Americans Who Moved Abroad Share How Their Views Have Changed (20 Stories)

As Americans, we are… well, we are a little egotistical. It’s what happens when we grow up indoctrinated by the Pledge of Allegiance.

So, for Americans who travel or move abroad, there is a little bit of a shock to learn we are not, in fact, number one.

Redditor Itisallmyfaultinnit wanted to know what these Americans thought after spending time abroad. In r/AskReddit, they asked:

“American Redditors who live abroad, how has your view of the world changed since you moved out of the US?”

The result? A lot of Americans had some big realizations about the world.

We’ve rounded up 20 below.

1. The world doesn’t revolve around America

I have lived in Mexico 3 years now. I’ve come to realize that the entire world does not revolve around what’s going on in the US. Even the mexico is a very close neighbor, you can go so many days without having any idea what’s going on, which is awesome honestly. I don’t vote here, so I don’t also really care what’s going on with Mexican politics either. Whenever I go back home, I realize how much of the day is spent in the US in fear of doing something wrong, breaking a rule, or just kinda being in fear. The level of anxiety of most people is extremely high in the US. Even though I will always love my home, I realize that when I live in the US, I’m constantly in fear of being “forced” into major debt via medical bills, an accident, rent etc. I don’t even have insurance in Mexico, even when I’ve had to go to the hospital or see a specialist, it’s so unbelievably affordable for extremely good care.


2. A slower pace

Spent some time in Italy, I went from Florence to Rome and stopped in tons of tiny villages on the way, life outside the United States is a lot slower paced. People aren’t running from one place to another to get things done. This might be for Italy only but everyone was just slowed down compared to the states.


3. Kind people

I’ve been in Mexico, Germany, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Everyone I met are wonderful people, minding their own business and trying to live their lives. They were all friendly, willing and eager to show me their culture and share food. We’d all share similarities between our countries and differences and no one ever took offense. Politics were the last things we talked about and if it was brought up, they told me things in their countries they didn’t like


4. America loves terrorism

The US news highlights homicides and terrorism. It is extremely disproportionate compared to reality. This drives fear, which drives engagement. Engagement = $$. The media wouldn’t do this if it didn’t work.


5. The first thing you think of

I spent a month in London and at the bars I would ask people “what’s the first thing you think of when you think of America?”

If I’m remembering correctly, the most common responses were fat people and freedom.


6. Crime

Crime. I went from living in D.C. at the height of the crack epidemic in the 80s, where carjackings were invented, to Germany where you couldn’t even lock your Mercedes from the inside.


7. Chill out

I’m 62, spent some time in the Navy, and I really think our country just needs to chill the f**k out. They should put anti-anxiety medication in the water. We need to quit all the divisiveness and realize we all have to live together. We all bleed the same color, we should spend more time solving the country’s problems instead trying to solve the problems in other countries. The violence in this country has become outrageous. Instead of killing each other, we should help each other. The world would sure be a better place then. I don’t want to argue with anyone, this just my opinion.


8. No American elections

I’m in Korea for almost a decade now. I really love not living in the US during elections, it’s great.


9. Compassion and patience

I’ve learned a lot about compassion and patience. I’ve lived out of the country for 5-years, in a 3rd world country. You see how consumerism now defines many aspects of life in the US, keeping up with the Jones’s and taking on tremendous debt to do so. The media drives it and it’s reinforced by both media and society. Many people are defined by their stuff.

I’ve learned that you can be brilliant mentally, artistically and super innovative in business but not have discretionary income. But you can have friends and family and free time and, most importantly, happiness. Here few define themselves by their job and their title – it’s a job not life. I’ve learned that spending time with others simply to listen to them and get to know them, for the sake of knowing them (not networking nor trying to advance an agenda) brings about more happiness for me. I’ve disassociated my professional life from my personal life and as a result am far happier than I could have ever imagined


10. Less pressure

There’s so much less daily pressure in my adopted country. It’s hard to explain. It’s like walking out of a crowded, harshly lit, loud room into a calm cool night. My phone isn’t exploding with telemarketers. I don’t live in fear of my healthcare disappearing. I can bike to work, where I make a living wage that lets me actually live. My weekends are respected. I can live simply with no expectation to hustle and grind. I feel free.


11. Wasting money

Went to Nicaragua and life was much more relaxed, no rush in things, focus on family and enjoying life.

Before, I used to dream about living in a Downtown Miami skyscraper and drive a Tesla. Walking from my safe residencial through the slums everyday and seeing how hard people work in Nicaragua to make pennies made me realize just how important each and every dollar we make is, we as Americans waste money on so many things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of things.

Also it was crazy seeing how going to a private doctor/hospital without insurance was cheaper than going to an American hospital with insurance


12. Mostly full of really good people

My wife and I moved from Burbank, CA to the south of France a few weeks ago with our dog and the Subaru.

We already traveled a lot to begin with, so there isn’t much of a culture shock.

But in regards to my view of the world, it hasn’t changed much. I’m once again reminded that the world is mostly full of really good people just doing their best and really bullshit politicians who tend to get in the way of that.


13. Oh, Canada

Well, i moved to Canada like 3.5 months ago, my expectations were not that good, but damn i was wrong, clean streets, friendly people, lower taxes, cheaper and effective healthcare and police working fine, but i feel really bad for Litton that burned down.


14. Universal healthcare

I’m sure others have said it but universal healthcare is such an obvious thing when you live in a country with a system in place. I really don’t get why we can’t get our own people behind the idea.


15. More trains

Just build the damn trains in the US. Build out a good rail network. the development will follow around the stations. Taking a train is so much better than sitting in traffic.


16. Life in Japan

I’m in the States now, but I lived in Japan for a few years when I was younger, and it changed a lot of things for me. Mostly, I realized the value of things like socialized medicine and a social safety net in general. I also came to really admire and adopt the cultural attitude that doing something “great” is less important than simply doing your best at whatever you do — ultimately, it shed me of my tendency to mentally classify jobs as “respectable” and “not respectable.”

OTOH, my upbringing taught me to question authority and value truth and individuality, and many of the conflicts I had with Japanese culture ultimately reinforced all of those things. …Although at the time, I hadn’t realized how many of my fellow Americans could and would ultimately take those values to bizarre and dangerous extremes. :/


17. A culture of waste

Coming back to the US is always an unpleasant reminder of how much waste we produce (and don’t recycle), how entitled we are, how much we malign the trades, and how much more we have to think about things like trips to the doctor or dentist or what have you. It makes me so sad.


18. Patience

Patience. So much patience. Today a US friend of mine was complaining because her FedEx package was 16 minutes late (to be fair, her employer paid for the parcel to arrive at a specific time). I’m sure she heard me lovingly laughing at her all the way from South America.


19. Gratitude for NHS

Moved to the UK 4 1/2 years ago. I had a sneaking suspicion that America wasn’t as great as we were led to believe, but now I know. The ability to go to the doctor when you need to, and not worry about having to pay a massive bill is indescribable. The UK has its problems, for sure, but just knowing that if I get hurt or get sick that the NHS will take care of me is an amazing and wonderful feeling. Thank you to everyone at the NHS!!!


20. All about greed

I got to know a lot of locals when I was in Iraq for my two deployments, as well as became strong friends with several of my Korean soldiers when I was stationed in Seoul. These experiences really helped open my eyes as to what works in a society for it to succeed and what doesn’t. Sadly American politics on both sides is about one thing, greed. Gotta take that yin with the yang for it to work but sadly the Yin’s want to run the whole show and the Yang’s have the same feeling, neither can work together it seems.


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Featured image: Wikimedia Commons