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What frustrates Americans when visit Europe?
To know what Americans hate about Europe we must touch in some topics. If you thought the term “hate” sounded too aggressive, we can start by listing a few things that frustrate Americans a lot when visiting European territory:
- Signs. The lack of signs on expressways and freeways makes it difficult to know which roads you should take to go to such and such city, besides the fact that the road signs in the USA are different from those in Europe, creating confusion when driving.
- Small streets. The narrow streets of European cities are a great challenge for Americans to drive. In many of them, you can only drive on foot to get to the tourist attractions, so you’re bound to get tired and blistered feet.
- Bad parking. Those who insist on the car instead of public transport have a hard time with the car parks; they are small, which makes it difficult to get in/out, manoeuvre and so on, as well as being expensive.
- Driving a different vehicle. When you are used to driving in the right hand it is suddenly difficult to drive the vehicle on the left in England and other similar places.
- Little variety in the food. Despite the highly renowned cuisine, the eating experience is not always going to be good there; some flavours displease Americans, especially because of the small variety of options.
- Inflexibility in the recipes. Restaurants are often inflexible in their dishes, which makes it uncomfortable for those who have allergies to some ingredients, for example, or want some special ingredient.
- Lack of air conditioning. Accustomed to having A/C almost everywhere, it is terribly frustrating for an American to be in a hotel and not have that service available at a time of heat.
- Ice in drinks. Ice in water is really an American habit, having a hot drink without ice is horrible, especially when that drink is Coca-Cola or is very hot.
- Smokers. Not that Americans don’t smoke, but most hate the fact that you can’t get away from them in many places in Europe; the feeling is that there are smokers everywhere you go, no matter where.
- Crowded places. Tourism crowds the cities, especially the most famous ones. Although good for the economy, it is horrible to have places completely full.
What in fact do Americans hate about Europe?
Now when you talk about a real nuisance, these are the things that Americans definitely hate (or have a strong negative feeling about) when they go to Europe:
- Paid bathrooms. Yes, the fact that the toilets are not free is something that bothers Americans a lot. You won’t always have coins to pay for them, and not all of them are so well looked after.
- Paid water. Paying for water in restaurants or not having it in public places is another point that Americans turn up their noses at.
- Payment. American credit cards are Signature Priority, while Europe’s systems use PIN Priority EMV, this clash makes many payments impossible and has left many Americans in a tight spot when paying in Europe.
- Opening hours. American shops are usually open 24 hours a day and even on holidays. In Europe it doesn’t work like that. Whoever wants something at some after-hours time, even a taxi, will feel the stress in their veins from waiting so long.
- Metric system. Americans use a different system to the rest of the world practically, and as much as it’s a US problem, it’s annoying to always have to do conversions in Europe.
- Rude interactions and service. This is a relative point, as many Americans report kind and friendly service while others are not so kind. It turns out that some social customs and habits give this impression and many Americans hate these situations.
What is the reason for the annoyance with European habits and customs?
Evidently, the culture shock. This is the main reason for the annoyance in the main situations mentioned. We even have an article about this: What was your biggest culture shock going to Europe?
European schedules usually prioritise quality of life for workers, whereas the US is the opposite. European summers are usually short-lived, so they don’t see a plausible justification for A/C installations; the US’s are and it’s practically impossible to be without.
The use of toilets in Europe is not considered a right as in the US, it is actually a customer service. Europeans are not in the habit of putting ice in the water, this is a trend unique to the USA. There are stereotypical views of Europeans about Americans (who laugh at inappropriate times) and Americans about Europeans (cold, unsociable people). The diffusion of these views affects their pre-judgments and consequently their interactions. The cuisine of European regions is mostly traditional; changes or adaptations are not welcome.
How can we try to mitigate the inconvenient situations?
Leaving ignorance aside. Don’t get me wrong, but not knowing the culture you are going to will lead to shock and strangeness; this can make your experience bad and even leave a bad impression of the country or even the continent.
Of course there will be things that will bother you, but knowing and preparing yourself for European cultures and habits before the trip can be a good solution that, besides everything, can save you from many bad situations. For example:
- If you know how to ask, you will have tap water in some restaurants.
- Access to the bathroom can be free of charge with kind requests in the local language.
- You can also change the priority of your card, not least because the system used in Europe is more up to date.
Therefore, we recommend that you research more about Europe and get to know its habits and customs; they might appeal to you. At least your shock won’t be so great when you visit.