8 Things That Surprise Me About the United States

North America


Reverse culture shock is a lot like an old relationship. Have you ever looked back on something and made new realizations? When you step away from somewhere or something, you might think that things have changed. However, it’s realllyyy because you’re getting a fresh set of eyes on what used to be familiar. That’s my relationship with the United States.

After traveling, coming back home can be a strange feeling. But sometimes you can’t pinpoint why.

Well, I think I finally figured some of it out.

Whether you’re returning home or visiting, here are a couple of reasons why the United States is just wEiRd.

8 Things that Surprise Me about the United States

  • 11

    Mind the Gap

    After studying abroad for a semester, I got off the plane and did what most people do – I went to the bathroom. And why are you telling me this Rose??

    Well, a rogue child walked up to my stall and peeped his bright-green-eyes through the gap in the door. Feeling eyes on me as I grabbed a piece of toilet paper, I looked over, and awkwardly muttered a, “hi.”

    Welcome home!!!

    Really wasn’t a big deal. However, it begs the question:

    Why do we have gaps in our bathroom stalls??!

  • 22

    Being in a Rush

    Catching up with someone usually involves chatting, relaxing, and enjoying coffee or tea without worrying about work right??

    Hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahah nope!

    Maybe on the weekends.

    People eat egg sandwiches and hot dogs on the go, and people run with scorching hot coffee spilling down their hands on the go.

    Everything anywhere is about getting stuff done as fast as possible. Which in one way, we have conveniently developed drive-throughs for anything imaginable; drive-through coffee shops, fast food places, pharmacies, ATMs, even grocery stores.

    BUT on the other hand – guys we need to just,


  • 33


    Our tax isn’t included on our tags or price stickers. So if you’re visiting the U.S. and something says it’s $20 you probs can’t just pull out a $20 bill and pay for it…

    Sorry, we’re annoying.

  • 44


    Salt, grease, you name it!

    Yeesh, what do we put in our food? IDK ’bout you, but upon coming home from study abroad I started getting sick after eating food here again.

    It could’ve been because the city I was living in, in Australia was health-food central and basically all I ate were Acai bowls (Gold Coast anyone???)

    But regardless, anyone else have a similar experience?

  • 55

    Portion Sizes

    Piggybacking off of the last one.

    Weight is something that I used to struggle with myself. I gained and lost the freshmen 15 30 so I get that this is a touchy subject.**

    But, you’ve heard it – American portions are as big as our consumer culture. There are all-you-can-eat-buffets, 40c supersize upgrades, and unlimited meal plans.

    After going somewhere and seeing people in poverty, to coming home and seeing people in electric wheelchairs due to obesity, can be never-the-less unsettling.

    ** “The freshmen 15” refers to the 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) people tend to gain when they start University.

  • 66


    I’ve officially been dubbed a weirdo because I now prefer water without ice.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • 77

    Work = Life

    Love me some 9-5, Corporate America work culture hahaha. I’ll try my hardest to make this brief.

    Conversations often focus on work. Asking what people do for a living is usually a solid start to a convo when this could be insulting in other countries. Someone actually told me once that I had been rude for not asking, smh.

    Don’t get me wrong – having a good work ethic is awesome and important, but taking time off is often looked at negatively?? 2 weeks vacation is standard.

  • 88


    Okay, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is a thing only in the U.S.

    Commercials often start out like so –

    You will see an old man smiling and laughing, a couple walking and holding hands, or a brief journey through a middle-class woman’s life; from her first spelling bee to her granddaughter’s, dog’s first birthday.

    And then at the end of the commercial,

    Surprise!! This is an ad for GARDASIL9®! Here are 2 minutes of the side effects that can kill you.

    Can you even advertise prescription medicine in other countries?? Anyone??


What are some things you’ve noticed that’s different about the United States? Have you noticed anything new after returning to your home country?

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