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What is it Like to be American and Live in Europe?

Jaclyn Hughes

Every now and then there is a comical article contrived about the differences between Americans and other countries, usually Canada or somewhere in Europe that tells a pretty accurate picture of how “yanks” feel in other lands. Sure, Americans have been labeled everything from lazy, to spoiled, to too nice, to obnoxious, but there’s a reason millions try to make a name for themselves in the good old United States; because it certainly is unlike any other nation.

Newsweek made a hilarious and clever observation about what it is like to live in Europe if you are American. Usually these articles are filled with stereotypes, but this one was not only funny, but well written also. Here are some of the silly but truthful tidbits:

  • Smoking- There are still Americans that smoke, but it never seems as prevalent as it does in European countries. You really can’t smoke anywhere like bars or eateries, or really most public buildings in the states, unless you’re in back country restaurants run by someone’s “Aunt Sue”, so the inconvenience of smoking sunk in and millions of people quit.
  • Walking vs. Driving- If you haven’t ever visited the states, the first thing Europeans notice is how it is nearly impossible to survive without a car. Most cities across the pond have little town shopping areas, a postal office, and pubs that you can walk to. In most states unless you live in the city, you have to drive just to get your groceries home. It’s a big place that America!
  • Speaking of buying food, Americans can drive to their local Target and pick up everything for a lovely dinner at home, but such is not the case in other countries. England for example, you can still shop at a large store to buy things but it isn’t as common (or fun) as locals buying from their locally owned shops within their towns. You can pick up fresh meat at a butcher, or pastries from an actual bakery versus the massive chain stores with less fresh options all across the states.
  • People tend to be not as overly polite in other nations. This isn’t any biased opinion, it’s simply a fact that Americans are unbelievably kind to just about everyone. When my British husband moved to the states he couldn’t get over how everyone kept saying hello to him or to “have a nice day”. Yanks hold doors open for others, they are polite enough to move off of a sidewalk when a Mom is coming past with a stroller, and you can even find them waiting at a stop sign way too long just to give the other person the opportunity to go.

There are benefits in any country you can visit, and they all have something to learn from. The Newsweek portrayal was brash, witty, and truthful. All the more reasons to get out of your comfort zone and experience the world.