“I think all Americans are addicted to peanut butter. They always eat peanut butter and they bring it everywhere,” said Yuri Hamano, a senior from Japan studying hotel and tourism management. She even explained that her mission companions from America would eat peanut butter and swore it was a quick remedy for hiccups. She made sure to say, “I don’t believe in peanut butter.”
Adam Jonsson, a freshman studying business management from Sweden, said, “Peanut butter is a big thing over here. One of my best friends is obsessed with it. I am pretty sure he has it in his milk. I think he is like most Americans. It’s all about the peanut butter and jelly.”
Yuesuke Hirata, a junior from Japan studying business management, said he was shocked at the currency when he went to the store for the first time in America. He said when the cashier gave him his change, he had no idea how to count them or what they were worth.
“I was so confused how to count the currency. The dimes and nickels are different sizes. Usually, in Japan, if you see coins worth more, they are bigger sizes. But in America, nickels have less worth than dimes, but the nickel is bigger than the dime. I was frustrated when I was counting the coins.”
When asked about some of the stranger things he has found since being in America, Pattica San, a freshman studying political science from Cambodia, said, “Americans kiss in public. That is disgusting. In Cambodia, you might go to jail for something like that. I think it is gross.”
San explained in Cambodia they believe public display of affection arouses the feelings of others, especially children and teenagers, and encourages them to act inappropriately. “You can kiss on the cheek and stuff like that, but not on the lips.”
Since kissing is not big in Cambodia, San said he likes to joke with his other friends from similar cultures and say, “What does it taste like?” For him, “It is just strange.”
Jonsson said one of the strangest things about American culture is the love for bigger things. “America has a lot of big things. The cars are going to be big. They always have huge tires, like bigger than the car. Everyone also loves trucks. In Sweden, it’s all about having a nice, convenient car you can park anywhere.”
Also, the food is much bigger in Jonsson’s opinion. “You get medium here, and it’s like an XXL compared to Sweden. It’s actually kind of great. I love it, but there are also a lot of big people here too.”
Olivia Chen, a TESOL major from Taiwan, said she has noticed a few strange things about American culture, especially when it comes to food.
“Diets were more balanced when I was in Taiwan. Here, I do not see a lot of people eating cooked veggies. In our culture, if we go and get a meal, that means rice, meat and veggies are always provided. In America, it’s just meat and rice.
“I am really confused. They say salad is so healthy and has a lot less calories, but then they just add a whole lot of dressing on it and make it super fat.”
Chen also told her experience with traffic in America. She said every time she would go to cross the road in Taiwan, she had to wait until the traffic light turned red and all the cars were forced to stop.
“When I came here, I was standing, waiting for the cars to pass by. It was weird because they just stopped and waited for me to cross. It took me awhile to get use to crossing the street first.”
Another difference Jonsson said he has noticed between America and Sweden is the measurements Americans use.
“The metric system makes a lot of sense. Here, you have inches, then you have 12 inches in a foot, then 3 feet in a yard and I don’t even know how many yards are in mile. And that just doesn’t make sense.” He stated he thinks Americans do it to confuse their children just for fun.
Complimenting people so much was also an adjustment for Hamano. She said this is because in Japan, “We do not really give compliments to each other.” For that, she said, “I love Americans. They are so nice.”
NOTE: This online article's publication was delayed because it was featured in the Nov. 2017 print issue.