What surprises Russians when they visit the United States?

answered by Maria Belova, Sound Engineer, Sound Recordist, Editor at Self-Employment

I have been living in USA for 5 years and here is my long list.

  • Prices in stores have taxes on top of them, confusing
  • There are barely any trains or public transportation really. Very inconvenient. You have to drive and obviously own or rent a car to survive.
  • Majority of fast food is horrible. And good fresh food is not really affordable
    Healthcare system is a mess
  • People genuinely like to smile all the time.
  • An inch of snow causes a complete shutdown of schools and other places
    NYC is very dirty, smelly, trashy place even in Manhattan.
  • People call their dogs their children
  • Dog strollers.
  • A lot of parks are very well cared for and look very nice and have clean bathrooms or portable bathrooms.
  • People are obsessed with baseball and American football teams and really like wearing their teams colors on every day basis.
  • A lot of people are very easy going about their cars and no one makes big deal about cars in general or modding their cars like crazy. It is just a car. Unless it is very old and a rarity. So…
  • Old car shows. Just wow.
  • Thrift stores, consignment stores flea markets — totally worth checking out
    A lot, a ton of different ethnic restaurants and stores. NYC alone can provide you with any possible type of cuisine.
  • Renaissance fairs! I am a nerd so I really liked them.
  • A lot of free classes for kids at libraries
  • A lot of 16 yo people driving. Some of them look 12. It is very scary to see a kid driving a big SUV.
  • Clearance prices. This is real clearance. Like up to 99% off kind of clearance I am not joking.
  • Coupons, discounted gift cards, membership rewards etc.
  • Halloween
  • People that are crazy about seasonal decorations. One set for Easter, one set for Thanksgiving, a set for Christmas, a set for st. Patrick’s, a set for 4th of July, a set for Halloween… and they change them religiously really watching the calendar. I mean it looks very cool of you have a neighbor like that but still a bit crazy
  • Prices they are willing to pay for handmade stuff
  • No one does barbecue if it is colder than +18 C/65F
  • Not many people shovel their own driveways or take care of their own backyards
  • Guns. Gun obsession.
  • People tend to stick to their specialty and do not have very broad horizons when it comes to culture, art, science etc. They will talk about art if they’re art major, engineering if they are engineers, not vice versa. It is very rare to meet someone with interests outside of professional field (unless it is some Netflix show)
  • School buses. They are the same to USA as red buses are to Britain. It is kinda cool to see a bus lineup in a front of the school. Although it is definitely irritating to be driving behind a school bus.
  • Stuff people are willing to sell for cheap or even give away for free when they move or declutter.
  • Stop signs instead of roundabouts
  • Most of the road signs aren’t pictograms but written text instead. Example “do not pass” written exactly like that instead of a picture.
  • Cost of manual labor
  • Big fridges. Big big couches. Big big big chairs.
  • Costco
  • Huge butterflies, giant frogs
  • The difference in paper size. Never thought that standard paper sizes could be different. But here we are, a4 is bigger then letter size
  • Imperial vs metric. Metric is so much easier but most of people here use much more confusing imperial claiming that metric is harder.
  • Packages delivered to your door by default. Letters that you put in your own mailbox to send them out.
  • No numbers that show face value on coins.
  • A lot of disposable stuff. Toilet brushes, mop cloths, paper towels, ziplock bags, a lot of prepackaged food… looks wasteful to me.
  • Huge selection of “just warm me up” kind of foods. Convenient but usually has horrible ingredients.
  • Kids rarely like fruits and vegetables.
  • Chimneys are more decorative than effective
  • Too much synthetic clothing and shoes. Hard to find cheap cotton stuff
  • Women of all ages wearing jewelry that is made from very simple metals. I always thought jewelry like this is more for teenagers.
  • Motorized carts in stores
  • “Pick your own” produce and farmers market stuff is much more expensive than the grocery store one.
  • Many many people buying low fat stuff. And then same people putting sugary drinks like next to them. I do not understand the logic of that.
  • Paying with personal checks. Still feels like I am a kid playing pretend store and making up my own money
  • Big variety of food for “health nuts” in stores and online and a lot of times this stuff goes on sale because it has been sitting on the shelf a bit long. So, yay!
  • A lot of energetic, independent, healthy and happy looking old people
  • Almost forgot. Very strict list of so-called “breakfast foods”. I have never known that one cannot just eat anything they want for breakfast but it must be either: cereal, or eggs, or toast, or pancakes, or waffles, or bacon. I eat whatever I have in a fridge that looks yummy. If it is soup than it is soup. If I want a sandwich, or pasta or whatever for breakfast why can’t I eat it without my American friends and family getting completely terrified by the idea of breaking the breakfast food rule? Seriously )))

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