6 American Things I Wish We Had In Europe

1. Actual New Yorkers.

Every time you go and see a show, an exhibition, or a movie here, there is invariably someone who ends up saying: “Oh, tell me what you think about it when you see it, I saw/did/tried it in New York several thousand years ago and I absolutely loved it!” Obviously, their talking about how they raised themselves above the rest of their European peers and pre-experienced all the current trends in New York makes them incredible show-offs. But at that point, they’re still bearable — still friends. They only become truly insufferable when they insist on living all year long like they lived during their precious weekend in NYC. They name-drop concept stores importing obscure Yankee products, only eat according to the latest trends they read on some food blog, and always answer the question “What should we do tonight?” with the question “Uhhh… what would we do if we were in New York?” No, we’re not jealous. We just wish we could still carelessly enjoy being in Europe without constantly comparing it to The City you saw for three days.

2. 24/7 stores.

While we’re still stuck in a “should stores be open on Sunday” debate in France and most of the grocery stores close at three P.M. in Poland (but then again, there are some that never close in Warsaw), it seems like Americans can shop anytime they want at their local supermarket. Any time I’ve discussed it with anyone here, though, the major argument I’ve heard is: “Yeah, but we can’t allow that to spread to Europe — look at Walmart, they are open 24/7, but at what cost? It’s removing employees’ essential right to have days off, a family life, time for leisure and meditation and a spiritual life. First you allow shops to open 24/7 and then there is no national health service anymore, college tuition skyrockets and you get a subprime crisis.” I usually totally agree. But craving Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and lemon Perrier at two in the morning makes me see only the good in the concept of 24/7 stores.

3. Barack and Michelle.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to espouse any kind of crazy, socialist political opinion no one here actually wants to discuss. I’m only talking about the incredible, casual coolness of the 44th President of the United States — I mean, look at the European leaders. We don’t care much about their private life, but what we find out invariably erupts in a humiliating volcano of scandal (Mitterrand’s secret daughter, Sarkozy’s too-rich friends and expensive hobbies, DSK’s entire existence). We don’t often hear about their hobbies, but when we do, we immediately start mocking them (Chirac’s fascination for farm life or Sarkozy’s recent discovery of some of the more major works of French literature come to mind). Our leaders are busy marrying former models who slept with Mick Jagger and having pool parties with underage Slovenians.

Meanwhile, Obama is singing at the AP dinner, wearing jeans while jogging outside of the Elysée Palace, and having a First Lady who mixes H&M with upcoming designer labels. How is it even possible to make the most difficult job in the world look so pleasant and easy and… normal?

4. Burgers chains everywhere.

Imagine it’s two in the morning and you’re lost in some wild European city you barely know. You’re drunk and, naturally, craving a burger. But not just any burger. You want something you can rely on, junk food you know. You don’t necessarily expect a burger you like, but just one that won’t disappoint you because everything will be exactly as you expect it. The thing is, all fast food chains and places where you can find good burgers are closed. You’ll have to settle for some uncertain, likely unsafe burger in some no-name shack. If you’re lucky, it will be passable. But it will usually taste unsettling because the meat is terrible and without that delicious, fast-food-chain meat flavoring added, and the sauce will make no sense (it was actually meant for a gyro, but they ran out of ketchup). It will be horrible. We just want a burger we can count on. We need to somehow justify our overpriced gym memberships. We need more fast food chains.

5. Hollywood

There are two places French actors move to when they are at a turning point in their career: Japan if they’re washed-up, Hollywood if they’ve managed to win an Academy Award and French movies aren’t good enough for them anymore. Even though I still can’t understand the former and the overall refusal to go on with a normal life, who am I to blame them for the latter? Think about it. You couldn’t say no to all the shiniest cars, the biggest producers and the best cocaine dealers gathered in one place — not when you’re on the verge of a career featuring a Michael Bay movie, a sex scene with Kristen Stewart, and selling out completely.

Because, you see, everything is much more complicated in Europe. Celebs here don’t have their own caste system where you can be safely hidden between one neighbor who’s the most bankable actress and another one elected 2012’s worst dressed. No, you have to cope with finding the right place in a capital city or somewhere that is isolated enough to discourage paparazzi from coming and finding you — we only have so many “really famous” people, after all. And there’s also the reality that the only places you can randomly meet a producer when you just happen to be carrying some business cards are Saint-Tropez in the summer and Gstaad in the winter, and no one should ever have to go there.

6. Easy access to peanut butter

God, I love it — but as I’d likely be morbidly obese if it was sold everywhere, it might be for the best that it’s so hard to find here. TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Stephen

    You’re in Europe and you’re bemoaning a lack of fast food burger joints… I think you’re kind of missing the point.

    • Domino

      exactly my thoughts

    • Gabriella

      Yes, exactly.

      And on the topic of fast food burger joints, McD’s is pretty easy to find in many European cities.

    • wanderlust

      If you have ever spent extended time abroad you will inevitably find yourself missing basic American foods/things. It is inevitable regardless of how much you appreciate other cultures.

  • Jack

    #2 #4 and #6 are all here in the UK. Come on over!!

    • ashes

      I wish I could! Too expensive for my blood. And too bad you can’t sell blood for money (legally)…

  • sara

    never been to holland? because you are an actual social pariah if you don’t have the classic Calve Peanut Butter in your kitchen at all times.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shinyhats Nienke Dekker

      mok, is that you?

  • Raphaelle

    Stephen obviously hasn’t lived in Europe. All of these are so on point!

    • Stephen

      Actually, quite funny you should say that Raphaelle… I’m living in Europe right now. My point is that one of the great things about Europe, is that there AREN’T fast food garbage food joints everywhere. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place.

  • http://rhythmistherapy.wordpress.com Andorka

    there’s plenty of peanutbutter, burgers and 24/7 shops in Hungary even though we’re considered one of the less developed countries in the EU

  • newyawker

    I love this article because usually the abroad articles on here are pretentious, but this was honest. I will be living in Europe in a few months, and it’s nice to hear what I’ll be missing from an honest point of view.

    • Stephen

      Trust me, once you come over here with an open mind and appreciate european culture for what it is, you won’t miss the things on this list… ok, well, maybe not having an open convenience store at 2am…

    • Ella

      Except you will only be missing 1,3 & 5 which I’d say is pretty self explanatory. Whoever these people are who can’t get peanut butter must be living in caves. Same goes for fast food joints and 24/7 stores.

    • Ve

      The only thing on this list that I really missed were stores that were open everyday. Not just 24/7, in Spain (Seville at least) most stores are closed on Sunday. Even pharmacies tend to be closed on Sunday, I was lucky to live within walking distance of a 24/7 one.

  • FJB

    Then come back to America…?

    • Ell

      Right? I have literally no idea what you’re talking about, of course we don’t have New Yorkers, Barack Obama or Hollywood, because those things are all fundamentally American. But as for the others, they’re everywhere. This is why Americans get mocked worldwide.

      • http://www.facebook.com/julia.scholz.1704 Julia

        Loved the last sentence. :D

    • Amanda

      If it were up to me, you could have them all. Except the peanut butter. (not a reply to FJB, for some reason, TC’s information box covers the box where you comment, anyone else having this problem?)

  • http://gravatar.com/rosiemccapp rosiemccapp

    Not sure I agree with most of your list, but thank GOD I’m not the only person with the European peanut butter problem! Lol move to Prague McDonalds in Mala Strana is 24/7.

  • http://twitter.com/S_amplified Samantha Amplified (@S_amplified)

    My old flatmates used to mock me like crazy with my peanut butter I’d have my mum ship me.

  • Alyssa

    This article makes me want to move to Europe. The concept of not working all day every day with little pay/next to no vacation time, and no longer being surrounded by disgusting fast food joints, literally sends my heart a flutter.

  • http://heycollegesreadthis.wordpress.com heycollegesreadthis

    Stuff I miss about Europe that I wish we had in the US:
    * Stricter prepackaged food regulations; like no disgusting chemicals in our Cheetos
    * Dyson Hand-dryers; my mind was so blown by these.

  • http://www.intoareverie.com Kris

    ugh, so true about the PB. I bought some PB recently in France, it is an import from somewhere in the US and the brand is called “Peanut Butter”….obviously it isn’t that great. I miss kraft!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shinyhats Nienke Dekker

    Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. WE NEED THOSE TOO.

    • Tk

      We’ve got those too. Seriously, where do you people live?!

      • http://www.facebook.com/shinyhats Nienke Dekker

        I don’t, unless I’m willing to spend €5 on an imported two-pack. NOT AMERICAN BTW. Jeez, what is it with you people hating yourselves?

      • Tk

        Where does it matter where they’re imported from if they’re still actual Reese’s Pieces? They’re all made the same. I’m pretty sure we don’t hate ourselves because you have to pay €5 for junk food. They’re £1 here, clearly you picked the wrong country.

  • http://twitter.com/mbp817 Marc Phillips (@mbp817)

    Wrong form of “their” in first graph. Sorry!

    • JK

      No there isn’t. It’s just a strangely written sentence.

  • Danielle

    Haha. Sounds so cool there!

  • gaijinrei

    Who are all these people who can’t find peanut butter in Europe? This is the second TC article I’ve read bemoaning the lack of peanut butter outside America. I’m from the UK and it’s freaking everywhere.

  • A

    America is a continent, not a country

  • cjmarzan

    Reblogged this on Keeping Times and commented:
    mostly true!

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  • http://smalleuropeancountry.wordpress.com/ Michael

    Basically, the author wishes Europe would be more like the USA. Fortunately, the comments show that the diversity of Europe does not fit the horrible image of a uniformly peanut-butter deprived, shut-down after midday continent. I would also like to point out the Europe has its New Yorkers – they’re called Parisians and are at least as bad.

    • Tk

      I love this comment.

  • PBCups

    …There’s no peanutbutter?

    • Ben

      There’s peanut butter, read the comments.

  • MM

    I wish there were more 24/7 markets or at least a grocery store that closes by 10 or something. In italy (in smaller towns) they close at 8 or 7pm and it sucks because sometimes you just need to grab some fruit/crackers/cookies/water for cheap without spending a full euro… *sigh* hahaha

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