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USA vs. Europe: Ten Reasons Europe Is Better Than the USA

This author enjoys exploring the differences between various countries and cultures.

From portions to exercise habits, there are some major differences between Europe and the USA.

From portions to exercise habits, there are some major differences between Europe and the USA.

All of the points below are generalizations with many exceptions. However, in essence, these differences do exist between the US and Europe. Of course, there are also many differences between European countries, as well as between different parts of the US, but for the sake of brevity, those have not been explored here.

1. Europeans Work Fewer Hours.

It's no secret that Americans are overworked. Very few Europeans work over 40 hours a week, and in some countries there, they work 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 fewer 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 having less free time than Europeans.

2. Europeans Get (and Actually Use) More Vacation Time.

Most Europeans have a yearly minimum of four weeks of vacation, and most of them actually use their vacation time. They can do so without being looked down on by employers, because there are laws that guarantee vacation time. Many Europeans also take 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 any 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's no wonder so many Americans hate their jobs and bosses.

Many Americans take their lunch breaks at their desks and continue to work while they eat.

Many Americans take their lunch breaks at their desks and continue to work while they eat.

3. Americans Take Shorter Lunches and Often Eat at Their Desks.

Europeans actually leave their desks during lunchtime, many for an hour or more at a time. In the US, eating your lunch anywhere else than at your desk can set you up to look like a slacker who doesn't want to give "100%". But 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—not just a sandwich and a Coke as is common in the US. If workers can actually eat at a human pace, then they are more likely to perform better.

4. Americans Are More Obsessed With Pop Culture and TV.

"It's what people will be talking about all week", is a claim many TV channels like to make about some huge TV event. The sad truth is that many Americans do discuss TV shows and other pop culture at the workplace, this usually being the only conversation topic that they can all chime in on.

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.

Sitting in traffic for an hour or more on the way to and from work isn't uncommon in the US.

Sitting in traffic for an hour or more on the way to and from work isn't uncommon in the US.

5. Europeans Spend Less Time Driving.

In general, Europeans drive less because public transport systems are a lot better than in the US. Americans are already stressed out by work and debt, 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.

But stress isn't the only result of driving long hours in traffic. It is also expensive, and having breakfast in cars is not a very healthy thing either. 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 commuting via (mostly) clean and well-run buses, trams, trains, etc., where you can snooze, read, stare out the window, or just relax, or have some breakfast at your leisure.

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6. In America, Sports Games Are Family Affairs (and Fan Bases Are Less Loyal).

In Europe, attending sports games is not usually a family affair like in the US, where children get balloons or bobblehead dolls and the whole family goes out to watch the game. Soccer games, for instance, are almost exclusively attended by male fans in Europe, and are not meant to be a sort of Disneyland family event. European sports fans almost never eat anything during games, either; instead, they drink alcohol, which gives the atmosphere at games a more intense feel than US sports games.

In Europe, people don't go to watch sports just to do something. They go because they actually have 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 many 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 that most American sports simply do not have.

Reasonable portions are the status quo in Europe.

Reasonable portions are the status quo in Europe.

7. The Portions Are Smaller in Europe.

Americans are getting fatter and fatter. Europeans are getting a bit bigger too because of a more sedentary lifestyle as opposed to a few decades ago, but 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 drinks as well. A small pop or coffee in the US is like a large in Europe.

European stores and eateries rarely offer XL sizes in groceries, foods, and drinks—which means there are not many XL clothes either. Less is more, especially when we are talking about overall health.

8. In the US, People Have an All-or-Nothing Approach to Exercise.

European cities are a lot more pedestrian-friendly, leading to people walking around more and being more active. In many places in the US, it is rare to see people walking from place to place; if they are, it might even be assumed that they have had their license revoked for a 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.

Europeans tend to put more effort into dressing well on a daily basis.

Europeans tend to put more effort into dressing well on a daily basis.

9. Dressing Up for Daily Activities Is Common in Europe.

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, a big sweatshirt, ratty jeans or out-of-style clothes of any kind. It is also rarer for women to go out without makeup.

Kids at college dress up nicely, unlike many in the US who are okay going to class in PJ bottoms and oversized college-logo sweatshirts. Maybe it's because Europeans see each other more because they walk or take public transport 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.

10. In the US, Towns and Cities Often Blend Into One Another.

Vast, sprawling US-style suburbs are not as common in Europe. In the US, you can drive for miles through developed areas that 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 the road, which can be very hard to notice.

This type of sprawl is not common in Europe, where you can usually tell when you have left one town and are entering another by the empty territories in between.

Questions & Answers

Question: Are there more people in the EU or the USA?

Answer: In the EU.

© 2012 frantisek78

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