June 20, 2015

Overseas, Underfunded: 12 Things You’ll Learn While Studying Abroad in Europe

Buzzfeed, watch your back…


#1 Elevator “Door Close” buttons actually work


You heard right, that button inside  the elevator actually closes the doorclosebuttondoor! It’s revolutionary! This feature alone has left European sitcom writers short of material for years. Now you can nonchalantly block those frantic luggage-loaded people sprinting toward the lift hollering, “HOLD THE ELEVATOR!”


#2 Bathroom stall walls go all the way to the floor


Europe is gracefully free of the awkwardness spawned from that 10-inch gap between stall wall and public bathroom floor. It appears that they took a hint from George Costanza of “Seinfeld”. AND as a backup system, all bathroom stall doors have this brilliant red/green indicator that lets a potential toiletee know if the stall is occupied. Step up your game, bathrooms of America.


#3 Asking for the bill is impossible


A large majority (if not all) of European countries enforce a minimum wage that applies to waiters and waitresses, unlike in the United States. As a result, they are not nearly as dependent on tips. In fact, a 10% tip is considered fairly generous. So, said servers are not nearly as attentive as their American counterparts. It’s not unusual to go 30-40 minutes at a time without seeing your server. Naturally, getting the check is like catching a greased seal, and it only becomes more difficult when you add the language barrier.


#4 The Mankini


(I’ll spare you the grief by omitting a picture) No one wants to see this, and yet, men across Europe have the need to feel the breeze between their knees. You may think I’m simply referring to a Speedo swimsuit. Amazingly, Europe has found a way to make them smaller and tighter with more… defining outlines. This makes for a rather uncomfortable beach experience, needless to say.


#5 Public Restrooms are not free


Apparently, performing normal bodily functions in an enclosed, white-tiled room is considered a luxury across the pond. Bathrooms in places like train stations have turnstiles that only turn when you surrender 50-75¢. Most others are guarded by those pesky bathroom attendants. We all know they don’t actually clean anything.


#6 Drinking fountains are nonexistent


This is where Europe gets pretty ridiculous. If you are poor or like any college student, and don’t have a nickel to your name, not only aren’t you allowed to pee for free, but you can’t drink water without breaking the bank.


#7 Military Time


Europeans are too cool to say AM and PM. They’d rather confuse you with their fancy 0-24 jargon. I have missed many afternoon Schnitzel Festivals thanks to the natural confusion between 14:00 and 4:00 PM.


#8 Ice Cream Cones

The European equivalent to three scoops.

The European equivalent to three scoops.


European ice creameries really know how to skimp on the one thing they sell: ice cream. Good ol’ American scoopers know that proper etiquette calls for the cone to be filled with ice cream and then the scoops on top are counted. Their European counterparts completely skip the crucial filling of the cone and simply place the number of scoops on top of the cone. So you get about 2 inches of frozen creamy goodness and then 5 inches of stale cracker-encased air. Delightful.


#9 Man Buns



Sexy, right? Wrong.

Almost as tragic of a fashion statement as the Mankini, the Man Bun is a horrific hairstyle that is (somehow) gaining traction across the world, particularly Europe. It resembles the hairstyles of ancient Japanese samurai. All I know is that I would be ready to fall on the sword if I were forced to don this hairstyle.


#10 Carbonated Water


This is the go-to drink for restaurants. If you order water, you’d better specify still water or as they call it “water with no gas”. Let’s face it, no one wants to burp while drinking water. We’re not barbarians.


#11 No Sour Pickles, BBQ Sauce


This makes for just about the worst weekend family barbeque of all time. Now we know why barbeques are such an American concept. Europeans don’t even have the proper materials. I mean what are you going to put on that rack of ribs? Ketchup? Please.


#12 No Ice


Ice and basic refrigeration are both concepts that the Europeans haven’t yet grasped, particularly when it comes to drinks. A majority of the time, restaurant beers are room temperature. The folks at Coors who tout brewing beer in the “ice-cold Rockies” would be absolutely ashamed. Somehow, the Europeans have managed to perfect high-speed trains, but they still can’t freeze water.


Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Make sure to check out my past posts at the following link: http://voices.lafayette.edu/category/james-onorevole/

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