I just returned from my first trip to Europe – what an incredible experience. In the course of our day, we forget just how amazing our world is – history, culture, art, food and people.
I’ve done a lot of traveling domestically and to Mexico and the Caribbean – I’m pretty used to the pace and the culture. Life moves at a slower pace in this region – for good reason – it’s too hot to move fast!
Europe is a well-developed region and the weather is very similar to the US – hot in the south and cool in the north. There are forest fires, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. So, from this standpoint we are alike. I did however, observe some cultural differences that I brought back with me and hope to put into practice. Thought I’d share…..
1. In Europe, history is precious, preserved and protected. Let’s face it – the oldest structures in Denver date back 200 years. In Rome old means 2000 years – and the budget for preserving and protecting is never questioned.
2. Meals are a social event. There aren’t smartphones on the tables, people are actively engaged in discussions and the meal isn’t rushed. This means that you are in the moment – not thinking about where you need to be next or what you are missing on your email. Engaged face time (not FaceBook) builds relationships – and that’s how it’s done.
3. Walking and public transportation are cool. Why drive when you can exercise and travel at the same time?
4. SUVs are not cool. Parking is fairly non-existent, gas is expensive and insurance is even more expensive. Smart cars, minis and scooters are the way to go if you own a vehicle. Oh, and everyone wears a helmet – because if you get hit by a bus, you aren’t going to win.
5. Texting and driving are against the law. This is one of the traffic laws that are enforced strictly. Not only are the penalties stiff, there is a tremendous sense of responsibility. You certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for harming someone or causing a traffic jam.
6.Respect is something you earn – not something you are entitled to. I observed a definite absence of entitlement in Europe. Young people understand their place in their community and are excited about earning status and position as they prove themselves.
The opportunity to visit – even briefly – so many wonderful cities was such a treat. The culture, character, similarities and differences between Europeans and Americans were fascinating. My favorite spot was Sicily – we’ll definitely be visiting again.
Until next month!
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