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"This Almost Broke My Brain As A Tourist": Non-Americans Who Have Traveled To The US Are Sharing The Things They Did And Didn't Like About Our Daily Life And Culture

Say what you will about the United States, but it is certainly a unique place. And if you're a non-American visiting the States, you're bound to have a lot of opinions.

Two women sitting at a restaurant booth
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So I recently asked non-American members of the BuzzFeed Community who have visited the US to tell me their favorite and least favorite aspects of daily life and culture in the States. Here's what they said, along with some redditors who've had similar experiences.

1."When I visited New York City for the first time, I was fascinated by how much Manhattan looked exactly the way it does the movies. Same with LA. I loved that everything felt so different from home (Austria), but at the same time, it was really familiar."

People on row boats in Central Park
Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

2."The US has some of the greatest dive bars on the planet. And some of the best intimate venues for live music, too."

u/Kananaskis_Country

3."The best thing about visiting the US, to me, was the sheer variety of landscapes. Within one country, you'll find deserts, mountains, rainforests, tundra, plains, swamps, rocky ocean coasts, white sand beaches, and almost everything in between. There are so many beautiful places."

Red rock canyon with a river running through it
Craig Hastings / Getty Images

4."I don’t think I was prepared for the sheer number of people who straight-up approached me asking for money. My sympathy wore out quickly, so just be ready to politely say, 'Sorry, I haven’t got cash,' and quickly walk away. As a solo traveler, I think I was seen as an easy target."

u/Branch-Much

5."I found that Americans seem to talk a lot louder in public than Germans do. It always irritates me that they talk as if they're giving a speech to everyone around. Back home, we feel that public space is not to be polluted, and that includes loud voices."

People on escalators
Andrea Pistolesi / Getty Images

6."I didn't love that you can't really get around without a car. Within many cities, you can use public transit, but most often it's not that great. Outside of the big cities, you definitely need a car; otherwise you'll be spending a lot of your budget on Ubers."

u/Worth-Ad8369

7."Having to calculate and combine tax and tips fried my brain when I was trying to split a bill in the US. I totally get why people ask for separate checks now. Our small group ordered meals and drinks at very different price points, so we decided to pay for what we ordered rather than split the bill evenly. In the UK, you just get one bill, then add up what you had. It's simple because tax is included in the price, and the tip is a thank-you rather than an expected amount. In the US, getting one bill and trying to fairly split the tax and tips after a couple of drinks broke our brains."

Close-up of someone reviewing the bill at restaurant
Grace Cary / Getty Images

8."When you pay for a bill at a restaurant with a card, the servers will usually take your card and run it at the machine. They don't bring a card reader to your table as they do in Germany. This caused a lot of confusion when a friend visited from Germany a few months back!"

u/Historical_Success31

9."I don't love the big cities. But the national parks and nature are so much better than any city In the US. San Diego is my favorite city, but just beyond it in California, you have Big Sur. I wish I'd known this about the US sooner."

Lupines and mountains at Mount Rainier National Park
Jeffgoulden / Getty Images/iStockphoto

10."Years back, a relative of mine from France was working in San Francisco. He was delighted by two things about the US: being on a first-name basis with his bosses and big American breakfasts."

thatvillageidiot

11."I was shocked to see people living on the streets, especially older people. It seems like homelessness is normalized over there, but it's so not OK. Take care of your citizens..."

A person sitting on the street and holding a sign, "Homeless need help"

—Anonymous

Urbazon / Getty Images

12."It was so much fun to visit all the famous places that I knew and recognized from American movies and TV shows."

—Anonymous

13."The national parks. Their landscapes and size are astonishing. Yellowstone in particular blew me away so much that it’s one of the first places I said I’d love to return to."

An active geyser at Yellowstone National Park
Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

14."I'm Swedish, and I've found Americans to be very helpful, friendly, and approachable. This helps a lot when you're a tourist and feel a bit lost with local customs or directions."

u/Sonoftremsbo

15."I loved the variety of snack options. There seemed to be endless choices of everything in the supermarkets."

An aisle of chips, cheese puffs, popcorn, and other snacks at the market

—Anonymous

Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images

16."I hated the availability of guns. It made me feel incredibly nervous as a visitor."

—Anonymous

17."Girl Scout cookies. I'm from the UK, and l went to Wyoming for one summer. I couldn't believe that Girl Scout cookies were actually a thing. I knew they existed, but I figured they were just an American stereotype played up in the movies. But I went to the grocery store one day, and lo and behold, there were Girl Scouts selling cookies! I got myself a few boxes."

Boxes of Girl Scout cookies
Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

18."I love how friendly Americans tend to be. I’m from Canada, and Canadians are a little more conservative. I'm super shy and can be introverted, but for some reason in the US, people have always just smiled and struck up conversations with me."

Imaflamingo

19."I LOVED Broadway in New York City. There were so many highly professional shows to choose from all in one place."

Billboards at night in Times Square
Fresh Photos From All Over the W / Getty Images

20."I didn't like the general attitude that everything is better in the US than in the rest of the world. There seems to be a prevalent idea that Americans cannot learn from other countries."

—Anonymous

21."Something I loved about America was the diverse food. I'm from Asia, and I was surprised I could find my native food, along with Chinese food, Mexican food, and so many more cuisines."

Bowls of ramen soup on a table
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

22."Free drink refills. They were amazing. In the UK, refills aren’t a thing. But in the States, a server will swipe your drink off your table when you're halfway done with it and refill it, all without a word."

Sian Louise

23."Australian here. Lots of people complain about how bland American food is, but in my experience, these are the people who eat at McDonald's in America and then wonder why it's no different from McDonald's back home. America has some AWESOME food, particularly barbecue and pizza. It was really surprising to see just how good the food in America is, contrary to popular belief. And you don't have to look very hard to find it."

Overhead view of barbecue meal with a variety of side dishes and meat
Kevin Trimmer / Getty Images

24."I didn't love the overwhelming number of American flags. It seemed to me as if there were flags everywhere: on storefronts, on lawns, all over public property, on people's cars...just so many flags. It was all very 'You're in America, and don't you goddam forget it.'"

u/JuniusBobbledoonary

25."The air is so clean in the United States. When you come from a place with massive amounts of pollution, like I do (Beijing), you really appreciate the blue sky and fresh air."

A beach with a lighthouse
Mirceax / Getty Images/iStockphoto

26."I was alarmed by the alleged danger in US cities. I checked into a hotel in New Orleans, and the receptionist drew on a map and then handed it to us. She said, 'If you stay within this area, you'll be safe.' What!?"

u/punkmuppet

27."I loved experiencing American Halloween. It was such a fun time, especially in a part of the country that experiences fall weather with changing leaves."

Halloween decorations on the outside of a house
Patrick Donovan / Getty Images

28."Loved the RV culture. The US is the most ideal place to own or drive an RV. The country is huge, the scenery is always changing, and the campsites are very well organized. What's not to love?"

u/sobrerovirus

29."I was put off by the huge distances between places. Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas might not look so far away on a map, but these cities are over 600 kilometers apart. That's almost equal to crossing my entire home country."

A highway through mountains
Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

30."The portion sizes were delicious but excessive! The first time I went to the Cheesecake Factory, I ordered meatloaf. The portion I received was more like a platter that I would have served to my family of five."

Serial Flosser

31."Hollywood was so disappointing. I thought it would be glamorous, but in reality, it was depressing and dirty."

A sign for Hollywood Boulevard
Lpettet / Getty Images

32."The sandwiches. In America, there are so many glorious sandwiches, like the Reuben, piled high with delicious corned beef on nice artisan bread. Philly cheesesteaks, thin-sliced rib-eye dripping with salty, gooey provolone, and even the po'boy, a stunning creation."

u/Serendiplodocus

33."I loved the mom-and-pop little restaurants, coffee shops, and specialty shops. I avoided the big chain–type places. Do the same, and you will find new cool things you really enjoy."

A breakfast sandwich and fried potatoes
Elizabeth Beard / Getty Images

Do you have something to add? Non-Americans who have visited the US, what are the things you loved and the aspects of life and culture in the States you didn't enjoy? Tell us in the comments or in this Google form.