Having lived and worked in America in the past, I’ve noticed a number of things about the country and its’ citizens that continue to amaze me. While these are massive generalisations and I am aware they clearly do not apply to all Americans, these are things that, as a foreigner, I am sure will strike you the first time you visit the land of the free.
1. Flags. EVERYWHERE.
Americans are like super-duper proud of their country, and that means displaying that patriotism everywhere. From outside their homes, to flying from their cars, to tattooed onto their bodies. They live and bleed the stars and stripes y’all.
2. Portion Sizes.
A typical main course plate at any chain restaurant should happily see you through breakfast and lunch the next day too! (I’m not saying it WILL do though!)
3. Sports are like actually a big deal.
Whether it’s football (American football), basketball or baseball, some people are really, really into their sports. Games can shut towns down for the day. And it’s not just the pros that draw the big crowds. College games can attract upwards of 60,000 people, while one high school championship game in Texas had 54,347 supporters. I mean seriously.
4. Americans drive everywhere.
I have yet to decide if this is because they just hate walking, or because of the way roads are built and laid out in America. When visiting Norfolk, Virginia there was actually no pavement outside my friends’ house so the only way to safely leave the neighbourhood was to drive. People will drive across the road, from one side of a strip mall to the other. Although terrible for the environment there is one benefit of everyone driving everywhere…
5. Drive-thru coffee!
Drive-thru coffee. My heaven. This is something I seriously miss now I’m back in the UK. Is there anything more convenient than driving through a booth and picking up fresh coffee, or an ice-cold latte? No. Absolutely living the dream.
And sticking with the car theme, you will see an awful lot of trucks on the roads. The number you come across does rather depend which area of the country you are visiting (they are particularly prominent in the south), but really, they are everywhere. In some states it is legal for passengers to ride in the bed and for owners to ‘jack up’ their trucks. My dream car is actually a red pick-up, I’ll have you know.
7. American friendliness.
During my first visit the States, I found shop assistants’ overly friendly greetings and politeness rather off-putting and fake. However the longer I have spent in America, the more I have grown to love it. Now when I hear ‘How’s your day going?’ at the check out, or ‘Have a great day!’ as I’m leaving, I reply with ‘Good thanks, how about yours?’ or ‘Thanks, you too!’ I recommend you embrace it!
8. The food.
We’ve talked about portion sizes in restaurants but how about in the supermarket? You can get bags of Lucky Charms big enough to feed the Duggar’s. And what about Minute Maid lemonade. Or pretzel M&Ms. Or Arnold Parmer Iced Tea. Or spinach dip. Or…okay, now I’m just listing all the food I miss from America, don’t mind me.
Target is like a supermarket/department store hybrid and it is a magical place. You could spend HOURS in Target, gathering clothes, things for the home, art supplies, games, food, makeup etc etc. and spend less than $100. I am speaking from experience.
I don’t recommend getting into a debate about guns with an American. The right to bear arms is written into their constitution and many Americans will fight fiercely to protect that right. Some states allow open carry, while others are more discreet, but I promise you there is nothing more unnerving than walking into a shop to the sign ‘Please check all firearms at the counter before proceeding’.
11. Go big or go home.
From portion sizes to trucks, sports games to displays of patriotism: go BIG or go home. Americans do not do things half-heartedly and boy do I love them for it.