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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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