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

Gambling and other sins

When I first moved to Nevada (the year shall remain vague) the Silver State still had pretty much of a gambling and quickie divorce monopoly – and a reputation as a rather sinful place. Today almost every US state has casinos and/or a lottery. Getting a divorce has become so easy these days, there’s really no need for a Reno or Las Vegas divorce. “Sin City” is now about as sinful as Disneyland.

Nevadans were once proud of their “sinful” status, but now about the only exclusive “sinful” thing Nevada has left is legal prostitution. Even that may be doomed if US Senator Harry Reid has his way (although one Nevada lawmaker has proposed a new tax on prostitution to help solve the state’s budget crisis). Of course the fact that prostitution is illegal in the other 49 states doesn’t mean there’s no prostitution there.

Yes, I DO have a Germany-related point here.

I recently wrote an article about casinos and gambling in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Among other things I learned in my research: Switzerland didn’t even have casinos until after 2000; while most European countries have gambling casinos, the real money (for the tax man) comes from lotteries. Continue reading