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Cultural Differences Between the United States and Europe

posted 31 Oct 2010, 07:15 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 31 Oct 2010, 07:17 ]

Even though both the United States of America and Europe are
considered Western countries, there are some definitely
distinctions between them.  Western countries are general
comprised of people who speak a natural-born European tongue
and are of European descent.  The differences between the two
countries are many, however.  If you are thinking of moving
to Europe, the information below should be most interesting
and helpful to you.

Europe has a different standard of measure than most
Americans.  The metric system is taught in American schools.
 However, most people in the United States use the old
English Imperial system of measure which includes yards,
feet, miles, pounds, and Fahrenheit.   European countries,
however, use the metric system which is meters, grams,
liters, and Celsius.

Another culture difference is how the countries perceive
time and space.  For example, a house in the United States
that is 200 years old would be considered ancient.  This is
probably because America is a fairly young country.
However, in Europe, something would not be considered
ancient unless it was at least 2,000 years old.    Distance
seems to be the opposite, however.  While Europeans would
consider 100 kilometers a long way to drive, Americans would
not think twice.  This is probably because Europe is more
heavily populated and smaller.  In fact, the United States
is over twice the size of Europe.  However, Europeans are
known to do more traveling than Americans, both inside their
own county and to other countries as well.  This is probably
due to the closeness of other countries to their own
country, as opposed to the distance from the United States
to other countries.

Cars are another factor that differ greatly between Europe
and the United States.  European cars almost always have
manual gears while American cars have automatic
transmissions.  While American cars are generally more
square-shaped and large, European cars are usually more
round-shaped and smaller.  Americans also enjoy driving
trucks and using limousines.  These vehicles are rarely seen
or used in Europe, as they prefer much smaller cars due to
traffic congestion and parking.

The view of education is another cultural difference between
the European countries and the United States.  In America,
parents may save for many years and even go into debt to pay
for their children to attend college.  However, in Europe,
most schools and universities are free.  In fact, it is just
expected for children to attend college there and not a
privilege, as in the United States.

European countries tend to have a more liberal point of view
in regards to controversial political issues.  Alcohol, soft
drugs, prostitution and abortion, for example, are not major
issues to them.  In America, however, those things are
regularly contended and debated.  Americans, however, have
greater freedom regarding the possession of firearms.  They
also allow driving at the age of sixteen, while the average
beginning age for driving in Europe is eighteen years of

Food is another area where there are some big differences.
European countries tend to be more cultural in their dishes,
with specialties that are localized.  Their meals are
generally more balanced than Americans and they eat less
fast food. They also enjoy eating more cheese, yogurt and
wines than Americans.    Religion is another major
difference between the two countries.  In America, going to
church and worshiping God is the norm.  In fact, many
Americans think of church as a social event.  Politicians in
the United States often mention God and the Bible.  Quite the
opposite is true in Europe, however.  It is not unusual for
people to proclaim to be atheists and not attend church
regularly.  Because there is a very strict separation
between politics and religion in Europe, politicians there
never mention religion.

An interesting difference between the two countries is their
desire to be politically correct.  In America, this has
become a huge deal, as they want to alleviate friction with
other countries.  With everyone in America having the same
nationality and language, it is the religions and ethnic
groups that separate people.  People in Europe, however,
associate more closely with their culture, birth place,
language and ethnicity.  They place their biggest emphasis
on cultures and languages, so those factors form separate
groups of people.  Making fun of someone's religion is not a
big deal in Europe, as it would be in America. However,
making fun of someone's cultural group in Europe is a big

All in all, things are much more clear and specific in
America, with rules and understanding about most cultural
and political issues.  Dating, relationships, marriage and
other areas of relationships are cut and dried in America,
while in Europe, people are much more spontaneous and less
likely to follow any standard.  Americans are sometimes seen
as being stereotypical and conventional, while Europeans have
a much more liberal culture.

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