I love Europe. I really do. So much so that when I stop being Nomadic Matt, I want to move to Paris (or maybe Amsterdam). 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 get on my nerves. Things that keep it from being the perfect place while making me realize America, well…it ain’t so bad.
Convenience- Asia really spoiled me here. When you live in Asia, you can get anything or go anywhere 24/7. Nothing is ever really closed. 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 7pm during the week. If you work until 5pm, how are you 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 sucks. In the US, 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 Europe, they don’t have that incentive- they get paid the same amount whether they serve 10 tables or 1 table, you have a good dining experience or not, or a good cab ride.
Food- Ok, Europe has amazing food. No doubt about it. I’m not a pastry guy but walking the streets of Paris might finally make me fat. About 90% of the food in Europe rocks my world. But I’d kill for some good sushi, a BLT, Chinese food, a good steak, some Cheez-Its, peanut butter cups, some good bacon, or a sub (a type of sandwich). America has a much better diversity of food to choose from and way better junk food. I know it’s not healthy but every Cheez-It in moderation!
Politeness- Many of my European friends always ask me if there is one real thing I miss from America and it is the politeness. Yes, Europeans are friendly- I’m not here to say the whole continent is filled with rude people- it’s not. But my Euro 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. My English friend Sarah says we Americans are always so damn chipper and optimistic. I think that’s great! It’s a better outlook to have on life. Moreover, I don’t think saying “how are you?” is insincere. The rules of society say you won’t go into a 15 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. 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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