Listen, the US is a big dumpster fire. At least, it's easy to feel that way with the constant horrible news — and any and all apathy and distress we feel is valid.
But we often tend to forget about the good things about America. So, when Reddit user u/hippiechick725 asked, "What's the best thing about the US?" and a bunch of people from other countries or those who have traveled a lot chimed in, it was actually a really needed reminder of the things Americans can appreciate about the US.
So, in case you need a little bit of perspective and positivity, read on to hear what people think the US is actually killing the game at.
1. "The Americans with Disabilities Act is seriously some of the best handicap-accessibility protection in the world. A paraplegic person can wheel themselves into pretty much any commercial building in the country and be confident that there will be ramps in all the right places and a restroom they can use. If there aren't, there are powerful legal tools to make it happen. That's not the case in a lot of places in the world, and it wasn't that long ago that it wasn't the case here."
2. "Huge variety of grocery products."
"Back in the '80s, I was childhood friends with a family who were newly immigrated from Russia, and their mom took hours and hours to grocery shop because there were 'so many things!' Whenever we played at their house, her mom would very proudly tell us we could have grape or strawberry or orange jam in our peanut butter sandwiches. Then, she would say things like, 'You're so lucky! When I was little, maybe we had jam, maybe not.'"
"Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes with snow on the ground? Sure! Pineapple in the middle of winter? You got it! Can get anything any time. I grew up in a location with seasonal food. This means we mostly ate pickled and processed foods most of the winter, lots of potatoes and meat, too. Fresh produce was relegated to a handful of months. In the USA, you can eat fresh produce all day every day, no matter the state of the world. I think it's why so many of my peers aren't into pickled things like I am — they never had to develop a taste for them, to eat them for months on end. In my experience, the majority of non-immigrant Americans do not appreciate the uniqueness and sheer amazement of not having true seasons at the grocery store.
We also have every food from just about everywhere, to top off the non-seasonality of food. You can get virtually any ingredient for any dish in the world, save for some very specific exotics. And if it's not in your local store, you can probably get it delivered in two days for free."
3. "Costco, and similar giant warehouses featuring a ridiculous cornucopia of material goods. Yeah, other places have Carrefour and Robinsons and Tesco and whatever. Costco wipes the floor with them in quality, selection, and cost."
4. "Convenience and connectivity. We take Costco/Walmart/Target, 5G, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and central heat for granted over here. You can get whatever you need, in large quantities, basically whenever you need it. With Amazon, you can even get it delivered right to your door without ever leaving your couch. Calorically dense meals are (relatively) cheap and can be bought at any corner convenience store. Again, you can get it delivered right to your door without ever leaving your couch."
5. "America has a wild outdoorsy, fitness, diet culture that is fucking amazing to be a part of. Think of your childhood if you are American. Did you grow up playing just soccer? No, your parents probably made you do some combination of softball/baseball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, track/cross country, or some other niche sports that I can’t even think of. And that’s how many of us made, and still do, make friends. There’s dedicated gyms to play basketball in every town, city, and suburb across America, pickup flag football games, soccer matches breaking out across every single town, and that’s without it being a scheduled league affair. There is legitimately no other country in the world that has this much organized sports as part of a simple, fun, meet friends part of life as America."
"And that’s not even mentioning all the organized runs, outdoorsy, lifestyle groups there are. Like, a fucking ton of them in every place. And our diets/stores accommodate it. Anywhere in America, anywhere, you can find health food for vegan, vegetarian, non-dairy, keto, non-processed, non-GMO, local only, non-hormonal lifestyle you have. And no one will care. That’s seriously amazing."
6. "If I don’t like where I live, I can go somewhere thousands of miles away that has completely different laws, culture, and climate and don’t have to get anyone’s permission to do so."
"Yeah, this. If you want to live in the middle of nowhere with very little interference from other people and/or the government, you can do that. If you want to live in a more regimented society where lots of rules are in place and enforced for the betterment of society as a whole, you can do that, too. And then there's everything in between, too. The breadth of the American experience is significant, and not something that you'll find in a lot of other countries."
7. "Wide. Open. Space. Seriously. Go west and you can get to places that are so remote and so beautiful, with big blue skies during the day and star-filled nights."
8. "The fact that within the country you can find swamplands, mountains, great lakes, beaches, etc. is remarkable."
"I grew up in Nevada. You could drive 30 minutes in any direction and be in a completely different climate, and the views are stunning. Seeing the Milky Way from the middle of the empty desert is still awe-inspiring to me."
"The ability to get in your vehicle and drive wherever you want to see the vast natural beauty of the US and to experience the diversity of different regions and ways of life."
9. "Variety is the spice of life. If you want food, anything you can imagine from any country on Earth, we have it. Prepared by natives of that country. If you want to go to the beach and go skiing on the same day, we can make that happen. If you want to move out to the woods where your nearest neighbor is 20 miles away, we can do that."
10. "The National and State Park systems, and other protected areas, are truly unbelievable and one of my favorite things about the US (so let’s keep them protected, yeah?). We got A TON of issues here, and much of the good stuff isn’t unique to the US. But the variety of the landscape, the vastness of it all, is hard to beat."
"Kayaking around the Everglades or Atchafalaya, hiking through Zion or Yosemite, the astounding peacefulness when you lose yourself in the Redwoods or Olympic, wandering the Acadia or Big Sur coastline, camping in Yellowstone or the Smokey Mountains, taking an open Jeep through Joshua Tree or Death Valley… Just endless possibilities."
"The US has 762,000km² of just National Forests not even National Parks. That's equivalent to France and Bulgaria combined for just forests."
"State parks and beaches are also worth visiting. Many have no/low admission fees."
11. "The interstate road system, including rest areas. Whenever I'm on a roadtrip, I always appreciate the freedom to drive all over the country. Millions of miles, all available to all of us. With clean, safe bathrooms and snacks offered along the way."
12. "Public libraries are awesome."
"A lot of libraries in the states organize events and let you organize clubs and have all kinds of resources for all kinds of people. Not to mention subscriptions for ebooks and other digital content. Being abroad has really made me stop taking this for granted."
13. "The community college system is one of the United States' best institutions. After two years in community college, I was able to transfer to a university and received a double bachelor's degree. That type of second chance isn't available in many countries."
14. "All of our regional cuisine is pretty on point...BBQ itself has several major regional varieties (Kansas City, Memphis, Texas, Carolina). Then, there's the PNW and New England with the seafood, chowder, and lobster...and then, there are some areas where you can find some of the best of every food you can imagine, like the NYC metro area/northern NJ with its diverse immigrant communities giving us the best pizza, Latin American cuisines; Indian, Polish, Korean, just about anything you can think of."
15. "The food! Man, we have some food here. Every country has their thing. We have barbecue. Some cities smother anything in sauce, and it’s delicious. Everywhere I travel to, I ask locals for a good BBQ restaurant."
"We have the best barbecue in the world."
16. "I feel like entertainment is something the US does extremely well. Want to go to a show? The US has you covered regardless of how niche your taste is."
17. Music in general, but especially..."Jazz."
"Think how many modern styles of music originated in America. The blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, house music, etc. And those are pretty much all pioneered by African Americans."
18. "People shit on America for not having a deep rooted culture, and though that isn’t exactly true (Cajun, Creole, Native American, western/cowboy, etc); it does provide a great breeding ground for some amazing cultural combinations because of that. It can clearly be seen in our food, slang, music, and media."
"I like to think that our (American) culture is the blending and acceptance of all other cultures. There is no singular American culture — people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day one day and then host their daughter’s Quinceañera the next."
19. "The diversity. America gets shit on about racism all the time (not saying it doesn't exist), but is very little talked about when it comes to diversity. We have entire sections of cities and even towns that are dedicated to specific minority groups."
"Take for example German — want a slice of Germany? We got that in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
Cuban? Southern Florida.
Mexican? SoCal or Texas for your huge communities.
Chinese? Any major city has a Chinatown.
Korean? Almost as big as Chinatowns in major cities, the most famous one being LA.
List is really endless. If you want something, their is a slice of community for that nationality."
20. "I really like the diversity in this country. How anyone can be an American. And you have no idea who is American and who is not. That's my favorite thing. You have no idea who is just sightseeing, who is visiting family, who is here on a student visa versus who is actually American. So, until someone says otherwise, we are going to assume you are American. Doesn't matter how thick your accent is. Doesn't matter how you dress. You are American until otherwise noticed."
"Also, I love how quickly we adopt things from our immigrants and declare it American. It's like, 'What are you eating? Is it delicious? Let me try some of that. Oh, God, this is delicious. Go open up a restaurant. More people should be eating this.' And now, it's part of the American fabric."
"People talk about how politically divided Americans are, but I believe that only a small portion of the population is this way; that portion just makes a HELL of a lot of noise. Nobody talks about how multicultural the USA is. No matter where you come from or what your background is, the majority of people here will assume you're American unless they know otherwise because it's pretty much impossible to tell the difference between a tourist from another country and a citizen who came from that country or descended from someone who did."
21. "As someone who lived in Europe half my life and has traveled extensively and is a person of color, it is very clear that the USA has put a lot of effort in establishing vocabulary and dialogue around race relations that has been adopted worldwide. Europe really lacks the entry points to have honest conversations about race. They are either too scared to say anything at all or end up using very inappropriate/prejudicial vocabulary to communicate their thoughts on race and immigration."
22. "The peace. I know, a lot of people are going to have trouble squaring that with our defense budget, but here’s the argument: We have only two land borders, both of which we share with firm allies. On either side, massive oceans. With the exception of an expedition in WWII, foreign troops haven’t landed on our soil in over a century. There’s simply no credible way to invade the US, and if someone tried, they’d find themselves far from home with a strained supply line and a civilian population that could politely be described as 'uncooperative.'”
"Through both world wars and up to the present day, America has been spared the horror of when war reaches the civilian population. A lot of the world doesn’t have that luxury, and of the remaining countries that do, some of them still have physical reminders of recent conflicts.
In that regard, we’re pretty fortunate."
23. "Medical care — now before everyone rips my head off, it’s not how affordable the medical system is for everyone, it’s the quality of doctors we have."
"Agreed. I work as a research team member at a large academic medical center (no formal medical training myself, I'm just an office worker, grunt). We have doctors and residents and fellows from all over the world, who specifically wanted to come HERE to get their training and/or work. Brilliant people, doing their best to try to make a difference in the world."
24. "I love our culture of viewing failure as nothing embarrassing; it’s just another chance to pick yourself up and succeed. Contrast to a lot of countries where failure is frowned upon, America has a can do attitude of 'you either succeed or learn lessons for next time.' Makes me love this country."
25. "Honestly, the fact that so many things are out in the open. The good and the bad. I mean, yeah, it makes us look bad on the global stage, often. However, I'd rather we have temporary embarrassment than a festering undergrowth that isn't dealt with because it's purposely kept in the shadows."
26. "As a foreigner, I’m going with: personal freedom. The spirit of the US is that the people have the control, and the government is subservient to the people. There is something unique and wholesome to this. I love that Americans can legally go to the corner of a street and shout anything without fear of reprisal from the government. That’s liberty."
"We have large gatherings and bad mouth our leaders without even giving it a second thought."
27. "I moved to Germany almost three years ago, and I can tell you what I miss: how goddamn friendly Americans are."
"I love Germany, but people here are really uninterested in talking to people outside of their established social circles. Every time I go back to the states, I end up chatting with every single person I interact with, just because it‘s so nice to have a friendly conversation with a stranger. And I’m a pretty introverted person."
28. "USA is a great place to be an engineer. We pay our engineers better than any other country. If you can get a relatively inexpensive degree in engineering, then you can most likely swing middle class no problem."
"My USA success story:
Start online college at nonprofit
Get Software Dev degree for about $22k
Get first software dev job making six figures at 45 fully remote
Buy two acres and a 3k sq. ft. house for $360k
Raise family of four in the country
Pay off student loans in first year
Keep on keepin' on.
America has a ton of shit in it. My state has shit in spades when it comes to politics, but what me and my family were able to do, I am, like, 100% convinced could not happen anywhere else in the world."
"I don't think people even in Europe realize how much more engineers, tech folks, lawyers, and the 'professional class' in the US makes compared to where they live. Even in Canada, top-educated engineers all want to come to the US because salaries are often more than double what they would earn up north.
Working at a good tech firm can easily make you more than $200k/year USD by the time you're age 30."
29. "NASA. While the Soviet Union got an early lead, and other countries get their fare share of accolades these days, nobody comes close to NASA when it comes to expanding our knowledge of the universe. Nothing about this country is as universally respected or beloved as NASA, with the possible exception of Dolly Parton."
30. "The language(s). ... Americans by far are the most accepting people for people speaking shitty English and rolling with it. ... You go to most countries in Europe, Central America, and South America (only continents I have experience with) and you will have people telling you how to pronounce things, why you’re wrong, or trying to help you 'fit in.' Because your accent makes you a foreigner. Here, we don’t give a shit. ... A much, much lower level of English is needed to live here and make friends than it would for say, French or German in European nations."
"And also, we have SO many languages, that although you may not be able to use it in everyday life, most people here are bilingual, we just don’t have a very common second language (after Spanish, which does make us basically a bilingual nation, as 20% of Americans are comfortable in Spanish). I’m in school in bumfuck upstate New York, and just by googling, I found a whole German society of immigrants and historical German speakers to go practice my German with. My roommate (in addition to English) speaks Bangla, my other roommate speaks Hebrew, my next door neighbors speak Swahili, Spanish, and Greek; there’s an insane language diversity here, and if you want to speak any language in the US, I promise you there’s a community for it."
"I love how the American tongue is such a mutt language. How quickly we adapt non-English words and more often than not pronounce them how they would be pronounced in their Native tongue. We don't try make them more English like the way the French will French up foreign words. ... Language is so adaptable here. It's far more forgiving than other languages. You can butcher it up here, and as long as we understand the idea of what you are trying convey, you will get a pass. I think it's why it is such a juggernaut on a global stage. Yes, we have language rules, but the native speakers will mostly ignore them in order to communicate better."
And finally, let's do a few last rapid fire items:
34. And along those lines: "Most places, [you can] drink tap water straight out of faucet."
35. And lastly... "America is the best at high water pressure and actually hot showers in hotels vs. the weak tepid showers in the rest of the world."
What's something you actually really appreciate about living in America? Let us know in the comments below!
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.