Thursday, August 27, 2009

American or European?

This being my first trip to Europe, it became abundantly clear that I carry both European and American traits therefore I could survive in either culture. (Thank goodness. You never know when one may suddenly HAVE to move to Europe...)

The ways in which I am American:I like Air Conditioning, a lot. I don't care if it never gets above 70 degrees in your country; I run hot. When indoors, without air movement, 68 feels like a sweltering 85. Which brings me to my next point. If you insist on abandoning the option of A/C, please, please install a ceiling fan. And then, on top of all of this, the beds only had a duvet type cover, no sheets! Great idea, lets try to get accustomed to a new sleep schedule in a completely different time zone with a baby in a sweltering room, without a fan or A/C and use a down comforter as bedding. No wonder I spent the entire trip sleep deprived and dehydrated. (Luckily, as long as I am fed, these 2 things will not make me cranky.)

The cars don't have A/C either. And they are small. Let's get real here, I am an American, I need a luxury vehicle. I need four doors. I need heating and cooling. I need space for all my belongings and your belongings, and my kids and my dogs, right!? One of the rented cars even had automatic windows in the front and manual in the back!! Who even knew that was an option? I also prefer the right side of the road. Why is it called the right side if it isn't the RIGHT side? And, if the car is going to be an automatic, it should drive like an automatic.

The ways in which I am European:Coffee. In the first 10 minutes of walking around Dublin, I got extremely overwhelmed with the number of coffee shop options. Literally, every 3 stores/restaurants was a coffeehouse or cafe. The situation was similar in Denmark. In fact, the fancy latte's and mocha's in Denmark were cheaper than a coke! Here: 16oz Coke=$1, 16oz Latte=$4. There: 16oz Coke=54 Kroner, 16oz Latte=31 Kroner. What!? (Though, the 54 kroner was THE most expensive soda we purchased from an Italian Deli, that put Bella Napoli to shame *sorry*, and translates to almost $20!) I must admit, I was a bit horrified to hear these 2 American girls walking behind us in Dublin say, "We need to ask someone where that Starbucks is, again." Starbucks? What are you doing here if you are not going to try Irish coffee? (Though, I guess this would be a good point to mention that we did eat at McDonald's in both Ireland and Denmark. To my defense, in Ireland, we got a free green Coca-Cola glass souvenier and in Denmark, like America, it is pretty much the only option off the highway.)

These people are laid-back. Despite huge crowds in the central parts of both Copenhagen and Dublin, I never felt the kind of anxiousness I do in America. I loved it. The Irish were the kindest people I have ever, ever encountered. I did not meet one, single grumpy or impatient Irishman. They bent over backwards for us. On our first bus-ride from the airport to our hotel, we asked the people in front of us how to identify our stop. Everyone sitting around us made sure the whole time that we knew exactly where we were going, one boy even picked up my bag to carry it down to the exit (all the buses are double-decker, and if you're not quick to load - which we weren't with 3 huge bags, a stroller, 2 backpacks, a shoulder bag and a baby - you will be sitting in the upper portion.) The Danes were generally just as kind, with the exception of the cab-drivers. They are nuts. If I continue with the cab experience this post will get entirely too long...

Either way, I love both cultures, and enjoyed observing and experiencing the differences.

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