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Immigration has dominated the GOP primary campaign. So a member of Reddit asked a simple question. Immigrants to America: What was the most pleasant surprise? Nearly 13,000 comments later, here are a few of the favorites:
The road directions to go from a city to another 2,000 miles away is extremely simple. (E.g., get on I-80 exit to I-90, then exit 40.)
I’ve driven the extent of I-90 a couple times during the time I lived in Seattle. There was an indescribable, special feeling when I would use I-90 for a short trip out of Seattle in my day-to-day life and look down the road ahead and envision the 3,000 miles over mountains, plains, and cities. It was nice to have the daily reminder that it was there and all I had to do was start driving — the opposite of feeling trapped.
Not having to haggle prices when buying things, not having to know who to talk to (or bribe) to get any little bit of paperwork filed in a reasonable amount of time, not having to worry about being cheated on every little transaction you have. Just having standard reliable procedures for daily tasks was wonderful. You guys might hate going to the DMV, but let me tell you, it could be much worse.
Then it got even better with automation and e-commerce, and not even really having to interact with people for many tasks.
Very seriously, free refills.
Free public restrooms and how every establishment has air conditioning.
The seemingly endless rows of food in the grocery stores. And all the apples. Who needs 50 different kinds of apples?
Showers and running hot water. I was born in the Philippines. Showers and hot water aren’t really common in older homes over there. Not having to fill buckets with water and boiling some over a stove top was such a big surprise for me. Experiencing that as a twelve year old was an unforgettable experience. Yet, most people who live here (me included) take it for granted sometimes.
I came here four months ago and everything has been a shock in one way or another. I’m from a third world country, and we know a thing or two about America, but you have to experience it.
- Choosing your own shower temperature!
- Everyone is so polite and good manners are everywhere. Any religion or race you are, everyone seems to say “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” or ask me how I am or how my day is!
- How easy you can buy stuff online and they arrive so fast!
- Buildings and bridges are so … amazing. Like, the infrastructure is good, it makes you think, “wow, mankind did this.“
- Big-ass celebrations!
- How people can go out look gay, wasted, weird, etc., and no one bats an eye.
- And the biggest of them all, fast internet!
Air. You don’t really notice how real fresh air feels like when you’ve been breathing in polluted air all your life.
I moved to the US when I was 21; it’s nearly been 2 years. Two things surprised me:
- I apparently have a mid-Atlantic English accent. The Japanese-descent population here in Northern California is a lot less that I thought it would be. Most are in the Bay or are farmers up in the Central Valley.
- My most pleasant experience is the constant assumption that I am American, primarily because of my English. It feels beyond amazing. My nationality has always been a major issue. I strongly and culturally identify with my mother’s country, a place where I grew up and speak two of its languages fluently … yet everyone there saw me as a foreigner because of my father’s origin.
Ex-African here. I’m pleasantly surprised by the US Postal Service. You can stick a cheap stamp on a letter, throw it in a blue mailbox in NY and it will get to LA 99 percent of the time. It doesn’t get “lost” or stolen, it just gets there. And every day a nice person in light blue overalls driving a weird little blue-and-white truck pulls up and fills my mailbox (at home) with junk deals from the local market and even my paycheck sometimes. Hooray! And don’t even get me started on trash collection!!
OMG! The cops thing! It was smart to have a healthy, yet irrational fear of police where I grew up. You had no idea what you were in for when you were stopped (especially if you were well off/in a relatively nice car).
I remember that when I was getting my driver’s license in Trinidad, everyone (friends my age and adults alike) told me to go with a few hundred dollars in my pocket, at the ready. They said that it’s very common that even if you pass the driving test, you’ll be asked to pay a bribe in order for them to sign off on it. I didn’t need to pay, but I had several people in my life who admitted to paying when they were asked.
I came to the US literally with nothing but my clothes, driving a car that that wasn’t even mine in June 2006 with my girlfriend from Mexico, legally, in case you are wondering.
In January ’09 we bought our house in Austin, TX.
Fast forward to 2016, we’ve already paid like 60 percent of our mortgage; we even installed solar panels.
What do we do for living you may ask? We are teachers…
It amazes me that this country is so rich, that there’s enough for everybody, even for a normal guy like me. I feel as if I’m the luckiest guy in the world since I always dreamed about living in the US.
You guys have no idea how lucky you are to be born in the US.
Since most of our politics is based on complaining about what’s wrong with America, it’s nice to be reminded of what’s right — even little things like hot showers and junk mail. How about you, Ricochetti: what are some everyday things you appreciate about the US?