13 Misconceptions Australians Hold About the US

Friday, 6 March 2020
When you hear anything about the US, what images pop into your mind? The past few years, the US hasn't exactly had the best reputation internationally. But I'm not going to dive into that can of worms in this post. Instead, I'm going to try and break some of the misconceptions Australians hold towards US citizens.

I always love having conversations with people about my home country. It can be quite entertaining to hear some of the things they think happen in the US. We as people are swift to judge and it doesn't always paint places in the best light. So let's tackle some of these misconceptions and try to understand where some of these myths came from. 

1. It's Easy to Get From Major City to Major City
Most people are aware that the US is quite a vast country. However, many people underestimate just how large some of the individual States are. Unless you're flying, getting from San Diego to San Francisco is one heck of a feat. If you're planning on getting there via public transport, it's going to take a long time, and it can get quite expensive. I would definitely recommend hiring a car or flying if you're planning on visiting multiple cities across multiple states. 

2. The US Does Not Have Public Transport
The US does have public transport, but not every city has a robust public transport system. Bigger cities MAY have a metro or train network, but it definitely lacks in comparison to other countries in the world. Smaller towns probably won't have a public transport system other than buses. Make sure you do your research before travelling. San Diego has a tram network, but it does not come very frequently and only has a few stops. Again, it may be worth your time to hire a car or call an Uber. 

3. All Americans Are Stupid

Look, the media doesn’t always present US citizens in the best light. Late-night talk show hosts frequently run segments where they survey average citizens with all those shown getting the question wrong. Doesn’t always help our international image.

But just like the myth all blondes are dumb, there is a good portion of the population that is highly educated. I mean, look at me. I hold multiple advanced degrees. I may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but I can tell you who holds significant positions in both the Australian and US government along with various other current events tidbits. Open up a dialogue with most Americans, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of knowledge they hold. 

4. Everyone Only Speaks English
Again, I think the media perpetuates this misconception. The media and the rise of White nationalism have contributed to the misconception that if you come to America, you best speak English. 

But the US is so freaking multicultural it’s crazy to think that everyone only speaks English. Growing up in California, everything was written in both English and Spanish. There are pockets of the US where many citizens are bi- or multilingual. You may find that Americans will expect you to speak English when visiting, but you’ll definitely find multilingual Americans throughout your travels. 

5. Americans Only Eat Fast Food
Our obsession with fast food, along with its convenience, does not help this misconception. If you've ever visited the States, you'll have noticed that, regardless of the city, there is always a fast food restaurant roughly every block. The convenience, in combination with the fact that fast food is dirt cheap, means Americans eat out quite frequently. It's no wonder that everyone assumes we only eat fast food. 

However, there are definitely pockets of the US where fast food is not the norm. Look at many of the coastal towns in California, and you'll see a completely different side to American eating. If you're only eating at fast-food restaurants whilst you're in the US, you're going to miss out on some incredible food. On your next trip to the US make sure you try clam chowder, bagel and lox, southern bbq, deep-dish pizza, biscuits and gravy, and the iconic apple pie. 

6. All Americans Are Obese
I personally think this misconception strongly ties into worldviews on the types of food Americans eat. TV shows and the media also help perpetuate this misconception. Current statists claim that over 70 million US adults are obese with an additional 99 million overweight. With roughly 327.2 million people residing in the US, this is a substantial portion of the population. 

While a vast majority of the population is overweight, there is still a significant portion within a healthy weight range. Again, diet and exercise play a significant factor in this. Places with better public transport promote more movement among the population. If you have to drive everywhere to be able to achieve basic daily living tasks, it's only natural that you'll expend fewer calories. But there are so many Americans who are super active and pride themselves on being fit. Just look at how big the obstacle course community is. 

7. Every American Owns a Gun
It's no secret, Americans love their guns. I had a professor who used to joke that Texas gave them out in the Happy Meals at McDonald's. Blame it on the media. Blame it on the US's 2nd amendment. Blame it on the number of shootings that happen per year. Whatever the reason you want to believe, this has led to other nations assuming every American owning at least one gun. 

However, different states have different regulations making it either easier or more challenging to own a firearm. Current statistics show that 30% of Americans own a gun with 43% report living in a household with a gun. To many, that number is absolutely shocking. Heck even as I write this, I was shocked at just how high the number was. 

Here is the challenge I found when trying to tackle this misconception, depending on who wrote the article or who was funding the research, you would find different numbers. The other challenge was WHO was researched for the data and how questions were worded. This also drastically changed the reported percentage. 

I guess maybe this misconception is a bit truthful and a bit false. Check the states concealed carry laws if you're worried about coming in contact with an individual that might be carrying a gun. But I would have to assume that in most states, you'll be alright. 

8. You Will Get Shot If You Travel to the US
Again this one probably stems from Americans inability to part with their firearms. There seems to be at least one mass shooting per month and America is frequently labelled as dangerous. And with the statistics listed above, it's no wonder people are afraid of this. 

Look, unless you're actively looking for trouble, it's highly unlikely that you're going to get injured by a firearm. Just like in other parts of the world, use common sense when travelling, make sure you're not flashing around the amount of money or valuables you have on your person, and stay quiet. You'll be alright.

9. Everyone is Super Religious
"And on the third day God created the Remmington bolt-action rifle, so Man could fight the dinosaurs". 

American adults are far more religious than adults in other wealthy nations. Over half of Americans pray daily and believe in a higher power. However, as the US is an extremely multicultural country, the actual representation of that higher power significantly changes. 

Yes, you may find certain religious groups that will push their religion on you. Yes, you will notice that most Americans default to Christianity and assume most people they come in contact with are also Christian. But, you'll also find Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, and Agnostic individuals all over the country. Not everyone will jump straight into a religious talk or ask you to go to church with them. 

10. Everyone is Overly Patriotic 
Until about 2001, the US was patriotic but not over the top patriotic. And now that I've lived in another country, I can understand why for some visitors America's patriotism is quite extreme. But I also have learned a lot of the patriotic images that come out of the US tend to be from the 4th of July. Not everyone screams 'Murica. 

When you visit, you'll find your pockets of overly patriotic individuals, you'll find pockets of people who are grateful to be living in the US, and you'll find pockets of people who go through the patriotic motions without ever really understanding the depth or meaning behind them. The higher multiculturalism of a city, you'll find the population to be not so in your face about loving the US. 

11. Everyone Knows Someone Famous
The US has Hollywood, Broadway and some of the biggest movie stars the world has ever seen. So obviously everyone must have met or known someone whos famous, right? Wrong. Every time I meet someone and tell them I grew up in California, I get asked how many famous people I know. Y'all, the US has 327 MILLION people. Unless you're super lucky, this myth is unfortunately false. 

12. People From the US Don't Travel Internationally
Whilst it might be true that less than half of the population does not own a valid passport, US citizens are starting to travel more and more. With the explosion of Instagram and travel influencers, travel has been made much more achievable to people.

Growing up, I never thought I would travel to another country outside of Canda and Mexico, let alone live in another country. But thankfully the internet can make travel so much more financially achievable. Plus, travelling abroad really isn't as scary as we Americans are meant to believe. 

13. Everyone is in Debt
Y'all, going to university in the US will literally cost you a kidney and your firstborn. It's expensive, and student loans are not the bee's knees. The US also has a culture of needing the newest, best thing. This means people will sometimes overspend on cars, trips, tech gadgets, etc. However, there has been a new debt-free trend which is absolutely incredible. People are tired of being tied down by debt and have found creative solutions to either get themselves out or ensure they don't go into debt. It's pretty dang awesome to watch the US become more financially literate!  

What were some of the misconceptions you held about the US? What are some of the misconceptions people hold about your home country? Share your stories in the comments below so we can bust those myths!

And until next time...
Stay curious!


  1. It is nice to occasionally dismantle popular myths which then make a traveler more responsible and aware.

  2. Those are some major misconceptions that the media put out there I don't know if it's because out of convenience but those are major misconceptions

  3. Wow that some people think these things. I am sure we Americans thing similar misconceptions with other countries.

  4. As someone from the US I don't fit almost any of these. I really wish we Americans didn't have such bad reputations, although I guess our leader doesn't set such a great example.

  5. I was not aware that so many people saw Americans this way! But I guess we could stand to do a better job in how we portray ourselves to other countries.

  6. I have heard most of these before. A few of them apply to me, but most do not.

  7. I think a lot of these views are held by a good portion of the world - even up here in Canada. For example, it's a running joke here about all Americans being stupid... a stereotype that is pushed even further by the media, creeping up in tv shows, movies, etc.

  8. Every country has misconceptions about other country. Only once a person goes and lives there they realise that some or all points of misconception might be wrong.

  9. I guess people will always have misconceptions, no matter what. You were able to put some of them to rest with this post.

  10. Such an interesting post. I know a lot of people that have those types of misconceptions!

  11. Gosh I had no idea there were all these misconceptions about us! I'm glad you debunked them.

  12. I've heard most of them especially that they are fat and stupid but you have so many of them about other countries and we know it's not a true