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17 non-Americans share the 'most American moment’ they experienced visiting the States

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom when in the distance, we could see one of the Space Shuttles being launched into the Sky."

Three things that are as American as they get.

For people from foreign countries, visiting America can feel like stepping into a movie. Many people across the world have grown up with American movies, TV shows, music, and even products, creating a kind of proxy culture through which they experience a slice of American life.

That’s why when they visit America for the first time, it can be a surreal experience. Everyday scenes that Americans take for granted—such as the sight of a classic yellow school bus, a waitress who calls you “Honey,” or a game of beer pong with red Solo cups—can feel like a moment straight out of a Hollywood script.

America is also full of characters that people may not find abroad, from sheriffs wearing cowboy hats to mustachioed bikers and people who really, really love guns.


A Redditor named JeffRyan1 asked non-Americans on the AskReddit subforum to share the most American moment they experienced when visiting the United States. It was a fun post where folks shared the people, places, and things that they’ll never forget after visiting the land of the free and home of the brave.

Here are 17 of the “most American moments” non-Americans have had in the States.

1. The most American day ever

"Several years ago, one of my friends reached out because a new international student was joining a local college, and their parents were hoping to find somebody in the US to help them out. The first day they came to visit us, a couple of major coincidences created a weirdly over-the-top American experience.

Based on talks before they arrived, the two biggest things they wanted to do was walk around the downtown area to make sure it was safe and get some American BBQ.

We went to a local BBQ restaurant that serves a huge family-style meal on a giant shovel (it's called KCs Rib Shack in Manchester, NH). The dad was absolutely blown away and took like 30 photos before we could eat. We then went downtown but didn't realize that there was both a classic car show downtown and an Elvis impersonator competition going on. this family that had never been outside of Japan ate brisket out of a shovel then immediately walked around looking at classic muscle cars while dozens of dudes dressed like Elvis walked around. We kept trying to explain that it was an abnormally 'American' day, but the family was just so blown away and overwhelmed the whole time. The last time I talked to the student, she said her dad still talks about the BBQ shovel, car, Elvis day all the time." — WoogyChuck

2. Never forget

"Dude took his shirt off in line at an amusement park to reveal no less than six 9/11 tattoos." — Peskieyesterday

3. Peak Florida

"I was on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, when in the distance we could see one of the space shuttles being launched into the Sky. The barbershop quartet stopped, turned to it and started singing the 'Star Spangled Banner,' and a military dad and his two kids stood straight, rooted to the spot whilst they saluted until it went out of sight." —Eezgorriseadback

"If this is actually true this has to be the best answer. That reads like a schlocky movie script—wild." — HankSaggittarius

4. The XL coffee

"American immigrant from Europe… On my first week in the US, i walked into one of those chain coffee shops and ordered a coffee. When prompted for a size, I pondered that I had not slept that much (jet lag) and selected an extra large. You know what we call those extra-large coffee mugs in the old country? Buckets. What I got was a bucket of coffee." — Milespoints

5. Pride of the frontier

"An old couple running a family run horse ranch, talking about their history, how their great grandparents acquired that bit of land, while their two daughters and son taught us horseback riding. The way they talked about nature, freedom, their dreams and aspirations, so different to our home country and our own culture, while still sounding faintly familiar, as if he was talking about a really old dream I used to have. It’s hard for me to put into words, but that scene, the surroundings, the air, every sensation, never left me, and but for a brief moment, allowed me to kind of understand the Americans a little more. I truly hope they all are doing well and that America never loses this special way of striving for a new frontier. Sounds probably ridiculous, but it was very special to me." — Parthorax

6. Breakfast of champions

"Montana after driving across the Canadian border: Eating in a breakfast diner that actually had stacks of pancakes with the little square of butter on top, just like I had always seen in movies. The waitress was pouring coffee into everyone's cups, talking about the 'potata salad' and saying 'sir' and 'ma'am' after every sentence. It was so quaint. Then I noticed a guy with a gun on his belt, wearing a shirt that read, 'I'd rather be a Mormon than a Moron.' The amount of Jesus and Stars and Stripes on that one little drive was peak America, from my outsider perspective." — yycokwithme

7. Chicken-friend bacon

"Had chicken-fried bacon at some breakfast BBQ place on the I5 between Seattle and Portland. Was it delicious? Yes. Did it probably take at least a few days off my life? Also yes. And it was just the starter to my biscuits and gravy." — parrallel_jay

8. Ready, aim, fire

"Being able to shoot weapons at a gun range despite being on a mere tourist visa." — Throwawayconcern2023

"The first time I, a Canadian, ever fired a gun was in a range in Oklahoma City. I was on a road trip and my boyfriend at the time (from LA) suggested it, so we walked in and asked for the most comically large guns they would give us. They handed us AK-47s and a key to the range. Didn't even ask to see ID." — Safadancer

9. The big yellow bus

"The yellow school-buses. I felt like I was in a movie." — SunnyTopHat268

"I hear red Solo cups have the same effect." — JunkMail0604

10. Deer service

"Going into a Savalot supermarket and discovering the meat counter had an option for you to drop off a deer carcass to get it prepared by the butcher." — Pickwick-the-Dodo

11. A monster of a night

"Went to watch Monster Trucks at the Georgia Dome (RIP) with family during the winter. We were a group of 6 brown people in coats and beanies and gloves amongst 59,994 rednecks wearing trucker caps, shorts, and sleeveless flannel shirts. Had my first Bud Light and funnel cake. What a time." — Honeycomb286

12. Grocery sore

"Formerly a non-American, i noticed was how grocery store employees at the cash register are not allowed to sit." — Ghengiskhan_1

13. Chatty Americans

"I think for me was noticing that strangers can randomly strike up a conversation with you. I've been in this country for more than 20 years now so I'm used to it. But I remember being weirded out by it before." — Kororon

"I've lived here my whole life and still find it awkward and unusual." — Mr-Whitecotton

14. Born to wild

"As if going to the NASCAR wasn't 'Merican enough, before going into the stadium, my mate and I had a walk around the fan park they had built outside it. Within 5 minutes of being there, I heard an engine being revved up to within an inch of its life, and the smell of petrol filled the air. I turned around, and this engine was on board a Harley Davidson three-wheeler, on which there was this big f*** off drum kit built onto it, driven by a bloke in full leathers, bandana, shades, the lot. All of a sudden 'Born To Be Wild' blasted out of the speakers also attached to it, and the bloke started playing the drums along to the tune, and started badly singing the lyrics, revving the engine every so often in random places. I felt like I was American myself by the end of it." — eezgorriseeadback

15. What a hamburger's all about

"A bite into an In-N-Out Burger. my sister couldn't believe that I ate a burger at their place every day for 3 weeks. Feel free to invite me for a few weeks, very happy to come back to Thousand Oaks, California, and we will indulge in the burgers from In-N-Out. I'm from Germany, flight is on me." — Seevetaler

16. Hollywood sunset

"I was driving through LA (from near Hollywood to LAX) in a pickup with the sun setting and listening to '80s/'90s hip hop on the radio. I felt like I was in GTA." — Criminalsunrise

17. Diner waitresses

"A diner where a lady walks around with a large pot of coffee and refills everyone's cup." — Y0rin