The 5 Things Europe Needs To Stop Being Too Cool For

1. Ice Cubes – If nothing refreshes Europeans more on a humid, 85-degree day than a flat, lukewarm glass of Coke, by all means, they should drink it. We differ on many things, and I don’t begrudge them Peugeots, why would I take issue with their soft drink temperature? But I feel that it is simple human decency to, when I respectfully ask for a few more cubes than the two you put in (that pitifully melt within the first fifteen seconds) not look at me as though I just took a swing at your daughter and yelled, “If it wasn’t for us, you’d all be speaking German!” I know it makes me tragically American to like my drinks slightly below room temperature, but I don’t think it makes me a bad person. And I know it is certainly not a moral opposition, as I have seen your nightclubs and more popular bars, and I have never seen so much crushed ice packed into a glass as you do with your more expensive cocktails. You have no problems with ice cubes, you just don’t like the American tourists getting their Orangina cold. Maybe we should just start ordering every drink with a shot of vodka, then we’ll be assured that our glasses will all be filled to the brim with cold, refreshing ice.

2. Air Conditioning – I know that Americans have an overly sanitary, counter-intuitive, often health-compromising relationship with maintaining an interior temperature of a constant 55 degrees. It spreads colds like a game of telephone, it uses up a ton of energy, and it weakens our immune systems. I know that we could all stand, Stateside, to just crack a window every now and then. However, there is a time and a place to employ the human achievement of being able to manipulate the climate within a building, and that place and time is bars. I’m sorry, but whether it’s a pulsating, expansive nightclub or a seedy dive on a nondescript corner, any place that is full of sweaty, aggressive, drunk, dry-humping strangers should be at least slightly chilled. If nothing else, some serious ventilation should be employed to keep the room from filling with the sticky, unpleasant fog of perspiration and pheromones. If your building predates democracy and climate control is not an option, perhaps you should consider re-purposing it. A tea salon is much more bearable at 82 degrees than a place where people are tearfully vomiting in the bathrooms.

3. Humane Public Restrooms – Speaking of bathrooms, this may be the issue on which Europe needs most desperately to get its proverbial stuff together. How many of you travelers out there have encountered this scene: Politely asking the waiter where the bathroom is located, being met with a grunt and a vague gesture towards daunting, incredibly steep circular stairs, going down to explore and returning to say, still politely if a bit more urgently, “I’m sorry, you seem to have directed me to a door-less cave room with a tiled hole in the floor.” Well, of course, you’d never say that (it would take courage of the most improbable order to actually complain to a European waiter about the building layout), but you have probably seen what the Europeans so delicately refer to as a “Turkish Toilet.” (If that is not the most euphemistic phrasing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is). Or perhaps, if you have been lucky enough to avoid those, you have, as a woman, walked into a public bathroom to be greeted by a group of drunk, chatty men relieving themselves simultaneously in a trough-style urinal, like some vulgar Greek chorus of watersports. No door, no warning, no “Ladies, you might want to head in this direction —>.” Nothing. Just a waiting area that happens to be two feet away from men taking the most loud, copious group pee they’ve ever taken. Whether it’s these two aforementioned affronts to civilization or simply the seat-less, lid-less, back-less toilet bowl in a nondescript room that looks as though it’s suffered two rather aggressive military occupations since last being cleaned, Europe clearly does not take its bathrooms universally seriously. There are exceptions to this rule of course, but what there isn’t (which is sorely needed) is a sign on the doors of certain bars and restaurants that one can “Enter, drink to your heart’s content, just remember–the second you have to go to the bathroom, it will be a test of your limberness, savvy, and dignity.”

4. McDonald’s and Starbucks – I’m not going to pretend that I’m necessarily proud of the fact that we as a country have a tendency to spread these kinds of establishments around the world like fattening STDs, but I’m also not going to apologize for them on principle as Europeans seem to want me to do. There is no way they can assert that it is just tourists making these places wickedly popular; Europeans like Double Cheeseburgers and Frappucinos as much as the next person, and they should, because they were terrifyingly genetically engineered to be delicious. Just stop pretending to be so cool and above these kinds of things and acting like America personally stabbed you in the chest when a McD’s opened up on the Champs-Elysees – you people are keeping them in business as much as anyone else is. Perhaps if it wasn’t the only place in most major European cities you can get a glass of Coke in a restaurant for under 5 Euro, there would be more of a sense of friendly competition. You love your chicken nuggets and chai tea lattes. Own it.

5. Occasionally Covering Up Chest Hair – I’m not going to claim any kind of high ground on fashion, I have no real concept of what is “cool” when it comes to how we dress, I can only speak on aesthetic grounds. And one thing that I cannot comprehend when it comes to men’s clothing is the deep V neck. The deep V, whether in T-shirt, sweater (that seems counter-productive), or button-down form, is the male equivalent of extreme cleavage but without the eye-catching breasts. Especially when paired with an open jacket, skinny jeans, shiny loafers and a necklace (an outfit they no doubt issue to every European man at puberty), it just seems so incredibly… vulgar. It just oozes, “Hello, ladies,” in the most unsettling way possible. Put some reflective Ray-Ban aviators on and you have every man you’ve ever avoided in a club. If you are facing away diagonally and I can see directly under your shirt and count your ribs, that just seems to be defeating the ostensible purpose of wearing one in the first place. While they’re all more or less guilty of this, it is without a doubt the Italians who have taken it to a mind-blowing new level. When I first got here, one of my friends taught me a game that she promised I would never be able to win: “Gay or Italian?” Try it the next time you’re here, you never will either. TC mark

image – Dbachmann

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • Michael Koh

    I've read that squatting is better than sitting on toilets.

    • Andrew F.

      Word. Supported by science.

    • David Michael Chandler

      Whoever wrote what ya read never went to Morocco and came back with a treat in their belly.

  • federico

    an ugly american

  • RS

    Wow, you never knew Europe then, sorry. The cities are just like that: cities. All over the globe. Europe, as USA, is in the villages. Really. Don't judge a whole continent by it's cities, please.

    • Fredhampton

      No, the cultural life of a country is in the cities. Nothing of merit happens in the rural areas, least of all now. More than half of the world lives in cities. In the 20th century and earlier, perhaps you were right, but this is the 21st. It's a brave new world.

      • RS

        Yeah, sure. Keep thinking like that and you'd end up eating concrete (the only thing that cities are proud of). I don't even bother.

    • David Michael Chandler

      I always heard that, but…

      If someone came to America and just went to small towns, which are almost all uniformly shitty and dull, then someone ain't getting an accurate view of America.

      Cities ARE cities, all over. But most of the Western World isn't _that_ different from the other. Small towns are mostly the same too, except American ones got more amenities.

  • Lea

    “gay or italian”

    can't tell you how hard I laughed at that

  • Hannah Foster.

    Or: never go to Europe.

  • Lily

    if you feel this strongly maybe you should just come back to america.
    also, why would you want them to put in Mcdonalds and Starbucks? Thank god some places in Europe are smart enough to reject them. I wish America was.

    • Laughteristhebestmedicine

      You are kind of bad at identifying humour. FYI.

    • David Michael Chandler

      I think she is saying the McDonalds and Starbucks are already there and SUPER popular, not that there needs to be more.

      And it ain't tourists keeping those places afloat. In my experience, McDonalds are often PACKED allllll over Europe. Much more than similar McDonalds in comparable big American cities.

      Of course, we have one on each block, and they aren't THAT common in Europe.

      • Chris

        I remember when the first McDonalds opened in Oslo in '84 or something. Lines around the block for months. Burger King made it here later, but we were too jaded by then.

  • pauls

    Room temperature water > water with ice cubes

    • Michael Koh

      you are so right

    • Francois


    • Sdfsdf


  • Dave P

    Going to start a tumblr called “Gay or Italian?”

    • Scribler

      Do it!

    • chelseafagan

      WHAT A GREAT IDEA. I will be your biggest fan. Also, I expect credit or I will find you and kill you.

    • David Michael Chandler

      I will instantly follow it!

      I'd love a Tumblr, or at least a photo series, of old fat greasy Italian dudes with their curvy young girlfriends. That was a mental stereotype I had created in my head before I went that turned out true.

      It reminded me of my summer in Alabama, when I figured there was no way it could be as Southern as I worried, and it was too Southern to breathe.

  • Anna

    i guess i am not supposed to be offended by this. i mean what kind of category is “european” anyway. it doesnt really exist. i don't identify as european, and i have as little in common with a person from sicily, romania, norway as i have with north americans. the first time i (german) ever even felt i had a “european” identitiy to speak of was when i lived in the states for a while. i was constantly told whatever i was doing was “european”, and so after i while i figured maybe they were right.

    anyway. i know this isnt supposed to offend me. but i sorta am offended. but maybe just by how stereotypical and boring this is.

    • Guest

      “European” “doesn't really exist”. Tell that to the fricking EU then. We're all European citizens now, babe. (Art 20 and 21 of you European Handbook i.e. TFEU. )
      Love from Portugal.

  • Mr. White

    I don't identify with any of these. I use ice cubes and air conditioning, I defecate in a normal toilet, I like McDonald's and I have minimal chest hair.
    “The 5 Things Southern and South-Western Europe Needs To Stop Being Too Cool For”, maybe?

    • David Michael Chandler

      Haha, yeah, I do think it applies more to Southern and South-western Europe and certain big European cities.

      But for the purposes of a comedy article, I related to everything the writer said.


    • P. H. Madore

      Eating McDonald's complicates your toilet situation anyways.

  • Björn

    This article should be about certain European capital cities like Paris and Madrid, but definitely not about Europe in general.

  • Jordan

    VERY ugly American.

  •!/nvvmxac danne rassle

    I'm moving there in like a week and the only thing that scares the shit out of me (no pun) is the restroom thingy, I really REALLY don't wanna go into a hole in the floor, my god help me is this true? 'cause I've read about it everywhere now.

    • Scribler

      It's not so bad. But yeah.

    • inflammatorywrit

      Like someone else said, “Europe” doesn't really mean anything since it's so large and diverse. I'm currently living in Germany and have found the toilets to be pretty much exactly the same as my American toilets. Yeah, they flush with a German accent, but otherwise it's identical.

      • P. H. Madore

        America is large and diverse, but it means something. Stupid, mostly.


        Going abroad has made me hate Americans (particularly college aged girls. Man, we are fucking annoying) more than I thought was possible, but I still don't understand the generalized hate towards the country. I try to hate on an individual, case-by-case basis, ya know?

      • Aja

        Going abroad made me both dislike and proud of Americans. There's a lot of generalizations made by Europeans which can come across as really self righteous and smug. Go ahead and lecture me about how everything America stands for sucks, but you better take off those Nikes you love so dearly, first. But at the same time, I always ran in the opposite direction when I saw a fellow American in a different country. They can be ignorant and often it's very embarrassing. Favorite quote heard in Mexico, “Ugh all this food is too exotic for me”. Well I've got a great idea, keep your dumb ass at home. I mean really, why bother?

      • MM

        i definitely did the same thing

        totally agree

    • David Michael Chandler

      IN MY EXPERIENCE (no murdering me if it differs with yours)

      I lived in Germany for a year, and bathrooms are the same as back home (Amurrica). Same for the rest of Northern Europe/Scandanavia and England/Ireland/etc.

      Parts of France, though, need some bathroom maintenance assistance, as does Spain, Italy, Eastern Europe (most of it)… I mean, I spent 6 weeks in a hospital in southern Italy, and they laughed when I asked for toilet paper for when I used the seatless hospital toilet. And ended up just cutting me strips of gauze to use. There was no bidet or anything else, they just didn't do… anything.

      I can deal with most of these things, but no ice bugged the crap out of me on my trip around Europe. And I'm American as fuck about AC.


    • lauren

      I live in Spain currently and it's really not as bad as all that. Other countries might be different but the experience I've had here is that the toilet situation is merely sub-par, not deplorable. The toilets sometimes/often lack seats and sometimes you may have to bring in napkins to use as toilet paper but other than that it's fine.

  • inflammatorywrit

    “Humane public restrooms.”

  • thommssheehan

    You must be referring to a different Europe, because I can honestly say that I have never encountered any of these things…

    • MM

      Italy is like this….

      on many accounts. I lived with them

  • flamingo

    Whereas I dislike tongue-numbingly cold soft drinks, air-conditioned rooms that make you feel like you're in a clinical environment like a spacecraft (especially the temperature difference between hot atmosphere outside and fake cool inside), overpriced Starbucks frappes and spongy burgers. Above all, I dislike patronising people, such as, for instance this American, masking as tongue-in-cheek wisecracks. But heck, I'm only European :)

  • Ganjaman1010

    jeeze guys. it's just a silly piece about things she's experienced. i didn't know there was only one way to think.

    • Lily

      it's hard to take anything that Chealsea says as a joke after the slutwalk article she published..

      • Fredhampton

        Yeah, definitely. I never give anyone a second chance, least of all 22-year-olds, who should know better by now.

      • Chopper

        Yeah, it's so hard. No one is EVER funny again if they voice an opinion you disagree with, are rude about someone and/or trivialise something you think to be non-trivial. I'm so PC that I can't get along anyone who even looks at people funny.

      • P. H. Madore

        You must be a really miserable person. I'm wicked sorry for you.

  • Victor

    Most of what's described here applies to New York as well, so it is not about Europe, I guess.

  • A 'European'

    'Europe'? Get a fucking grip.


    McDonald's IS embarrassing. So is Starbucks coffee compared to most European coffee. You should be embarrassed of it!!!

  • Matt


    The roll call of things that offend you read as just so much empty headed whining.

    And a quick straw poll, but the author and ooooh I'd say 60% of respondents should just renounce your passports. Stay at home. You clearly don't get Europe and it sure as hell doesn't need you.

    I'm quite happy to squat and crap if it means the world remains just a little too differentiated for some American taste. And don't get me wrong I like most of the parts of America and Americans. I just can't quite square this page of drivel with the Americans I know who travel.

    Get a grip. American cultural hegemony has done a damn good job of rendering the world a poor carbon copy itself. Bitching about ice cubes and deep V tee shirts without the leavening fizz of irony is asinine

  • sally

    this is horrible. why did you even bother coming to europe? let me guess, mom and dad paid for you to come study abroad and broaden your horizons? all you do is complain about it. none of this stuff bothers me in the slightest, and i am an american living in paris. why dont you try enjoying the cultural differences and maybe you will have a better time.

  • P. H. Madore

    Maybe, but it's fucking awesome the way European women only take a few minutes — less than some American men I know — when they go to the bathroom. Or so I noticed.

  • Wilf

    Ignore the haters– I am so with you. Yeah, yeah, ignorant, culturally insensitive, blahblahblah… this probably stemmed from a fabulous conversation over (iced) drinks. Deep V's ARE skeezy. You're great.

  • Ganjaman1010

    let's presume that she is enjoying “europe” for a second, and that she's not an idiot or an ugly american, and just being satirically jingoistic. one of the joys of travel is making fun of the other culture you're genuinely interested enough in to go learn about. no one's perfect, and we're all prone to petty judgments! it can keep you sane on the road. and believe me, europeans make fun of fat, idiotic, uncultured americans all the time.

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