People who immigrated to America were asked on Reddit: "What was the most pleasant surprise?" These are some of the best answers:
1. My dad is Indian and was born in Trinidad. He says the first thing he ate when he came to the US was pizza. He said that it was magical, and that nothing has ever been as good as that first piece of pizza.
2. I was pleasantly surprised about was how openly Americans discuss everything. Growing up, I was taught the Vietnamese version of the Vietnam War in school. In my mind, I thought in America people would not talk about it since it's a shameful thing and the government would suppress all discussions of it like in Vietnam. When I came here, I saw that people can openly speak about these things even when there are many disagreements.
3. Very seriously, free refills.
4. Free public restrooms and how every establishment has air conditioning.
5. Ramps. Growing up in a wheelchair in a small town in Colombia was difficult as f*ck.
6. Size servings. Imagine my "HolY ShiEtt! I can eat all that for X money?" face. Yes, I'm fat now.
7. I was very young when we moved here, but the one thing my parents always mentioned was that whenever we needed help, whether it was navigating the interstate or where to shop, people would go out of their way to help us find what we needed or show us how to do things.
8. Not getting shot in a drive-by. Seriously, the Canadian media and the way people talk make it seem like the U.S. is full of gun-toting rednecks and gangsters, and your life is in danger every time you step out your door. Some of my friends drove 6 hours straight once through to Ohio without a bathroom break because they were so scared.
Being in California for 15 years, and it's so much nicer, kinder and with fewer guns and chaos that outside media would make it seem.
9. That most white americans aren't actually racists.
10. Hummingbirds outside the window. I mean ... real live humming birds, right outside my window.
11. The fact that no one was threatening to kill my family based off of our religious beliefs.
12. Showers and running hot water. I was born in the Philippines. Showers and hot water aren't really common in older homes over there. Not having to fill buckets with water and boiling some over a stove top was such a big surprise for me. Experiencing that as a twelve year old was an unforgettable experience. Yet, most people who live here (me included) take it for granted sometimes.
13. Small talk. I really didn't expect people to just strike up a conversation with someone they've never met before. I've heard some interesting experiences from strangers while waiting at airport.
14. Air. You don't really notice how REAL fresh air feels like when you've been breathing in polluted air all your life.
15. How hiking, biking and camping is made so easy. Well marked trails, with clearly specified difficulty levels, park rangers to help you, documented rules to follow for a good experience, bike trails documented on Google maps, camping equipment you can buy at Walmart with crisp instructions every step of the way.... and well maintained National and State parks.
Back home, there's a lot of nice places to do outdoorsy stuff in, but most are what Americans would consider back country.
16. How safe it was to walk around residential streets alone as a woman.
17. Thinking back to when I came with my family from the USSR: Grocery stores.
Seriously. Where we came from, shelves were bare or at best stocked with drab, low-quality food. When I was a little kid, I loved going to the store just to see all the different crazy things they had that would never be available in the old country -- produce, cereals, candy, you name it. Even though we were too poor to buy all the things I wanted as a kid, just going to see it was fun enough when I was first here.
18. The fireworks. I had moved on the 4th of July and I was quite young. But I still remember the fireworks.
19. Not having to haggle prices when buying things, not having to know who to talk to (or bribe) to get any little bit of paperwork filed in a reasonable amount of time, not having to worry about being cheated on every little transaction you have. Just having standard reliable procedures for daily tasks was wonderful. You guys might hate going to the DMV, but let me tell you, it could be much worse.
Then it got even better with automation and e-commerce, and not even really having to interact with people for many tasks.
20. Honestly? Public libraries. I had no idea such things existed until the public librarian in my neighborhood went to our school and invited us to get a library card. It literally changed my life.
21. I remember how the doors opened on their own when we walked out of the airport, and the soda on the plane ride over was in cans instead of glass bottles; I was also amazed by individual houses, all I had ever known up to that time were large apartment blocks.
22. Most public buildings are smoke-free. Most people are decent enough not to smoke in someone else's house or car. Most people don't blow smoke to children and babies. It's pretty amazing.
23. What surprised me was the social circles that existed in schools and in life. Back in Italy, schools didn't have the nerds, the jocks, the skater kids, emos, or what else have you. People were all basically the same, with minor differences in interests. Most everyone played soccer, was a casual gamer, and hung out in the town square at night. That's it. It may sound like an exaggeration, but 95% of my friends there were exactly like this.
So when I came to school here, I was amazed by how the jocks would hang out at gyms and play 4 different sports after school, while the skaters headed off to find a park. It was so different. And I loved it. Because while I could fit it back in Italy, I was always much more introverted and interested in nerd stuff, and in the US I finally found people who were really like me. It was really unexpected, and you only notice it after spending a lot of time in America.
24. That the water that comes out of the tap is perfectly drinkable; a simple thing that's easy to take for granted, but it's amazing to me.
I'm originally from Jamaica where the idea of snow is practically something of make-believe. The closest we'd get to snow was by scraping ice from our freezer. To see snow for the first time was surreal. I remember my dad waking me up at 4 in the morning to look out the window at untouched snow covering the neighborhood. Snow was something I'd always seen in movies. To witness it in person was lovely, and I'll never forget it.
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