Not How It Was On TV: Tourists Share Their Misconceptions About America.
A majority of popular culture comes from no place other than The United States of America. So, it's no surprise that for the rest of the world almost everything we know about America - good or bad, comes from what we've seen on the big screen (or the internet) which may not be the best place to get information on a country and its people.
The following AskRedditors responded to the question, "Non-Americans, what misconception did you have about America that you learned was wrong upon visiting/ moving to America?"
Care to read more responses? You can find the original thread at the end of the article.
I thought people would say "Yeeehaaaw" a lot more.
I was in Portland Oregon at the time and I met a guy visiting from Portugal. He said he was surprised that he hasn't seen anyone get shot in the street yet. He assumed everyone in America carried a gun and street shootings were extremely common.
I didn't realize those red cups were actually real and used by everyone in the U.S at parties. I thought it was just like, a movie thing.
My friend's Mom went to the US and brought us back a stack while we were at university. We felt like we were in a teen film, we even washed them up when we were done so we could use them again.
I thought that Wrestlemania was a huge deal for Americans, I was hoping that it would be like a national holiday.
Wrestlemania and NASA are my two favorite things about America, so this was very sad for me.
My grandmother was an impressionable small town teenager in the U.K during WWII and fell in love with her fair share of American Army men as there were hundreds stationed in her home town.
They took her to dances, swept her off her feet and left her with a hugely romantic view of life in the U.S.A, bolstered over the years by movies!!
In 2003 my family took her to Florida on holiday and she was devastated that everyone lived normal lives!
I thought all American's did throughout your entire high school was party and have sex.
Hollywood. I believed it was wall to wall famous people, walking on red carpets dressed in golden gowns and everything was possible if you just walked on that beautiful Boulevard. I was WRONG...big time.
That Americans are obnoxious and that they are all highly affluent.
They aren't. They are really nice people, most of who I met, are struggling day-to-day like the rest of the planet.
Honestly, you guys were a lot friendlier than I expected. Even in New York, which seems to pride itself on not giving a crap. I found people to be extremely friendly, polite and helpful.
Being English, I didn't even think about a language barrier. At a football game, it took me about 5 minutes to get a bottle of water. The girl just couldn't understand how I said water, I had to point to one someone else had in the end.
I was told the typical stuff before going to the U.S the first time. "The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) are jerks, everyone carries guns and people are really unfriendly."
I saw more guns at Schiphol in Amsterdam than I did in O'hare. (Seriously, police with MP5's about every 30 feet. Dogs too. Very weird) Also, O'hare stinks. Worst airport in the world.
Anyways, I realize mileage may vary with the TSA, but everyone was friendly, interested in my trip (in a good way) and helpful. No issues.
Spoke to a police officer like an hour later, super friendly and helpful as well. I was starving, he showed me a good place to eat, and had food himself as well. We talked for a bit while eating. Cool guy.
Everyone was super talkative and friendly in the U.S. The talkative part is weird, coming from Sweden. I got compliments on my shirt within an hour of leaving the airport after my second in-country flight. That would basically never happen in Sweden. People here dislike social interaction. In the U.S it was like a free for all of the talking, joking and complimenting each other. It was nice.
I thought Canadian and American accents were the same. Surprised me every time someone asked me if I was Canadian after speaking just a few sentences.
Everyone was so nice and everything so neat and orderly. I did think it would be more busy and chaotic since the population is much larger.
I didn't realize Americans actually have cartoonish yellow school buses everywhere. Blew my mind.
Everyone looked much healthier than expected (lots in the media about obesity, especially in American tv shows, famous for fast food etc).
It's a beautiful country.
I thought you Americans ate pizza every Friday, that's why I wanted to go to the USA in the first place.
I thought that I'd have no problem communicating because the people there speak a form of English and I have listened to the accents in the media my whole life.
Man, was I wrong? I don't think I spoke to a single person who I didn't have to ask to repeat themselves at least once (this was in Orlando).
I visited NYC and had the expectation that everyone would be rushing about and keeping to themselves, but people were so friendly! Like several times a day girls stopped me in the street simply to say something nice about my hair or outfit. I just found it really odd but nice. I'm from London (UK) and I guess I'm just used to people avoiding eye contact or talking to strangers. The only downside was the cat calling was heavy and more aggressive than I've experienced anywhere else.
I've only been to NYC, LA, Vegas, and Florida but I've generally always found Americans to be really pleasant and polite.
That the price on the price tag would be the price you pay at the register...
I thought Washington D.C was the most serious place in the States, but when I went there (for a tour at the White House) about 3 years ago, most of the city smelled like marijuana. I was very confused.
That Colorado is all mountains and hippies. There's a lot of them for sure, but I was in Greeley recently and it was in many ways the anti-boulder. It was strange how you could drive for like half an hour and go from solid liberal town to the heart of Trump country.
Just the size of the U.S.A, I never realized just how massive that country is.
For some reason, I thought sheriffs were real, at least not anymore.
I knew America was big, but I thought I could drive from New York to Florida pretty easily I was SO WRONG! I just didn't quite register how bloody far away everything is.
And I was wrong when I thought alligators just lived in the Everglades. Those things EVERYWHERE in Florida.
I thought you would only sell variants of Budweiser, in reality, there are many different beers and some of the best i've tasted.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.