Say what you will about the United States, but it is certainly a unique place. And if you're a non-American visiting the States, you're bound to have a lot of opinions.
1. "When I visited New York City for the first time, I was fascinated by how much Manhattan looked exactly the way it does the movies. Same with LA. I loved that everything felt so different from home (Austria), but at the same time, it was really familiar."
2. "The US has some of the greatest dive bars on the planet. And some of the best intimate venues for live music, too."
3. "The best thing about visiting the US, to me, was the sheer variety of landscapes. Within one country, you'll find deserts, mountains, rainforests, tundra, plains, swamps, rocky ocean coasts, white sand beaches, and almost everything in between. There are so many beautiful places."
4. "I don’t think I was prepared for the sheer number of people who straight-up approached me asking for money. My sympathy wore out quickly, so just be ready to politely say, 'Sorry, I haven’t got cash,' and quickly walk away. As a solo traveler, I think I was seen as an easy target."
5. "I found that Americans seem to talk a lot louder in public than Germans do. It always irritates me that they talk as if they're giving a speech to everyone around. Back home, we feel that public space is not to be polluted, and that includes loud voices."
6. "I didn't love that you can't really get around without a car. Within many cities, you can use public transit, but most often it's not that great. Outside of the big cities, you definitely need a car; otherwise you'll be spending a lot of your budget on Ubers."
7. "Having to calculate and combine tax and tips fried my brain when I was trying to split a bill in the US. I totally get why people ask for separate checks now. Our small group ordered meals and drinks at very different price points, so we decided to pay for what we ordered rather than split the bill evenly. In the UK, you just get one bill, then add up what you had. It's simple because tax is included in the price, and the tip is a thank-you rather than an expected amount. In the US, getting one bill and trying to fairly split the tax and tips after a couple of drinks broke our brains."
8. "When you pay for a bill at a restaurant with a card, the servers will usually take your card and run it at the machine. They don't bring a card reader to your table as they do in Germany. This caused a lot of confusion when a friend visited from Germany a few months back!"
9. "I don't love the big cities. But the national parks and nature are so much better than any city In the US. San Diego is my favorite city, but just beyond it in California, you have Big Sur. I wish I'd known this about the US sooner."
10. "Years back, a relative of mine from France was working in San Francisco. He was delighted by two things about the US: being on a first-name basis with his bosses and big American breakfasts."
11. "I was shocked to see people living on the streets, especially older people. It seems like homelessness is normalized over there, but it's so not OK. Take care of your citizens..."
12. "It was so much fun to visit all the famous places that I knew and recognized from American movies and TV shows."
13. "The national parks. Their landscapes and size are astonishing. Yellowstone in particular blew me away so much that it’s one of the first places I said I’d love to return to."
14. "I'm Swedish, and I've found Americans to be very helpful, friendly, and approachable. This helps a lot when you're a tourist and feel a bit lost with local customs or directions."
15. "I loved the variety of snack options. There seemed to be endless choices of everything in the supermarkets."
16. "I hated the availability of guns. It made me feel incredibly nervous as a visitor."
17. "Girl Scout cookies. I'm from the UK, and l went to Wyoming for one summer. I couldn't believe that Girl Scout cookies were actually a thing. I knew they existed, but I figured they were just an American stereotype played up in the movies. But I went to the grocery store one day, and lo and behold, there were Girl Scouts selling cookies! I got myself a few boxes."
18. "I love how friendly Americans tend to be. I’m from Canada, and Canadians are a little more conservative. I'm super shy and can be introverted, but for some reason in the US, people have always just smiled and struck up conversations with me."
19. "I LOVED Broadway in New York City. There were so many highly professional shows to choose from all in one place."
20. "I didn't like the general attitude that everything is better in the US than in the rest of the world. There seems to be a prevalent idea that Americans cannot learn from other countries."