18 months in the US from a Swedes perspective

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.american flag

Here are some of them:

Flags everywhere.

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 toย “What’s up?” and “How are you?” areย “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.

20 thoughts on “18 months in the US from a Swedes perspective

  1. Haha! As a Dutchman, I’ve been here for just over 2 years now. I can totally relate to 90% of your facts! The culture is sooooo different ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Where do we send the grape soda?

    *This message brought to you by the law offices of Blah, Blah, Rip and Off. —- Have your ‘flip flops’ left blisters between your toes? So many have suffered from the terrible design of this footwear. If you too have suffered or are suffering from injuries caused by this footwear, call us today at……….

  3. Thanks for hanging out so long ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve been one of my favorite parts of FliteTest. Hope to meet you at the Flite Fest? maybe?

  4. Welcome Back David! Cant wait to see what are your future plans. (at least I hope you can come up with a good alternative to dollar tree foams)

  5. Noooooooo, are you back to Sweden for good?? No more Flitetest presence? I will really miss your contributions there, I think your experience and professional background really brought a new exciting ideas to the episodes.. Nevertheless I can understand you coming back and hope to see new exciting stuff on the good old rcexplorer site..

  6. Grape milk? No way, I have never seen grape milk in my entire life and I did spend 3 years in Ohio. Why do Scandinavians love pickles so much? My friend from Norway took delight in every free pickle we got with burgers and sandwiches. He also took a bunch home with him.

  7. You should visit Russia. For example every time when I fly my qopter people on the street ask me is it possible to attach a machine gun to it:D

  8. Welcome back to Europe.
    You made it back, without being shot after asking for no ice in your over-sweetened grape-flavoured milk, or sued to financial ruin after selling baby-killing foamies. Or being run over by a waitress in a SUV from the 24-7 convenient store because you only tipped her 15%. He made it back!

  9. David,

    America (the US part of it) is a sadder place with you out of the country.

    As a mid-western American, I can affirm you are nearly 100% correct. The kicker is many of the things your find so weird, I find very annoying, specifically the food. It is silly that I have to hunt for bread that is actually bread instead some sort of weak sugary sponge, or that they insist on putting huge quantities of corn syrup and salt in everything. Artificial Grape flavoring is gross. Everyone knows Orange is where the moneys at.

    On the other hand, we love our guns, me included. It is an integral part of our culture. The fully automatic part is a little more complicated. You have to buy a tax stamp from the Federal Government, pass a different type of background check, and then be able to afford one. They are incredibly expensive. Semi-automatic weapons in any flavor imaginable are quite affordable.

    Everything is big here, the food, the people (me included), the voices of those people, the hair (go to Arkansas or Southern Missouri on your next trip over to fully experience this).

    I am rambling.

    You are welcome back any time. I hope you enjoyed your stay!

    I love pickles!!

  10. You are going to be greatly missed in Flite Test… I’ve enjoyed all shows in which you appear.

    Hope to see you on your own channel.

    I regard to the culture, I understand lot of things you mentioned. In my case I’m from Mexico, living in the US for 7 years now and do understand your point about firearms, law suits and food… Hard to find real bread and real sugar products.

  11. Hello David I have to it was a pleasure having you in the US we need people of your talent in our country, whether to visit for a prolonged stay or migrate you would make a most excellent American. I I enjoyed your work at Flite Test your energy made that show special. I will continue to follow your adventures at RC Explorer, thank you for your contributions. As we Americans say the cream always rises to the top, It is my wish that you continue with your success in what ever you place your passion the sky’s is the limit.

  12. David, your English is excellent. Especially challenging for Swedes are the Z in “zip ties” and the CH in “chopper”, but you’ve got that nailed.

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