Top 15 Differences Between Europe and America

Top 15 Differences Between Europe and America

**Disclaimer: Please note that all the below opinions are just that – opinions. They come from mine and my student’s experiences based on where we live in America and where we have traveled to in Europe. I’m aware that these may not apply to other parts of our country or even other parts of Europe**

1. Public Transportation

European public transportation seems light years ahead of America. You can catch a flight from one country to another for dirt cheap (<50 euros at times). I was once in the middle of nowhere Austria in a town called Zillertal, and there was still a train that ran through there to get to the next town. If you don’t have a car, no problem. If you live in Italy, chances are you can either bike or walk to the nearest town. In America, if you don’t have a car and you start walking down the street, Grandma Ethel is probably gonna grab her gun and call the law to report a suspicious person walking down her road. (If you live on a back road in North Carolina, don’t even deny this last part)

2. Chocolate

German or Swiss chocolate…Macaroons from Paris…versus American M&M’s. That’s all that needs to be said about this.

3. Measurements

This may not apply to most people, but as a math teacher, it bothers me. Europe uses the metric system – to get to the next highest unit, multiply by 10. Easy, right?

In America…there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, 16 tablespoons in a cup, 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart and 4 quarts to a gallon. There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard and 1,760 yards in a mile. There are 144 square inches in a square foot. There are 16 ounces in a pound and 2,000 pounds in a ton. This list doesn’t include fun units like furlongs, fathoms, nautical miles, and bushels. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. Imagine trying to teach children this (insert eye roll).

4. Accents

If you’ve ever heard an Italian or a French man speak broken English, you’ll trust me when I say I could listen to them talk alllll day. Something about their accents just mesmerizes me. If you’re a southerner, how sexy is it to listen to a northern say “coffee” or “water”….on a scale of 0 to 10 it’s a -2. Or what about trying to understand a Louisianan from the Swamps. Y’all know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever watched Swamp Men (yeah pawpaw. If not, YouTube it).

5. Castles

The most well-known castle that I know of in America is probably Cinderella’s, and it costs an arm and a leg to go there. On the other hand, everywhere I’ve been in Europe, there have been castles along the way. Each one of them has a different style and a unique story. This mainly has to do with the fact that Europe was discovered many many years before America and had kings and queens who ruled from these castles.

6. Time

Americans live to work. They make plenty use of fast food and pick up grocery shopping, because who has time to do something so tedious as actually browsing the aisles of a grocery store.

Europeans work to live. They enjoy long lunches, siestas, and wine breaks.

7. Pedestrian Friendly

Lots of places in Europe are pedestrian friendly. For certain downtowns or town centers, they block off parts of roads for cars and only allow people, bicycles, and emergency vehicles to pass through. Oak Ridge just recently built a sidewalk through the middle of town for people to walk (welcome to 2017 guys).

8. Clothing

You won’t see many people walking around in baggy sweatpants and over-sized t-shirts with no makeup on like we do in America. I wore my yoga pants for comfort in Rome, Italy and felt very under-dressed. If I wear a dress to dinner in America, I feel like all eyes are on me.

9. Bathrooms

This is one of the things America excels in! Bathtubs and big showers are few and far between in Europe. Don’t plan on sitting down to shave your legs in the 2×2 shower you’re in. If you’re lucky enough to end up with a hotel in Europe that has a bathtub, there’s a high chance you won’t have a shower door or may only have half a door. So prepare for most of the floor and maybe the sink to get soaked. Props to America for not following Europe on their bathroom trends. I take full advantage of my long Jacuzzi tub in my American home.

10. Meals

Bon appetit. Food and courses in Italy are so light and meant to take hours. It’s not filled with all the crap like in America. Europeans consider meals a social event and a time to be treasured. Also, a major difference is you have to ask for the check in Europe. They will not bring it to you automatically as it is considered rude.

11. Coffee

Nothing is as fine as American coffee. But if you like espressos, then you’ll love Italy. I take my coffee sweet and filled with cream – which doesn’t exist in Europe. I hit up the first Starbucks I see as soon as I get to an American airport when traveling home from Europe. The cost of coffee in Europe depends on whether you are sitting inside, sitting outside, or standing at the bar.

12. Personal Space

Americans have this bubble that we exist in that and we like people to stay out of. Europeans are clearly not aware of what that or personal space is. They will stand in line right on top of you, shove you out of their way, all without saying excuse me. It’s just the way of life there. For example, Venice is a very crowded city with little space for its inhabitants. The streets are narrow and often cannot be walked down side by side.

13. Safety

It was a culture shock the first time I saw military walk the streets of Europe with huge guns. But after getting used to it, I felt extremely safe. They stand at almost every corner in the major cities of Italy that I’ve been to. Guns are not allowed legally, so it feels a lot safer as a woman to walk around. However, you have to watch out for pick-pocketers and gypsies. There are ways that you can avoid being pickpocketed, like carrying your belongings in a neck pouch under your clothes. I don’t even feel comfortable walking in downtown Greensboro alone.

14. History

Due to the fact that America was discovered hundreds of years after Europe, we don’t have the in-depth history that they do. They have had many wars, kings, and queens, and conquered lands over thousands of years. The art, architecture, and wealth are incredible in Europe. America has beautiful scenery, like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. We have landscapes that are breathtaking in their own way.

15. Language Barrier

You never realize how much of a minority you are until you travel to a foreign country. While most people speak a little of English, this does not mean that they understand what we are saying. I’m always so happy to return home to America where people understand my southern slang and don’t look at me cluelessly when I speak.


I’m sure there are so many other differences and opinions, but these are the ones that I have witnessed over and over again through my travels. Feel free to comment on any other differences that you can think of! I’d love to hear from you 🙂


Summer Rae

P.s. Huge thanks to the following students for contributing to this list:

Hattie R. (#11), Payton C. (#12), Averey W. (#14)

12 Replies to “Top 15 Differences Between Europe and America”

  1. Yes, yes yes to all of this – especially the chocolate! I’ve had so many friends who go to Europe not thinking that it’s going to be much different from home, but even though it isn’t as radical as some parts of the world, there is still a very distinct culture in each country! I loved your insights!

  2. Great post! There are a bunch of differences, but you sure seem to have listed them all. Thanks for the information 🙂

  3. As a European, I love the US for all the reasons that you listed, maybe save the transport/pedestrian friendly bit. Love how polite Americans are, respecting personal space, the accents and yes, the bathrooms. Enjoyed reading an Americans perspective. Thank you.

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