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Author Topic: What seemed weird when I visited your country  (Read 47097 times)

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What seemed weird when I visited your country
« on: 03 Nov 2013, 10:53 »

Quote from: travel book
Of course it's different from home. That's the entire point.

To start off, visitors to the USA.

Please keep it light-hearted.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #1 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:01 »

Everyone in the states drives all the time, everywhere. I understand why, because everything is incredibly spread out, but it's so weird to me. Especially on the west coast, everything is so wide and vast and open, the roads are so wide and... yeah. My west coast-based boyfriend told me he felt claustrophobic when he visited the UK because everything was so narrow and tiny, but to me this is the norm.

Also I'm 25 and I can't drive, which everyone I know from the states finds really weird.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #2 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:02 »

A friend of mine who grew up outside the USA said there was 2 things really weird about the US.  Our "car culture" and how cars are precious to us, and how we treat American history, though short, as some sort of religion or something.  :laugh:
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #3 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:11 »

I guess what seemed the most weird when I visited the US (I've been a few times and only to the east coast) is that everything is so cheap. I mean I know you guys don't get paid a lot but if I could continue making Australian wages I could afford a really nice flat in NYC.

Second weirdest thing was whenever we went to a cafe I would try to order a chocolate milkshake. Not a big deal in Australia, in fact very standard. In the US we could not find a cafe that did milkshakes and I have no idea why. Every waitress looked at me like I just asked to lick her eyes. Eventually we figured out that you have to go to like, diners and specific kinds of restaurants but it was weird.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #4 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:12 »

Quote from: travel book
Of course it's different from home. That's the entire point.

To start off, visitors to the USA.

Please keep it light-hearted.
I was amused by the one that mentioned the sales tax thing... when I went to Brazil, I was at a store with a couple other people, and saw something I wanted to buy for R$15, and was disappointed when I realized I only brought R$15 with me, so obviously I didn't have enough. They looked at me like I was a space alien.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #5 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:17 »

Oh yeah food culture is very different over there. Like, in Norway it's not common to go out for meals on a regular basis, in the UK it's a little more common, but in the US everyone seems to do it all the time and it's because it's actually affordable for many. Plus you get so many options, we went to a diner once and I ordered a standard breakfast with eggs, toast, hashbrowns and bacon. When I told the waitress she gave me options for everything, like how I'd like my eggs, if I wanted my toast to be rye, wheat, sourdough or something else, did I want fries instead of hashbrowns, sausage instead of bacon and on and on. In Europe you might get a couple options, but if the menu says 'eggs' they usually mean fried (and there's only one type of fried), and they'll specify if the eggs are scrambled, you don't get to choose.

Oh and free coffee refills. My favourite thing about America, seriously.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #6 on: 03 Nov 2013, 11:37 »

Quote from: travel book
Of course it's different from home. That's the entire point.

To start off, visitors to the USA.

Please keep it light-hearted.
I was amused by the one that mentioned the sales tax thing... when I went to Brazil, I was at a store with a couple other people, and saw something I wanted to buy for R$15, and was disappointed when I realized I only brought R$15 with me, so obviously I didn't have enough. They looked at me like I was a space alien.
Well, I'd be doing the same! The whole point of a price tag is to indicate how much you'll be paying, so I don't understand why you would not include tax on it. Trick you into thinking you're paying less, I guess?
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #7 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:13 »

nah, each state has their own sales tax, its easier to price things as a distributor with the general price and have the local stores apply their local tax when checking out.  sales tax may be high in California but non existent in Delaware.  When they get priced there's really no telling where the actual product will end up from the distribution center.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #8 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:16 »

Oh man, yes, the sales tax and the options for everything in the USA. I remember ordering breakfast and being offered three different types of butter on my toast. I thought they were pulling my leg.

When I lived in Paris it seemed like everyone wore black, all the time, with sometimes a dark red scarf. My cousin is living there now and has observed the same thing (without me mentioning it). I don't know if that's true for the rest of France - I don't think it is, but I've not spent as much time elsewhere.

Looking at that list reminds me of another thing I found odd in France - or rather, something that I noticed about the UK when I came back. In Paris, people are formal and an interaction with a salesperson is conducted using the formal pronouns, without any chat (although this could possibly be because they assumed I couldn't speak enough French to chat - but I don't think so, because I didn't notice other people having long chats either). When I came back to the UK I bought a sandwich from a woman who called me pet and chatted about the weather.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #9 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:24 »

I was prepared for the sales tax thing because I'd been forewarned but that does seem weird to me. I mean I kind of get the different states different taxes thing but I know that here, prices are set by the store. So yes the same item might be similarly priced between different stores but the point is is that the store puts the price on the item. Like, the people at the store the item is sold at. So surely they know what the price will be? It seems like one of those things where everyone in the US is totally fine with it and it seems really reasonable to them but visitors are really taken aback.

Like when my housemate moved over from New Zealand. He's all "There's a spider the size of my head in the kitchen!" I'm like, yeah. He says "Oh my god, it's nearly 40 degrees C in October!" I'm like yeah. He goes "What the hell, the sun is blood red, the sky is pitch black and everything is on fire" I'm like You did know you were moving to Australia, right?
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #10 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:30 »

Ha yeah I've talked to people who moved to Norway and they're all 'IT'S SO COLD'. ....yes. You're in Norway, it's cold.

And the sales tax thing is so weird, my boyfriend asked if we don't have in Europe, and when I said we do, it's just that it's included in the price that is shown so that it's easier to know how much money you're spending, he was like 'huh, oh yeah that makes much more sense, good idea.', as if no one had ever thought of doing that before.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #11 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:31 »

Great Southern Land   ;D
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #12 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:40 »

nah, each state has their own sales tax, its easier to price things as a distributor with the general price and have the local stores apply their local tax when checking out.  sales tax may be high in California but non existent in Delaware.  When they get priced there's really no telling where the actual product will end up from the distribution center.
Yeah, like Jimmy says, that still makes no sense. In our supermarkets, the price tags of branded goods are on the shelves, not on the products - with the exception of freshly packaged goods like vegetables and meats that are always of the store's brand. The supermarkets compete with their prices, especially on branded goods, so it would be pointless for a distributor to start putting prices on them.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #13 on: 03 Nov 2013, 12:58 »

Second weirdest thing was whenever we went to a cafe I would try to order a chocolate milkshake. Not a big deal in Australia, in fact very standard. In the US we could not find a cafe that did milkshakes and I have no idea why. Every waitress looked at me like I just asked to lick her eyes. Eventually we figured out that you have to go to like, diners and specific kinds of restaurants but it was weird.

You were in the wrong state :D Cross over into Connecticutt and the other New England states and find an ice cream parlor. Every one that serves them does so with the intent that they make the best...just make sure to call them "frappes" not milkshakes- we get defensive about the name even if it's ridiculous to do so.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #14 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:01 »

Speaking of foreign countries, I am just coming back from Bavaria. :-D

People there have a cute accent which reminds me of Swiss. And really everything is closed on Sundays, unlike some fast food places in where I live.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #15 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:10 »

The lack of tipping culture outside the United States always kinda weirds me out, but by the goddess I wish we ('Murrica) would adopt it.

Japanese driving laws are insane. It's perfectly normal to basically stop in the middle of the road to unload a vehicle (not like there's parking on the side of the road most places). I mean it's great because there is 100% no reason to drive as a tourist unless you're heading out to the countryside so it's really not an issue but feth me it was weird.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #16 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:14 »

The lack of tipping culture outside the United States always kinda weirds me out, but by the goddess I wish we ('Murrica) would adopt it.

That'd mean you'd have to start paying people decent wages. Which I can assume you'd be fine with.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #17 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:19 »

Yeah decent wages over tipping any day. The whole purpose of tips should be to give something extra to someone who did a great job doing whatever they're doing, it's not supposed to be a necessity they have to rely on in order to get by.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #18 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:22 »

The lack of tipping culture outside the United States always kinda weirds me out, but by the goddess I wish we ('Murrica) would adopt it.

Japanese driving laws are insane. It's perfectly normal to basically stop in the middle of the road to unload a vehicle (not like there's parking on the side of the road most places). I mean it's great because there is 100% no reason to drive as a tourist unless you're heading out to the countryside so it's really not an issue but feth me it was weird.

Something I noticed about the roads in Brazil... there were few crosswalk lights, so generally to cross the street you had to wait for the right phase on the traffic lights. But it was common for drivers to ignore the traffic lights, and they apparently consider trying to kill pedestrians a favorite pastime. I almost got killed by an ancient Volkswagen Beetle crossing the street one time.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #19 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:38 »

Decent wages are a guarantee, decent tips are unreliable "charity". Fuck tips, they're stupid.

Also, Jimmy, basically you just need to go to a dairy bar/ice cream parlor. Yeah, we've got our frozen frappe thingies, but those are not real milkshakes and most restaurants do not actually sell them. Restaurants are too focused on cookies, pie, and cake as a dessert most of the time.

The only thing I noticed when visiting Canada was how nobody up there does the "left lane is the fast lane"/"left lane is for passing" thing. It drove me nuts. Going at or below the speed limit in the farthest lane from the merging lane seems so dumb. Also get out of my way slow people!
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #20 on: 03 Nov 2013, 13:43 »

The lack of tipping culture outside the United States always kinda weirds me out, but by the goddess I wish we ('Murrica) would adopt it.

That'd mean you'd have to start paying people decent wages. Which I can assume you'd be fine with.

Yep.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #21 on: 03 Nov 2013, 14:00 »

Decent wages are a guarantee, decent tips are unreliable "charity". Fuck tips, they're stupid.

Also, Jimmy, basically you just need to go to a dairy bar/ice cream parlor. Yeah, we've got our frozen frappe thingies, but those are not real milkshakes and most restaurants do not actually sell them. Restaurants are too focused on cookies, pie, and cake as a dessert most of the time.


Yeah see that's the problem though. I can go to literally any cafe in Sydney and they'll do milkshakes. It's just a given that if a place does both coffee and tea then they do milkshakes as well.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #22 on: 03 Nov 2013, 14:35 »

You were in the wrong state :D Cross over into Connecticutt and the other New England states and find an ice cream parlor. Every one that serves them does so with the intent that they make the best...just make sure to call them "frappes" not milkshakes- we get defensive about the name even if it's ridiculous to do so.

Aren't frappes specifically iced coffee though, as in short for frappuccino? I've only heard that name refer to that. Milkshakes are a different thing here (UK/Ireland) if that's the case.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #23 on: 03 Nov 2013, 14:44 »

I would have thought it was obvious that 'frappuccino' is a portmanteau of 'frappe' and 'cappuccino'. I've heard of café frappé but I didn't actually know what it was until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here's what it says:

Quote from: Wikipedia
In the United States, "frappe" has two meanings, only one related to coffee, and neither connected to the Greek coffee drink.[10] In the northeastern region of New England, a frappe (pronounced "frap" and spelled without the accent) is a thick milkshake.[10] [11] A coffee shop there, in Boston, Massachusetts, combined a milk shake with coffee and called it "frappuccino".[10] When Starbucks bought the shop, the Coffee Connection, it bought the trademarked name.[10] The Starbucks in Greece offers both Frappuccino and Greek-style "Frappe" (written by Starbucks without the accent).[12] Since then frappe has entered the American lexicon as an iced coffee drink, either sold chilled or frozen. Many of Starbucks' competitors, in the United States, in the Philippines and elsewhere, have begun offering drinks similar to the popular and trademarked frappuccino and called them "frappe" with or without the accent, some which do not include any coffee.[13]
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #24 on: 03 Nov 2013, 14:54 »

The closest Starbucks to me that I know of is about 80 miles/130km away from me and I've never been in one or any specialty coffee place. I've also only found out a frappe was a thing just now in this thread so I naturally assumed "frappe" was short for "frappuccino" and not a different thing. So no, it's not really obvious.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #25 on: 03 Nov 2013, 15:45 »

You were in the wrong state :D Cross over into Connecticutt and the other New England states and find an ice cream parlor. Every one that serves them does so with the intent that they make the best...just make sure to call them "frappes" not milkshakes- we get defensive about the name even if it's ridiculous to do so.

Aren't frappes specifically iced coffee though, as in short for frappuccino? I've only heard that name refer to that. Milkshakes are a different thing here (UK/Ireland) if that's the case.

Frappaccino is a combination of frappe and cappuccino, it's basically a sleazy way of selling someone a frappe mixed with flavored coffee.
Real frappes to most people are almost exactly the same as milkshakes with the only adjustment in my opinion being that frappes tend to be all ice cream while the milkshake adds milk in place of one or two scoops of ice cream.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #26 on: 03 Nov 2013, 15:49 »

The closest Starbucks to me that I know of is about 80 miles/130km away from me and I've never been in one or any specialty coffee place. I've also only found out a frappe was a thing just now in this thread so I naturally assumed "frappe" was short for "frappuccino" and not a different thing. So no, it's not really obvious.

It's a regional thing and an older generation thing, if I didn't live in a beach city that has them being sold by every restaurant in the summer and my mother didn't love getting them once a month I wouldn't eve know about them
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #27 on: 03 Nov 2013, 16:11 »

I've only ever heard frappes as a term for frozen coffee and don't typically have ice cream in them, just coffee, ice, and milk/sugar/etc.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #28 on: 03 Nov 2013, 17:30 »

Oh. Something that was really weird in Japan that I took to like a fish to water. No open container laws, and just about no stigma for walking around drinking a beer at all. It was glorious. Get a cold beer from a vending machine and walk through a park on a warm summer night. Perfect.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #29 on: 03 Nov 2013, 17:34 »

That's similar in Brazil. The physics department I visited had a party/get-together thing just off campus the one night, and I walked back to the physics department with some of the grad students. We were all carrying cups of beer, and I started to get worried as we walked onto campus, because you have to show your ID to the security guard to get into the physics department. We get there, he sees all of us carrying cups of beer into the building, and just says "Boa noite" ("good evening").
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #30 on: 03 Nov 2013, 18:03 »

Hmm. Isn't this thread similar to the "When in Rome" thread? At least intended it to be.

As for Loki: I still get strange looks for using the northern Germarn default greeting here. Fucking "Moin" doesn't fucking mean fucking "Good morning"! It is being used during the whole day. Goddammit. "Moi" is low Germar for good. "Moin" is just short for "Moi'n Dag".

It isn't so complicated. So stop looking at me weird when I use it in the evening. I definitely won't stop saying it. It's just too useful to have a universal greeting for every time of the day, formal enough for store personel, and informal enough for friends. It's short and simple.

Moin Moin!
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #31 on: 03 Nov 2013, 18:06 »

WRT US pricing I'd like to point out that:

some goods are priced before they reach a store (clothing and books come to mind)
sales tax in the US varies not only by state but also by county, and sometimes by city
the tax on some items in some places changes throughout the year (NYS used to have a week where clothing was tax-free for example)
for a large chain keeping a database from up to date with the current with tax price for each item at each store cost more money/resources than calculating the tax at the register.

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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #32 on: 03 Nov 2013, 20:59 »

Going on the coffee thing, Israel. Iced coffee means ice plus coffee, you'd think that'd be simple. Nope! I went into several places in Israel and asked for one and they started to make some blended monstrosity before I realized what they were doing and said no, I wanted coffee that's iced. It wasn't until the end of the trip that I learned I had to ask for a "cold Americano" (which I would've been fine with, but I went without coffee nearly the whole time!)
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #33 on: 04 Nov 2013, 06:23 »

I have just moved from Germany to the UK, which I love for many different reasons.
But a few things I still find very funny: The standard example is probably having two separate taps for warm and cold water at the sink. I find it so much more convenient to be able to have medium temperature water directly without having to mix it in the bowl.
Then the fact that bikes seem nearly always to be sold without lights, bell, mudguards... So you have to buy everything extra and most people have clip-on lights with batteries. In Germany this isn't allowed unless the light shows how much of the initial energy is left in the battery. Most bikes are sold completely equipped with lights being powered by a dynamo. You don't really get a choice - although you can of course switch to your preferred equipment later.
When I came back to the UK I bought a sandwich from a woman who called me pet and chatted about the weather.

That is something I found very endearing. Many salespeople here seem to be much keener on making contact with their customers than in Germany.
And about milkshakes: I love milkshakes and to my experience, they are much more common in the UK than in Germany. And all that I've tried were very good!
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #34 on: 04 Nov 2013, 07:11 »

Oh my god, the tap thing annoys me to no end. Why two different taps? So you can scold one hand and freeze the other, or just spend ages switching both hands between them, it doesn't make any sense to me. I actually know someone from England who was so annoyed they renovated his building and put the single tap which mixes the water, because he preferred mixing it himself.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #35 on: 04 Nov 2013, 08:35 »

s/scold/scald/

New taps are commonly mixers these days in the UK as well.  The only separate taps in my house are the old ones in the utility room sink.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #36 on: 04 Nov 2013, 09:35 »

For the US, the biggest things for me were:
- race.  subtle, but there, at least in the midwest and the south
- guns.
- cheap food/gas.  Seriously.
- I found concrete roads in Houston to be very, very odd.

Everyone in the states drives all the time, everywhere. I understand why, because everything is incredibly spread out, but it's so weird to me.

At times in my life, a family day trip to a town or city anywhere between 50 and ~350 miles away has been considered reasonable.

It's one of the things that always strikes me when Top Gear UK, for example, criticizes american cars.  Spacious interiors and soft suspensions might not be what sells in the UK, but over here, how can you NOT want that for something you might easily spend 10 hours a day in for days on end (or in my family's case, 20 hours a day).
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #37 on: 04 Nov 2013, 09:40 »

As for driving in the US, the farther west you go, the longer a drive is considered reasonable. In the northeast, 50 miles is a day trip. Out west, 100 miles could be "down the road".
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #38 on: 04 Nov 2013, 10:18 »

Haha yeah, I've noticed that. It makes sense because the east was populated before cars were around, so it's more like Europe, while in the west everything was build and expanded with cars in mind. It really looks different too, I'd only been to the east before this year, it's really interesting how different it is.

When my boyfriend's band toured the UK last year, they'd rented a car to drive around in. They arrived in Glasgow, their first show was in Aberdeen and then Glasgow the day after, so they drove up to Aberdeen (it's a 2-3 hour drive), played the show and drove down again the same day. Everyone here thought they were mental.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #39 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:03 »

I found it very funny how everyone I met in Indiana last summer was complaining about the rocketing price of fuel. I worked out that in Britain at that point people were paying about 2.5 times as much, and there was far less grumbling.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #40 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:19 »

Indiana doesn't have the UK's public transportation.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #41 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:35 »

For the US, the biggest things for me were:
- race.  subtle, but there, at least in the midwest and the south
Um, I assume you mean racism?

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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #42 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:38 »

In the UK:

You can go to a pub to eat. Like, not just a bowl of nachos or whatever - food that you eat with utensils. Different from here where there's no places where it's common to both sit and only drink, and to eat a dinner.

I got cursed at for getting on my bike on the sidewalk even if it was just to ride it from there out into the street - "There's a fucking road out there!". Here you can pretty much ride them wherever.

God dammit those taps are horrendous.

Anywhere not Norway:
You can get beer in the store after 8 pm.
Cops carry pistols, batons, bulletproof vests, etc.
Cities. So. Big.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #43 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:39 »

Another thing about Top Gear (which I've never watched and know little about), is how in the states, people seem to think Jeremy Clarkson is funny and entertaining, while in the UK, everyone hates him for being a conservative, inconsiderate bigot. It probably doesn't come across well on Top Gear since many Americans I know who completely disagree with his views still think he's funny, but over here, Top Gear is just one of the things he's known for and he's a very outspoken, public figure in other ways.

Edit: Biking on the sidewalk is actually illegal in the UK, which is funny because in Norway it's sort of the norm.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #44 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:53 »

It's the norm here, too. Ride your bike in the street and you'll get run over.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #45 on: 04 Nov 2013, 11:59 »

Here in the US you can really do either.  Most cities/towns have ordinances saying that if you are on a bike to maintain the speed limit and are treated as a vehicle, but they can also bike on the side walk.  They are treated pretty much like both pedestrian and motor vehicle.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #46 on: 04 Nov 2013, 12:05 »

Biking on the sidewalk is actually illegal in the UK, which is funny because in Norway it's sort of the norm.

Yes; but in a lot of places there are also cycle tracks marked on the pavement (sidewalk, if you like!), either alongside the pedestrians, or even marked to be shared.  It can be pretty hard sometimes to find out just where you are expected to be riding!  One track in Oxford has a white line down the middle and cycle and pedestrian signs on the two sides; the trouble is they're the opposite way round at the two ends!
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #47 on: 04 Nov 2013, 12:25 »

Actually, the public transport in Indiana was far better than the public transport near either of my parents' houses. It may be an unfair comparison since my parents live in villages on the outskirts of small towns and Fort Wayne is a fairly large place, but don't make the mistake of thinking that all of the UK has the public transport that London has. From the end of my mum's road you can get one bus a week (on a Wednesday morning - the bus makes the return route on a Saturday afternoon).
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #48 on: 04 Nov 2013, 13:51 »

Yes, I here in NZ know Jeremy's a twat

But he's a funny twat, probably the kind of twat you'd invite to a party rather than the twat heading the BNP.

But he's still a twat.



It always surprises me that neither Hammond or May haven't decked him before now

Or The Stig run him over.
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Re: What seemed weird when I visited your country
« Reply #49 on: 04 Nov 2013, 15:31 »

May can attest to the (lack of) public transportation here in my part of the US.

I have only been outside the US once. That was to Canada, eh?

Oddest thing about that was the lack of caffeine in Mountain Dew (at the time).
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