As much as the term ‘western civilisation’ might be applied to the likes of Europe, the Americas, Australia and more as one sole entity, there’s no denying that there are plenty of differences amongst us. From visa systems, to EHIC cards all the way back to politics, healthcare and so much more, the difference between cultural habits in Europe and America are undoubtedly and noticeably different. The question is, however, what are these cultural differences, and how extreme are they? We’ve decided to take a look.
It’s no secret that both Europeans and Americans are well known for their food – the difference is just in the type of food! In Europe, you’re more likely to find dished that are thought of as ‘traditional’ to a certain city or country, while speciality versions of these dishes can be found from locality to locality. Meals are often more varied and far more balanced, especially where the southern countries are concerned, and while fast food is still commonly found in practically every country in Europe, America still takes the proverbial cake for fast food consumption! In fact, American food tends to be much ‘faster’ in general. Food is sweeter overall, and while alcohol rules are a lot tougher than Europe, soft drink consumption is a whole lot higher!
2. Social Customs
We’ve all heard someone complain about how Britain in particular is becoming way more American, usually when stood around an overpriced prom dress for a Senior School prom or while staring at any number of baby gifts for the baby shower they’re obligated to attend – and they’d be right! America is still a lead runner in things like baby showers, Bachelor or Bachelorette parties and the aforementioned proms, and even the likes of Thanksgiving and Halloween were heavily American to begin with. Europeans don’t tend to celebrate the likes of Thanksgiving, but Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and so much more have made their way overseas and, well, whether that’s a good or bad thing is a matter of personal opinion!
The word patriotism alone drums up images of American flags, angry looking bald-eagles and everything else so traditionally American, so you won’t be shocked to find out that Americans tend to put far more effort into their patriotism. In fact, being patriotic is pretty much a way of life, and you’re more likely to be shunned for not celebrating being American than if you do! In Europe, on the other hand, people are far more open to blatant criticism of their country’s government, for example. In fact, they’re likely to join in! While you do see country pride, especially from Brits, it’s nowhere near the scale of the Americans!
While religion has played a huge part in the history of Europe, it’s unlikely that you’ll find any religion in any great masses in Europe today. Mixing religion and politics, for example, is completely taboo in most European countries due to the state/religion separation and while there are a few exceptions, as a general rule, European countries just don’t appear to be heavily religious. Despite this, there are a wider range of religions celebrated openly in Europe, even if they aren’t celebrated on quite the scale as Christianity in America. In America, going to church is actually seen as a key way of socialising, and you’re more likely to come across a family who do attend church regularly than one who don’t. Unlike Europe, politics and religion mix far more freely, and the president in particular, no matter who it is, is likely to mention God in their speeches pretty regularly!
And lastly, we come to the school system. While it’s common knowledge that the layout of a student’s school life is different from country to country, we’re instead taking a look at general school customs! In Europe, you’re more likely to find a country with free schooling and University than not. The ability to attend University (or College, in America!) is seen as granted in most European countries, and even the poorest of families could send their children to University if they meet the right grades. In America, however, families often have to save for years to send their children to higher education and even then, most students have to work while they study to afford to live!
There are plenty of other cultural differences between America and Europe, in everything from cars and public transport, to languages and politics and we’ve only gone into a few! If you’re thinking about travelling to the US, or around Europe, why not take a look at the customs and culture associated with a specific state or country before you go?