Frustrated woman.

14 “Facts” Foreigners Commonly Get Wrong About America

The Land of the Free should be called the Land of the Misunderstood, according to some Americans wanting to shed light on what foreigners get wrong about the U.S. Foreigners who’ve traveled to the States also shared their misconceptions before visiting.

1: Microwaves Are for Tea

Woman holding hot cup of tea.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A frustrated American shared that the foreigners they’ve met have commented how they believe Americans boil water for tea in microwaves because they’re lazy. Other Americans showed support for the commenter, saying that the US doesn’t have a tea-drinking culture. And even if it did, they questioned why one would use a kettle to heat water when microwaved water achieves the same goal.

2: Twinkies Are Life

Twinkie dessert.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A California native expressed concern about how foreigners seem to think Americans love Twinkies. They’re confused by this sentiment, given that “no one talks about ’em or wants them.” Perhaps the Boomer generation has a greater appreciation for Twinkies; the sugar-filled dessert became popular after World War II.

3: Maternity Leave Is Non-Existent

Pregnant woman working.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Since the US has no federally enforced paid maternity leave, some foreigners believe new American mothers and fathers never receive time off. While many Americans have strong opinions on how maternity leave should operate, certain businesses offer generous maternity leave benefits.

4: The Law Is the Law

Court objects.
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Actually, it isn’t. That was one foreign traveler’s experience, who was surprised to learn that many laws vary between states.

5: It’s Drivable

Convertible with a surfboard.
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With the exception of Hawaii, it’s possible to drive to all states. But does that make the US “drivable?” Most Americans would say no. Several foreigners commented that they didn’t realize how big the US was until they started planning their trip.

6: New York City Is a State

Waterfall at Letchworth Park.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

To be fair, many non-New Yorkers get this one wrong too. Although New York City makes up the majority of New York State’s population, most of the state’s landmass is countryside.

7: You Don’t Have to Pay for Refills

Pouring water into a glass.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A European traveler swiftly turned down the bread and drink refills their waiter brought them, explaining they didn’t order them. Needless to say, they were shocked to learn they were free. Of course, such services don’t always feel free when factoring in tips. But the traveler still marveled at how they never felt ripped off while dining compared to their home country.

8: Education Is the Same

Young girl in a classroom.
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Americans know all too well that some states put more funding into their Department of Education than others. So, unlike what many foreigners believe, the school curriculum and quality of education vary among states … and counties within each state, for that matter.

9: A Foot Is Used to Measure a Foot

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An exasperated American teacher explains they’ve had several exchange students voice their concerns about the non-standardized American measurement system. They didn’t realize a foot equals 12 inches. Instead, they thought people used their own feet for measurements. The students had the same thought process toward drinking cups and measuring cups.

10: All Americans Are Overweight

Fat man looking down at camera.
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Thankfully for the US health system, not all Americans are overweight. But given that more than 73% of the adult population is overweight or obese, it’s fair to say that most Americans are overweight.

11: Everyone Is the Same

Woman shrugging.
Photo Credit: via Depositphotos.

The concept of southern charm, California surfer dudes, and other stereotypes haven’t made their way to foreigners, according to some Americans. Visitors to the US are often shocked to realize that traveling around the US can feel like visiting different countries, given the varied dialects, religious bases, cuisine, and geography.

12: Poverty Is Non-Existent

Man holding his empty pocket.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Some foreigners have the preconceived notion that everyone in the US is rich. How wrong they are. Poverty and homelessness are major issues in the US, and the situation feels like it’s worsening with inflation and a wobbly economy.

13: No One Understands the Metric System

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While it’s fair to say most Americans aren’t well-versed in the metric system, it’s not an entirely “foreign” concept. Middle and high school science classes often use measurements in meters and kilograms. However, many Americans can’t conceptualize a 50-meter distance or how heavy a 10-kilogram jug of water is.

14: Everyone Is White

Skeptical man.
Photo Credit: Alphaspirit via Adobe Stock.

Old Hollywood movies falsely painted the picture for some foreigners that everyone in the US is white. But Americans know this is far from the case. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.2% of the American population is a race other than white.

Source: Reddit.

Forever Happy

Woman making a loser sign on her forehead.
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Americans have a reputation overseas for being friendly. But a study performed by Zippia shows that Americans from certain states are downright rude. Do you live in one of them?

America’s Rudest States Ranked From 1 to 50: Where Does Your State Fall? 

Best Cities to Retire in the US

Elderly woman making the peace sign.
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Your Golden Years should be your best years. But according to research by U.S. News & World Report, that may not be the case depending on where you choose to retire.

50 Best Cities to Retire in America That Won’t Destroy Your Mood and 401(k)

25 Most Expensive American Cities

A fork through two 50 dollar bills.
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Living in America isn’t cheap, but the cost of living in some cities is downright outrageous. The results are about as blue as each state’s political makeup.

25 Most Expensive Cities in America Breaking Bank Accounts

Embarrassing Stereotypes

American holding an American flag and a brown suitcase.
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Foreigners may not be well-versed in how America operates, but one thing is certain: they find it easy to spot American tourists. Are you guilty of falling into one of these embarrassing stereotypes?

Foreigners Spill the Beans on the 17 Annoying Signs They’re Dealing With an American Tourist

Land of the Safe: 15 Least Dangerous Cities in the US

Security guard looking at a city.
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Pull out your bucket list. These are the safest cities in America for residents and travelers.

Land of the Safe: 15 Least Dangerous Cities in the US

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