10 Silly First Impressions of the USA

One of my favorite things to do in life is LAUGH, and I absolutely love making other people laugh. Since I’ve been connected to other travelers around the world, I absolutely love learning about the differences in our countries (non-political specifically), and it absolutely kills me (in a good way) to hear their hilarious first impressions of the USA.  I love seeing my country through someone else’s eyes. This specific post is originally inspired by a conversation I had with my beloved friend from the north, Nina from Nina Near and Far, about strange things in the United States.

A little excerpt from our conversation:

“Every time you guys got a new [Oreo] flavour, they would test it in Canada, and it NEVER SOLD EVER. So we have none of that weird multi-flavour stuff! We think it’s bizarre!”


I found it SO funny, because I absolutely love Oreos, and it’s so much fun trying the flavors. (Except some are seriously weird, like watermelon… but I digress). Nevertheless, I reached out to other travelers to hear their hilarious comments about my home country.


I came to the US during the Fall-Winter season and I thought everything looked so dead because of the trees! I came from a tropical country which is, you know, summer all year. – Yamy from Go Fam Go

First impressions USA

Living in Wisconsin, this is exactly why I hate winter! Our poor, sad looking trees…


One of the oddest things that I simply couldn’t get my head around when in the US was taxes. Here, in Scotland, and actually most of Europe, the price on the shelf or attached to the item of clothing is the price you pay at the till. I was completely lost over the US system, and every time I thought I’d figured it out, I’d go to buy something and be completely confused all over again. Probably didn’t help I changed state so often, and I think that added to my laughable understanding of the basic concept of paying for stuff. So many awkward encounters at checkout. I have no idea how you guys cope!!  – Kirstin from The Tinberry Travels

I’ve heard this before, and it’s so interesting because we’re SO used to it… but man that’s got to be incredibly convenient to not even have to think about it!


When you order a soda in the USA you get a free refill, or even an unlimited number of free refills. The waitress will often be back at your table topping up your drink when you have barely taken two sips from it. And although this is strange to many of us non-Americans simply because we don’t have this in our countries, what is really strange is that despite these free refills most Americans still seem to insist on ordering a LARGE soda! Why, oh why?   – Sanne from Spend Life Traveling

An outside viewpoint is the best way to realize that we are completely and utterly ridiculous.


Here’s one in two for ya.


So basically, I tweeted Kat to ask her… and she was on a roll. I personally think it’s worth checking out the full Twitter conversation. I swear she does like America, you can find proof here.


The one thing that I noticed after moving to the US was the range of things you can buy online from Amazon. As someone who is originally from Australia, where online shopping kind of sucks, it constantly surprises me what I can get delivered. I have basically filled my apartment with things from Amazon and basically never had to visit a physical store. Some of the things I’ve brought from Amazon include: a sofa (YES, an entire sofa for $150 incl shipping, for my non-US friends), a yoga mat, laundry detergent, boxes of 2-minute noodles (double the convenience when you can get them delivered within 2 days) and even caffeinated soap (let’s just say this isn’t as great as it sounds – this wont be a repeat purchase!) It seems nuts as an Australian to be able to order such a range of things online – after using Amazon, I honestly don’t know why anyone would EVER leave their house here!  -MG from The Wandering Suitcase

Ahh.. caffeinated soap. Way to slide in with a great first impression, America.


Ice cream in your soda. Wtf is all that about?!  – Ian from Barefoot Backpacker

To those who know I love dessert, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I defended this one. And it’s the only one I defended.


Being from Australia we call flip flops, thongs, but I didn’t think of the translation when I first visited USA. Needless to say, it was a funny, awkward moment in the souvenir shop at Universal Studios asking if they had thongs there, as my pair of shoes were giving me blisters. – Tracey from Ask Tee Travel

First Impression of the USA | USA first impressions |

Ohhh, I just WISH I was there to witness this.


I’m Austrian, born and raised in a small village, living in Vienna, a rather small city compared to other metropolises in the world. My first visit in the US lead me to New York City or rather to Manhattan. When you cross a road in Austria or any other city in the world, you wait until the light is green. If you wait in NYC, you reveal yourself as a tourist. No New Yorker is waiting for the green light. The faster you walk, the more local you look. Oh, and not to forget to hold a coffee cup. 🙂 – Nicola from Suitcase and Wanderlust

New Yorkers…. are a different breed, ha! Try that in Wisconsin and you’ll get honked at. (Granted, I might be the only driver that does that but oh well!)


When I first went to the USA we were in a campervan, and found the “Dump Station” signs hilarious as to us, it sounded like an invitation to go to the bathroom there! – Chesca from Chesca is Lost

First Impression of the USA | USA first impressions |

I’m not much of a camper, so I haven’t personally seen these signs. But… don’t tell me you didn’t laugh at that picture.



WHY are there tiny gaps in the doors of all the public toilets!!? I couldn’t help but notice that all of the public toilets are manufactured in the same way. They all have this thin gap in the door where, if you are looking at a certain angle, you can see the person in the cubicle! It’s so bizarre and you feel a little exposed. It made me laugh the first time I saw it but I’m sure it wouldn’t be so funny if you were having stomach trouble and just wanted some privacy! – Jess from Jess Travels


Yes… we hate those too. I’m also one of the unfortunate souls who have made EYE CONTACT while “busy” in the stall. I mean, I know nobody can really see anything, but good god it’s awkward as hell.



Whether you are an American citizen or not, I hope you were able to get a chuckle out of this! I think it’s incredibly healthy to be able to laugh at yourself (or in this instance, my home country). Which of these really made you laugh? Do you have your own quirky first impressions of the USA?


Funny first impressions of the USA


  1. I love this post, I always wonder what people think when they come to our country!
    One thing I hear is people think we are so friendly in California. Really I think? But, it’s because in our restaurants the servers greet you, and serve you quickly, checking in often to see if you need anything else. But, it’s so they can turn the table over for more tips, and get people in and out. 🙂

  2. Haha it’s always great to hear people’s first impressions of the US! I think it’s pretty funny as well. I was recently talking to a couple from Canada and they couldn’t believe how big Target [the store] was in the US, as it had to shut down in Canada because no one went there! The funniest impression on this list for me was the thong/flip-flop one. Haha…I can only imagine how that conversation went down! I’m laughing just thinking about it!

  3. I love this! & wish I could have contributed. One of my first impressions is the way you call your plumbers “Rooter” specialists. If you were to call them tht back home one Australia … well let’s just say that the slang for procreation is to “root”.

    1. Oh that’s so interesting to learn some slang!! haha, but I’m curious where you were in the USA where Americans called plumbers rooters…?? I’ve absolutely never heard of that before, hahahaha. We all call them plumbers here too! Maybe you just met a weird batch of Americans 😉

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