Five Things That Can Take International Visitors to the USA by Surprise


As a follow up to the article on Five Things Every International Student Should Know , I thought you might also want to read about a few things internationals are often surprised by when interacting with Americans and American culture. Even I found some of these things to be surprising when I was living abroad and came home for the summer with my family.

There is an abundance of choices in the U.S.

I remember going shopping with my mother and needing to pick up one simple item. I told her I would quickly go grab it and meet her at the checkout counter. When I got to the appropriate aisle for the item I was looking for I couldn’t believe the number of choices I had before me. It was not a simple solution. There were so many varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes of the same item I was totally overwhelmed. I ended up hyperventilating and running out of the store without having bought anything.


Many internationals feel that Americans are excessive in many ways and they are appalled at the waste they witness while staying here. Choices of every sort abound so it helps to do a little homework before making a purchase to see how the products vary ever so subtly and which one exactly will work for your intentions.

Americans are very casual.

Internationals are sometimes surprised by how casual Americans can be not only in the way they address each other, but by how they dress for certain occasions. You may be surprised to see other students coming to class wearing loungewear or something you might otherwise sleep in. Out at restaurants or religious services, you will see people wearing anything from shorts and t-shirts to dressy dresses for women and men in coats and ties.