Good morning everyone 🙂
I’m back this week with another overview of my study abroad experience, and a more general review of what I think about Europe! After returning to the States and talking with friends and family, I’ve come to some conclusions that people tend to love the same things about the continent – and that being said, people also tend to have the same reserves. Here I’ve put together a list of my favorite, and furthermore my least favorite, things about Europe as a whole.
Starting off with my FAVORITES! Overall, I loved Europe, and though it is so diverse, there are lots of similar cultural norms across the continent. I definitely have more favorites than least favorites, so let’s get into it!
- Most cities are very walkable, and public transportation is rather simple to figure out, so it’s super easy and pretty affordable to get around between sites.
- Branching off of that, it’s SO easy to travel between cities/countries. Flights, trains, and busses, tend to be inexpensive for the most part, and travel time isn’t too bad either! Since most countries in Europe are part of the EU, this makes travel time even easier, since you don’t have to go through customs every time you fly.
- Europe is such a diverse area, with different weather, culture, and architecture in each city. Even within the same country you can find so many interesting and unique spots, so there’s always something new to see.
- The food in Europe (for the most part) is SO amazing! Each city has it’s own menu of local recipes that can’t be beat anywhere else. Some of my favorites were chimney cakes in Prague, a pesto pasta dish I had in Ventimiglia, Italy, and the gelato I tried in every city we visited!
- One of the best things about eating out in Europe is that tipping culture is way more minimal than in the States. While in the US it’s almost assumed you will tip 20% at every restaurant, employees in Europe don’t expect anything. This was definitely helpful on a college student’s budget!
- In general, it seems like people are much more open in Europe than in the US. People are so friendly and accepting, and the social culture is much more elevated, whereas in the States it can be more reserved.
- It’s a simple fact that Europe holds way more history than the US, which is clear walking through any major city. The architecture itself is amazing to look at, and the history and culture behind it is even more rich.
- In my experience – and what I’ve heard from others – Europe is much safer than most parts of the US. Yes, pickpocketing is a major issue, but other than that, I never once felt unsafe where I was, or questioned a situation that could potentially be dangerous.
- Overall, it was amazing to see everything I had seen pictures of or learned about in school before in person. These are real places with real stories, and it’s definitely worth making the trip.
Not to end on a bad note, but as much as I love Europe, there are some things to keep in mind before traveling that might make your experience slightly more difficult…
- Though some countries do speak English, most do not, and so this was definitely a struggle while traveling. In Spain I was usually okay understanding the language, but I noticed especially in France, Portugal, and most Eastern European countries that I really had to pay attention (or use English!) to converse with people.
- I’m a very picky eater, so as much as the food was delicious for the most part, some things were not my cup of tea. For example, Spain is most famous for their jamón – and I don’t eat any ham or pork. I think I had more ham in the four months I was living there than I’ve had in my entire life.
- Spain was a very affordable city to live in, which was great, but some places I traveled to were definitely not! A lot of northern European cities I visited, like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, were much more expensive, so definitely be aware of the differences in the cost of living where you’re traveling!
- I’ve mentioned this before, but drinking water is not as big of a thing in Europe as it is in the US. This sounds crazy, but while we’re so used to carrying around water bottles all day at home, it’s very rare to be given water at a restaurant without having to ask – and even then, it’s usually a very small glass. For me, this was difficult since I tend to drink 4-5 liters of water a day!
- This doesn’t bother everyone, but I walk very fast, and so the concept of people walking slowly/stopping short in the middle of the sidewalk/taking up the entire sidewalk was very frustrating. I definitely got more used to it as the months went on, but you’ll notice right away that Europeans are much less worried about their surroundings or their being in the way of others in public places.
- Similarly, time is much less of a strict concept in Europe, especially in Spain. In most cases, people are never on time – and that is normal. Going along with that, no one is ever rushed. Servers at restaurants will not come back to your table after taking your order unless you call them over – so if you wan’t the check, you need to ask!
There are definitely more pros and cons to living in Europe than I have listed here, these are just a few that stood out to me. Along with that, I am by no means complaining about the European lifestyle – there are things I don’t like about the US either! These are just some of the things I would be aware of while traveling to Europe, and all of this is to be taken lightly 🙂
I loved my four months in Europe and I will definitely be returning soon, I just wanted to share these thoughts with you all! I hope you all have a great week, and I’ll see you next Monday with a review of one of my absolute favorite cities 🙂