True or false: Americans tend to view Europeans as cultured, subdued, and charming, while Europeans are more likely to think of Americans as loud, patriotic, and gun-toting. While stereotypes die hard and there are some similarities to both the American and European segments of “Western Civilization,” there are some obvious differences, too.
Americans are louder. Regardless of when and where this stereotype first originated, it has definitely endured, helped along by Hollywood hits such as “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” (via The Atlantic).
Europeans work less, and vacation more. According to a Pew Research study, 73% of Americans agree with the statement “hard work is very important for getting ahead in life,” compared to just 35% of Europeans. U.S. workers on average get about 15 days off per year — only half of the 30 days that the average European gets off. What’s more, whether because of guilt or an addiction to work, Americans often don’t even use all their vacation time, while Europeans do. The French government has gone so far as to ensure that employees are able (and encouraged) to disconnect from their work email while on vacation — a startling idea to many American companies (via Time).
Americans love fast food, Europeans prefer it slower
Americans are more patriotic. It’s not at all unusual to see American flags sewn on backpacks and baseball caps, and flying proudly on front lawns and at all kinds of business establishments. And the Fourth of July is a big deal, nationwide, in the U.S. That’s not really the case in Europe, where many citizens aren’t as passionate about their national flag (Business Insider).
Europeans are more society-minded, while Americans prize individual liberty. When asked, “What’s more important in our society, that everyone be free to pursue their life’s goals without interference from the state, or that the state play an active role in society so as to guarantee that nobody is in need,” almost 60% of Americans chose individual freedom, while majorities across a variety of European countries all chose the opposite (via Pew Research Center).
Americans love generous helpings of fast food, and even indoor dining is often rushed. In Europe, on the other hand, portions are smaller and dining is slower and more relaxed.
Despite the many differences between them, each culture has great things for the other to experience, regardless of whether lingering over a Greek coffee or wolfing down a bacon cheeseburger on the go is more your style.
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