Things americans find normal that amazed me – U.S.A.

Skyscrapers, warehouses, ads everywhere, huge portion sizes.. The United States are like a whole other world in some aspects. Here are some things that really amazed me when I visited the United States in 2011 and in 2013 .


Huge skyscrapers
I had seen lots of pictures of the incredibly high skyscrapers of New York, but I was still amazed when I arrived there. In the Netherlands we have maybe three skyscrapers in the centre of The Hague and a few in Rotterdam, but over here, almost every building is a skyscraper! If you’re used to Amsterdam like me, with the small canal houses, you will also be amazed by these tall constructions.


Okay, we do have Starbucks now in the big cities in the Netherlands, but when I first visited the United States in 2011, Starbucks was something very rare for me. And I heard americans talk about it on the internet a lot, saying they were going to get Starbucks or taking pictures of Starbucks cups with their name on it. So that’s why I thought it was quite special when I saw an american Starbucks for the first time in Miami.

Dunkin’ Donuts
I mean we have bakeries in the Netherlands that sell a few kinds of donuts but americans have a store dedicated entirely to donuts! There are so many choices; different fillings, toppings and different shapes. I hope Dunkin’ Donuts follows Starbucks soon, so there will also be some donut stores in the Netherlands.

The crazy amount of ads and commercials
Ads are literally everywhere. When you watch tv in the United States, it seems like the commercials are every 5 minutes. How can you enjoy a television show when there are commercials every 5 minutes? Also, you will see almost every celebrity you have ever heard of in one commercial or ad during your stay in the United States. And there are also commercials of medicines. In the Netherlands, the doctor decides what medicine you should take, so there’s no reason to advertise a medicine. And when you are driving down any road near a city, there are lots of illuminated ads as well!


So many all-you-can-eat restaurants
It seems as if almost half of the signs for restaurants have the phrase “all you can eat” on them. And it doesn’t even cost that much either. One time we went out to eat at one of these all you can eat buffets and I heard one family say: “Make sure you don’t eat too much, kids, remember, we’re going to another restaurant afterwards.” I don’t understand how big their stomachs must have been, because I was already completely full after one and a half plate.


The huge portion sizes
I remember the first time we went out to eat in the United States. My sister and I were both craving pizza, so we both ordered a medium one. The waiter was kind of surprised, saying: “Sure? Two pizza’s?” And we were like: “Yes, of course.” Then the pizzas arrived. They were the biggest pizzas I had ever seen in my life. They were huge, bigger than a Dutch large pizza. I think I only finished half of my pizza. Then the waiter asked us if we wanted to take the rest of the pizza home. We looked at him with confused looks, because no one had ever asked us this anywhere in Europe. We said “No, thank you.” and ordered small portions in every american restaurant from that day.

The Amish
I mean, we also have very religious places in the Netherlands, but the most extreme thing is that the girls can only wear long skirts instead of pants and that all the stores stay closed on sundays. I was amazed to see that in the United States, there are people living without electricity or cars, where the women wear caps and the guys can have beards, but no mustaches.

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Big warehouses like Walmart
In the United States, you have these huge warehouses, where you can buy everything you would ever need. In the Netherlands you just have supermarkets for your groceries, clothing stores for your clothes, drugstores for your shampoo, makeup and medicines etcetera. But here, you have it all in one! It’s more efficient, because you don’t need to go to five stores, you can buy everything in one go! My only question is, why are there more than 30 kinds of peanut butter?

Kids in the United States get picked up with the school bus to go to school and get dropped off at home again when they’re done. Lucky you! In the Netherlands every kid has to cycle to school everyday, sometimes really far. And if you want to go to a school that’s too far away to cycle, you’ll need to take public transit.


Read more:
Why you should visit Sarasota beach – Sarasota, U.S.A.
The dream destination for every Harry Potter fan – Orlando, U.S.A.
Blue ponchos and fireworks – Niagara Falls, USA/Canada


62 thoughts on “Things americans find normal that amazed me – U.S.A.

  1. I’ve never been to America but this would probably all surprise me too, even though I’m from London! Obviously London is big and busy but New York (and other places in the states) sound absolutely insane! Great post, very interesting x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting account! Everywhere destination is so different than the places that are home to us or the ones we are familiar with. Diversity is one of the best things about travel!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ha! I suppose Walmart is an interesting place to explore when you’re traveling and not used to stores the sized of a (American) football field. They’re horrible places though… Put all other stores out of business and sell poor quality stuff at super low prices. Pay their employees next to nothing. Much of their workforce is on public assistance.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As an American who traveled to Europe for two semesters, I can see why you wouldn’t find this normal! There were other American students who traveled with me that complained about the lack of Starbucks in Europe haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Super true. I hope to compare America to Europe more extensively within the next ten years. For now, it’s America and Korea which is still quite wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Canada is literally the same or very similar for many of these things. I’ll always remember my first trip to Europe when I was 19 and I was totally in awe of all the differences that I came across as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved this post! So interesting to see other people’s take on a culture that isn’t their own (I’m American by the way). Just fyi for next time you’re in the US, most people split a pizza when they’re out at a restaurant 🙂 (but it is true that our portion sizes are gigantic in general!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It sounds really bizarre, but one of the things that surprised my boyfriend and I most in New York were the toilets. They just look and flush completely differently to toilets in the UK and other European countries I’ve been to.
    Also, the way they keep a bit of the wrapper on the top of the straw when you order a drink was funny.
    Great post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m from the U.S., and I don’t understand the Huge Portion epidemic either. I worked at an ice cream shop and it was just insane how big the ice cream bowls are–and that people would eat the whole thing. Now, people go out to eat, then go to movies and also have a full menu of actual food to choose from…it’s just crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Would gladly trade you ALL our Dunkin Donuts for some European bakeries. Since it’s been six years since I went to the Netherlands I actually can’t remember what baked goods were like there, but during a recent trip to southern France and Spain I was reminded how awesome it is to have delicious, fresh baked goods at a fraction of the price we pay here. Do we have a deal? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha nah thanks, I think I’ll keep the bakeries here. If you don’t remember what the baked goods were like in the Netherlands, I hope you tried some fresh stroopwafels! They’re a sort of cookie with syrup in it, a Dutch speciality. And we also have quite a lot of baked goods with cheese. We love cheese here in the Netherlands! 🙂


  11. Very interesting to have your perspective. I am an American and I also find the portions too large.
    I hope that on some future visit, you can get out of the cities, in particular, to the American Southwest, where you will find scenery unlike anything in Europe. And you will also discover the majority of Americans who live on the coasts have never seen it either.

    Liked by 1 person

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