As a European I find these American things crazy!

Back to Article
Back to Article

As a European I find these American things crazy!

The United States of America and its people are one of a kind. With the largest economy in the world and a movie/music industry that reaches all corners of the world, the U.S. is a country that influences the entire world. Yet there are many things Americans do in their daily life that are not as well known as the movies and music the country exports. When I came to the U.S. there were a couple of things that I was very surprised to discover. Therefore, I decided to make this list of the top ten things Americans find normal that are strange to a European such as myself.


  1. The Pledge of Allegiance

On the 21 of August, the first day of school, a person starts talking on the speaker saying it’s time for the Pledge of Allegiance. All of a sudden everybody in the classrooms gets out of their chairs and puts their right hand on the left side of their chest. I stand up, very confused, and do the same thing. When the speaking started, the first thing that came to my mind was how similar to a prayer it was. From my European perspective this was something that I found very strange at first. I had never seen such a thing. Now I have gotten used to the pledge, and I know it backwards and forwards. But the shock I got the first time everybody started reciting what I compared to a prayer at the time was huge. I will never forget that moment.


  1. The Diversity

Another thing that surprised me coming to the U.S. was the diversity of people in the country. There are so many nationalities just here at AMHS. I have encountered British, Mexican, Italian, German, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Egyptian, Japanese, Korean and many more. And that is just here at AMHS. Being surrounded by so many different ethnicities is something I find really cool and interesting, and I was shocked by this at first.


  1. The Driving Age

While every American is very used to seeing people as young as fifteen years old being out driving in traffic, I as a European was shocked to find out that fifteen year old’s can get their permit and license at such an early age. In my home country and most other countries in the world except the U.S., Canada and Australia you have to be eighteen years old to get your license. Therefore it feels very unnatural for me to see kids that haven’t even celebrated their sweet sixteen yet driving to school.


  1. Fast Food

When it comes to food I knew things were going to be different between the United States and Sweden/Europe. What I didn’t expect, however, was how many fast food restaurants exist in this country. The quantity of restaurants but also how many different chains there are. While I’m used to having four to five different fast food chains to choose from nationwide in Sweden, here I can find much more than three to four fast food chains just in Mount Pleasant alone! 


  1. The Size of Food

Number five on the list also has to do with food. I am not alone when I say that I was shocked to see how big the meals served at restaurants are here in the United States. It’s not uncommon to get double the amount of food in the U.S. for the same price in Europe. Personally I experienced this when I bought a “small” cup of ice cream on Isle of Palms. Instead of getting one scoop which I am used to, I got three. I had another similar experience when I went to the cinema and saw the biggest drinking cup. That cup could be compared to a bucket of soda in Europe!


  1. The Size of the U.S.

One thing I have learned since I came here is that you can’t “trust” an American when it comes to distances. If an American says “they live close to” or ” it’s not that far,” that is most likely not the case. This I have found is due to the size of the U.S. Its huge. If , for example, you decide to drive four hours to go see a football game, that would be considered an every day trip for a regular American. But if you even propose the idea of a four hour daily trip to a Swede/European you would get a straight up no. Because a four hour drive in Europe means that you end up in another country, not another state.


  1. Charleston

When it comes to the city we live in, I also have a few things that shocked me. The first thing that shocked me about Charleston was how old and historic the town is. Prior to coming here, the only thing I knew about Charleston was Fort Sumter and that it is the sight of the start of the civil war. But when I first visited downtown I was surprised to learn that the city has a history dating back to the 1600s.

The second thing that surprised me about Charleston was how fast the city was growing. It was overwhelming to see all the traffic and hear about the number of people and businesses moving here.


  1. Cars

The eighth thing on my lista also has to do with Charleston. And that is the sheer number of cars here. There are tons of cars, tons of traffic, and tons of big roads and highways. As a European I am used to taking public transportation and trains when I travel on a daily basis, but here everybody has a car, even people as young as fifteen years old drive around on the streets.

Another thing that surprised me about the cars in the U.S. are how big they are here. It was shocking for me to see pickup trucks as big as tractors driving around on regular roads.


  1. The School Spirit

One thing I have experienced here in Charleston that is very different from most Swedish schools that I also hope I can bring back to Sweden/Europe -the AMHS school spirit. Things like Spirit week and the Sports system that is integrated with the actual school adds so much to the character and spirit of the school. This school spirit was a shock for me and something that I admire very much.


  1. The Americans Themselves

Saving the best “shock” for last, that being how Americans have greeted me so far. My stereotype was true. Americans are very friendly. Literally everyone I have spoken to have been very helpful and friendly. The second I stepped off the airplane in Chicago I was greeted with appreciation and respect. The same happened here at AMHS. People can’t stop being nice. Americans really are one of a kind.