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5 Strange Things About America from a Dutch Perspective

I’ve been living in Pensacola for just two months now, and I love it here. Being from the Netherlands, I didn’t think that our cultures would be that different, but throughout these few months noticed some strange habits that a lot of Americans participate in.

1. Bigger is better

I have never seen so many huge plates, unlimited refills and massive trucks. How can anyone refill a large soda? Is that even possible? When I first went to a restaurant here, I was amazed by the sizes of the portions. A size small here is the same as a size large in the Netherlands, and free refills don’t exist. A huge benefit about these large portions are the take home bags you can get. Having lunch for the next day has never been so easy. 

2. Free pizza

Photo courtesy LSU college of Art and Design. 

When I first heard that giving away free food at school events actually gets students to show up, I didn’t believe it. I saw signs everywhere saying ‘free food.’ I think this is good motivation and it surely does make people go to events. I am really going to miss this when I go back home!

3. Leggings and sweatshirts

I really didn’t know that the leggings and sweatshirt outfit was the unofficial school uniform. I have come to understand how incredibly comfortable it is myself. I once tried to wear it to class, but I just couldn’t. I felt too underdressed. In the Netherlands, girls maintain a high sense of fashion, never wearing anything less casual than a pair of jeans.

4. Taking the car everywhere

I have noticed that every American takes their car everywhere. Even when it’s just a five minute walk, Americans will most likely take their cars just because it’s “convenient.” I just really don’t understand this extra effort to warm up your car for no reason. The majority of the Dutch students don’t even own a car, we just take our bikes everywhere. For us, biking 15 minutes to a friend’s house is very far.

5. Sleeping in the library

Why is this even a thing? How can you be this relaxed that you fall asleep in the library? I would be so stressed out that my stuff would get stolen or that I would look ugly. I think this is one of the funniest yet strangest things ever. I really admire Americans for being themselves in the library. In a Dutch library, everyone sits really close to each other, so there isn’t even space to sleep. I once almost got kicked out of the library because I was eating pizza!

Despite all these strange things, I love Americans and think the culture here is fascinating. I wish I could stay longer to get to know everyone better!

Hi everyone, I am an International Exchange Student from the Netherlands studying at UWF!
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