What makes Europeans similar between each others, as opposed to Americans

Interesting read! :p

I guess... European culture and its laws and stuff used to be very dominated by church/organised religion... but recently, much less so... but people still feel the need to debate round issues to do with morality and ethics... because they are not the same thing as religion... neither is "values"... so it doesn't seem to me at all strange that this is entering into political debates in Europe.... :?

I suppose you could say America with its "religious right" is kind of at a stage that Europe used to be at in the past when religious feelings ran high? Which might kind of make sense because they are a "younger" culture? :? ... or perhaps I'm just talking rubbish here, since I don't know anything about history. :bluush:

A minor point of accuracy in the first para of the article... "the destruction of human embryos" and "stem cell research" aren't the same thing in fact... there is also research using adult stem cells, which doesn't involve any embryos at all... (sorry to split hairs but I dislike inaccuracies especially around something where feelings tend to run high :relief: )
 
Kinsao posted
I guess... European culture and its laws and stuff used to be very dominated by church/organised religion... but recently, much less so... but people still feel the need to debate round issues to do with morality and ethics... because they are not the same thing as religion... neither is "values"... so it doesn't seem to me at all strange that this is entering into political debates in Europe....

I suppose you could say America with its "religious right" is kind of at a stage that Europe used to be at in the past when religious feelings ran high?

Seems like it. Remember, the America we think of now was settled by Europeans seeking to leave Europe and practice their own versions of religion (which over time became more narrowly focused than the ones they escaped from in Europe).
 
Windows

There are major differences between European countries when it comes to the way windows open.

In France, Belgium and Germany, most windows are the "tilt and turn" type (some only turn, without tilting). They almost always open towards the inside.

In the Netherlands and Britain, turn windows typically open both towards the inside and outside, or sometimes just outwards.

In the UK and in most English-speaking countries, sash windows are the most common.This can be single-hung or double-hung sash windows, or even horizontal sliding sash windows.

Privacy

I noticed a few stuff in American movies and series that are clearly different from what I know in Europe. However, this may not be typically American. It may also be used on TV for reasons of convenience regarding the plot rather than because it is extremely common.

Example 1 : answering machines

In American movies, most people seem to have an answering machine at home, and you can always hear the person's message loud in the room. I have never seen that here. Answering machines are usually silent, like on mobile phones. A light, ring or text message indicates that there is a message left, but you can't actually hear the person speaking if you are next to the phone when he/she leaves the message. I think it would be annoying if you are busy or resting while you get a message. It's also not good for privacy if you have guests at home and don't bother to answer the phone, then everyone can listen to the message being left.

Example 2 : neighours and front doors

In American movies/series, neighours tend to know each other well, chat with each others, and even spy on each others. It seems common to enter in a neighbour's house to ask to borrow something, ask a favour, or just pop in for a chat. What is more, doors seem to be left unlocked most of the time, and front doors often have windows.

All this is completely different from what I have seen in all the European countries where I have lived or travelled. People greet their neighbours, and may occasionally chat with them, but most people tend to mind their own business and value a lot their privacy. That is why most Europeans never leave their outside door open when they are not inside the house (or at any time in cities). That is also why people do not try entering without knocking or ringing the bell, even if they have seen somebody inside. Only close family members could do that. In general, in countries like Belgium or France, it is rude to drop by unannounced or unexpectedly at someone's house.

Front doors very rarely have windows (except in Britain and the Netherlands), because this allows anybody to peep inside, which is a total intrusion of privacy. In many countries (notably Belgium, France, Italy...), the ground floor of townhouses tend to be elevated from the street in order to prevent passerby's from looking through the windows.

Overall, the cultural difference between Europe an the USA here is that Europeans are not big on neighbours' watch, almpst never have a gun at home, but almost always lock their doors and tend to have good security systems, stone/brick rather than wooden walls, thick (anti-theft) glazing on windows, and heavy and secure outside doors. Reasonably well-off people often have good alarm systems and surveillance cameras. In Spain, bars on windows are common. In France and Italy, it is shutters. In other words, burglary prevention is based on house equipment and "fortification" rather than relying on the human factor, such as neighbours' vigilance or self-protection with guns.
 
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In American movies, most people seem to have an answering machine at home, and you can always hear the person's message loud in the room

There is a volume setting on the answering machine, so if you don't wish to hear it it can be turned down while you're sleeping, though usually the answering machine is not in the bedroom.

One reason people want to hear iy sometimes is that they screen calls, because they may not wish to talk to everyone, i.e. chatty relatives (at that time), salespeople, etc.

In American movies/series, neighours tend to know each other well, chat with each others, and even spy on each others. It seems common to enter in a neighbour's house to ask to borrow something, ask a favour, or just pop in for a chat. What is more, doors seem to be left unlocked most of the time, and front doors often have windows.

Depends on the area. My parents don't usually lock their front door, nor do they own a gun (it's just not that type of neighborhood). people don't pop in so much, but my parents are older, so that may be them. Some people are very European and just keep to themselves, but they sometimes are labeled unfriendly (unfair, I know).
 
There is a volume setting on the answering machine, so if you don't wish to hear it it can be turned down while you're sleeping, though usually the answering machine is not in the bedroom.
One reason people want to hear iy sometimes is that they screen calls, because they may not wish to talk to everyone, i.e. chatty relatives (at that time), salespeople, etc.

It seems that telemarketing is also much more common in the States than in most EU countries. In Belgium, I am hardly ever disturbed by salespeople.

To screen calls here most new telephones show the incoming call's number (and name if it is registered in your phonebook), just like on mobile phones.

Another thing I noticed a lot in American series is the second call option. I think that very few phones have this here, not even mobile phones. I personally wouldn't use it if I had it. I find it rude to cut short a conversation or ask people to wait because someone else is calling. If it's important, they will leave a message or call back a few minutes later. Maybe it's also a cultural difference.
 
To screen calls here most new telephones show the incoming call's number (and name if it is registered in your phonebook), just like on mobile phones.

What we Americans call 'caller ID'. Quite a few Americans use that too, but of course that doesn't help id your friend who calls from a payphone (maybe his cell is dead, or he doesn't have a cellphone).

Another thing I noticed a lot in American series is the second call option. I think that very few phones have this here, not even mobile phones. I personally wouldn't use it if I had it. I find it rude to cut short a conversation or ask people to wait because someone else is calling. If it's important, they will leave a message or call back a few minutes later. Maybe it's also a cultural difference.

What we Americans call the 'call waiting' feature (it's available in Japan too). I agree with you, the way people use it, it can be annoying, but if people use it to just tell someone they will call them back, that's okay. Of course if it was a real emergency, then I wouldn't mind my friend ringing me back that he will call me later. But I agree, in most cases, call waiting probably doesn't accomplish much.

Finally, remember, if someone is talking to you from their office, it might be a good idea if they take that other call.
 
Someone mentioned that Europeans are more interested in politics than Americans. The reason for that might be that in the USA you can choose between two parties but in Austria or Germany for example you can choose between 4-6 parties.

Therefore you have to gather much more information if you want to know what each party considers important.
 
Someone mentioned that Europeans are more interested in politics than Americans. The reason for that might be that in the USA you can choose between two parties but in Austria or Germany for example you can choose between 4-6 parties.
Therefore you have to gather much more information if you want to know what each party considers important.

In Belgium the current government is a colation of 5 parties, which is usual. Because each linguistic group has its own parties, there are at present 12 major parties + a dozen smaller ones. It is not so complicated because each party has a fairly clear programme matching the idea people have of their name. Liberals/Reformists are liberal in the social and economic sense of the term. Conservatives are conservative. Socialist defend the lower class (esp. immigrants nowadays). The Greens put the environment first. And the extreme-right want immigrants out. The difficulty is for these parties to form a coaltion because they are all so different, and none ever get enough votes to govern alone.

In this regard, UK parties are also quite easy to understand, although there are no major Green or far-right parties.

In the US, you don't know from the names "Democrat" or "Republican" what ideas are being defended by each party. In fact, these two parties are so big that so leftist Republican like Giuliani or McCain are almost like Democrats. Consequently, opinions vary more from one politician to another than between parties, so that parties become almost irrelevant.

In France, it used to be even worse, as there were many rightist parties, with politicians shifting from one to another, and it was really hard to know what each party stood for. But since Sarkozy all rightist parties rallied together. Now, however, the left is more divided than ever before between two kinds of Communists, two kinds of Socialists, the Greens, the Fishing & Hunting party, and the other anti-globalisation parties. Add to that the centrists (under Bayrou) and the extreme right (under Le Pen).

Spain and Italy have a more traditional left vs right division, with 2 main parties like in the US, although with some smaller ones that do get mentioned from time to time (unlike the US ;) ).
 
I have lived in California for more than a year, and I entirely agree with the most of the differences you mention, Maciamo, although there are some exceptions (bachelor(ette)'s night is well-known in Denmark etc.).
And I'm surprised that some European countries prohibit military people from becoming politicians. It doesn't sound very democratic!
I have a few more differences:

Eating habits:

While eating, Americans hold the fork in the right hand (like a spoon) and don't use the left hand, while Europeans hold the fork in the left hand (tines facing down) and the knife in the right hand. Many Europeans consider the American way of using utensils rather uncivilized.

Sex and nudity:

Americans are extremely prudish about sex and nudity, while Europeans are the very opposite. Nude beaches are very uncommon in the US, and it's against the law to be topless on beaches. TV network can get hefty fines for showing a bare ass in primetime. (but, they allow extremely violent tv shows...)

Europeans, on the other hand, are way more relaxed. In some European countries, even hardcore porno magazines are available at gas stations and convenience stores, and nudity on the frontpage of national newspapers is common. Sex is not a taboo and something "sinful" as it is in America.

In my opinion, Europeans have a much more natural and healthy attitude, and I think it's one of the reasons that Europe has much lower sex crime rates, teenage pregnancy rates etc.

This blog explains it very well:
http://www.ricksteves.com/blog/index.cfm?fuseaction=entry&entryID=301
 
And I'm surprised that some European countries prohibit military people from becoming politicians. It doesn't sound very democratic!

It is to avoid military coup d'état or military regimes. I think they can become politician if they completely renounce to their military title, but I am not sure.

Sex and nudity:

Americans are extremely prudish about sex and nudity, while Europeans are the very opposite. Nude beaches are very uncommon in the US, and it's against the law to be topless on beaches. TV network can get hefty fines for showing a bare ass in primetime. (but, they allow extremely violent tv shows...)

Europeans, on the other hand, are way more relaxed. In some European countries, even hardcore porno magazines are available at gas stations and convenience stores, and nudity on the frontpage of national newspapers is common. Sex is not a taboo and something "sinful" as it is in America.

I have to say that Belgium is closer to the more liberal US states than to the liberal European countries in this regard. Porn magazines or videos are prohibited in supermarkets (contrarily to the UK, where they are rampant) to "protect children".

Prostitution is legal in Belgium, but it is not well tolerated by most of the population (unlike in the Netherlands). Flemings tend to be more tolerant in that regards than French speakers. They announce on TV today that the city of Liège was shutting down its brothels, and none of its suburbs or neighbouring town wants let them move in their municipality. That's because it is still mostly taboo among French speakers.

Most of the Belgians I know wouldn't be very comfortable with being nude on a beach or even in a sauna or public bath. I think that German-speakers, Scandinavians and Finns are among the most open regarding nudity. Belgians are maybe among the prudest Europeans. But there is little involvement of religion in this. Sex isn't regarded as sinful. Sex and nudity are just considered things about which one should be discreet.
 
It seems odd as an American looking in that we are all lumped into one group like the entire United States has a stereotype. It would be better to try to break it down by region or state. I come from central Illinois, a rural area where the closest near by "city" Springfield only has 116,482 people. The village I am from and surrounding area's culture is nothing like the North East (New York), Southern States, or the West Coast. Many of the people here have Irish and German roots, and it shows in our local festivals such as Irish Days, Black Diamond days, Octoberfest etc. Village have a similar set up with a central town square with a park or public meeting place in the center. Even one state such as Illinois has clear cultural differences within it. Northern Illinois and the Chicago metro area are very different from central Illinois and southern Illinois. I guess the point I am trying to make is that America is much more diverse than many Europeans understand. From clothing, to our accents, religion and laws each state is different from another.
As I was reading in the earlier page about Nobility it came to me that we may not have castles or any nobility we do have a lot of archeology sites. One not far away from me is Cahokia Mounds 650–1400 CE) and on that note it is quite common for Americans to have some Native American blood in them.
Maybe we can compare media and news service as well, one thing I hate about American news is that it does not cover stories outside of our borders at all unless it is terrorists, pirates, North Korea, Mexico or the Middle East. I have NEVER seen a story about Canada on any news service, local or national. When they do cover Mexico it is always about immigration and the drug cartels.
Maybe we can compare banking systems or even how the government controls currency, is it common in Europe for one entity to control the money like the Federal Reserve is for the United States?
 
What makes Europeans similar compared to the Americans

"Similar"? Yes, well, the Americans speak a language that is similar to English although we manage to adhere to grammar slightly better than they. Of course we, on the continent, speak English as a second langauge and Im still trying to work out what the first language of the Americans might be.
 
"Similar"? Yes, well, the Americans speak a language that is similar to English although we manage to adhere to grammar slightly better than they. Of course we, on the continent, speak English as a second langauge and Im still trying to work out what the first language of the Americans might be.

What I meant was "what makes Europeans similar between each others, as opposed to Americans". Or "what differentiates Europeans from Americans" at a continent-wide level (within looking too deep into regional differences within Europe or between US states).
 
What I meant was "what makes Europeans similar between each others, as opposed to Americans". Or "what differentiates Europeans from Americans" at a continent-wide level .....
Well, if I were to make generalizations - and thats what your asking me to do - then I must say a "similarity" would be that were both in the northern hemisphere, and a "dissimilarity" would be our value of life.
 
Well, if I were to make generalizations - and thats what your asking me to do - then I must say a "similarity" would be that were both in the northern hemisphere, and a "dissimilarity" would be our value of life.

I am not asking about similarities between Europeans and Americans, but only similarities between Europeans that are not shared by Americans. For example, all European countries have heavily state-subsidised healthcare and universities, while the USA do not.
 
Do you want me to compare all the international EU countries with one single country of the U.S. - or are you including "America" as all the countries from Canada to Argentina? In either case it seems much too daunting a task.
 
"It seems odd as an American looking in that we are all lumped into one group like the entire United States has a stereotype."
Ua' Ronain-I was thinking along similar lines as I was reading this thread.
Various parts of the USA are very different from each other.
My state,Texas,used to be its' own country-and many of us wouldn't mind being our own Republic again.
Actually,there is and always was,a North-South cultural divide in America.Whichever one you grew up in will make the other seem as foreign as the dark side of the moon.
The culture all across the South,from Virginia into Texas,has mostly the same roots.There are local exceptions,such as the Accadians in Louisiana.But still,I can say from my own life experience that I feel completely at ease,anywhere in the American South,and you will NEVER find me living up North.I'd go on vacation up there,just to see historical things,but I'd never live there.The people also aren't to my liking.
The South is like one big extended family,and it is HOME.
Another thing I'd say,is that it is dead wrong to think that all Americans are in lock-step with whatever is decreed in Washington,D.C.
It would be true to say that a lot of people in the South and out West are vehemently opposed to the back-East establishment.We know from a long history of dealings with them,that they are not our friends,and don't have our best interests in mind.
The cultural foundations of the Old South begin to peter out as you get into west Texas,and go beyond.They say that Fort Worth is where the West begins.
Places like New Mexico and especially Arizona are a world unto themselves,and they couldn't care less about Washington politics.
Alaskans have an even wilder and woolier attitude,from what I hear.Never been there.
I like the culture I was born into,and am happy and feel fortunate to live in Texas.
And please don't ever call me 'Yank',okay? :LOL:
 
"It seems odd as an American looking in that we are all lumped into one group like the entire United States has a stereotype."
Ua' Ronain-I was thinking along similar lines as I was reading this thread.
Various parts of the USA are very different from each other.
My state,Texas,used to be its' own country-and many of us wouldn't mind being our own Republic again.
Actually,there is and always was,a North-South cultural divide in America.Whichever one you grew up in will make the other seem as foreign as the dark side of the moon.
The culture all across the South,from Virginia into Texas,has mostly the same roots.

I am well aware that the USA can be divided in a few broad region with a culture of their own (New England, the Midwest, the West Coast). The South has a particularly strong and unified identity. Nevertheless a lot of cultural aspects are shared by all Americans. The point of this thread is to show that there are also cultural facets shared by all Europeans, but Europeans only. Would you say that anything describing the USA in my original post does not apply to the southern states ?
 
Regarding the Southern U.S.:

I live part of the year in Northern Virginia and I can tell you that the region is far different than the rest of the southern states. Virginia is changing rapidly, demographically and culturally and will soon be much more northeastern in flavor.

Texas, unfortunately, is as pretty rough place culturally and socially. Like much of the south, various parts of it are backward on any number of levels. It has some of the worst educational and health care statistics in the U.S. Despite its relative wealth, Texas is considered by more enlightened Americans as one big socio-cultural backwater.
 
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Eating habits:

While eating, Americans hold the fork in the right hand (like a spoon) and don't use the left hand, while Europeans hold the fork in the left hand (tines facing down) and the knife in the right hand. Many Europeans consider the American way of using utensils rather uncivilized.

I’ve noticed it as well and was very happy someplace peoples eat just like me. Always hated the fork in my left and found it cumbersome. To make it easier I used to switch and eat with my right hand but got audience. Now I simply cut meat into chunks before eating, put the knife aside and fork to my right, looks less conspicuous and makes life easier.
 

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