Foreigners reveal the things they find strangest about traveling in the United States

Portion sizes in the US never cease to amaze foreigners.

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Portion sizes in the US never cease to amaze foreigners.
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A. C. Fowler/INSIDER
  • Foreigners shared the strangest things they learned about the US after visiting in a Reddit thread.
  • Food portions are bigger in America.
  • The number of squirrels in the US is apparently disconcerting.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

People around the world like to give the US a hard time – they like to make fun of American accents, they’re bewildered by the many friendly smiles, and overactive air conditioners are a great source of concern (and cold).

But stereotypes aside, what are the real-life American quirks that shock foreigners?

We looked at a Reddit thread that had non-Americans share the strangest things they learned about the US after visiting.


American portion sizes are bewildering to many foreigners.

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Portions can be comically large.
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Jake Gabbard/INSIDER

TheMediumPanada said that “the size of food servings in restaurants is 50-100% bigger than in Europe.”

Phalty was awed by “the raptor-sized turkey legs sold at amusement parks.”


They’re often surprised by the number of drive-thru establishments.

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The US has a lot of fast-food drive-thrus.
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Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Outofplaceandstrange was surprised by the number of drive-thru establishments the US features. Others agreed, citing drive-thru liquor stores, and even drive-thru Daiquiri stands in Louisiana.

In general, foreigners find it weird how Americans seem to drive absolutely everywhere, resulting in parking lots the size of small villages.


Many don’t understand why there are so many ads for lawyers.

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There are many ads for lawyers in the US.
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Jeff Greenberg/Getty

Hn-t mentioned how ubiquitous ads for lawyers are stateside. According to the Redditor, “Most of the time you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing any ads for lawyers.”


They’re often bewildered by the many ads for prescription drugs.

Many others added pharmaceutical ads to the list. According to crunchymush, “Sitting in our hotel room in Vegas and listening to the horrendous lists of possible side-effects for drugs made me wonder how anyone can bring themselves to take them. Lunesta is terrifying. I don’t remember the specific ‘possible side-effects,’ but I just recall the fact that ‘death’ wasn’t the most troubling one.”


Apparently, there are a lot of squirrels in the states.

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Foreigners aren’t used to so many squirrels.
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Ben Mack / Insider

Crazy_pants_wolf was shocked by the number of squirrels. Others agreed, and added that American squirrels are also “terrifyingly bold.”


The amount of space in the US is also shocking to some people.

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Suburbia is surprisingly spacious to some.
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Shutterstock

Musland writes: “I know the US is a huge area, but the size of the roads and parking lots just seemed really strange [to] a central European.”

Various Redditors agree, pointing to the amount of space between homes. British user BloatedBaryonyx said, “I see American houses on TV and am amazed by how they have all these massive detached houses. I thought the people living there were rich or something, but I eventually picked up enough context to know that this was a standard suburban house.”


Visitors are awed by the country’s sheer size.

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The Grand Canyon is massive.
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Mike Kline/Getty Images

“It took me a while before I realized that a person cannot drive from New York City to the Grand Canyon in one day,” wrote Toykolunchboxes.


Some also feel that cars are really big.

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Everything is bigger in America — even the traffic.
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Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

Crunchymush recounts renting a Ford Taurus, “which by Australian standards would be a ‘family sedan,’ but I felt like I was driving a go-kart. Everywhere I looked there were massive pick-ups with dual rear-axles. I’d look out my side windows half the time and all I could see was hub caps.”


Americans seem to be much friendlier than other nationalities — and it freaks some people out.

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Americans apparently smile a lot.
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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

“Americans are extremely friendly, almost to an uncomfortable degree for some,” TheMediumPanda said. “My parents got slightly lost and had to ask for directions, after five minutes, 20 people with huge smiles were surrounding them, trying their utmost to help. Several offering rides back to their hotel.”

TheRider1 describes Americans as having a “lack of inhibition with strangers,” while others highlighted how often Americans “smiled at strangers.”

In general, foreigners seem perplexed at how open and comfortable Americans are with complete strangers.


The gaps between toilet stall doors are disconcerting to many visitors.

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Bathroom stall gaps are large in the US.
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Shutterstock

Bedsheetsforsale is American but only realized how exposed American toilet stalls leave users when traveling to Europe. “I remember being in England, and seriously every bathroom stall was sectioned off with a full door and everything. Seriously, the gaps in between American stalls are horrible and I always think someone is watching me.”


A lot of foreigners don’t understand taxes, and why the price listed on an item isn’t the price expected at the cash register.

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Cashiers check out for Thanksgiving Day shoppers at a Target store in Chicago.
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Thomson Reuters

Foreigners complain about how the price tag on an item changes once you get to the cash register. Ahphoque says, “Price tag says $5, you take a $5 bill out of your wallet, then bam, you’re asked to pay $5.86 or whatever.”