The Differences between America and Europe: Pros and Cons

My very final destination was London, England. I have been there and back, and it was fabulous. But now that I have been in Europe (more specifically Antibes, France) for almost four months, let’s have a quick chat about the biggest differences that I have noticed since being here.

  1. All stores are closed between 7-8pm (and most are completely closed Sundays).

It has been challenging to remember that stores including the grocery and pharmacy close so early. When you are having dinner with wine with friends and the one bottle you brought for a few people runs out, you look at the clock and it’s 8:00– Good luck finding more wine. You’re sick and need a pharmacy at any hour of the night. You might as well hop on a plane back to America and run into a Walgreens or CVS there, because there aren’t 24/7 pharmacies here. And most of them are even closed on Sunday’s, I don’t know about you but unfortunately my body isn’t immune to getting sick on Sundays (and I get sick a lot so talk about a learning curve). Get home from the club at 3am? Mmmm sorry, McDonald’s (and others) aren’t on every other street here. Not to mention they are definitely closed, you get to go to bed drunk and hungry.

As hard as it has been to get used to this, there is a positive to it. When I’m not in need of anything on a Sunday it is nice to know that the people that work in those stores have a day off to be with their families. Sunday is supposed to be the Lord’s Day, and in the States the idea of stores being closed on that special day has come and gone. We now find it inconvenient that the stores have shorter hours. Ugh the mall doesn’t open until 11, what a tragedy. This is where people get the stereotype that Americans are always working, because we kind of are. We can’t even take off for one day, our businesses have to constantly be making money.

2. The walls are painfully thin. 

When I’m trying to go take a nap (yes, I’m like a grandma and I like to nap) and the little boy next door is screaming, it’s kind of impossible to get any sleep. I can also hear, who I assume is his father snoring at night. Yes, it’s weird and creepy. I know when our friends below us are going out, because I can hear their heals hitting the floor with every step. It’s not just in my apartment in France, but in other countries I have visited as well. My ear will never be the same.

But let’s flip this around. We are so lucky to have a sturdy structure over our heads every night. With everything we hear in the news, there are a lot worse sounds I could be hearing at night. It also makes me realize how much we take thick wall for granted in America. Come back to me my cinder bock dorm room walls (just kidding).

3. University classes aren’t set in stone.

This has been a constant struggle since coming to France. I have certain days for each class, but if my class is cancelled then said class can be rescheduled on any day. Including weekends. My university here claims that half of their campus is exchange.  Not all exchange students travel as much as us Americans, but we are only here for a semester. On my days off I travel– or so I thought. Obviously I have to plan trips in advanced, one day I walked into class and found out we were supposed to have a Midterm on a Friday. A day that I do not have class. There’s no telling where in the world I was going, but I was supposed to be in a different country. The “carelessness” of being in a different country and having 4 day weekends came to a screeching halt that day. I was less than thrilled. How can you schedule a TEST (not just a lecturing class) on a day that I’m NOT supposed to have class. If you know me, then you know that I didn’t go down without a fight, and the test date got changed (it did help that there were 3 other traveling Americans in my class as well). I could go on with these types of examples, but I don’t want to bore you.

On a positive note, I have not missed a test and I will be receiving all the credits I signed up for (by the Grace of God). I will definitely will not take my firmly scheduled classes for granted when I go back home, or the fact that they are only 50 minutes at home.

I wouldn’t trade my time for Europe for anything. It has been amazing to experience all the differences there are between America and Europe. My time here is coming to a close, only 3 more weeks until I jump back across the Atlantic.

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