10 Ways That Europe is Different from the USA

First, let me tell you about the inspiration for today’s blog post.

Recently a friend suggested that I read what turned out to be a rather disheartening rant published by an online expat website. (The names shall remain anonymous in order to protect the guilty.) The writer, an American lady, was complaining about her life in Germany, a lament brought on by a recent visit to her local Apotheke (pharmacy). She was whining about the fact that she had to take the extra time and trouble to consult with a German pharmacist (in German of all things) in order to obtain a medication that she could have bought over the counter in the US.

Bikes and pedestrians

Germans and other Europeans walk and ride bikes more often than Americans.
PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Several people left comments pointing out that the German system actually provided the benefit of helpful, professional advice that would have required a visit to the doctor in the US. True, you can’t just go to a supermarket and buy a bottle of aspirin in Germany, but you can go to your local Apotheke and get sound advice about which pain reliever would be best for your situation. While living or traveling in Germany and Austria, I have made several trips to the pharmacist to get help with a medical problem. In every case, the pharmacist either provided a good solution or, in one case, told me to see a physician. (What I thought was a sprained finger turned out to be a broken one.) Continue reading

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (final)

Today we’ll finish my list of expat likes (the good), dislikes (the bad) and major gripes (the ugly). We are now in Part 2 of the “good” things. In Part 1 I began with “the bad,” but my “good” list turned out to be even longer! So long in fact, that I needed to split my “good” list in two. (See Part 2a for the first half of the “good” list.) – Also see my “ugly” list at the end of today’s blog.

My list is not prioritized! That’s why the items are not numbered. Okay, here we go with more of the good.

THE GOOD (2): More things I like about expat life in Germany

  • The social contract. In Germany there is more of an attitude that there is a social contract. This view is in sharp contrast to the Wild West, “every man for himself” attitude often seen in the U.S. Rather than viewing it as the enemy, Germans think that government’s purpose is to make society better. As a result, Germany’s citizens are more willing to pay taxes in exchange for public services, education, health care and good roads. Germany has Continue reading

Canadian Wedding with a German/Swiss Twist

Four months before my July wedding I was inundated with the same comment from almost every female I encountered: “Oh you must be so busy!” Further into the conversation always came the question, “Is it difficult planning a wedding from overseas?” I was living with my fiancé in Switzerland, for the hockey season (August- April) and was getting married in Montreal, Canada, on July 9th.  For a while my answers remained the same: “No, not really”.  I didn’t understand what was so hard about planning a wedding, even from another country.  We picked the venue the last time we were in Canada, I ordered my dress from a shop near my house in Switzerland (planning to haul it home on the plane), I googled photographers, cake makers, bridesmaid dresses, floral ideas- and felt totally confident that the internet was the only tool I needed.  Until it came time to order invitations . . .

Continue reading