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 🙂

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%

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cupcaketravels
    Feb 17, 2013 @ 21:00:16

    YES, YES,YES!! All these things are so in France and not so in Australia. I am going to find it very very hard to move back to Australia at the end of this year. The only upside is that I have a lovely bike waiting for me, we will be moving back to inner-city so will make utmost effort not to use a car if at all possible.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Differences Between European and American Ways of Life (just to name a few) « pattyteal
  3. RG
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 08:03:41

    wonderful post of wonderful memories….

    Reply

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