What are some real cultural differences between Europe and the USA?
Public display of affection (PDA): In London, I saw a couple almost making out in the bus stop. In Brussels, the couple I saw on the bus did not stop kissing for half an hour until one of them got off the bus. What about the US? Well, not much. I’ve lived in Chicago area and in DC area. Most I’ve seen is couples occasionally just kissing for a second and that is all. Compared to Europe, there is very little PDA, which surprised me a lot. The funny thing I observed was that many of those engaging in PDA were tourists from conservative countries, who thought they can indulge themselves in the US.
Couple kissing in my hometown Baku, Azerbaijan
Smoking: That’s one of the things I love most about the US. Very few people smoke. You might even forget how cigarette smells. In Europe, however, left or right, you won’t escape sights of those smoking. But, in the US, brace yourself for something else instead: Weed. You love it or hate it - The US couldn’t have cared less. You live in big cities - Then you’d better get used to its smell.
Religion: You feel it more intensely in the US than in Europe. Once I attended my cousin’s orientation at his med school. The dean started her speech with a prayer. I was very surprised to be honest esp. given that I am from a former Soviet country where religion-state separation is very strict. In the US, you are surrounded by different churches, large communities. It is more visible than it seems in Hollywood movies.
Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC
Patriotism: You won’t believe it until you see it: American suburbs with the American flag hanging on all the houses. Motorbikes with 2–3 flags. Americans are patriotic. Remember Trump’s speech on the National Mall on July 4 last year and the jubilant crowd with flags? Yes, that is indeed the patriotic face of America. Europe? Not that there are not patriots in Europe but I can’t imagine a Berlin, Madrid, Prague suburb with tons of flags (these Coronavirus times are an exception needless to say)
Aesthetics: This one I have to give to Europeans. Europeans have the taste indeed: The way they dress, the way their cars, houses look. From London’s streets to French cars’ design, Italian policemen’s uniform: They are elegant, classy, well-designed, tastefully made. For America, there seems to be one main design standard: Huge. Everything can be pretty, ugly, weird or mediocre but no matter what, it should be big. Cars are huge. Houses are huge. Food portions are huge. But aesthetics isn’t always there. What worsens things is that many Americans have never traveled overseas including to Europe. So, they tend to think that they actually have the best of everything.
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Did you notice any significant differences between American and European cultures?
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