Different Country, Different Culture
Written by Jillian February 27, 2013
I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the fact that I am almost half way done with my study abroad experience. There are so many things that I have experienced and seen, and there is still so much more to explore. This past weekend, I went to Interlaken, Switzerland and it was one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Connor, a fellow blogger will give you a great inside scoop of how the trip was and what it was like to be in the Swiss Alps.
Most importantly, the many places and countries I have been too, I’ve realized that the people in Europe are very friendly. Coming from the United States, I had the preconceived notion that Europeans dread the U.S. pumping thousands of college students into their countries.
Everywhere I have gone, it is so comforting to see that these people love to help us and show us around. From Venice to Switzerland and everywhere in between, I have encountered many times where I needed help to find my way around or simply just wonder if I was going the right way. In America, people are very fast paced and reluctant to help strangers. Like I said before, Europeans enjoy every minute of their day. And don’t mind a few interruptions. In Dublin, a group of us wanted to travel to some cliffs and sightsee and we had no idea what the best and most efficient route would be. There was two guys and two girls that helped us right away, gave us their map, circled places not to go and where to go, and lastly gave us their phone number incase we couldn’t find it. We were so grateful for these small acts of kindness that really turn the trip around.
The people and overall attitude of a country really make a difference in your travel experience. You can be in the most beautiful place in the world, but if you are treated as a foreigner or an outcast, then it could make the time there a little negative. It makes you feel safe and protected to know that there are good people out there that want to play a part in your study abroad experience.
There are so many things that are different here then compared to the States. For an example in Italy, they only have shots of espresso. You throw one of those back and you should be ready to start your day. Personally, I am not too dependent on caffeine, but I have heard my friends say that they need a strong Starbucks fix.
When we went to London, it was so different, coffee shops on every corner and Starbucks were everywhere you looked. Dublin also had a lot of coffee places and huge portions of breakfast foods such as scrambled eggs and potatoes, which in Italy seems nonexistent.
Some other differences I noticed is in Europe, people make up their own hours. It is really hard to keep track of when each of the places you want to go to are open. The local convenience store in Paderno has random days of the week where it is completely closed.
In Switzerland, I wanted to walk around in stores and there was a huge town of literally one coffee shop that was open. The town was completely dead and it makes you wonder where all the people are. As my friends and I walked around Interlaken, we even felt like we were being too loud to be on the streets.
Lastly, I have grown to learn that Europeans have a tendency to want to save for the future because there is general fear of what the future might bring. They want to later own property or land. They are very careful about how they spend their time, and just a simple chat in a coffee shop all day is good enough for them. That is one of the main differences I notice between here and America. If I could take one thing back with me from studying abroad, it will definitely be more emphasis on spending time with my family and less time connected to technology. I want to spend more time just walking around, being around people I care about, and making sure to always have time for them. I live a busy life, even here, but it is important to manage your time so you can end your days with people you truly care about. Europeans stay close to their families, start and continue to grow their own family businesses, and to them family is everything. They share everything they own starting from their secret recipes and expanding as much as all living within 5 miles of each other. I hope this blog enlightened someone to see how essential it is to remember that we wouldn’t be who we are today without someone who started us on the right path, and that is definitely the importance of family.