Man with a U.S. hat.

17 Annoying Misconceptions Foreigners Have About the U.S.

America has its fair share of negative stereotypes associated with it. In an online forum titled “Ask an American,” one person posed the question, what commonly-held misconception or stereotype bothers you most? US residents came out in droves with their responses.

Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.

1: Have It Your Way 

Pile of unhealthy food.
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One American says they saw a YouTuber trashing how “terrible” the food is in the US. The restaurants they visited? McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway. “That’s gotta be on purpose, right?” someone responded. “They specifically chose our most common, basic stuff and complained for views.” 

2: Supersize Surprise 

Burrito head.
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“I had a German exchange student, and they were shocked that I wasn’t fat,” one Michigan resident said. Apparently, it’s a shared experience. Another person said, “I met many German students in college here in the Midwest who were also surprised that we weren’t all fat.” 

3: Don’t Believe What You See

Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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Something that grinds one American’s gears is “that people think T.V. and movies are an accurate portrayal of the U.S. and use them to form their opinions of us.” That could explain the obesity mix-up. 

4: Party Animals 

Red solo cups.
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The funniest misunderstanding to one American is how important people think red solo cups are at every party since they’re so prevalent in movies and T.V. shows. “They’re used because they’re convenient, not because they’re some sacred relic that must be present to appease the party gods.” 

5: Getting Fresh

Head of lettuce.
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One New Yorker says a big one for them is the false idea that Americans can’t buy fresh vegetables. “Yup, we exist solely on burgers, fries, and pizza,” another sarcastically responds. 

6: Dairy Queens 

A knife with margarine.
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Oddly enough, one American says a rumor they’ve been seeing a lot recently is that we don’t have butter. “That one doesn’t make sense to me.” 

7: Disposables Only 

Plastic plates and silverware.
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An Ohio local says they encountered someone who vehemently insisted that all Americans regularly use disposable plates and cutlery and only use dishes on rare occasions. “Of course, this person had never been to the U.S.,” they said.  

8: Offended Foodies 

Beer tap
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One frequent traveler says many people’s food-related ideas of America are outdated, “Like the beer is all weak lager, and we don’t have decent bakery bread.” They said people often think “American food” is the same as packaged, processed junk food.

9: Firearm Fears 

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“That one is bound to get shot if they dare venture out in public,” one Coloradan mentioned about a common American misconception. Another said sometimes people don’t understand how it’s possible that Americans aren’t always scared to go outside. 

10: Double Standards 

Frustrated woman.
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It’s not so much the misconception that bothers one American, but people’s reaction when they’re corrected about them. “If an American were to spout some ignorant stereotype about any other place and then arrogantly double down on their wrong opinion, that American would get ripped to shreds.” 

11: Come Together 

Hands from different nationalities.
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An unfair misconception about America is “that the U.S. doesn’t have a culture/unique identity,” a Wisconsin native said. “Being a melting point of multiple cultures is what makes the U.S. unique.” 

12: Every State Is Different 

Lawyer writing.
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One U.S. resident says there’s often confusion about how Americans set laws at the federal and state levels. You’ll hear that something is illegal or Americans don’t have something when it’s just the difference in what’s allowed in each state. “Many Americans don’t understand that either,” one person joked. 

13: Jet Setters 

Plane flying by palm trees.
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An American global traveler said they’re frustrated with the idea that “we’re collectively bad at languages and geography. And that we don’t travel outside the U.S.” They said there’s a lifetime of things to do and see within North America.”

14: Misrepresented 

Angry woman.
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“I think the one that bothers me the most is Americans being stupid,” a Pennsylvanian said. “Their reasoning is always those weird street interviews with cherry-picked moments of people being insanely stupid,” another American replied. 

15: Cardboard Boxes

House listing.
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To an American, the misconception “that our houses are made of cardboard” drives them crazy. Such comments often come from Europe and other nations that use stone, brick, or concrete for their houses. “We’ve been building houses for some time now,” they say. “I think we’ve figured out what works for us.”

16: Four Wheels

Driving in traffic.
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Too many foreigners think that Americans drive their cars everywhere because they’re lazy, says a frustrated American. They argue that’s mostly not true; it’s a lack of pedestrian infrastructure that forces Americans to turn to their cars. “My grocery store is only a mile and a half away, but that would require me and my toddler to walk alongside the edge of a busy road and then cross a 6-lane road that has no crosswalk.”

Their conclusion? “I’ll take my SUV. Thanks.”

17: Do Your Part 

Surprised woman.
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It bothers one New Jersey resident when foreigners complain about sales tax in the States. “Your purchase will be a few cents more at checkout. Get over it. That’s how we do it.” 

Source: Reddit

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