In a few hours I’m jumping on the plane back to Sweden. It ‘s been a great experience living and working in the US for 18 months, but there are some cultural differences and things I as a Scandinavian find funny,weird or just different.
Here are some of them:
School busses actually look like they do in movies
Prices in stores are without taxes included, which is super confusing as you have no clue what the total will be (Makes for an interesting guessing game with your friends though)
Advertising of prescription drugs on TV. “Ask your doctor about…” Shouldn’t the doctor know what medicine is best for me?
Also the amount of commercial breaks are 3 times as frequent.
Waiters plays 20 questions when you try ordering anything at a restaurant. In Sweden you order number 14 and discretely remove the things you don’t like with your fork. In the states you order something that looks simple from the menu and they still ask about every single item in that dish and how you want it prepared and which is your favorite color and so on.
While we’re on the subject of food. Soda is a never ending and free flowing thing in the USA. When your around half way done with your drink the waiter brings you a new one, and your like “I didn’t order this?” turns out there are free refills and the the cup sizes are still larger than the average baby.
Portions are twice the size.
Also the bread is 90% sugar. Even the whole grain variety.
In America you tip everyone that works in the service industry.
Toilets bowl have 20 liters of water in them. They are also loud and slow when it comes to flushing. Very mesmerizing to watch though. Also most of the toilets are really low, which makes for an interesting exercise when trying to get up.
Guns everywhere. If you hear a bang in Sweden you assume it’s some fireworks going off. In the states it’s the opposite. You assume it’s a gun as fireworks are strictly forbidden. Also there are literally 200 magazines about guns and around 2 about science. There are also stores with guns lining the walls, the local grocery shop sells ammunition and you can buy fully automatic combat rifles without anyone thinking anything is strange.
People use gasoline as freely as soda. People drive everywhere, in huge cars. They even have remote ignition that lets you start your car from inside of your home, letting it sit out there idling for 30 minutes in order to warm up the car for the 10 minute drive to work. As a Scandinavian where the gas prices are around 3 times higher and the law prohibits you from idling your car for more than a minute, this bothers me more than it probably should.
Advertisement for layers are everywhere. Also advertisement from lawyers looking for people to group sue a company is not uncommon.
Grape flavored everything. It’s an ok taste, but grape flavored milk? really?
Newspaper dispenser machines actually exists and still work.
Wearing shoes indoors.
Permanent carpet everywhere. (And people walk with shoes on them)
News is scary in the US. Everything is out to hurt you. “Next up! Escalators – The silent killers, you can be next! At 7 on FOX news”
Everything is loud. People, resultants, cars, phones…
Everything is open all the time! Very convenient but also strange.
Roads are really wide, super nice.
Stops signs are used instead of yield signs and vice versa. No one seems to stop at stop signs.
Americans have perfected the art of small talk. Beware, everyone talks to you. Especially in elevators, waiting rooms, while filling up gas.
Pickles are way more plentiful that I would have ever imagined. They sneak into meals and they are very rarely advertised on the menu.
Everything is “awesome” – I tend to agree though.
No regulated check up on cars. I’ve seen numerus cars held together with duct tape (literally). Every time you go for a drive you see at least one car broken down by the side of the road. (Towing companies are fast though) Also the lack of winter tires. People spinn of left and right as soon as there is snow on the ground.
The only acceptable answers to “What’s up?” and “How are you?” are “Not much” or “Fine”. It is not an invitation to actually talk about how you feel or what you are up to.
To sum up things: It’s a nice country but is a bit strange to get used to. People are nice, but loud.