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

In Search of Healing

One of the typical hotspots in any political discourse between Americans and Germans is the topic of health care. Europeans firmly believe that a shocking percentage of Americans live without any access to health care, and Americans believe that the socialist Europeans pay their hard-earned cash to cure another (poorer) man’s illness. There is a bit of truth in both views, which is then ballooned by the media until it becomes impossible to understand how one country or the other can possibly survive on their current system.

For the purpose of discussion here, let us first differentiate between health insurance and health care. Health insurance is the system we pay into that should hopefully pay out in the event that we are ill and need financial support for treatment. Health care is the treatment of sick patients. While it is true that large numbers of Americans (about 16% of adults  and 9% of children) don’t have health insurance, hospitals across the country offer health care to anyone who comes through their doors – for emergency care.  And while Germany has universal health insurance, there are even people here who fall through the cracks and have no coverage. Continue reading

Made in America

My family and I went through yet another life changing experience four weeks ago with the birth of our third child here in San Diego, CA. Child #1 and Child #2 were born in southern Germany, both positive experiences, so it was with curiosity and trepidation that I embarked on this experience in a different country the third time around. I began chronicling this experience in a previous post. Here is the rest of the story. Continue reading