Everytime I travel overseas, I gain a new appreciation for not only life in other countries, but that of my own. The 2013 European summer trip was no exception.
Here are some lists that I came up with regarding what I admire about Western Europe and the USA.
What I like about Western Europe
- Almost everyone speaks at least two languages.
- Dual-flush toilets.
- So much history and a rich tradition of amazing architecture an art.
- Universal health care, even if it has some problems in Europe like long waiting periods to get procedures done and an increasing trend to charge something for services in countries like near-bankrupt Spain.
- Lower obesity rates.
- The bicycling infrastructure, including dedicated bike lanes on virtually all streets, in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
- The prevalence of a city bike share system in cities like Paris and Barcelona.
- The metro system in large cities.
- That you don’t have to travel far to be in a different country and culture.
What I like abut U.S.
- Everyone (aside from some recent immigrants) speak a common language: English.
- Abundance of large supermarkets.
- Inexpensive food, restaurants, gas, consumer goods, technology, and housing.
- The best universities.
- Much less graffiti! I used to think cities like Stockton had a lot of graffiti, but it’s nothing compared to Europe.
- Despite generally being in worse shape when young, Americans seem to try to take care of themselves more as they get older (efforts to diet, exercise, whiten/straighten teeth, etc.)
- Much easier to find a public toilet. And they are generally free.
- Modern plumbing.
- Better provisions for handicapped and disabled folks.
- Easier to get ahold of retailers and merchants: all major companies have a web site, e-mail, phone, and you can even contact the customer service of most banks via chat instantly. (Never mind that sometimes when talking to a live representative, he or she will be in India.) Not the case with, say, Eurolines in France where I found it impossible to e-mail or chat with them (voice over IP was failing me), so I ultimately had to resolve a problem in person.
- Hotels are generally much nicer and far more spacious for their star ratings.
- Less complicated locks that do not require two complete rotations of the key to open.
- There is greater gender equality especially in the workplace. For example, if maternity leave is offered, paternity leave is often offered too. In Spain, men are not offered more than a couple days of paternity leave. Also, in Spain men are not allowed to leave work early to take care of their kids since that is “a woman’s job.”
- Better accommodations in businesses and public places for people with disabilities.