Europeans Share What They Think Life Is Like In The US

An American flag in a field
Unsplash | Aaron Burden

It's hard to truly understand the vibe of a place unless you've spent significant time there. This is part of the reason we rely on stereotypes: France and baguettes, England and questionable food, and so on.

How do non-Americans view the United States? Is it all just stereotypes about Ronald McDonald and John Wayne, or is it more nuanced? This r/AskReddit thread asked Europeans what they imagine life in the U.S. to be like.

The American Dream.

Times Square viewed from above
Unsplash | Andre Benz

"You wake up with mac and cheese for breakfast. You dress up in polo shirts and cargo pants, sneakers and white long socks. When you go outside you first honk the bears away from your trashcan. Then you drive your big ass car to work. When driving the streets you can enjoy life size posters of Donald Trump and Kardashian's butt."


America is basically 50 different countries in a trench coat.

Map of the United States
Unsplash | Nico Smit

"99% like anywhere else but extremes are more extreme. Extreme violence in nature and people. Extreme wealth and poverty. Extreme differences. Its not really a country but a conglomerate of very different countries."


Exceptionalism is silly.

Boston skyline
Unsplash | todd kent

"It's to live surrounded by people who believe a myth of exceptionalism and have never interrogated the why of their own society.

I've been to the US (the East coast) about a dozen times and from experience people are well educated and completely lacking in critical self reflection.

The middle and upper class in the US sometimes pity the working class, but they don't understand how their society has created the inequality that is rife."


You like crumpets, innit?

A mansion with a pool
Unsplash | Digital Marketing Agency NTWRK

"British person here, I would think that the houses would be really nice and spacious for the same price as a tiny UK house. However, I also feel artificial foods would be everywhere and unnecessary amounts of fat would be in most foods. I feel people would either obsess over my accent or make fun of it by saying 'bo ole of wo a' and their classic tea and crumpet joke."


I mean, McDonald's is real at least.

Vertically oriented McDonald's sign
Unsplash | Joshua Austin

"I’m not European, but I met a guy in Spain who was very curious about the US. He was very disappointed to learn that McDowell’s from Coming to America wasn’t a real restaurant somewhere in Queens. So there’s that."


Yeah, the parks are nice.

Landscape at Yosemite National Park
Unsplash | Bailey Zindel

"As someone who has travelled to America lots of times and absolutely loves a lot of aspects of the country especially the landscapes, the national parks and food. I can say for me the US is a beautiful country with lots of great places and lots of great people. But everything you need from a country to make life nice when you actually live there is missing unless you are wealthy."


Is there even that much positivity?

Interior of a bar
Unsplash | Patrick Tomasso

"I'm Norwegian. I have many American friends. Most are musicians. They generally don't have healthcare, and work pretty much hand to mouth. No savings. Conversely, most of these people have toured and seen things, so they are progressive and rad. They are not the norm, though. I imagine life in the US being harder, unsafe and a little more chaotic than in Euro. But there's also an entrepreneur spirit there that I admire. Y'all are very positive."


This is a common theme.

Interstate interchange viewed from above
Unsplash | Denys Nevozhai

"Generally good, the roads are wide, It’s very spacious and it’s a land that stands for freedom, Quality of life seems good, the only downsides that I probably would not like is a lack of a NHS, and the fact that you have less annual leave, you should get way more then you all currently do that’s for sure."


What employment rights?

A conference table
Unsplash | Benjamin Child

"I spent six months there in the nineties and loved it.

However when I read about employment rights/healthcare/abortion issues, tbh it sounds like its going backwards fast.

I suspect the U.S is like most countries, great if you're rich, pretty [bad] if you're poor."


Like a box of chocolates.

American flag draped on a barn
Unsplash | specphotops

"Honestly this country is really stressful and you have to have a lot of context and reasoning and awareness to not piss people off and see the good parts in America. Living in a blue state is totally different than living in a red one. Definitely a lot to [criticize] for sure."


Not your problem.

A rainbow in front of a forest
Unsplash | eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger

"I mean, where I live it's also not only rainbows and unicorns, but as an ordinary citizen, woman and employee I have some rights and benefits for over 150 years which make my life a lot less stressful if something bad happens. An American would probably refuse the same benefits because it's communism/socialism and of course super, super bad - what I don't understand, but well, luckily not my problem."


Well, plenty of people are having panic attacks every week.

Woman working on a computer
Unsplash | Annie Spratt

"Uncertain..the fact that you can get fired just like that, the lack of paid sick leave or paid absence due to giving birth, the cost of health services...I don't know how you guys do it, without having a panic attack every week."


It's the land of opportunity, for some.

The Empire State Building
Unsplash | Miltiadis Fragkidis

"All my American friends are highly educated and middle to upper middle class, they have it ever so good. I know they are far from the norm, but if you have skills in high demand, the opportunities are almost endless it seems."


We're not so different, you and I.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Unsplash | Maarten van den Heuvel

"From what I understand, aside from the obvious stuff (space, size of every day things, some government differences) things aren’t as different as Reddit would make them seem.

Both Europe and the US are significantly better places to live than other regions of the world, but both have issues like any country.

Since the majority of the world‘s eyes are on the 'west' our problems are more scrutinized."


The subprime mortgage crisis would like a word.

Calculator, paperclips, pen and paper
Unsplash | Mediamodifier

"Not everyone is drowning in debt. And even if you are, I can't think of a single thing in this country that you get debt from that doesn't provide some sort of quality in return. High level education, nice car, fancy house, top tier medical care, etc. (Doesn't mean we shouldn't fix some problems, but you still get these things in return)."


That's a balanced answer.

An American flag in a field
Unsplash | Aaron Burden

"Impossible to generalise. To the best of my knowledge, it varies enormously place to place, between socio-political and economic backgrounds, and between various groups.

It seems to have every good and every horrible thing thinkable of.

Overall, I'd say the standard of living is comparable, and in the grand scheme of things world class, but if things go bad, life becomes hell, and when things go well, they go brilliantly."


Mall culture was a special moment in time, but now it's dying off.

Interior of a shopping mall
Unsplash | Kevin Schmid

"Shopping malls and big cars and sports games and lots of national pride."


"Not anymore. Shopping malls are dead/dying and national pride has been replaced by political partisanship."


Is hustle culture still a thing?

Multiple people gathered around a laptop
Unsplash | Jud Mackrill

"Seems like the social ladder is just overstretched. It's better to be a cashier in Europe than in the US, better to he a software developer in the US than in Europe.

I definitely prefer Europe in that regard, even if I know for a fact that I'd be making three times as much in the US. Imo It's just part of the social contract that those at the bottom of the ladder should be able to live life in dignity, even if it's at the 'expense' of those at the top. It's not the only reason, among other things American work culture would overwhelm me, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep is how it should be. And I'm not about to burn the midnight oil and burn out and not have a life outside my job just because 'that's how things work around here,' too depressing of a prospect for me. (at will law is insane by the way)."


Do you want to go to the hospital you can afford, or the good hospital?

A hospital corridor
Unsplash | Miguel Ausejo

"I’ve been to the US a few times and never had a bad encounter. A lot of really nice people, genuinely nice interactions.

As an outsider looking in, the working rights and the healthcare is absolutely insane to me and a crying shame for some of the kindest, most giving people I’ve come into contact with as a foreigner."


Sounds big.

Map of the United States
Unsplash | Joey Csunyo

"Big. Big country, big cars, big buildings, big voices, big personalities, big ambitions, the Big Apple, the Big Sky Country, Big Sur. Big portions."


"I was thinking about it recently because I'm a little disappointed in myself that I only speak one language but I can get in my car and drive for days in any direction and I'll still be in English speaking territory (or the ocean)."