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!
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.
43. Distracted Driving
“BE WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS!”
“ADULT TOYS, NEXT EXIT!”
“FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH!”
42. Sea To Sea
41. I Approve This Message
40. At The Drive In
39. American Hospitality
38. Showing The Flag
37. Ice Ice Baby
36. Another Brick In The Walmart
35. Mind The Gap
34. Forgot The Red And The White
33. Drive By
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.
32. But First, A Message From Our Sponsors
31. Talk To Your Doctor
30. Look Up
29. Life Is No Holiday
28. Hey You!
27. Packing Heat
26. LOUD NOISES
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.
24. Ps & Qs
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.”)
22. Low Rider
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.
19. I Had No Idea This Was A Thing
18. Moon Shot
17. Pretty Sharp
16. London Is A Village, Right?
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.
14. Fly Like An Eagle
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?
12. Sugar, Oh Honey Honey
11. Are You Being Served?
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.