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2012 election


Top ten things tourists and visitors don't get about America

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by Joseph Ernest  October 4, 2012        

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Summer is coming to an end, yet it is the time when most visitors and tourists travel to America. I always find it interesting to listen to what visitors or other cultures have to say about America and Americans.  I have compiled ten aspects of the U.S. and Americans that visitors have observed about America, and also some things I have observed about visitors and tourists to America. You are welcome to add more observations in the "comments" section if you feel I have left out any.


1. Why Americans use the words "great" and "awesome" excessively.

Most visitors to America are surprised by the positive words people use to answer greetings.  When you ask an American "how are you doing?" the answer is either "great" or "awesome." Visitors think Americans trivialize those words and make them lose their nobility.

2. The farewells are short and to the point.

In America after one visits someone else, to bid farewell, one will say, "take it easy" or "see you later" most commonly "be careful" or 'take care". One preacher after having a conversation with a friend who was visiting said to him after the conversation, "be careful" and walked away.  My guest was so troubled the whole day and finally said, "Do you think I did or said something to make the preacher angry with me?" I asked, "Why do you think he's angry?" To which he replied, "After I had a conversation with him that I thought was going well and said good-bye, before he left he told me, "Be careful."  I burst out laughing, and told him it's an American thing, and that was one the ways to say good-bye.  Needles to say he was greatly relieved it was simply a cultural expression.

I remember after taking lessons at the Italian Cultural Center in Houston, I told my instructor, "See you later," and left. In Italian it would be "A presto!" After months of hearing this she said in Europe when you tell someone you'll see that person later or soon, one actually believes and expects to see you in the next 24 to 48 hours.  I had to explain that in America when someone says "see you later" or "talk to you soon" it could mean, I'll see you within a year.

3.  The meaning of the word "like" and "love".

In other parts of the world when one says he or she likes so and so, it means, one person has a fondness for another.  Nothing more. In America when a woman says she likes so and so, it means she has loving romantic feels towards that person.  In other parts of the world when someone says he or she loves another, it means that person has romantic loving feelings toward another.  In America if a person says I love so and so, it could simply mean the person just has a fondness for the other person and absolutely zero romantic feelings.  The word "like" in America conveys more passion than the word love. It's a cultural thing tourists don't quite understand.

4. Spelling of words  and dropping the "u" or replacing "s" with "z".

In virtually all English-speaking countries, the "u" is included in words like colour, neigbour, honour and so forth. In America the "u" is dropped to read, color, neighbor, honor and so forth. As for the "s" and "z", a word like organization in foreign countries is spelled with an "s" and the word "spelled" is spelt with a "t" instead of "led" at the end.

5. Distance is measured in minutes and blocks.

When visitors come to America, and ask for directions, they expect to get actual measurements like kilometers or miles.  In America, for example, if one asks how far it is to the nearest bus station, the answer will be "about five minutes from here" or "it is about four blocks from here." It is very rare to hear someone say it is a quarter of a mile from here, yet that is what tourists expect to hear.

6. They patriotism for America that is exhibited.

Visitors to America can't get over how patriot Americans are.  They don't understand why it is that the Constitution and the flag are so much a part of an American like his or her beating heart.

7. Loud and in-your-face.

Tourists believe Americans are loud and can be confrontational.  In America speaking softly might be mistaken for weakness or shyness.  A person who speaks audibly is considered assertive in America, while in foreign countries it might be considered rude and intrusive.

8. Driving more than we walk.

In most countries around the world, most streets are walkable. Some people who are 30 years old have never owned a drivers license.  In America it would be unthinkable to be 18 years and not have your drivers license. Most streets in America are built to driven upon and people do not walk as much as those in other countries. Visitors have a tough time if a city in America does not have an efficient public transportation system because they are not used to renting cars.

9. Not interested in other countries.

When visitors come to America, they are surprised that the American media predominantly covers current events about America.  They find it hard to get broadcasts or newspapers from foreign countries. Also visitors perceive Americans as being uninterested in countries other than America, and expect everyone to speak English even when the American citizen is traveling overseas.

One French lady said when Americans go to France, they are surprised that the French don't speak English. She said, "We are surprised that American tourists don't speak French."

Also most tourists or visitors refer to America as "the states" instead of the U.S.

10. Other countries drive on the wrong side of the street.

In America we drive on the correct side of the street, while most other countries drive on the wrong side (the left side) of the street. Visitors find it hard to get used to driving on the correct side of the road (the right side), especially those from the British Commonwealth and former British colonies.  Add Comments>>








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