April Rogers: Trip to Europe highlights differences
May 22, 2011
Recently, I was lucky enough to travel to Europe on a school trip with Mr. Simon and a small group of other students. Although it was a great trip, there were some crazy differences between the great country we live in and the country we should all visit. Though everything seemed a little diversified, there were four main things I could not believe. Number one:
Rarely a beggar can be seen in Craig, Colorado. When one is spotted they are only holding a sign asking for money. This is not the case in Europe. Beggars and panhandlers lurk around every corner. They are much more creative than the average United States homeless person. Nearly every single begging person on the street had a talent. From a beautiful violin, guitar, Chinese key board, clarinet and flute solos to people who stand completely still until you put a coin in their buckets, then they move like a computerized machine in some inventive way, there is talent with every Europe gypsy. My personal favorite: while we were in Madrid, Spain, my group and I passed a person completely covered in sand. When a euro was dropped in the little coffee can in front of him, his arm moved strictly up, made one wave motion, and sat perfectly back down on his lap. He would stay there, totally still until someone placed a euro in his possession.
One of the most humiliating things that happened in Europe was when our group stopped at a side attraction. It was two clowns who made hilarious gestures and make fun of the crowd. When one of their bony fingers landed on me, I nearly fainted. Quick gibberish spat out of the skinny clowns mouth. Followed by something in French. Finally he said, “Where are you from?”
April Etheridge quickly replied, “America.”
That is when the embarrassment began. He, in Spanish, began making fun of our group. Calling us size 14 fat Americans who loved our McDonalds. The crowd burst into tormenting laughter.
The sad thing was, every European around us was size 3 at most. Finding a fast food restaurant in that country was literally like finding a needle in a haystack. When we finally stumbled across a McDonald’s their burgers were hand flipped and wholesome. Their ice cream was hand scooped and there was no special sauce on a Big Mac. McDonalds there was… healthy. But this was only part of the reason the Europeans were so healthy and skinny. Along with free health care, the streets were always crowded with healthy walking and biking residents. Not to mention they have a very large metro system, which is incredibly complicated. If you do not believe me just ask Kristie McPherson.
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If I did not feel like a fat American when two clowns viscously stereotyped me, I certainly did when going to dinner. It is custom in Europe to ALWAYS have an appetizer, main course and dessert at all meals. The only issue is, the main course is about a small fist full of food. And there was no such thing as fried food. It was more like rice and chicken. The breakfasts there normally consisted of raw meats and cheeses, luke warm milk and hot orange juice followed by the most delicious croissants I have ever tasted. The desserts were my favorite part of every meal, ranging from Crème Brulee, custard, apple pie to the most deliciously thick and creamy ice cream. In fact the homemade ice cream in Europe was so great all other ice cream should have to be called ice milk. When it came to drinks in Europe, the French waiters would give you a look of pure shock when you turned down the wine they almost immediately pour every customer. Being an American where the legal drinking limit isn’t 12 years old, we got that look a lot. If you decide against the wine the only other choices were generally a five-dollar coke half the size of a normal can or mineral water.
In Europe, there are not only unattended vending machines filled with alcohol but a mini bar in every room. The legal drinking limit in Paris is 12 years old with parent approval. The French almost always have wine with their meals and there are more wine stores than clothes stores. Surprisingly, even though alcohol is so easy to obtain in Europe, you do not just see drunks walking the street constantly. They are very laid back and rested about it.
Although, Faith Santisteven and I a horrifying encounter with a plastered group of 17 years old Spanish group. And even though there are obviously a few who will abuse this leniency, there really is not an alcohol problem that I saw in France or Spain. It is too bad other countries cannot be quite as responsible as the European culture.
All in all, it was a great trip and diversity was everywhere. There was truly nothing the same about Europe or America. We are complete opposites.