Ten Basic Differences Between the USA and Europe
1. Work Hours
Its no secret that Americans are overworked. Very few Europeans work over 40 hours a week, and in some countries even less. Sure, some Americans may say that Europeans are lazy and less productive, but this is simply not true. Most European countries have much more worker friendly labor laws than the US. Even though Americans are working longer hours than ever and with less benefits and rights than ever, the economy is still in the worst shape since the Great Depression. Simply being worked to the bone by employers does not equate to productivity. It only leads to American workers being more stressed and with less time than Europeans.
This closely ties in to Number 1. Most Europeans have a minimum of 4 weeks vacation, and most of them actually use their vacation time without being looked down on by employers, because there are laws that guarantee vacation time. Many Europeans also take out all or most of their vacation at one time, which is virtually unheard of in the States, where taking 2-3 days off at a time seems like pushing it. Americans are chained to their work with hardly ay free time. Whatever free time they do have is spent shopping or watching TV, whereas most Europeans travel somewhere, even if it is just domestically in many cases. It is not surprising that so many Americans hate their jobs and bosses. Sure, most people are slaves to a wage, but there is a big difference between actually feeling like you are a slave and not actually feeling that way.
3. Lunch time
Europeans actually leave their desks during lunch time, and many for an hour or more at a time. In the US eating your lunch anywhere else than at your table can set you up to look like a slacker who doesn't want to give "100%". Stuffing our faces in front of our monitors will not help productivity. I doubt people can even digest food properly when staring at their work. In Europe lunch is considered the most important meal of the day and usually involves having at least two courses, and not just a sandwich and a Coke as in the US. If workers can actually eat at a human pace then they are more likely to perform better.
4. Discussing TV Shows
"Its what people will be talking about all week", is a claim many TV channel like to make about some huge TV event. The sad truth is that many Americans do discuss TV shows at the workplace, this usually being the only conversation topic that they can all add to. Being overworked leads to just going home and flopping down in front of the TV and watching whatever everyone else watches. Talking about the lives of fictional characters or reality show "stars" is perceived as better than getting into personal issues and talking about our own lives. Europeans tend not to focus on TV shows so much, especially not as a topic of conversation.
5. Less Driving
In general Europeans drive less because public transport systems are a lot better than in the US. Americans are already stressed out by working and debt, but then they add on some more by having to drive to and from work in most cases through traffic filled with cars driven by other stressed and angry drivers. This is also expensive. Having breakfast in cars is also not a very healthy thing. People don't pay attention to the road as much when they are focused on chewing and drinking whatever sugar laden "breakfast" they are having. In Europe you have the option of using mostly pretty clean and well run buses, trams, trains etc. to get to work, where you can snooze, read, stare out the window, or just relax, or have some breakfast at your leisure.
6. Sports Not Family Affairs
In Europe attending sports games is not usually a family affair like in the US, where children get balloons or bobble head dolls and the whole family goes out to watch whatever. Soccer games for instance are almost exclusively attended by male fans, and are not meant to be a sort of Disney land family event. European soccer fans and fans of other sports almost never eat anything during games, instead they drink alcohol, which gives the atmosphere at games a more intense feel than US sports games. People don't go to watch sports just to do something. They go because they actually gave an emotional tie to their teams. European sports teams do not pick up and move from one city to another whenever they are not making enough money like US sports franchises do. Teams stay in their own cities for better or for worse, leading to a loyal and intense fan base and historical rivalries which American sports simply do not have, or if they do have rivalries they are largely contrived just for the sake of having something that they want fans to consider as real rivalries, when in fact they are not.
7. Smaller Food Portions
Americans are getting fatter and fatter. Europeans are getting a bit bigger too because of a more sedentary life style as opposed to a few decades ago. However, the US still takes the cake, and a big cake at that. US food and drink portions are truly enormous compared to European portions. Sure, in the US you might be getting more for your money, but do you need that much more? The more you get used to the more you'll need in order to be satisfied. Europeans have much smaller sized drinks as well. A small pop or coffee in the US is like a large in Europe. Europeans don't even have XL sizes in groceries, foods, drinks, and not many in clothes as a result. Less is more, especially when we are talking about overall health.
8. Dressing Up
Europeans (especially women in Central and Eastern Europe), dress much better than Americans in general. You will hardly see anyone in Europe go to a mall or anywhere outside wearing baggy sweatpants, big sweatshirt, bright white tennis shoes, out of style jeans or out of style clothes of any kind, and without makeup. Sure, this is a generalization, but its true. Kids at college dress up nicely, and girls really dress up, unlike many in the US who are OK going to class in PJ bottoms and over sized college logo sweatshirts. Maybe its because Europeans can actually see each other more because they walk around that they dress up and don't look sloppy. Americans mostly see each other as heads behind a steering wheel, thus making what they wear less important.
9. Moving around
European cities are a lot more pedestrian friendly, leading to people walking around more and being active. In the US it is rare to see people walking on sidewalks, and if they are seen it is usually assumed that they have had their license revoked for DUI or they are too poor to get a car. Americans don't consider just going for a walk to be exercise: everything has to be done in the extreme. This means power walking instead of just normal walking; riding race bikes wearing all the pro bike riding gear instead of just riding your bike to the store dressed normally; running for miles and miles and suffering through it whilst wearing the most expensive running shoes there are instead of just not eating so much etc. Physical activity doesn't have to be extreme, it just has to be consistent and coupled with less consumption in order to work.
10. Separated Towns
Vast sprawling US style suburbs are not common in Europe. In the US you can drive for miles through developed areas which look like one large city when in fact they are several separate towns that have grown together into mega suburbs. The only way you know that you have passed from one city to another is by signs dumped on the sides of road which can be very hard to notice. This type of sprawl is not common in Europe, where you can see when you have left one town and are entering another by the empty territories in between.
It must be mentioned that of course all of the above are generalizations and that there are many exceptions. However, in essence these differences do exist between the US and Europe in general. Of course there are also differences between European countries too, but for the sake of brevity those have not been explored here.