American Standards And European Culture How To Avoid A Disappointing
Vacation Experience While Traveling In Europe

American Standards And European Culture How To Avoid A Disappointing Vacation Experience While Traveling In Europe



Planning a​ vacation to​ Europe? No doubt you​ have certain expectations about your upcoming journey.

Perhaps you're the​ kind of​ person who expects to​ spend your days admiring amazing architecture and prowling world-famous museums for masterpieces. or​ maybe you're going to​ Europe to​ meet interesting people,​ relax on​ the​ beach until the​ sun goes down,​ and dance the​ night away in​ a​ local club. Regardless of​ your European vacation priorities,​ you​ certainly expect it​ to​ be wonderful!

But stop a​ moment. Have you​ thought about your cultural expectations?

Many European vacationers plan their activities and accommodations with the​ assumption that everything else will be "like America." if​ so,​ think again! Just as​ Europe and the​ US are different in​ landscape,​ weather,​ and history,​ they are also very different culturally. Europeans and Americans have different ideas about manners,​ time,​ personal space,​ personal property maintenance,​ and language.

So for anyone planning a​ vacation to​ Europe,​ here are a​ few "cross cultural conflict" areas that Americans traveling in​ Europe often encounter. Making yourself aware of​ these differences can help you​ have a​ fun,​ enjoyable,​ and even educational European vacation that is​ free of​ cultural misunderstandings!

Personal Space

Take a​ glance at​ a​ map of​ the​ world. Which is​ smaller: the​ US or​ Europe? That's right-- Europe. But there are still a​ lot of​ people there,​ which means they've gotten used to​ smaller spaces!

American standards of​ living are very high. We're used to​ king size beds and bathrooms that can accommodate several people at​ a​ time.

But unless you're staying in​ a​ massive French chateau or​ Italian villa,​ be prepared for spaces to​ be smaller than you're used to. Bedrooms and bathrooms will be more compact,​ as​ will bed sizes. Single and double beds alike will be narrower. Kitchens won't be able to​ accommodate your entire family!

So consider this an​ opportunity to​ get closer to​ your traveling companions. Think of​ sharing a​ bathroom in​ Italy as​ an​ exercise in​ cooperation. Get cozy with your spouse in​ that French double bed. Be willing to​ laugh as​ you​ adjust. Get creative and have fun!

Manners

A common misperception of​ Europeans is​ that they are "rude." of​ course,​ they think the​ same thing about us!

Remember when you're traveling in​ Europe that rudeness is​ largely a​ cultural perception. Someone who seems blunt and nosey may be expressing friendship and concern for your well-being. a​ waiter who tells you​ what to​ order may be trying to​ help,​ since you​ are unfamiliar with the​ language. Differences in​ "personal space" mean that someone who cuts in​ front of​ you​ may not even understand that you​ were in​ line!

Also,​ subjects which are taboo in​ your community may be freely discussed elsewhere,​ and vice versa. in​ the​ US,​ we consider it​ incredibly rude to​ comment on​ a​ person's weight. This isn't true everywhere in​ the​ world!

So,​ when traveling in​ Europe,​ keep a​ firm grip on​ your temper. a​ good way to​ achieve this is​ to​ give everyone else the​ benefit of​ the​ doubt. Just make the​ choice not to​ get angry. if​ you​ can roll with the​ punches,​ you'll enjoy your vacation more-- and you'll be a​ better traveling companion.

Time

I have to​ admit that I get impatient if​ I have to​ wait longer than fifteen minutes at​ a​ restaurant in​ the​ US. After the​ food comes,​ I can be out the​ door in​ half an​ hour!

In Italy,​ however,​ a​ dinner filled with conversation,​ laughter,​ and great food can last two hours! I smile when I hear other Americans asking why the​ food hasn't arrived yet. Unbeknownst to​ them,​ the​ waiters are offering them the​ opportunity to​ savor the​ meal.

Likewise,​ shops and businesses in​ Spain close for an​ afternoon siesta. in​ the​ UK,​ the​ handyman may want to​ chat with you​ before repairing that pipe.

Most Europeans do not share the​ American compulsion to​ "save time" by doing everything quickly. So when you​ vacation in​ Europe,​ leave your watch behind. After all,​ this is​ a​ vacation!

Quality

I often hear complaints,​ especially from those who rent a​ villa or​ apartment,​ about the​ quality of​ the​ furnishings and amenities in​ Europe. I'd be a​ millionaire if​ I had a​ dime for every time I heard someone say "The furniture was old!" or​ "The bathroom pipes need to​ be replaced."

In today's society,​ we expect things to​ look like new,​ feel like new,​ and behave like new. if​ it​ doesn't,​ we throw it​ away.

But think of​ anyone who grew up during the​ depression. My grandfather kept rows of​ old coffee cans filled with spare nails and bits of​ wire. He sat in​ the​ same chair every night until he died. Nothing was wasted,​ and nothing was thrown away if​ it​ could be fixed.

So if​ the​ furniture looks a​ little worn,​ or​ if​ the​ sink clogs,​ think before you​ complain. is​ the​ quality due to​ neglect and disrepair,​ or​ is​ it​ the​ result of​ a​ careful,​ conscientious effort not to​ put anything to​ waste?

Treat this as​ an​ educational experience; you​ might even learn from a​ more conservative lifestyle.

Language

As an​ American,​ I am often jealous of​ Europeans who pick up languages like you'd pick up a​ bottle of​ milk at​ the​ store. For me,​ it's an​ uphill battle all the​ way!

Since learning three or​ four languages is​ neither a​ cultural necessity nor a​ scholastic requirement in​ our country,​ many Americans feel like me. And yet some Americans still assume that everyone in​ Europe should speak English!

In the​ same way that you​ or​ I would resent a​ French tourist who expected everyone in​ the​ US to​ speak French,​ Europeans are often annoyed by Americans who have this mentality.

While you​ probably can't learn a​ new language before your vacation,​ you​ can learn some helpful phrases. This is​ considered courteous,​ and is​ guaranteed to​ get more friendly responses. When you​ try to​ use their language,​ Italians or​ French who might have feigned ignorance will usually help you​ with your pronunciation-- and then converse with you​ in​ English!

The Right Attitude

Lastly,​ remember that the​ standards and the​ customs you​ find while traveling in​ Europe are not wrong. They're just different. if​ you​ travel with the​ right attitude,​ you​ will have a​ richer,​ more authentic,​ and even eye-opening experience. Who knows? Your European vacation may change the​ way you​ see the​ world.




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