American Stuff I Just Don't Get!

As with most women my age, I was partially brought up on movies such as The Breakfast Club, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, all American teen classics! As a British girl however, there are several things about American life I "learned" from these movies that I and many of my other UK-based friends find a little... perplexing!
  1. Spray-on cheese - Also cheese that doesn't have to be refrigerated. I love my cheese but that stuff is totally alien to me!
  2. The high school popularity contest - being popular just wasn't that much of a big deal in any school I went to.
  3. Not making coffee at home - this one's from experience, I have relatives in the US, and none of them seem to make fresh coffee in their own kitchens, it's instant or a trip down to Starbucks. To me, this sounds expensive and far too much effort, I have my Senseo machine or a cafetiere to do the job for a tenth of the price in my own home.
  4. The Greek System - Sororities and Fraternities are something quite fascinating to myself and quite a few people I know as we have absolutely nothing like that at British universities!
  5. Deep-frying turkeys - I'm scared of my deep-fryer, I'm a little clumsy so I'm always worried I'll end up frying a hand at some point, even with a light, barely-filled fryer basket. Deep-frying a whole turkey sounds positively terrifying to me!
What have you learned about other English-speaking countries that you find a little bizarre? If you're American, what perplexes you about the British?


Heidi Rose said...

I really don't know much about the British, and therefore cannot be perplexed about anything. Hopefully you could fill me in over time.

Don't feel alone, because there are plenty of things Americans themselves don't understand about, well, other Americans.

1.This is an American thing which totally grosses me out. Any cheese which has no need for refrigeration, or never expires for that matter, is completely wrong. I love cheese. And any cheese not blocked, crumbled, or shredded,(as Our Dear Lord intended) is an abomination.

2.Three words: High. School. Sucks.

3.I am frequently(I would say, 75% of the time)making coffee at home with my coffee maker.I just have limited ingredients (flavorings, creamer), so I also go to our local coffee shop (yay for comfy couches and coffee tables!) to get an especially yummy cup. I like my lattes.

4.No one in my family has ever or ever plans to get into a sorority (anyway, these are completely foreign to me, except in movies).

5.Americans have tried deep-frying everything and anything. I am not surprised.

The Naked Redhead said...

If it makes you feel any better, I'm an American and I don't get any of those things either! Hmmm...what don't I get about British people? Your metric system? Posh and Becks? (Thanks for pawning those two off, by the way.) :D

Anonymous said...

-All the British slang terms are confusing

-We deep fry twinkees, reeses, coca-cola, anything we can. It's gross.

-Do Brits eat as much fast food as Americans?

Ms Constantine said...

I don't get any of these things either.

And I don't get why America refuses to use the metric system and even argues against it. It makes more sense and America is (pretty much) the only country still using it.

jezzabellegiggles said...

i still dont know what a freshman is???

Bridey said...

I definitely agree with 2! I always wondered how closely US high schools in real life resembled US high schools in movies, is it really that bad?

And some other things I find confusing about other countries:

One cent coins/pennies etc. Why do so many countries still have them? Can you even buy anything for only 1 cent anywhere? Madness.

Driving on the left hand side of the road. Even though that's what I'm used to, driving on the right just seems to make more sense!

panda mime said...

I am always perplexed when I watch National Lampoons Vacation. At the start of the film Clark (Chevy) and Ellen (Beverly) are cleaning up after dinner and Ellen is scrapping the food off of the plates then Clark just wipes it with a towel and puts it in the cupboard!? This weirds me out no end. I hope it is just an in-joke in the film and not how Americans would wash their dishes in the 80s. Hahaha.
The whole college thing weirds me out too, what is a freshman? What is a sophomore? Is college different from university? In Australia we call tertiary institutions university. Unless it is TAFE college which is like your community colleges I think (they only do diplomas and certificates, not degrees).
I have so many more questions. Need an American e-mail pal ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Root beer... Brrrr!

Anonymous said...

Freshmen= First year of school either in high school or college. It's ninth or thirteenth grade

Rebecca said...

I feel the opposite about the coffee issue. Americans always have horrid percolatored coffee. It sits there for hours and then they add everything except milk, like syrups and flavoured cremas. And they are always surprised when I tell them crema isn't milk and show them the hundred things it is made of on the side of the container. (Sorry, British don't do good coffee either).

Not getting out of their cars. Drive through Starbucks, drive through banks/atms. They would even drive through the supermarket if they could. Actually, most supermarkets have electric scooters for you to use.

Thinking all asian food is "chinese food."

Putting fructose corn syrup in everything.

I will stop here as I was about to mention gun control...

My the way, I am married to an America, my sister is an American, and many of my familty are therefore Americans, so I do love them despite all the above.

Jackie said...

Greetings from America!
This was interesting. I liked reading how others percieve Americans. While there is some truth, there are some generalizations too.

1. American teen flicks are often inaccurate. I've never known anyone obsessed with popularity. And I've never seen anyone shoved in a locker (I was terrified by this, btw). We're more obsessed with belonging to groups and establishing some kind of identity instead of being popular, so high schools are VERY clique-y. I've wondered if high schools in other countries were like this.

2. I rarely buy coffee from places like starbucks. And I don't know too many people who buy coffee from Starbucks as opposed to brewing their own either. I think a small portion of Americans do this. One big tub of coffee costs $7.00 and lasts almost two months vs. buying a $4.00 cup of coffee every day for two months-- the later doesn't seem logical.
Going to local coffee shops are nice though. We go more for the atmosphere and good company rather than the over priced coffee though.

3. We also have drive through dry cleaners! But, not many people actually use the electric scooters at the super market.

In response to another comment:
1. No, Americans don't wipe food off their dishes and put them in the cupboards, we usually put them in dishwashers or hand wash them. The scene in the National Lampoons movie suggested that men don't know how to do dishes (because it was traditionally a woman's job).

2. Universities are huge with 20,000+ individuals who attend. Universities are also made up of several specialized schools which are called colleges. I study English and Japanese so I belong to the College of Arts and Science. Soon I will pick up another degree in business, so I will belong to the Business College. At a university, everyone must complete General Education credits which is a survey of classes from the various colleges.

There are also institutions that are just called colleges, which are like universities, but they are smaller in size. Many colleges have less than 10,000 students.

Things I don't understand about America despite being an American:
1. Why don't we use the metric system?
2. Why aren't we required to be proficient in a foreign language?
3. Why does the north drink unsweet iced tea when the south drink sweet iced tea?
4. Ebonics
5. Why some people in the south still fly the confederate flag. They say it's just "history" and they're not really racist. I think they're full of shit.

What I don't understand about the British:
1. Beans for breakfast?
2. British slang
3. Your universities/colleges. Someone tried explaining it to me, but it all went over my head
4. Tea. Is tea to the British like coffee to Americans? Does it wake you up in the mornings? And what's your favorite tea to drink?

And completely unrelated to both Britain and America...Why does everyone in Spain smoke? I've never seen so many smokers in my life.

Oh, one more thing...
Spray cheese is fucking awesome. I was horrfied by the thought of spray cheese until my boyfriend fed me spray cheese on "Chicken in a Bisquit" crackers. Oh. My. God.

Godlesscupcake said...

* Being fiercely patriotic whilst not knowing the even the basics of the country's governmental structure, history, etc.
* Most of the "food" items you find typically in the middle isles of a conventional American grocery store. (Cheese should never be sprayed on...)
* Consumption as identity?
* The glorification of popular culture and the obsession with celebrities.
* American pro sports
* Why education is so low a priority in the states

maya said...

Why DON'T they teach their children about world History and Geography?

In South Africa a 10 year old can pretty much tell you where any country in the world is and speaks east three languages.

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