Differences Between European and American Ways of Life (just to name a few)

After a whirlwind two weeks in Europe, I’m back to reality. Returning after spending three years away from Europe allowed me to see it with a new set of eyes, so to say. As Kevin said to me the first day we were in Luxembourg, “You are so natural here.” It did feel odd being back at first, but then, yes, I must agree with him. It felt natural to be back home. The French and German barely ever used in the States came back right away, and mannerisms changed. I’ve got to say, a lot of Europeans know what it means to live. They’ve got it down. How? Let me give some examples. If you have been abroad, you might agree (or disagree) on some of the following points.

Food

There are no “All-you-can-eat” restaurants, or never-ending breadsticks and salad refills at restaurants. When you go to dine at a restaurant, the table is yours for the evening. You sit, talk, and can easily spend hours at the restaurant. This gives you time to reflect on what you are eating, and taste the food. You are not rushed. Why is this a good thing? Well, it gives you more of an awareness of the distinct flavors, and aromas of what you are eating. It is also good for your body, as it gives your body time to know when it is full. With the American “all you can eat” mentality, they are shoving unnecessary (and in many cases, unhealthy) food into their bodies. The non-stop refill of breadstick bowels never gives the body time to say “I am full.” Yes, obesity is on the rise in Europe, but not nearly to the extent in America. I feel the manner in which Americans eat contributes to this. Lunch times tie into this– Europeans spend more time eating their lunch,unlike many Americans who gobble their food within minutes, often times eating at their desk. I am guilty of this. And it is such a horrible habit to get into.

The food I had was amazing. Everything was fresh. Not everything I ate was healthy–I’m sure I had more cheese and bread and beer/wine than is necessary–but, those foods are eaten in moderation overseas. I do admit, however, from now on, those items which I ate in excess will not be eaten for awhile, mostly because Kraft cheddar cheese just doesn’t compare to fresh country goat cheese. Also, because of training which commences tomorrow ūüôā

Activity/Exercise/Transportation

Let me tell you a little side story. When I moved back to America for university, and my first year out of university, I did not own a car. Infact, I did not learn how to drive until I was 22. I specifically moved to a place where I could use public transportation. I also walked everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean it. I owned a shopping cart, and lugged shelving units, a printer/scanner, a mirror, new luggage…Everything…In that shopping cart. The closest target was 2 miles away along a busy highway–And I would walk there, with my cart, as the metro did not go to that. Trader Joes was about a mile from my apartment, as was the gym i belonged to. And, the walks to places never stopped me from going there. This is very similar to European life. In the Netherlands, where instead of walking, people bike. It was amazing how many bikes there are.

A bicycle parking lot outside of Delft's train station (The Netherlands)

A bicycle parking lot outside of Delft’s train station (The Netherlands)

There are bike lanes everywhere. I noticed that in Luxembourg, bicycling is becoming much more prevelant in the city than it was when I lived there. People are able to rent bicycles, and then park them at different locations.

One of many rental stations found around Luxembourg.

One of many rental stations found around Luxembourg.

They created bike lanes. I know certain cities in the United States haves developped bicycle transportation systems, I only wish more would do so. With all this activity, people are fitter, and healthier as a result. Imagine breathing the fresh air on your daily commute to work instead of being in a stuffy car? (I do realize not all places are commutable via bicycle and cars are necessary–even cars over there are smaller, more economical, and simply more practical. Tell me, how is a Hummer practical in a city? After my recent trip back, I’m going to make an effort to bike places more– bike to my local grocery stop, or into town for errands–to only use my car when I need to use it.

A bicycle in Amsterdam--notice two children can sit on it

A bicycle in Amsterdam–notice two children can sit on it

Environmental issues

In Luxembourg, a couple years ago, grocery stores stopped having plastic bags for people to pack their groceries in. They started selling reusable shopping bags. Actually, many other places in Europe did the same thing. If you were without a bag, there were plastic bags, but you had to pay for each bag. I know that my local Stop and Shop is attempting to get people to use reusable shopping bags, and give you a discount when you do bring your own bag. But it still pains me to see people bagging their groceries–sometimes double bagging– their groceries, when it is simply completely wasteful, and does the environment harm. I know stores over in the US are doing their best, but if I were them, I would cut out the plastic bags altogether. That way, people are forced to use reusable shopping bags. If different countries can do it, so can we.

Along with reusable bags is recycling. Where I live, you can recycle certain things. And communities are making an effort by providing people with recycling bins. But so much more can be done…I do not want to bore you will my ramblings on recycling, because I do have quite a few thoughts on the subject.

I could go on and on with other differences. Are there things where you live which you love, or would love to see change?

I agree 100%

I agree 100%

Hello, My Name is ___.And I’m a Raceaholic.

If you have ever participated in a race (running, cycling, duathlon, or triathlon), you may understand the thought process associated with racing. I do not mean with the actual participation in a race, or emotions during a race–that is a completely separate post–but what is involved when choosing races. For me, looking at potential races is, ehh, addicting.Sometimes I think there should be a support group for people like me who constantly search for races that I can participate in.

“Hello, my name is Molly. I am a raceaholic.”

I came to this conclusion the other day, still on holiday, when I turned to Kevin and showed him a race website.

“Maybe I should train for this one?” I suggest, with a spark of excitement in my eye. Kevin let out a soft sigh.

“Molly, no. Put the laptop away…No races right now.” I silently shut the laptop, and did not think about races.

Less than twenty four hours later, while everyone was sleeping, and after failed attempts to watch ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ on Hulu (FYI, Hulu does not work overseas), I found myself yet again searching for races. Working certain weekends affords less opportunities to participate in certain races, as most races take place on weekends–which is a reason why I think I cherish when my schedule does let me participate in a race.¬†¬†I find myself scrolling through races throughout the state (or outside the state for that matter). Ouu…a 50k on September 8th of 2013! That is a weekend I am not working—I could totally pull that off. Wait, even better, a 5k on Saturday, and a duathlon the next day….Perfect!¬†There have been times when I’ve had to stop myself, and think realistically regarding certain distance races, which, I guess most people do not have to do. I.e. When I decided that running a 50miler on a Saturday and doing a sprint Triathlon the following Sunday would not be a good idea.

Returning to the night of the sad acceptance of my inability to watch trashy television shows overseas, I decided to run a marathon this May. On my birthday. Why not? I ran my first marathon on my 21st birthday…Running another one on my 27th sounds like fun!’** Mind you, the amount of time to train for said marathon will be cut a little short, but I am not worried about that. I’m not one to stick to training plans…Or train at all for that matter. However, I am determined to change that aspect of running races, as my body is not the young, limber one it was when I did my other marathons. Long gone are the days when I can decide two days before a marathon to actually take part in it, and have a functioning body post-race.

Anyway, there is a thrill associated with registering for a race. Once you click that “Register” button, or send in that mail-in registration form (which do not exist with too many races anymore), there is no going back. The challenge of the race awaits. It is exciting! However, my mentality of “just finish the race without dying” does not apply to multisport races. Different emotions errupt when registering with those. A competitive drive forces me to study my past results, and the results of others in my age group…To train so that I will be faster than last year…Get through transition times quicker and more efficiently.

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon--my first marathon

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon–my first marathon, 2007

Do you share similar thoughts and feelings towards racing?

*I admit it, I watch TRHW.

**Not too many people consider running marathons fun. Truth be told, it is fun when you finish.

***I convinced Kevin to run the marathon with me in May. This will be his first marathon. Ohh what I can convince people to do.  

Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling

detroit_airport

I figured if you have ever traveled–whether abroad on a plane, or on a train, or I suppose in a bus or automobile, you may agree, or disagree, on some of these points on proper travel etiquette.* There are many more, but I thought I’d be nice and not bore everyone.¬†

  • Do bring hand sanitizer. Think of all the hands that have touched those security bins you are handling.
  • don’t bring Clorox wipes or wear a surgical mask (unless you yourself are traveling while ill). Yes, I may be a closet germaphobe, but wiping down plane seats with bleach wipes is a bit excessive.
  • Do bring chap stick and hand lotion. Stale cabin air, and all the hand sanitizer you use will dry the skin up.
  • You do not need to bring the whole Bath and Body Works store. One of each will suffice.
  • Do be kind and help¬†elderly and those traveling with little children. Some day you will be old, or perhaps will travel with small ones, and will appreciate someone helping you.
  • Do NOT let people cut in front of you in line–you know, the ones who were clearly behind you. Even I have limits on my generosity.
  • Do arrive with plenty of time to check in–even better, print boarding passes at home.
  • Don’t forget travel documents…Specifically your passport. Even if you arrive hours before departure, no passport will mess everything up.
  • Do use the terminal to walk-off pre-flight jitters and unwanted energy.
  • Do not Strava your walking segment. No one cares if you were Queen or King of the stairs leading from Gate E up to Gate F.
  • Do try on perfume at Duty Free. Nothing is worse than being stuck sitting next to someone for nine hours who has bad B.O.
  • Do not try every perfume in the store. The pilot needs to focus on flying the plane, not the nauseating concoction of perfumes you just HAD to try.
  • Do fill up on water–hydration helps with jet lag.
  • Do not party like it’s 1999 with the free alcoholic beverages aboard the transatlantic flight–a tipsy, vomiting passenger is frowned upon.

2662794326_26b26f60da

  • Do purchase Gas-X and walk around regularly on the flight to help ward off unwanted bloating.
  • Do not chew twenty packs of gum, consume carbonated beverages, fruit, beans, etc…We all know what that leads to.
  • Do use your travel companion as someone to lean against when trying to sleep.
  • Do not use a stranger. New friends are usually not made after you drool on them.

Do you have any advice to give others on the Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling?

She Lives!

Nowadays, it is rare when I find myself wide awake in the early hours of the morning. Late night midnight or early two am runs have not occurred in over a year now.After tossing and turning, I decided to get up and do something productive since I could not sleep. And what better way to beat insomnia than write a blog post? Yes, I do realize it has been for-e-ver since I have written.

Mother nature has been acting rather odd as of late. ¬†From digit-freezing weather to giving us a glimpse of springtime, only to take that glimmer of reminiscing how amazing spring is away from us. I did go out on a couple road rides bundled up as a riding ninja, but not as much as I have been riding in the past due to the fact I lost one of my beloved lobster gloves. Bad circulation + riding in freezing temperatures = me unable to use my hands for a couple hours post-ride until they thaw…Which is an incredibly painful process. Spring, please come soon.

I was able to, however, capture a couple awesome shots of the frozen land.

IMG_2146

Trail run

Trail run

IMG_2149

Frozen ride

…So was Kevin on weekend days when I had to work.

A little too close to the ridge for my comfort.

A little too close to the ridge for my comfort.

Due to the lost glove, I’ve been spending more time on the trainer (ugh), and Kevin actually purchased rollers so he could ride indoors.* Note: He once told me that he would never ride indoors. I’m pretty sure he was jealous of my indoor riding and wanted in on the fun. I even captured a moment of him trying out my set-up before he realized what he was missing.

Caught!

Caught!

In between working way too much ( it IS possible for this girl to turn into a workaholic), my baking adventures continue, as evidenced by the photo below. If colleagues decide I should quit nursing and bake all the time, I guess the baked goods are noteworthy. ¬†That, or I’m just a lousy nurse–I prefer to think the former.

Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes

Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes

Since I do not like cupcakes/cake, Kevin has been an eager guinea pig to test my creations before they head to work. In the meantime, I’ve become a fan of making smoothies (which is a post in itself) in an attempt to consume healthy things. Below is one with almond milk, peanut butter, banana, blueberries, chia seeds, and ground flax seeds. Vegan/vegetarian friendly and ohh-so-delicious, especially post workout.* I’m looking for protein powders to perhaps add, if anyone has suggestions of a good type/brand?

Mmmmm

Mmmmm

On the subject of nursing, nursing outside of the workplace has actually come in handy numerous times. For example, having your bag with scissors and tape allows for improptu Valentines Day gift wrapping in your car. I can also just lounge in–clean– scrub bottoms when I am too lazy to even put on sweat pants on a day off. Now that, there, is just plain LAZY lazy.

Well, I suppose I should try to get some zzz’s in before Kevin and I head to Europe later today. Yup, going back to my homeland! When I return, photos from the trip will be shared, and training for races will resume.

Happy February everyone!

Post script: Since writing this, I found my second Lobster glove!

 

When was the last crazy post written?

February 2013
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728  

What’s catching peoples attention

Sign up to receive updates on my adventures by email.

Join 73 other followers

Monthly Archives of my nonsense