If you live in the States one of the biggest dreams that involve traveling is going to Europe- the allure of the wine, the cozy streets, the walking along the riverside in a small romantic town-all of the things that our beloved country lacks. This is because everything here has evolved in accordance to our ever growing economy which had to make up for the centuries of lagging behind Europe. This means that fast and big are key words of every aspect of our lives we consider successful. Cities have been built taking highways into consideration and not pedestrian accessibility, cars are being produced to accommodate the ever growing population (since according to the American Heart Association out of American adults 70% are overweight and 38% of these are obese) and their groceries, cups are getting bigger, plates wider, refrigerators come with extra freezers, and although these seem obvious here at home, in Europe they are unheard of. So why is it that European life is so attractive:
- The beautiful people
First of all Europeans have different physical features than people in the us, especially the ones living in the northern countries like Finland, Norway or Sweden: the blonde hair and fair complexion, the light eyes, the pale skin, naturally slender and quite tall. So of course we would be attracted to that which is totally different from what we see day to day.
- The relaxed atmosphere
Unlike Americans, where cities never sleep, Europeans are accustomed to planning ahead: they work during the week as any of us would but most of them work very early in the morning, 7:30-8:00 and are finished at about 16:30-17:00 but weekends are saved for family and relaxing. Therefore you will find almost nothing open on Sundays as opposed to our grocery stores that are open round-the-clock. Even lunch is respected at workplaces since most businesses are closed between 13:00-14:00 and if you fail to eat lunch by that time it is very likely that you will not find an open restaurant until 7o’clock.
- Everything is in walking distance
Since most European towns date as early as we can count back to everything a citizen needs will always be in walking distance of where he lives. This means that they generally walk or ride the bike to and from work which is both a good cardio workout and a clever way of maneuvering through jammed streets. And the best thing no one worries about how they look like: business men in suites and grandmothers with glasses both ride their bikes as elegantly and inconspicuously!
- Public transport and smaller cars
We are used to driving everywhere and most of Americans drive an SUV or another type of large vehicle. In Europe most of the getting around is done by train, bus or tram and only if dictated by need are personal cars used, which as opposed to the US are small, dwarf models that are sometimes not even sold in the States (take the Smart for instance, in the US it is a novelty but in Europe it is literally everywhere). Truth be told public transportation and rail networks are better in Europe than in the US but even so we might need to start reconsidering our means of transportation.
- Food quality over food quantity
It is a common misconception that Europeans eat fat-free low-calorie foods to stay trim-quite the contrary, there are almost no non-fat lattes or cappuccinos, croissants are buttered-up, espressos have whole milk and olive oil is somewhat like salt: it goes with almost everything. The essential difference is that the average serving portion in Europe is significantly smaller than in the States: the large portion there is smaller than the smallest portions in America. And since there is no jumping back into cars and driving home the extra calories are burned either way.
- Importance of community
We are in a constant rush and this means buying coffees to go, packing up meals for later, things we would find normal in the US but that would be frowned upon in Europe. One can rarely find people hurrying along with a coffee cup in their hands or eating a sandwich on the street as few restaurants offer disposable plates and cutlery; friends wait for you if you become hungry and decide to stop for a bite.
- Farmers markets and local vendors
Although we have them here as well, in Europe people rarely do their grocery shopping in supermarkets. Most of the time they visit their local marketplace where vendors usually sell one type of produce they themselves have grown- this gives the experience not only a distinct savor but gives you the tranquility that not all your produce has been chemically grown or radiated before reaching your fridge.
- The tranquility of small towns
In Europe it is normal to live in small rural areas just next to cities: this allows you to have a beautiful house with a garden without the rumble of the big city, the cars, the trains and all the sirens. They usually are well connected by train or buses to the main city and lie only a few kilometers away. And as a bonus, if living in a town with 100 residents you might someday get to know them all personally!
- Reading vs TV
An American loved activity is spending the evening in front of the television watching the numbingly ridiculous array of channels while Europeans seem to enjoy a good book instead of spending countless hours doing a mindless activity that will not benefit them. This may be the reason for which Europeans seem to be more educated than the average American.
As customary in the US size also matters when it comes to shopping: therefore large chains such as Wall-Mart, Target, Hope-Depot, Meijer have developed so fast because Americans like to have everything at the convenience of their fingertips. Europeans prefer personal service to sales and availability, this is why small shops and boutiques are still the norm there.