Strange America


Last week, I stumbled upon the hilarious blog Confiscated Toothpaste (how great is that title?) and the entry “18 Strange Observations of America from an Australian Living in the USA”.

Some of the author’s points are on the mark. Yes, we have really fast internet. Yes, we’re very opinionated and we’re interested in your opinion too. Yes, we do think owning guns is normal. Yes, we eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow, food is delicious, and there are free refills.

Some of the author’s other points are funny and surprising.

12. The Toilets are Full of Water

I know everyone notices this but it’s really quite strange and I’ve never seen this type of toilet anywhere else. A veritable swimming pool of water greets you when you open the toilet lid and when you flush, it all goes down the drain in a huge rotating whirlpool. For all the guys out there, who try to find the “silent spot” on the bowl in the middle of the night, you can forget it in the US. When you get up in the middle of the night it will sound like Niagara Falls and ALL of your roommates will know you’re having a slash. My Uncle Rob swears that in his older age his undercarriage hangs low enough to get a wash when he flushes in the US. I’m not sure whether to believe him.

When I came to Melbourne and saw the low water level of the toilet, I wondered if it was broken.

4. They have Drive-Thru ATMs

This is not a joke. The country that brought you the drive-thru fast food restaurant now brings you the drive-thru ATM. After all, it’s a drag to actually have to get out of your car and walk up to the hole in the wall! I took some German work colleagues on a little tour around Portland and this was the thing they took the most photos of.

I took this for granted. I assumed Melbourne had drive-thru ATMs and drive-thru Starbucks.

17. They Have Loads of Dangerous Animals but Worry About Australia’s Snakes and Spiders

In the US, you can be gored by a grizzly bear, trampled by a bison, torn to shreds by a coyote, bitten by a bobcat, chowed on by a cougar, or disembowelled by a panther… yet they kept asking me how I deal with Australia’s “dangerous wildlife”! Yeah, those kangaroos and koalas are pretty scary…

The thing is, I’ve never looked up at the ceiling and seen a grizzly bear, a bison, a coyote, a bobcat, a cougar, or a panther.

I encourage you to head on over to Confiscated Toothpaste and read the whole entry. It’s funny and sweet and the comments are pretty good too.

Is there anything that you find strange about America now that you live abroad?




  1. Drive through ATMs are nothing new or surprising, but there are drive-through churches, where you don’t have to leave your car for a blessing!
    And, please, tell me where you can get fast internet here!
    Best regards from southern Texas,

    • There are no drive-through ATMs here in Melbourne as far as I know and internet is slower, more limited, and costlier than when I was in Miami. Now, a drive-through church, that’s something! I’d love to see that.

      • Sorry, I completely misunderstood your posting. I was of the opinion you were takling about America.
        Btw, I once blogged about drive-through praying [].
        Best regards from southern Texas,

        • Thanks for leaving a link to your blog. That’s pretty crazy. I notice the original story is from 2011. Is the drive-through church still around? Are there more of them?

          • You’re welcome as to the link. If the drive-through church is still there? I don’t know. But I’d assume so. Maybe even more than one now.

  2. Love that blog. I actually interviewed him for my last Expat Chitchat series. 😉

  3. The first one! When I went to America I thought the toilet must have been be blocked because of how much water was is it, then I realised that was just how American toilets rolled. It also made me realise why so many American stories have dogs drinking from the toilet bowl, why they are so worried about children and cats falling in them and how someone could actually have their head flushed down the toilet. Haha. I also often got confused looking for the half flush.

    • The toilet difference is a funny one because we’re totally unprepared for it. It’s not the kind of thing you read about in travel books or blogs. It’s funny you mention stories of dogs drinking from the toilet, kids and cats, and having your head flushed. It’s true that you never hear that in Australia and I never really noticed. Now that I’ve experienced the Aussie toilet, I do wonder why the American toilet is full. Maybe it’s because conservation isn’t such a big deal there (though it should be). I love the half-flush, by the way lol.

      • I don’t know about American toilets having so much water in the bowl. At least not to my knowledge. They used to have, though, and soem still do, plenty of water in the reservoir, which makes for quite abit of waste of water. But that’s changing, too.

        • A hotel I stayed at in California had the toilets with the half-flush. I’d love to see that all over the USA.

          • Hi Cosette,
            Well, California has very environmentally conscious people. But other states are introducing water-saving flush mechanisms, too.
            Best regards from southern Texas,

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