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What Foreigners Think of America

Updated on July 2, 2012

Since we have family from Germany visit us from time to time and we have had exchange students, it is interesting to hear their impressions of America and California. One of the universal impressions is how large in scale everything is. Distances traveled just to go to school, the store and how everyone has a car and maybe 2-3 cars. How everything is decentralized and scattered away from major transportation hubs (i.e., trains). Cars are larger, houses are larger, grocery stores are huge, malls are huge.

Visitors of California have this vision of nothing but palm trees along large, wide, sandy beaches and the climate is always sunny and mild. No doubt this vision has been perpetuated by Hollywood in movies and TV shows. They seemed baffled when they do not see this vision in reality. "No palm trees?", "I did not think California got this cold", or, "Where is the sun"? They are very dismayed when the beaches of Northern Calif. are so different than those in Southern Calif. They are miffed when they realize that the ocean is verboten in N. Calif, while in S. Calif. it is much warmer.

I was amazed when we took them to a Safeway. They simply looked confused and shocked. " How do you find your food?" "So much choice is bad, it takes too much time". Baseball seems to mystify them, futbol (soccer) they understand and love, ditto for a real American sport, basketball, but baseball and the NFL baffles them. It is guaranteed to make a great conservation topic lasting a good 30 min. or more. Trying to explain the games and strategy requires skills in drawing, showing and basic English. Be prepared for what seems to be funny, silly, questions, "Why does he run to the other base when there is not hit"? "What is a home run"?

They are curious about cheddar cheese, which is uncommon in their country. But, the overwhelming comments remain how big America is. How long it can take from point A to B and how taking public transportation is horrible here, which is why they understand why Americans have so many cars. Trucks and large semi-trucks interest them. While they have semi trucks, they are much smaller, a pickup truck is a novelty to them many times, which are not common in some countries.

Once an American goes to another part of the world, they will see why foreigners who come here have the impressions they do because everything is smaller and condensed. That is the impression I got. I could understand how and why their public transportation is so efficient and reliable, cities and towns are built around major hubs. It just cannot work well in America. Work and schools are often not more than 20 minutes from home, there are few that commute more than 30 min. to work. Technology wise, it is the US that lags. Germany has little need or demand for DVD, most content is streamed down to your computer and saved. You watch it and then delete it. Here, streaming movies is never a sure thing without interruptions and restarts. Most of the power lines there are underground, you seldom see a telephone pole, and houses are always made brick or stone.

Visitors who come to the U.S. are always shocked about how friendly we are to complete strangers, " Why do you say hello to a complete stranger"?, "Americans are like the Italians, they say hello to everyone they encounter". In Germany and other European countries this is not the custom when walking along a street or encountering hikers on the same path. The method there is, keep to yourself.

Most of the clothing styles are similar, but there are a few clues. Many foreigners will wear socks with sandals, which is usually not done here. Meals are also reversed, Many countries have their "dinner" at lunchtime between 12-2 p.m. This IS the big, robust meal (which for Americans is dinner at night) and when dinner time does arrive (6-9 p.m.) it is much lighter and like lunch at noontime for Americans (bread, sandwiches, chips, soup, salad).

In the end, many like America or the part they visit to and the National Parks, but like Americans, you always prefer your home country depending on their experience and what their home country is like.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      I agree.

    • profile image

      Liz Walmoth 5 years ago

      I have always found the differences in cultures to be very interesting. It sounds like we would do well to adopt some such as the heavy meal at lunch and public transportation. In my city of Indianapolis, the public transportation is very poor. Thanks for such an informative hub.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      @Chris- yes that is true, of course. Germany reminds me of Oregon and Washington geographically. I think its in the same latitude as well.

    • CHRIS57 profile image

      CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

      Interesting hub, makes me smile. Your observations are quite correct.

      I had and have the privilege to take part in the life of the US, Germany and Russia for many decades and i couldn´t agree more.

      However may i comment on one major disadvantage of the US (and Russia by the way): The country is too big. It takes way too long to get to places. That is time and money.

      I used to tease my Americans friends with this statement: Your gas is much too expensive! At that time gas was 1 USD/gallon and in Germany gas was the equivalent of 4 USD/gallon.

      My friends complained at first, but eventually had to follow this logic: If an average German (or European) wants to visit his capital, he takes his car, drives some 300 miles, consumes 10 gallons of gasoline, pays 40 USD. How much does the average American from Oklahoma, California, Wisconsin or Maryland have to pay?

    • profile image

      Jimmy 5 years ago

      The Reptilians have known for a long time that the geographic location of the U.S.A. is a very precarious one. That is the primary reason for their "migration" to China. Secondary reasons include China's huge population, its strict discipline when compared to other nations, its potential to soon become the world's leading economic nation, and other factors, including the long history of scarcely detected alien associations with China.

      Another reason is the Reptilians' disdain for the Bill of (individual) Rights that was tacked onto the American Constitution. This has always been an annoyance to them. Among other things, the Bill of Rights includes: freedom of assembly, speech, association, religion, right to bear arms, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and many other individual rights.

      Rarely will a country spell out individual rights as clearly as was done in the American Bill of Rights. Exceptions to this happen in countries that grant freedom of religion and racial equality, which are New World Order preferences, along with cultural diversity. Many countries have protected religious practices and banned racial discrimination - at least superficially - because it was known that when the alien wars were in full swing, many religious and racial differences would have to be set aside in order to form new alliances.

      Cruelty amongst humankind and towards animals is on the increase. The ones who are supposed to protect their nations are often the biggest criminals in the land. Many politically/religiously/economically motivated atrocities have been committed without the public being aware of them. In the name of culling out terrorism, free licence has been "issued" to punish and torture indiscriminately.

      For human beings to torture other human beings so cruelly shows the level of evilness humans are capable of. Anunnaki influence has existed throughout human history. No country has a clear conscience regarding this matter because Anunnaki ties make them brutal. Political victims are often brutally tortured - severed limbs, ears and tongues, decapitations, gouged eyes, and rapes are just a few of the notorious Anunnaki trademarks. It was not so long ago that it was revealed that Chinese and other races consume human hearts, livers and foetuses. This type of cannibalism has been going on for thousands of years; cannibalism is now being revived. It, too, is an Anunnaki trademark.

      As I have indicated, the Reptilians are far too cunning to have left the U.S.A. in the hands of the Vulturites without knowing exactly when the "natural" catastrophes would begin to decimate that nation. Does anyone believe for a moment that the Reptilians would implement a plan that would have to rely on timely natural disasters occurring? Of course the Reptilians are not that foolish! In order for their plan to fit their time schedule it is imperative that the "natural" events occur right on time!

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      All I can say, despite the beauty of many other places and similarities between America and Europe, America is the better place. If you visit third world countries, this really becomes apparent .

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      I have never had the money to travel to other countries, but I can imagine what we look like to other cultures. Thank you for this interesting Hub!

    • goldookies profile image

      goldookies 5 years ago from California

      This was a very.. How should I put it.. Simply Amazing. I never thought of looking at things the way a foreigner would. Definetly a real eye-opener.

      Thanks for the post :D