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American quirks: Little differences that shock visitors

For the past several years, I’ve been spending a portion of the year in the United States. Coming from Canada, the differences between the two countries are not startling. It’s in the little things that the devil rears its ugly head.

Anyway, I didn’t especially set out to write about this. Well, that is until the Interwebz took me on an unsuspecting ride down some shady corridors. You know how it is when you’re searching for Christmas-themed lolcats and wind up on a page telling you the specific aroma of the Duchess of York’s used tampons, right down to the precise Odor Unit.

I therefore stumbled upon a discussion thread of remarkable civility where foreigners write about what has shocked them the most about visiting the US. There are gems like:

– Being surprised at parking lot concrete stoppers;
– The pervasiveness of American flags;
– Prayers in corporate settings;
– Perfect teeth everywhere;
– TV being censored.

I have a few observations of my own:

– American butter isn’t really butter, it’s solidified oil;
– Why do Americans scream at stand-up comedy shows? Around here, people laugh and clap if it’s funny; they don’t go Wooooo-hoooo! or Yeeeeeaaaahhh!

If you check out this AskMetaFilter thread, there are thousands more. Most of it relates to the European perspective but it’s surprisingly fascinating to read, not to mention addictive. I got to learn a lot about different cultures in the process. Check it out if you have several hours to kill!


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