Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Things I Love (and miss) about Europe


I recently moved from Switzerland back to Califronia, and previous to living abroad I traveled quite a bit. I absolutely love all the unique things Europe has to offer, from the fashion, different cultures, and many languages, just to name a few. Since I’ve been back stateside, I’ve realized that I miss many of the differences that I didn’t really notice while I was there. So here is my list of the 10 things I loved (and miss) about Europe.

1. Church bells ringing at the top of the hour. I didn’t live in a small village {which makes this all the better} that even in the bigger towns church bells ring on the top of every hour and for fifteen minutes on Sunday mornings. I never needed a watch because there was always a church somewhere with a bell that rung.


 2. No stop signs at intersections. There are roundabouts or traffic circles all over Europe, moving people right along without the stupid lights that we deal with here. Also, at the end of the street, instead of a stop sign there are yield signs to remind you to look before turning but not forcing you to stop all the way. And yes, there are lights in the larger cities, but they use a yellow light before green to let you prepare to go, which is great in letting at least one extra car through the light.

3. Castles and ruins, oh my! I mean, I totally loved that every week when I did my large shopping trip the store I shopped at was literally at the base of a hill that housed a ruin from the 900s, the 900s!! The town I lived in was built in the fourteenth century and had a castle, with a moat, on the hill looking over the city center. A-maz-ing! Two days before we moved back I needed to drive to the capital, which was about two hours from where I lived, and my daughter counted six castles she was able to see from the freeway. You just can’t find that kind of history in the states.


 4. GPS, every car needs one, every car has one. When you have that many countries with their own freeways and road systems, in different languages I might add, no one should be left without a GPS, either in their car or on their phone. Which brings me to my next thing…

5. You can drive anywhere! How awesome is that? True, it might take a while and cost a pretty penny, but theoretically, if Europe is where you want to be, it’s not that hard to see a good portion of it in a reasonable amount of time. *As long as you have a fabulous GPS.

6. The Autobahn is great for making travel fast, as well. I won’t lie; every time I got on the autobahn I was thoroughly terrified. But being able to drive with no speed limit (in most places) and constantly having to watch the passing lane was a real thrill and made my day that much more exciting.


 7. One word: Kindergarten. Starting at age four, all children are required to go to the local kindergarten, and it’s free. They have the schools placed in every neighborhood so that every child can walk, and boy do they stress the whole ‘walking to school’ thing. It’s also encouraged for children to walk together, without an adult, after about the third week of school. Independence and self sufficiency are extremely important for children and taught on a daily basis. I will admit it took me some time to loosen the reins and let my four year old be more independent, but when I did I saw a confidence boost in him that was worth the little extra stress in me.

8. Independent Kids. Now, since it is taught early on for children to be independent and to be confident in society, it is very common to see unattended children as young as eight (sometimes younger) riding the city bus or metro. The first time I saw this I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t (let’s be honest, can’t) imagine letting my eight year old ride public transportation without an adult, however, the fact that this is accepted and totally safe is something I admire so much about the teaching process in Europe. I understand that it’s not this way in all European countries or cities, but this is something that you will find in the smaller villages and towns.

9. Greetings! No matter where you are headed or if you are familiar or not, people will always greet you. In passing on the street while walking, when entering a shop or waiting for the train, people are very polite and will greet you accordingly. There are so many different ways to say hello, good day and goodbye that making sure I was saying it correctly was often the highlight of my morning walks. People make eye contact and greet each other with kisses on the cheek and a firm handshake. Coming where I come from in California, there have been times when I have seen someone I’ve known my whole life and turned the other way to not have to greet them (awful, I know). But seeing on a daily basis how nice and respectful people are to each other really taught me how important a simple “Hello” and some eye contact can be.

10. Beer & Bread. As my husband who is from Europe would tell you, the US is great for a lot of reasons but you just can’t beat a good European beer and some fresh European bread. Where as I’m not a beer drinker myself, I will say that the carb lover in me gets really jazzed walking down any city center in Europe and that fresh baked bread smell fills the air.




What are some other differences that I left off the list that you might miss or love about Europe or the European life style?? 

26 comments:

  1. Hi Ashleigh, I think I have heard that they have wonderful pastries. Your photos are wonderful, what a great experience to visit Europe.
    Have a great week!
    Karren @ Oh My Heartsie Girl
    oxxo

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  2. I miss europe terrible as well... living in Geneve, Switzerland for almost 4 years makes me a country girl :). I miss those grandeur architecture and picture-perfect natural landscape :)..moving to New York is not that easy :)

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    1. Geneve, aww! I loved everything about Switzerland and would move back in a heartbeat! It's not easy living there and then moving to the US, especially NY! Thank you for sharing!!

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  3. This sounds so good. I would love to visit Europe some day.

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  4. I miss these things too and I was only an infant when my parents moved back. I have visited Europe and found the church bells, castles and ruins fabulous! I have also experienced the independence you describe as a child. Though I lived in NY and it was long, long ago, it was a different time and almost a different world than I live in now. I can't fathom my own children doing half of what I was allowed to do at that age, but I am extremely independent and am thankful for the experiences. Great post!

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    1. Thank you and thanks for sharing! Which part of Europe did you live/ have visited? I won't let my children do things here that I let them do there...things are different for sure!

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  5. You have brought back some wonderful memories for me! The bread, oh how I miss the bread!

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    1. The bread is hands down the #1 thing I miss!

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  6. Your photos are wonderful, I'd love to visit Europe some day. Great post.

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  7. You're making me homesick! Glad you had a good experience there :)

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  8. You had me at fresh baked bread! I've never been to Europe and I'm waiting to experience it with my children, but I might have to take them sooner than planned. Great post!

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    1. Thank you, and yes, when you make it over, if you like bread you will be in heaven!!!

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  9. Do you know I think I could write a similar post about things I love (and miss) about the US! I moved back 5 years ago and still think about it. Particularly the weather!! Five years in Germany before we went to America and now four and a bit in the UK I'm still not sure which one I like best!

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    1. How funny.... but yes, the weather was the #1 thing I missed about CA when I moved to Europe {you really can't beat it}. But I love the UK.. which part are/were you living? And Germany...North or South??

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  10. You make me want to visit!! I have never been overseas. The pictures are beautiful!!

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  11. I don't understand how my European cousins eat so much bread and are all so slim. Nothing like the bread in Europe.

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    1. I always think the same thing!! My in laws are in such good shape but I swear they eat more bread and butter than anyone! I must say that I ate a lot of bread while living there and didn't put on any extra weight. When I moved back to CA and starting eating the bread here, I put on weight so fast! Weird!! Thank you for sharing!!

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  12. Lovely post. It is great to see Europe through an expat's eyes as there is so much of my home countries that I take for granted. Your reminiscene of Church bells is particularly evocative for me. I used to go to university in a cathedral town and would walk through the cathedral every day to get to lectures and my (ancient) library. The sound of the bells tolling the hour (and the quarter and halves) ensured I was never late for anything.

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  13. Great Photographs, and I too miss the castles!! #expatlifelinky

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  14. There is SO much I love about Europe! Thought I don't drive since I live in Amsterdam, so I can't relate to those things. But I think that overall, it's just the way that thee Europeans realize that you need to have a life. And they believe in common sense. That's a big one :)
    #ExpatLifeLinky

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  15. Such wonderful photos! I was only in France for a few weeks back when I was in high school and I already had a few of these things on my list.

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  16. Wow that is so cool that you lived in Switzerland. I can only imagine how different living there is compared to the states.

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  17. Autobahn! And for me, the beautiful landscape as well! I lived in Geneva, CH for for years, Ashleigh.. And I miss it eversince :). Now, joining the hustle & bustle of NYC, I feel you!

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