I’ve written before about questions I have gotten asked by Americans about life abroad. You can read it here, but another thing I often hear abroad is the view people have of the US. Sometimes people’s views are completely on point and other times I have to hold back laughter or anger at ridiculous misconceptions. Here are some of the things I’ve heard from people abroad.

 

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“America has the worst beer ever.”

beer

Welp, you just pissed me off beyond belief. Nothing gets me heated faster than people talking negatively about American beer culture. You can read my rantings over on Elite Daily here.

I have heard this comment from countless Germans and I have to control myself from losing it on them. A lot of people are unaware of the amazing craft beer movement currently sweeping the US and believe we drink solely Bud Light. I’m hoping in the future that view will change and people will start to see the US beer culture for what it is becoming…..Amazingness!

 

“My son got offered a full scholarship to Columbia, but I didn’t let him go because New York City is extremely dangerous. There are shootings.”

nyc

This was said to me by a student of mine while I was teaching English in Germany. I wanted to cry for that poor kid. A full scholarship to Columbia! Seriously! What I would do for a scholarship to Columbia, and she wouldn’t let him go because NYC is dangerous.

I didn’t really know how to react to her statement. I wanted her to realize that NYC is not any more dangerous than any other major city, but I also didn’t want her to feel guilty about denying her child an AMAZING opportunity.

 

“Does everyone carry guns?”

guns

Notice a trend here? People think the US is some scary gun wielding country. I always found that interesting because I think in the US we think that about other countries. It’s all about what is shown on the news.

People ask me this question all the time, and I always have to explain that no, not everyone carries guns. In general the US is very safe. You just have to exercise the same level of caution and smarts you would anywhere. I also explain that bad things can happen anywhere and that I’ve had a gun pulled on me once, in Germany, a country with extremely strict gun laws.

 

“What’s the deal with Trump?”

trump

I’ve been asked about Trump so much lately, and I just can not answer those questions. I’m equally at a loss for how a country that just last year legalized gay marriage, a decision that made me cry with pure pride for my country, can now have a presidential candidate like Trump who people actually strongly endorse.

I’m honestly embarrassed. Living abroad makes me feel like I represent the US, and I want my home country to look good. If Trump becomes president, I won’t know how to be proud of my country anymore.

 

“Aren’t all Americans fat?”

fat

I love this one. That’s what Americans are known for abroad; fast food, supersized products, obese people. In some cases, obviously it is true. For sure there are overweight people in the US, but I also know loads of overly health conscious people as well. I think because the US has every fast food restaurant a person could ever want, it is easy to get that reputation. As the US becomes more of a country filled with kale chips and green smoothies that reputation will change.  

 

“I went to the US once for a business trip in NYC and I had a break so I walked through Central Park and came across Paul Simon playing a spontaneous free concert. Are things like that normal?”

central park

This was said to me by a student of mine and I basically had to stop the class because I had a million questions for him. My Paul Simon obsession is a bit out of control, and I can safely say if I had come across Paul Simon playing in Central Park I would have gone full stalker mode and followed him home.

I was disappointed to report to my student that this is not a normal occurrence and he had just gotten EXTREMELY lucky.

 

In general, people abroad have stereotypes of the US that are not always true, just like we have stereotypes of their countries. I am thankful that I get to travel the world and learn about different cultures while dispelling or enforcing other people’s beliefs about the US.

Have you heard any interesting misconceptions about the US from people abroad? Leave them in the comments below.

 

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Sarah
Creator of The Wanderlanders | Lives in Costa Rica | Folk music lover | Travel addict | Craft beer snob

4 COMMENTS

  1. I would have to disagree about Americans not being fat. I just looked at http://www.worldobesity.org/resources/world-map-obesity/ and the figures aren’t that bad to be honest – some 5% more obese women in the USA, compared for example to Europe – France, Germany, the UK. It doesn’t seem like a big difference to me, but I am saying this for another reason – I have friends who went to the USA for a year or two – they all returned like properly fat. I have never imagined they could be so fat. This is where I make my assumptions from – they said the food in the US was full of hormones (not sure if this is possible – probably not but surely there must be some kind of scientific explanation).

    And bear in mind that 5% of the women in the US would be a double figure in another country, thus I’d not be arguing that Americans aren’t fat and saying it’s a misconception.

    • Haha I love “they all returned like properly fat.” Made me laugh. Anyway, they are right about the hormones thing. In the EU yu have much stricter regulations about what is allowed in your food. In the US anything processed is filled with all sorts of things nobody should be eating. It’s pretty sad really.

  2. I’ve also heard that people think the amount of Patriotism in the US is strange- how we all know the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and how we have SO much respect for our flag. It’s weird in other countries to see that.

    • Yes! That’s a good one that I didn’t even think of! I took my boyfriend (who is German) to a 4th of July parade once. He said it was like watching a propaganda show. haha

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