People from Other Countries List What Surprised Them About Coming to the U.S.A.Posted: August 6, 2014 | |
With Helpful Commentary From An American, Yours Truly
That’s quite a list!
First, lets touch on the ones that I, a native of the U.S.A., agree with, or can relate to. Then we’ll get to some corrections and minor disagreements. Lets begin!
Is slang unique to the U.S.A? That’s news to me! But, I can’t disagree. A product of diversity, poor public education & rich teachers unions, multi-linguistic confusion, terminal hipness, and bad manners.
True! Not only does everyone in Boston jog — all 636,479 of them — everyone in America jogs. Every day. Even babies jog. Don’t you? We started in the 1970s, and the fad just never ended! We love it.
Huge serving portions, ice water, baby seats, baby strollers, giant cars, obesity, general safety, wastefulness, etc.
Check, check, check, agreed, those are things many of us observe, too.
Sensitiveness towards race and religion
Those are two unrelated things, but linked by a common desire to not offend.
Sensitiveness towards Race
Yes, it’s a touchy issue here. Well-intended people don’t want to offend, so extraordinary caution is the default position. The stakes are high. One could lose their livelihood, social status, apartment, friends, savings account, and library card, if they accidentally say the wrong thing. Especially when a recording device is on.
Additionally, the guilt narrative has been successfully transferred from one generation of innocent people to subsequent generations of innocent people, the actual guilty oppressors being inconveniently long-dead.
To complicate things, not-so-well-intended people sometimes like to indulge in fake outrage, pretending to be offended. Sometimes for self-amusement, other times to practice their grievance theater performance skills, other times to lay the foundation for serious litigation.
But the good news is, these rules only apply to native-born Americans. If you’re a first-generation U.S. citizen, resident alien, or visitor to the U.S., you’re granted honorary immunity. You can say goofy things that would otherwise be heard as loaded with offensive racial meaning, and it’s not taken personally. It’s a free pass. Enjoy it! Just don’t overuse it. They’ll eventually catch on, and make you feel guilty.
Sensitiveness towards Religion
Not so much! We’re quite free to mock religion! So long as it’s Christianity, Christianity, or Christianity. If it’s not one of those three, then we have to check with our cultural advisors first.
Okay, that concludes the agreeable things. Now, let’s get to work. These are things visitors should know!
Even if it’s unfamiliar, or peculiar, by your standards, most of us are obligated to know some basic customs of places we visit. And enjoy learning that, as part of the travel experience. It’s elementary travel advice, and basic good manners.
Of course, you can do like many foreign visitors do, and pretend to be ignorant, as a perfect excuse to not tip. It’s worked for millions of our guests. Feel free to use this excuse. Or, failing that, complain that ‘the math is too hard”, so you can tip less. Also, if you’re tipping the person who cut your hair, you’re getting your haircut at the wrong place.
“People are really afraid of socialism”
The more educated Americans are about about socialism, the more motivated they are to resist it, reject it, and defeat it. The more ignorant they are, the more likely they are to embrace it, accept it, or not question it.
Note: ‘Obamacare’ is not really about health. Or care. It’s mainly a power grab by pro-government activists and Left-wing policy wonks, and some people who hate insurance companies. But ironically, would trust the government (this is the U.S. government we’re talking about) with state monopoly power over their life-and-death decisions. It’s about power. More for the state, less for the people. Not health. Or care. Same as Europe. Hilarious, isn’t it?
And well, yes, it is indeed a ‘plot’ to make socialism more acceptable. The goal is to appear to try–with an unholy concoction of half-measures no one wants–but then ultimately fail, so it can drive U.S. public opinion toward socialized health care. The largest, most expensive, and most unaccountable on earth.
How do we know this is a plot? A transitional mechanism to achieve European-style state socialism? It’s not like anyone’s trying to hide it. The most ardent engineers of Obamacare make no secret of it. They’re on record bragging about it.
“Yes, you can buy guns without very much of a background check”.
Having the F.B.I. check to confirm you’re a law-abiding citizen with a clean record, then a mandatory waiting period (unless the person is already on file from a recent purchase, already background check approved) is standard. The pages of sworn statements required aren’t trivial. Tens of millions of Americans don’t qualify. A first-time buyer, purchasing a pistol, in all but a few states, won’t get to walk out with their purchase that day.
In some regions you can’t purchase a handgun for self-protection unless you’re wealthy and well-connected, or a Democratic campaign donor, or a celebrity, or are friends with local law enforcement officials. Some states have background checks and other procedures that take years, and require permission and a signature from a judge.
Note that this conclusion was drawn by an observer who reported that he ‘was driving around’, and ‘saw someone leaving a gun store’ with a bag “possibly enjoying the purchase of two pistols!”
That’s about as useful as “I was driving around, and saw someone leaving a bank, with a large handbag, possibly enjoying a million dollars of free money!
Wow, America is a great place!’
Note to self: Errand number one, gun store. Errand number two, bank. Make sure it’s in that order.
The goofy remark about religion is too brief and bigoted to be treated seriously, but it merits attention. “Creationism” is believed in a “handful of places” in western Europe, but the U.S. it’s at least a “force to be reckoned with”.
Let me offer this correction.
BILLIONS of people worldwide–including millions of people in Europe–subscribe to one religion or another, and they all have a creation story. It’s a universal element in all traditional religions. That guy at the Vatican, in Rome, ask him.
This isn’t really news, is it?
Otherwise, it could be a good promotional travel slogan. “Come to the U.S.A., see the Creationists! They’re a force to be reckoned with!”
Not surprisingly that the two most memorable comments are about things that have eroded, vanished, or are strictly forbidden in Europe.
1. Respect for your fellow being’s right to worship in the church of their choice, and believe whatever creation story they wish, as a cherished and protected right. It’s the foundation of modern democratic pluralism. And with it, the obligation to tolerate being mocked, ignored, or offended, without threatening to behead the offender. That last part is really important.
2. Individual gun ownership. The adult common sense to not depend exclusively on the state for you and your family’s personal safety and protection.
(or depend exclusively on the state for medical care, baby care, birth control, maternity care, retirement care, an allowance, a cookie, permission to go to the bathroom, etc.)
Yes! We are a diverse country, more than many visitors expected. But…Snoop dog and Westboro Baptist Church..really? Hmmm… something tells me that this special insight wasn’t discovered by actually visiting the U.S.A. This is the kind of special insight that can be gleaned from watching CNN international, or watching music videos in the comfort of their flats, or their parents homes, all over Europe. (seriously!)
One last thing.
This person means, I think, “convenience store chocolate”. Or, they haven’t been to the U.S. in the last ten or twenty years. There’s been an explosion in boutique, artisan, hand-crafted foods, beverages, and desserts. Including a flourishing diversity of chocolate. Fifty kinds of chocolate, and only ten kinds of hamburgers. Even convenience stores carry exotic, expensive chocolates these days, compared to a few years ago. The choices and quality are expanding and improving! Come back, try some!
Here, Europe still has us beat. The U.S.’s improving taste for chocolate is very much influenced by more experienced European producers and consumers.
Though, to the person asking a Costco clerk for white chocolate–assuming that story is true–let’s be real here. White chocolate isn’t chocolate.
It contains some of the waxes and solids from the cocoa plant, but the bitter, flavorful “cocoa” part was removed. That’s why it’s bleached looking. The result is a sugary white chunk of stuff that’s indirectly related to chocolate. But many people like it. Maybe even some Europeans. So who am I to quibble? But it does diminish one’s status as a credible judge of fine chocolates.
The second thing I’d observe. Americans, when they have a desire for fine chocolate, don’t go to Costco. Or Walmart. Or 7-11. Or a gas station. Just a travel tip.
Hershey’s chocolate, in spite of its humble, glorious mediocrity—not unlike some traditional European convenience treats, Nutella, for example—is a nostalgic comfort food. Never mistaken for fine chocolate. It’s history, part of our heritage.
High-end European-influenced American dark chocolates, and old-fashioned American sentimental-childhood-favorite milk chocolates—there’s room for both. We like both. And there’s no excuse for pretending to confuse the two extremes. Or, to disrespect Hersheys!
The twin pillars of democracy
Hershey’s chocolate, and nylons, given out by American soldiers during WW2, helped save the western world from starvation, tyranny, and the unimaginable horror of bare naked legs!
Next time you come to America, visit Bed Bath & Beyond, and visit the Beyond section. It’s out of this world!