The Most Surprising Things about America According to an Indian Living There


By: John Farrier

One recent question on Quora was “What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America?” Aniruddh Chaturvedi, an Indian computer science student at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, responded:

The return policy on almost everything:

None of my friends back in India believed me when I told them that you can literally buy anything, including food, and return it within ninety days for a full refund even if you don’t have a specific reason for doing so (most stores actually have a “Buyer’s Remorse” category under Reason for Return options while returning the product). […]

US Flag displayed everywhere:

I was surprised to see that the US flag is displayed in schools, on rooftops of houses, etc. India has very strict rules governing the display and use of the national flag. Also, something that struck out to me was how it was completely normal to wear the US flag or a US flag-like pattern as a bikini.

An almost-classless society:

I’ve noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living.
Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I’ve seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth.

Also, (almost) all sections of society are roughly equal. You’ll see service professionals owning iPhones, etc. as well. This may be wrong but part of it has to do with the fact that obtaining credit in this country is extremely easy. Anybody can buy anything, for the most part, except for something like a Maserati, obviously. As a result, most monetary possessions aren’t really status symbols. I believe that the only status symbol in America is your job, and possibly your educational qualifications.

Non-Americans who have lived in the United States, what would you add to this list?