Things Europeans Do Right: Part 2 (And Do Wrong!)
Today I posted a link on twitter to my original post ‘Things Europeans Do Right’ and it got me to thinking about extending the list. So here’s five more things we Americans could learn from our neighbors across the pond:
1. The Arts and Literature Are Still Important: Maybe I have a skewed opinion, working at a literary organization in Dublin, but the arts are still a part of life. They’re a part of every newspaper. They are at the center of education in schools. Even people with no interest in poetry can name their country’s most famous writers, and most likely quote a line or two.
2. Table ‘Turn Time’ Barely Exists: Since waiters aren’t working for pennies and depending on tips, they don’t really care how long you sit for. I’ve never been pressed to order within 5 minutes of taking my seat. I’ve never been finishing the last bite of my appetizer as the plate is taken away and replaced with my main course. In restaurants here, I sometimes have my coffee AFTER dessert. Try and make this happen when a host in the States is pointing at his watch saying time is up.
3. No Drinking and Driving: Has anyone else noticed this during their travels? A sad truth of my American youth was that it seemed acceptable for people to drink and drive. Here, people would happily pay for a taxi versus having to drive after even a glass of wine. Granted – the infrastructure in European cities allows people to travel on trains and buses much easier – but this is one lesson we must learn.
4. Embracing Other Languages: Maybe the American education system has gotten better since I took 5 years of Spanish and can’t speak a word of it – but somehow I’m doubtful. Most Europeans I know can speak at least one, if not two other languages, with the proficiency to order at a restaurant, ask directions, and ask the price of something in a store. What does it matter if I know how to say pencil sharpener in Spanish? Strangely, that’s never come up in conversation when I’ve been in Spain.
5. BBC: The British television channel, the BBC, is the real deal. We all love to sit in front of the tube and unwind every once in a while – but do you ever want to feel like you’re learning something? From intelligent comedy to fascinating travel documentaries – I’d choose the BBC over American reality TV any day.
And in case that boiled your American blood, here are some things that Americans do right. Europeans – get ready to take notes!
1. We Call It How We See It: Europeans can’t ever seem to just GET IT OUT. To say what they mean. Especially if it involves feelings. They can make all the jokes they want about our ‘therapists’ and ‘talking about our feelings’ – but I say that’s mental health and we’re proud of it.
2. We Still Have Full Service Airlines: OK – some airlines have moved over to a system that includes a bag fee. But for the most part – an American airline will never make you feel as nickle-and-dimed as a European airline. Plain and simple.
3. We Value Service: Remember earlier when I was saying how I’ve never been asked to vacate a table in Europe? A significant amount of the time this is probably because I’m being ignored. It’s simple: they aren’t working for tips so they don’t care if my water glass is empty, if I dropped my fork, or if I’d like to pay the bill in the next century.
4. We Respect Personal Space: We don’t pack people in unless it’s in a small-charming-NYC-restaurant type way. We don’t make the subway a fire and weight hazard by packing it with too many people. When waiting in line, we give the person in front of us some room to breathe.
5. We’re Savyy Shoppers: Go ahead Europeans, make fun of our warehouse-like grocery stores all you want. But the truth is – we are bargain hunters. Our clothing is more affordable. Our sales are better. And although it’s charming to get your meat, bread, cheese, and produce in 5 different places – it’s also incredibly convenient to go to one place that’s got it all.
Have any pet peeves to share? Get a rant in by posting below.