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5 Cultural Differences Between the USA and Europe

I was born and raised in Europe but I’ve been living the U.S. for a year. Here’s what I’ve noticed.

There are a lot of cultural differences between the United States of America and Europe. Let’s start…

#1 Bring your birthday suit

The sauna culture in most of the European countries is huuuge. Do you wanna know what to wear in a Sauna in Finland, Austria or Germany? The naked truth - your birthday suit. Wearing bathing clothes in the sauna is considered unhygienic. People here are very comfortable with disrobing. But you should at least bring a towel with you to walk around outside the sauna and to sit on in the sauna since there is a “no sweating on the wood” rule. It can easily happen that you'll sit nearly knee-to-knee with other sauna goers and it is very common for women and men to sit in the sauna together. Though you’ll see a ladies-only saunas in some areas.
What about the U.S.? Well that's easy - there is no such thing like a sauna culture in the U.S. If you stumble across a sauna though, probably in a gym or a spa, I can tell you one thing - you’ll definitely have to wear your swimming clothes.

#2 Overweight and Food Culture

Snacks anybody? give me those Doritos, Cheez-It & Cheetos. Snacking in the U.S. is very common and occurs usually a few times a day whilst in Europe you'd usually get something from your bakery nearby or an apple. But it's not only the food that is unhealthy. Drink menus in American restaurants usually look like that: Sprite, Coca Cola, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi,... And of course beer (without foam, no foam at all). While in European Countries like Austria or Italy they have a various drink menu including fresh fruit juices. Contrariwise, you get water for free in the U.S. in every restaurant, while you should never take a glass of water for granted in most of European Countries (from 50 cent and up).

#3 You’ll never know how much you really spend.

Bread - $ 4.99, Spread - $ 3.99 Ham - $ 5.49 Carrots - $ 3.99 makes about $ 18.50. What the .... why is it $ 20 something? Did I miss something, did the cashier scan the wrong product? No, it's always - purchase price + sales tax (varies from state to state). No matter what and where you buy something: on the "excellent" prices are usually sales tax added. You go food shopping with just a few bucks? this could get very tense at the cashier.. lol. Same as when you go out for dinner, movie theater, clothes shopping,... - no prices shown are final.

Shopping in France? €3,50 + €5,80 = € 9,30 you can easily add everything in your head (or phone for all ya lazy people out here - including me) And all prices shown on menus, price tags or in windows are final, no service charges, no tax added.

#4 Communication and Kindness

,Hey, how are you doing?' - in most cases they're not really interested in your health, it's just a way to say ,Hello'. Same as a ,See you later!' doesn't automatically mean that you will see yourself later. Americans just want to be polite. That is also the reason for the many compliments you hear, like a ,I love your dress!' or ,That Shirt you are wearing is cute' be it from the opposite sex or just the supermarket cashier. It's because of their positive attitude ... it's contagious and makes you even happier.

You walk inside a McDonalds in Germany and you start your order with ,Hey, how are you doing?' ... well I'm pretty sure they have no clue what to answer and they're going to be speechless for the first few seconds.. sound's like a pretty awkward situation.
You tell a girl in Germany on the streets that she looks good? She'll probably call the cops on you for sexual harassment lol.

#5 Walking? Naah too far…

The US is a car country. Americans do as little as possible on foot. To the friend living close by, to the restaurant, etc. you drive as far as the front door by car. Something like going for a walk is definitely not common here. Simply by going out for a walk, you would become a strange being to most of them.

They either go for a run or drive with the car. Everything is on the extreme. Even going for a run outside seems weird, they rather stay inside and run 10 miles on the treadmill, even though they have beautiful parks and landscapes.

While studies have shown that people in Portugal take walks to almost everywhere that's within a mile. Walking is a crucial pillar to lifelong health. Go out and walk around your neighbor hood - Not like a 'Smombie' though.

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Written by Katharina

Just like a shark, Katharina was born swimming. Until one morning when a local villager fished her out of the river and sent her off in a handbasket. After being rejected by a dozen homes, she decided to use her Shakesperian prose and handwrite a personal letter that she placed on her belly... The rest, as they say, is history and she's been writing ever since.

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