20 Non-Americans Are Listing The Love And Hate They Feel For America
The United States, with its vast landscapes, diverse cities, and iconic landmarks, has long been a popular destination for tourists from around the world.
Recently, an online thread dedicated to travel experiences sparked a lively discussion about what non-American tourists loved and hated about visiting the US. Listed below are some things highlighting the aspects that captured their hearts and the ones that left them feeling less enthused during their American adventures.
More info: Reddit
European (Belgian) here who just came back from a one month road trip in the US.
I’m so jealous of the magnificent nature you have in your country, I saw so many beautiful sights! Please treasure it.
I disagree with the low quality food, I had both really good meals and really poor ones. Best Thai food I ever had was in LA.
Also, so many places sell drip coffee just the way I like it, not some watered down espressos. Loved that!
Another like were the many (mostly) clean and free restrooms, Having to pay for using a dirty restroom in a rest area along the highway in Europe sucks. That being said, some restrooms in the US really didn’t care about my privacy with one inch gaps everywhere.
Driving was so convenient, being a pedestrian not so much. I biked through SF but couldn’t say I felt very safe.
Dislikes were the tipping culture and prices listed pre-tax. I mean, I ordered food or drinks to go a couple of times where I often had to tip in advance only for something to go wrong with my order. Not getting my tip back am I?
Overall I had a great time, met a lot of friendly people and saw amazing nature and wildlife. I can’t wait to go back!
If you’re willing to look for it—the U.S has no shortage of great food. Combined with cultural diversity, you’re given a lot of different options as well. Maybe you just chose some mediocre restaurants.
Hate: Degree of LGBTQ tolerance. Speaking as a gay person, Europe has more options. I feel safe in most places in both Europe and the US, especially with friends around, but I feel that European cities have more diverse, liberated venues for the LGBTQ community.
Love: The sandwiches. In America, there are so many glorious sandwiches, like the Reuben, piled high with delicious corned beef on nice artisan bread; Philly cheesesteaks; thin-sliced rib-eye, dripping with salty, gooey provolone; and even the po’boy, a stunning creation.
I went to LA recently and found the car centric culture suuuuper inconvenient for a tourist. Every time you want to see a thing, you need to research it beforehand and then drive there. Want to see another thing? More research, then drive. In just about any other city I’ve ever been I would just head to the city center and explore on foot and pop in to whatever place looked interesting.
Admittedly it was a short trip and maybe I did it wrong, but the closest thing to being able to just wander around was in downtown, and even there you occasionally have to walk over a nice 8 lane highway, which is a long way to walk (and be wary of certain neighborhoods and whatever).
That and since a car had to be involved at every step, you couldn’t really stop for a few beers or whatever. I guess locals either plan their days better or drive drunk.
If you would like to learn why and how tipping culture came to the US and how it has evolved over time, I highly recommend [this throughline podcast](https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089587173/the-land-of-the-fee-2021)
I just got back from France yesterday and it was the first time I’ve been to Europe since pre Covid. Before Covid a lot of places didn’t even do food “to-go”. That seems to have changed.
I do love having fresh baked bread and cheese for breakfast. Yogurt is also much better in Europe, I don’t know how the us sucks so hard at yogurt. It really is terrible here. I also can’t drink American orange juice anymore since having OJ in Europe.
I just got back from France where we rented a car and drove in Paris. I could not believe how hard it was to see the stop lights, but thought they were in that position to help drivers see pedestrians- that is a really big problem in the Us, not sure how big of an issue it is in the EU.
Something else that I often notice- accessibility in Europe really, really sucks. I know that retrofitting old buildings is really tricky and there’s limited space, but every time I go I feel so bad for people who require mobility devices.
I’m South Asian and I live in the Netherlands now. I had no idea asking to pack up leftovers was weird. In the restaurants I’ve been to (South Asian ones) they’ve always packed it up for free! Learnt something new today :)
Love: The landscapes. I’ve been to America many times, and I have to say the diversity in landscapes is incredible. You have deserts a few hours from ski resorts, and huge, modern cities next to thousands of square miles of Great Plains.
Love: The friendliness. I love the random friendliness in the USA. In the US, it’s easy to pick up a conversation with mostly anyone. In my experience, Dutch people are kind but much more reserved in public.
I’ll add as a New Zealander living here..
Like: sports culture, have-a-go culture, general enjoyment of life, being encouraging of people that are willing to try something or hustle, low barrier to entry for someone starting a business, online shopping, gas stoves, diversity across the different parts of the country, super friendly, most people are big on values, pride in keeping towns tidy.
Dislike: tipping (I know you have it already but seriously what gives), treatment of indigenous history, lack of consumer protection, level of poverty, strange policy making that reinforces lack of trust in government, occasional respect for road rules, hard to access to good quality produce at a reasonable price, no ring-pulls on tinned food.
Just pet peeves. Overall I freaking love being in US!! This country rules and will continue to rule!
Edit: I forgot to add innovation. It feels like this country could invent anything.
The food and cheese comments I will respectfully disagree with. If you’re only looking at fast food places and cheaper chain restaurants, yes, you will get cheap American cheese on your burgers. Every major city and surrounding area, mine included, will have a sample of restaurants from any culture you can think of. My city has just about every culinary culture represented. For original American food, Cajun is my favorite but North Carolina style bbq and maryland seafood are close second and third. We have some excellent restaurants. Also the cheese, I love cheese. I can go to certain grocery stores and get any type of cheese I can think of. A lot of restaurants by me will let you choose from a wide variety of cheeses on your burgers or sandwiches.
I’m an European (Polish) living in the US and I generally agree with this list except for two things.
I disagree that breakfast is always sugary and think the US actually has way more food variety than Europe. I think your perception might be biased by the fact that it sounds you’re mostly going through remote places and staying in cheaper hotels (the comment about plastic cutlery at hotel breakfast — more expensive hotels will not have breakfast included but will have a restaurant on premises which uses metal cutlery).
And I disagree that you won’t find plastic cutlery at a breakfast hotel in Europe. If you stay in Ibis or any other cheap hotel, you’re definitely looking at plastic cutlery. I can speak from experience, getting that in Rotterdam of all places :)
Love: Bagels! Give me a New York everything bagel with egg and cheese and a cup of coffee, and I’m a happy camper.
Having lived in both for two years, here’s my take on both. In Europe I lived in Germany, but travelled around the neighboring countries a bit and now I live in VA. I’m also speaking as a student with limited income lol. I’m mostly writing about what I like, as it what I dislike contrasts pretty well with the other (i.e what I love about Europe I grow to appreciate even more in relation to my time in the US, and vice versa).
-Public transport, bikes and walking. I don’t have a car, but that was never a problem in Europe. I could get anywhere I wanted to pretty feasibly and in good time.
-Healthier food options. I felt so energized my whole time living there, and when I come back, because I feel like I’m eating simpler and healthier most days. I’m Southeast Asian, so it did take a while before I got used to simple foods (like cold cuts, cheese and bread for meals), but I do miss eating that minimally every now and then.
-Prices. Now, it might just be where I live in both, but I found Europe a lot more affordable than the US. Granted, I only had to worry about buying food and going out, but still, I find myself a lot more conscious about my spending when I was in the US.
-Safety. I felt a lot safer in Europe than the US. As a student in both, gun violence is one difference, yeah, but even then in cities in Europe I felt that there were always all sorts of people (especially women and the elderly) around even in the early morning by themselves, which made me feel that if locals thought it was safe, then I felt safer. Whereas in the US, in large cities, I often have locals warn me about certain areas, especially at night. Fortunately I’ve never had incidents in either country, but still.
-LGBT life. Speaking as a gay person, Europe has more options. I feel safe in most places in both, especially with friends around, but I feel that European cities had more diverse and um… Liberated venues, so to speak. Which I’m a fan of.
-Friendly and open people. I actually think the Europe I saw was very friendly! But people in the US are next level friendly, and as an outgoing person myself, I really do enjoy that about being in the US. I often chat with people at stores, bars, in rideshares and around my college campus too, which I didn’t get to experience as much in Europe (though that might also be the language barrier at play).
-More food diversity. I lived in two cities of comparable size in both, and even in other cities that are similarly large, I just think the US’ history of migration has led it to evolve such a rich and diverse food culture. There’re so many options for dining places. Again, not to say Europe didn’t have options, but the US just has a lot more places that are also a lot more mixed at an accessible level. Tipping still sucks though, but I still make sure to tip as well as I could. Just because I disagree with the conditions that led to tipping doesn’t give me the right to screw over my server.
-Speaking of diversity, the US definitely feels more diverse as a whole, even outside of large cities. I get along with most people, but there’s a quicker level of connection I’m able to get with US PoC for some reason that I didn’t feel as much in Europe.
Even though I have more things listed that I like in Europe, I really do enjoy both for their own merits! Didn’t expect my comment to be this long though.
Hate: Lack of biking/walking lanes. I love the bike culture that is common in many European countries, like the Netherlands, and most European cities are extremely walkable compared with the US. I wish the States had more bikeable and walkable places.
Love: The cereal selection. You can get breakfast cereal with marshmallows in it. MARSHMALLOWS. I find that fascinating, exotic, and maybe just a bit horrifying.
Love: American diners and their huge portions of pancakes, bacon, and eggs galore.
I like the diversity in the US the most. I’m Asian American (visibly East Asian) and the casual and overt day to day racism in a lot of Europe exhausts me after awhile. Not that the US is perfect but the racism in Europe is like death by a million cuts and everywhere and not even discussed, generally very much in denial. I do prefer the general quality of life in Europe and if I was white, would probably prefer living in Europe over the US, in many regards.
Love: Convenience. Everything is so damn convenient. Shops stay open later, basically everywhere delivers, and the consumer generally has much more choice. This applies to everything from banking to retail. In general in the US, it feels like the customer truly is king.
There is a lot of really good cheese produced in this country. Especially Cheddar-style cheese from Vermont and Wisconsin. There is also some very good goat cheese. The rest of the cheese, you are right, it’s mostly pretty terrible.
I think you had a very small sample size on your recent visit. For example, only the really cheap hotels use paper plates and plastic cutlery. If you chose to visit the cheapest hotels, that is biasing your sample.
The rest is just what you are habituated to. A typical American visiting Europe would think it’s really bizarre to eat cold sliced meat at breakfast. We expect hot meats and freshly cooked eggs. When I visit Europe it’s amazing to have 3 or 4 different types of fresh bread and 3-4 meats and cheeses, but it’s not what we’re used to.