Which American Stereotypes Are True?

Q&A forum Quora asked foreigners what rumors they'd heard about America that they didn't believe were true until they actually came and found out for themselves. The answers make for some fascinating, very funny (and occasionally sad) reading about how America is perceived overseas and what quirks we take for granted. Some choice examples:

Under-dressing in cold weather. Shoes (flip-flops?) + tshirt + cardigan + scarf = winter city outfit often seen in subway and public places when it is REALLY cold outside.

Fruit and vegetable prices, compared to fast food prices. A box of strawberries: $7 Big Mac : $1. HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?

There actually is an accepted piece of clothing called a 'wife-beater'.

2 Comments

85,531

Cory Gross commented…

As a Canadian, I find the United States fascinating (and Japan and France as well, to be fair). I've been down there a few times and have several American friends, so I'm not sure that too much is surprising. When my girlfriend and I went to Disneyland in May, she really noted the... er... size differential between Canadians and Americans. Canadians aren't exactly a svelte people, but you don't see quite so many ECV's up here either.
I would say that the sense of patriotism is something different as well. A lot of Canadians are not what you would call "conventionally patriotic," which is an observation you find people making in literature going back to the Victorian Era. Being a Canadian is just something you are... part of a landscape, part of a people, and you appreciate it but it's not something you necessarily go ape for outside of the Olympics.
This is differnt from the United States. You guys really seem to LOVE your country (and, oddly, HATE your countrymen with equal fervor). You guys actually have real debates over who is a "real American." You actually have rules about how to properly treat flags and things. Disneyland actually had a whole attraction about Abraham Lincoln.Patriotism is kind of a creepy idea and America is the hotbed of being patriotic.
An example: One of my good friends from the States and I have a sarcastic raport with one another.So when we were hanging out in Disneyland she was making jokes about Canadians being slow and stupid. I retorted with jokes about how we actually have healthcare and gay marriage. She suddenly got all offended... I was expected to take insults against Canadians as people as a goodhearted joke (which, in her case, it was) but to joke about the status of America as a countrywas going to far.

85,531

Anonymous commented…

I grew up with exchange students as part of my family. I've been told my country is weird for many years by many nationalities. :) Although, I did travel to Denmark, and they take the flag-lovin'creepy factor to the next level. The'yre quite in love with their flag-- to the point that it's on their birthday cakes, their wedding cakes, and is part of their Christmas decorations.

Not all Americans are at ALL like what you say. Even though I was raised in the Midwest, my whole family is fit and smart, none of us are avid Republicans, and we like to eat organic, local food. My dad mountain bikes and my sister is a marathon runner (from a long line of runners). Now that I'm in New York City, I see that America is really less about what the stereotypes say, and more about a really neat, diverse fabric that makes it a really cool country to call home. So I'd invite you to check out the REST of the country and not just Disneyland.

That being said, I do love Canada. :)

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