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  • Elena K.

E.U. vs U.S.

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

A fun blog about the differences between the two continents as I've experienced them so far. Please keep in mind that they don't apply to every American.


Image by Patrick Fore @patrickian4


FOOD

-Sweets: you name it; they have it! Since I moved to the States, I've discovered Reese's, sour candy, a weird drink where they put ice cream inside coke, Rice Krispies, Captain Crunch cereal, twinkies (I haven't tried those yet), and my favorite ice cream: Moose Tracks. I also discovered peanut butter, which is not popular in Greece, but that was a great addition to my diet. However, even with peanut butter, if you don't get sugar free, I'm not sure how healthy you can consider it (most Americans though categorize it on the healthy side.) It goes great on a sandwich with what Americans call jelly, which is jam or marmalade for Europeans.

- Junk Food: microwave mac and cheese! Literally, cheese pasta that's ready in 2 min in the microwave.

- Hours of eating: most Americans eat breakfast early, have lunch at 12 pm, and dinner at 5 - 6 pm. For the majority, the concept of having dinner at 11 pm or staying up all night only to find themselves eating street food at 7 am after clubs close in Europe is foreign to them.

- Variety: I still remember walking in the grocery store and finding it an attraction. You can find anything you like in any flavor you like and made out of anything you can possibly imagine. From cereal to milk to snacks, they've got it all. And if you have a food intolerance, you will have to pay more, but you'll be able to find stuff to eat.

- Portions: MASSIVE!

- Sugar everywhere: even in salty stuff.


ENTERTAINMENT

- Parties: People don't dance. Parties are opportunities to drink, smoke, and find "company."

- Clubs: expensive with bad quality music and very few people dance there too.

- Hours of operation: things close early around 10 pm for most places. Cities are not particularly lively at night, and most people are so work-oriented that they don't know what quality nightlife consists of and hence go to bed early even on weekends. Also, a lot of people spend hours on Netflix - A LOT!

- Coffee places: people don't spend 3 hours drinking coffee because it's not a social activity the way it is in Europe and particularly in Greece.

- Tipping: in the US that's about 20% of whatever you pay in restaurants, spas, etc. In Europe tipping is optional and it ranges from 50 cents to 5 euros for more expensive places.

- Halloween: less of a carnival and more a holiday to overdose kids with sugar.


MONEY

- Yes, jobs pay more.

- Grocery stores are expensive, though. For example, lemons here could cost $1 each at a regular store or $1.70 at an organic supermarket compared to the few cents that you get them for in Europe.

- You can probably travel and live a more fulfilling life in Europe with less money than you can in the US because not only everything costs more in the US, but you also don't have free healthcare.

- And if you're looking to get something small fixed like, for example, I once went to a small shop to ask them to punch another hole in one of my belts because it was too big on me. The man told me that it would cost me $5. A one-second job $5!!! I refused the service and left; in Europe, that is free.


LANGUAGE/FREEDOM

- Jokes: you can't joke the way you do in Europe. Unfortunately, there's so much negativity and wrong assumptions that people have placed limits on what you can say even if it's a joke.

- Racism: It still exists, and it divides people in many ways. While some racism exists in Europe too, it's not as embedded in the culture as it is in the States.

- Pretending: A lot of people will pretend to like you, miss you, love you, but some of it will be fake. For example, when I was a college freshman at Emory, I remember coming back from winter break, and a girl in my hall run towards me and started hugging me and telling me how much she missed me; we barely knew each other... That kind of behavior is very common even from people who don't actually care about you. Part of it is because they're taught to be so polite, which is not a bad thing professionally, but they stick to it personally too. Let's be real, if someone doesn't like you in Europe, you'll know it. I appreciate this kind of honesty.


SOCIAL INTERACTIONS:

- Personal space: do not invade it. Most Americans just shake hands; they do not hug, and they definitely don't kiss. Forget those tight hugs or even the Greek right to left kiss on the cheek.

- Voice: if you're too loud, they'll call on you. Americans are much quieter than Europeans and silent compared to Greeks.

- Any indoor social interaction will be accompanied by freezing temperatures. Americans love their air conditioning. If you are from a warm European country, it might take you years to get used to this.


CRIME:

- The US, unfortunately, experiences school shootings due to its gun problem.


PANDEMIC (this, however, needs to be read with caution as the pandemic debate is more of partisan debate, and many people I know wore their masks and advocated for safety.)

- Masks: some Americans wouldn't wear them months ago when the pandemic started, and they were also very opposed to a lockdown; thus their cases increased. The excuse for not wearing a mask was something about their right to freedom... Now, masks are worn even outdoors to control the pandemic. This means that from the moment you exit your house or your apartment, you need to wear a mask. Some people are not as extreme, which means that they'll keep their masks handy and only wear them when someone passes by. However, this means that as you're walking outdoors every time you see another person, you have to put it on, making it even more difficult and inconvenient. Thankfully, a mask is not required during physical activity or trails. In contrast, most of Europe has resumed to normal with the exception of masks indoors and some night time curfews (for example, Greece has a 12 am curfew which most Greeks hate because it's too early...)

- Street encounters: now that everyone wears a mask, people have become more accepting of the fact that they don't own the entire street, but it's still very weird. Unlike in Europe, people are very afraid here, and to be fair, they have a reason to be.

- Schools: depends on the state, but most universities and schools will remain online or operate on a hybrid system. In Greece, (I don't know about the rest of Europe on this one) schools are set to open in September like they always do.

- Normalcy: a sense of the "normal" is far away, but I think that the US is finally on the right track following the EU for a quick recovery.




A final note: being in the US has taught me tons of things, given me worthwhile life experiences, filled me with ambition and opportunity, and encouraged me to grow personally and professionally. So despite, some of the not-so-great social and cultural aspects, I'm grateful for having spent seven years of life here.



Also, a big shoutout to one of my Insta followers for this suggestion!

P.S. You can always suggest blog ideas to me. :))


E.K.

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