International differences

If you ever want to travel to Europe or hang around with people from there, here are some cultural differences you might never have heard about.

The craziest difference first: You will realize that European toilet paper mostly is much thicker than what you use here. The reason for that is that most Europeans fold their paper instead of crunching or wadding it.

Going out for dinner

Some Americans are confused when they pay their first bill in a European restaurant. The waitress mostly keeps standing at the table while you look at the price and decide how high or if you want to tip. Mostly you just round up the sum or give a few bucks more, because the minimum wage in Europe is much higher than in the US. But going in a restaurant or having fast food is often more expensive than you are used to, because the most people — students, whoever –cook for themselves. The ingredients are cheaper and have higher food standards than in America, so going to a restaurant is something special. By the way, water isn’t free. Nowhere. After dinner, you keep sitting for a longer time and chat instead of leaving after you finish your meal, so you have to ask for the bill and signal that you are ready to go.


It´s normal that not everybody owns a car. Europe is well connected with fast and efficient buses, trams, subways and trains, while fuel costs more than the double in comparison with US gas. Getting a driving license costs often about $1,400, because it goes hand in hand with a several months long training program. However, it’s possible to fly a distance like from LA to New York in Europe for under 30 bucks, so a car is not really necessary. The freedom to own a car stands behind public safety on the continent. Important: Only in Great Britain do people drive on the left side of the street and only in Germany is there no speed limit on highways. Don’t confuse the two; it could bring you in trouble! And be aware of European drivers; each nation forms its own style of street racing, while Americans drive chill and calm.

There is something else that could be helpful for you if you ever meet a European.

A friendly “How are you?” or “What’s up?” could be the beginning of a longer story told you by your conversation partner. In the old world, people are more interested in each other than in the new world. Small-talk between two people meeting on the street can easy lead to a 20-minute conversation, so if you are in a hurry, just say “Hello” and move on.