What do you like about living in Europe?

Jane Swingle
February 18, 2016
St. Paul's

Clearly, I like Europe.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t keep coming back. 

Strangely enough, the British talk about “Europe” as if they aren’t part of it, which is a hilarious concept from an American perspective.  If you aren’t part of Europe, who do you think you are?!  Silly Brits.  

(On that note, England actually might legally secede from the EU, in which case…)

While I still have a lot of countries left to visit, I do notice certain similarities between England and the parts of western continental Europe I’ve experienced.  The British would be astonished at the thought of being even remotely similar to the French (gasp!), but, again, I think my American perspective allows me some impartial judgment.  

What are some of the good aspects of European city life?

  • This might not apply to rural dwellers, but, in general, Europe is more pedestrian friendly.  Perhaps this is linked to its tiny size relative to the United States.  Consequently, most Europeans are far more active on a daily basis than Americans.   
  • I find that I perceptively appreciate green space precisely because there is less of it.  Everyone here has far less personal space, contrary to the sprawling suburban estates constituting an American “norm.”  The lack of natural space here makes me feel like an energetic child—totally liberated—when I encounter open, natural areas; I certainly don’t appreciate the lakes and parks of Minnesota and Wisconsin until they’re gone.  And this is coming from a city girl.  
  • Europe loves good food.  Yes, fast food is a thriving empire here, but there also tend to be way more high-quality, ingredients-focused eateries here.  I can taste a difference in food prepared with ingredients that are, in general, more purely sourced.  
  • Europe is full of exceptionally distinct cultures tucked closely together, making traveling between them fun and easy!  Train travel in the U.S. is laughable compared to that of Europe.  

And what don’t I like about living here?  (After all, American life has a few advantages.)

  • Smoke.  More smoke.  Stop the cigarettes, you fools.  This is the 21st century.  
  • Reservedness, as I actually enjoy American enthusiasm to a degree (this is not to say I enjoy unrestrained obnoxiousness in public venues; I think we need to strike a happy medium between boisterous American and unapproachable Londoner).

I like being here, and I am consistently aware of how fortunate I am to spend as much time exploring new places as I do.  For those of you who have traveled across Europe, what do you love about it?  If you've never been here, what would you most like to do?  Send me a request!  I'll be spending the next week gearing up for midterm exams, followed by an IES Abroad field trip to Scotland!  Gotta get my bagpipes ready... 

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Jane Swingle

<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. &nbsp;I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. &nbsp;One day, you&#39;ll probably find me living in Paris. &nbsp;If you can&#39;t find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>

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