Recently I saved up for a trip to the US, with the aim of experiencing the culture, becoming more confident as a traveller, and to visit friends. I've visited quite a few places in Europe, and I am from the UK, so I was interested to see how the cultures would compare. Here are some of my impressions of the place. Of course, these are all very, very generalised points:
I visited the United States two years ago, travelling by train from coast to coast... from east to west (via southern route) and back (via northern route). This was only 15 days, but nevertheless event packed and interesting.
People tend to have an attitude of openness and being unreserved about what they say - while this could potentially spill into being a socially bad thing (i.e., being outspoken, or impolite) - it was actually very humbling to see it in practice - a general attitude of helpfulness, openness and goodwill. The UK could learn a thing or too about it with our general attitude of being insular, cool and reserved towards strangers or newcomers...
From my two weeks' face to face experience of American people, and I sure got a lot of experience because on the trains you're constantly interacting with Americans and sitting with Americans at meals, and comparing it like for like to what a similar British odyssey would probably be like, I would feel much comfortable and happier among the British attitude. You're absolutely right about the openness, as people talk to each other and get to know each other on the trains. Helpfulness and goodwill - I'm not absolutely sure. I did meet many cool and nice people. But I wouldn't have thought I would also have had so many negative social experiences when meeting people, and openness doesn't help there, I'd prefer the insularity, coolness and reserve of the British any day. From a love-shy and male incel standpoint, America not good.
I know many dateless, love-shy American guys criticise American women, but I can say I experienced at first hand an attitude that I wouldn't do here - or it was just more openly expressed.
- Public technology (in major cities anyway) is notably quite advanced - e.g. public electronic devices, automated hygiene machines seemingly everywhere, etc, which is a difference from the UK and most European countries - I'm not saying that our countries are backwards in a technological sense, just that the technology for public use doesn't tend to be quite as shiny as it is in the US.
Technology wasn't something that caught my attention, but infrastructure always does. It was good enough in the more developed, larger cities, but try visiting and travelling through the Deep South.
- Obesity - it's a stereotype, I know, and I'm a little unhealthily attuned to issues regarding weight, but still. I was quite shocked - even coming from a country with the highest obesity rate in Europe. For me it is unusual to see somebody who I would consider severely obese in an everyday sense, but in the US, seeing such people was quite commonplace. The standard for a 'normal' weight I think is significantly higher, for both men and women. I'd say that the average clothing size for women in the US is about 14/16 (Uk clothing size), with examples of what I would consider obesity (clothing size 22-24 and plus) being quite common. For comparison, the average clothing size for women in the UK is probably about 12/14, and in general on the continent the average size for women is probably about 10/12. The 'grab and go' food culture can't help - there's delicious, cheap take-out food everywhere you go, but most of it seemed quite - even lavishly - unhealthy, with lots of "add-ons" like cheese, salt, sauces, etc as standard. There's certainly less emphasis on healthy food - and availability of it as a take-out option.
I must have been inured to the whole obesity thing. While knowing there was statistically more obesity in the US, it just didn't jump out at me. Maybe that's because, after all, I'm from Scotland which is second among the OECD countries for obesity, behind the US. It just didn't jump out at me that I was in a country with more obesity. You must know that people in Scotland often have a high fat content diet and often have less than healthy lifestyles.
- . Moving on from that slightly negative point, as a country, America is wildly varied and a place of extraordinary diversity in terms of landscape, people, etc. And is very often very beautiful. I will be visiting it again in the summer and I'm already looking forward to it.
All this is definitely true.
- you really do need a car.
Also absolutely true, unless you are somewhere like New York City, San Francisco, or central Chicago, which is a very small minority of the US population.
Unless you're in one of those US places plus one or two suspected others (e.g. Boston), anywhere in the UK one will feel much more involved in and interactive with a town or city and its structure with or without a car.
However, I did go to New York for a couple of days, and my, people were brusque...I also visited near Illinois and Wisconsin, both places that I loved. New York was fascinating, but not somewhere I could ever settle, far too intense and intimidating.
I had a much better time when I was out and about in the cities, probably due to not having forced interaction, as they do on the trains at meal times. I liked New York City apart from the overcrowding. People in New York were generally polite to me.
I've been to the UK myself. To check out the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a couple of college friends. I wasn't expecting London to be as green as it was. Even a lot of the pubs were draped in plants and flowers and stuff.
How did you find Edinburgh as a place and how did you find the lifestyle and people? I live there.