a plethora of medication like that's normal. Definitely not a thing in Europe. No way. Therapy maybe, but later on in life. Sad to see how much people are suffering in the States.

Debt. Americans are up their their neck in debt, despite this, they loveeee shopping and buying crap they don't need. Very sad.

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3. Flashing Lights

Myself and three friends were travelling the states about 5 years ago. We stopped at a Taco Bell somewhere in the arse-end of nowhere Missouri. Whilst ordering our food, I could see the two female servers behind the till were looking at us funny. Anyway, we left and sat out in the carpark eating our food when lo and behold the local sheriff pulls up, flashing lights and all, explaining he'd received a call about suspicious individuals at Taco bell. He told us to eat up and move on. I can only think it was our reasonably thick British northern accents that caused them to freak out? It was such a strange moment, like American xenophobia/paranoia at its finest.

Apart from that we had an incredible time. Food, landscapes, friendly folk. etc.

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2. Life Is A Highway

Was staying with the nicest family ever. They worked extremely long hours and lived in the suburbs. I wanted to cook for them as a surprise and set out to the store on foot, with an empty backpack for the groceries. Had to walk along the curb of, and then cross, an 8 lane highway to get to the store.

Had to stop a really really old man from bagging the groceries. Then was stopped by police on the way back. They were very friendly, just wanted to know where my car had broken down. Ended up explaining to me that there was basically zero infrastructure for walking out in the burbs. They took me home. On the way, I saw a sign "gas 99 cents a gallon, Bud's Xmas Gift to the Community", blew my dad's mind when I told him later.

Got home, thanked the nice officers, made a vegetable casserole. When my wonderful host family came home, they were blown away but also extremely worried. All in all, I would say that no matter how crazy America may be or seem, Americans make up for all of it. They are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I have ever met.

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1. In God We Trust

I did an exchange program in Cincinnati, Ohio, and one of the first things my family asked once I had arrived was if I was Catholic and I said that I wasn't. They responded: oh, neither are we! And laughed. During the following three weeks they just assumed that I was a protestant while I am actually an agnostic atheist. I am from Barcelona in a neighborhood where most people don't believe in God and I was pretty dumbfounded that they didn't even consider the possibility...

That and the "young people churches" they took me to which I felt like they were an absolute brainwash. In one of the speeches that I attended they said that having a non-christian couple is wrong and against their community and beliefs. I had been told that Ohio was pretty conservative and religious but coming from Barcelona that was mindblowingly sad.

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