There are many, both fantastic and non-fantastic, legends about the USA. Foreign nationals’ minds are full of all kind of images, stereotypes and clichés about the land of endless possibilities. Some of them are true, while others are absolutely wrong. People from all over the world, who have settled in the USA for one reason or another, share their impressions and what amazes and confuses them. The users of the Quora website present some facts you will hardly believe in until you start living in America.
1. The way that stores price their products makes no apparent economic sense, and is not linear at all.
For example, at a typical store:
- 1 can of coke: $1.00
- 12 cans of coke: $3.00
- 1 ice cream bar: $3.00
- 12 ice cream bars: $7.00
Americans are encouraged to buy in bulk, which often leads to a lot of waste.
2. The return policy on almost everything
It is hard to believe that you can literally buy anything, including food, and return it within ninety days for a full refund even if you don't have a specific reason for doing so (most stores actually have a "Buyer's Remorse" category under Reason for Return options while returning the product).
3. The pervasiveness of fast food and the sheer variety of products available
The typical supermarket has at least a hundred varieties of frozen pizza, 50 brands of trail mix, etc. I was just astounded by the different kinds of products available even at small gas station convenience stores.
4. Soda being cheaper than bottled water
It makes no sense that carbonated and flavoured water is cheaper than regular water, but hey, that's just how it is.
5. Rest stops at the highways
It is a fact there are full service rest stops with decent chain restaurants and big supermarkets every couple of miles on interstate highways.
6. Fruit and vegetable prices, as compared to fast food prices
- Bag of grapes: $6.00
- Box of strawberries: $5.00
- McChicken: $1.00
- McDouble: $1.00
7. Unlimited soda refills
The big fast food chains offer clients an empty cup when they order a soda and then you are free to make as many refills as you wish. Another impressive thing is the great variety of soda drinks.
8. Serving Sizes
In most countries a big-size package of chips weights around 100-200 g. In the USA, however, you can find huge packages (almost of the size of a sack), which you have seen only in funny photo collections or in the comedy movies. The same is valid for the coffee.
9. US Flag displayed everywhere
For people coming from countries with very strict rules the wide use of the US national flag is really impressive. The American flag is proudly waved at schools, buildings and houses. It is also a favourite print for clothes, accessories, lingerie, swimming suites, whatever you think of.
10. Over-commercialisation of holidays and festivals
Commercialisation of the holidays is present everywhere in the world but the Americans have reached a whole new level. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and many others, have turned into real holidays. And there is an almost year-round sale of Christmas, Halloween, Easter.
11. An almost-classless society
Most Americans roughly have the same standard of living. Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. Plumbers, construction workers and janitors drive their own cars, which is quite difficult for people practicing these professions in other countries.
This is probably explained with the fact that obtaining credit in this country is extremely easy. Anybody can buy anything, for the most part, except for something like a Maserati, obviously. As a result, most monetary possessions aren't really status symbols. Probably the only status symbol in America are your job and educational.
Often foreigners see the Americans as independent personalities, almost lone wolves, who see their relatives a couple of times a year. You may be surprised to learn that this is just a movie cliché, which is absolutely wrong. The parents do not chase away their children when they finish high school. Many American families share really warm relations.