Monday, December 3, 2012

What do I Miss From Home?

I love Europe. I really do. So much so that when I finish my studies, there's a good chance of me relocating here, if only temporarily. I love the cafe culture, the wine, the free health care, the liberal attitude towards life, the ability to travel to so many different places cheaply -- it is all great. But there are things about Europe that really bug me too. Things that keep it from being the perfect place while making me realize America, well… it's not the worst thing ever...

Convenience -- Walmart really spoiled me here. At Walmart, you can get anything you want or need 24/7. Nothing is ever really closed in the U.S. but Walmart is always open. It makes life really easy. It’s not like that everywhere in the world but, even when I am home in the states, I like having shops open late or on a Sunday. In Europe, nothing is ever open on Sundays and most stores close around 6 or 7 PM during the week. If you work until 5 PM (which I actually do sometimes...), how am I supposed to get anything done? I like knowing that if I need something, it’s available to me…even on a Sunday. And I especially hate how most museums are closed on Mondays.

Service -- Whenever my European friends talk about their visit to America, they always talk about the service (wherever they go). They can’t believe how friendly the staff can be, how helpful they are, how they keep asking if everything is OK. In Europe, for the most part, service employees are rude. They aren’t personable and they could care less if you need another glass of water, the check, or your room plain sucks. In the U.S., people work on tips and I think that provides an incentive for people to give better service (though, they should get paid a higher base rate in my opinion.) In Europe, they don’t have that incentive -- they get paid the same amount whether they serve ten tables or one table, you have a good dining experience or not, or a good or bad cab ride.

Food -- OK, Europe has amazing food. No doubt about it. I’m not a pastry person but having fresh bread every morning might add a few pounds over time. About 90% of the food in Europe rocks my world. But I’d kill for some good sushi, a BLT, real Chinese food, a good steak, some Cheez-Its, peanut butter cups (with real peanut butter), some good bacon (not the Canadian kind), plain salted potatoe chips, or a sub (Philly style.) America has a much better diversity of food to choose from in any given town and the junk food there is way better. Don't even get me started on the lack of Taco Bell and Wendys resturants here.

Politeness -- Many of my European friends have asked me if there is one real thing I miss from America and while the food is high on the list, I think I miss the politeness the most. Yes, Europeans are friendly -- I’m not here to say the whole continent is filled with rude people -- because it’s not. But my European friends always wonder why people say “how are you?” when they don’t mean it. I think we do. I miss going to a store and the cashier says “hey, how’s it going” or people saying “please and thank you” more. Overall, just being a little more upbeat, even with strangers. Some people have told me that Americans are always so damn chipper and optimistic. I think that’s great! It’s a better outlook to have on life anyways! Moreover, I don’t think saying “how are you?” is insincere. The rules of society say you won’t go into a fifteen minute diatribe about your day but I think people mean it when they ask. It’s just friendly and polite.

No place is perfect and, no matter what, I’ll still move to Europe someday, even is not for an extended or perminent time. And I don’t want every place to be the same -- that would be boring! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things I’ll miss while I’m in Europe.

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