Monday, January 4

Tantissime Belle Cose or 8 Reasons why living in Europe is better than living in the USA

Let’s start with the obvious: The Food. While America may be the Horn of Plenty, the additives and polyunsaturated fats and corn syrup by the gallon in almost everything you eat, makes for an entire country of Pillsbury Doughboys and girls (think: Wall-E), all with diabetes 1 and/or 2. If those 'no global' Europeans could just rebel against the real culprits: Nestlè and Coca Cola onslaught, and go back to offering homemade iced teas and all that – (think: Italy is still Starbucks free) well, then, we’re in for a lot longer life than ever and one that’s pretty much fat and sugar free.

The Cars. Hopefully, gas prices will get so high in Europe that people will stop driving altogether. But not having to see 9 out of 10 cars as an SUV or hiked up pickup truck is certainly an eye-appealing, global warming of my heart, and simply (as a miniscule Honda civic driver) safer.

Nationalized health care. Say what you will about the breakdown in the Italian (or European) health care systems, but people still receive treatments relatively inexpensively and even long term without fear of bankruptcy. Sure, it’s stress-inducing to wait 10 months for an RMI after discovering a lump, or longer for a basic physical, but, it’s even more horrific to wait for your zillion dollar bill after services, too. I don’t partake in the national system, but I can tell you plenty of long-living Europeans do – cost free.

Vacations. For those of us who stay behind, we might find the cheery ‘Chiuso per Ferie” signs pretty dismal (I haven’t been able to reach anyone at my bank since before Christmas), but, let’s face it: Europeans know that with hard work comes some pretty good downtime. In summer, beaches become blackberry free (except the edible kind), as things shut down and people tune right out. And while families relax and explore places together, and the city prostitutes wait longingly for their clientele to return home, that sort of mentality really lets everyone go about their vacationing care free. I’ve even heard of an entire paese that goes on holiday together, they like each other so well (although I’m not quite sure it’d be wise to publicize this little known fact, for the amount of looting that could take place next August).

Then there’s the cell phones. While I’ve discovered that pretty much everyone hates their carriers here in the USA (with AT&T taking the lead in customer dissatisfaction), Telecoms companies seem to be international in their pursuit of profits thru dodgy practices. But, one thing’s for sure: in Europe, we do not pay to receive calls nor texts. Here, they get you coming and going and it ain’t pretty. With these kinds of practices, it’s a wonder how the Americans (10 years behind the Europeans) ever got off of hold in the telecoms revolution.

And, while I’m at it, I might add the phone line debacle. Two months in the USA, and I’ve been feeling like it’s 1999 (and sadly, not enjoying a party line). You can hardly complete a call without the ‘line dropping’ at least once. Unbelievable. We’re supposedly the most advanced (technologically speaking) country on the planet, and you can’t place a call from Michigan to Ohio without retrying three times.

Air Travel. Yes, you read it right. Air Travel. Europeans still offer the most comfort for the dollar, if you count in FlyBaboo and discard RyanAir. It’s an outrage that the shoddy RyanAir practices are pretty much standard fare for every major US Airline (charging for luggage, drinks, skip the lines, etc.). But we still have Baboo and Virgin and even BA and ClickAir to look forward to (sorry, Air One – my former heartthrob - you’ve sold your soul to the devil). Americans get to look forward to paying for reclining seats or go Greyhound.

Knowing your retailer. While it does happen (often), in major metropolises, that you would know personally your coffee barman, dress shop, or pet shop owner, out in suburbia this is simply not the case. On one hand, it gives you that terrific sense of anonymity, which makes you feel somewhat invincible in a Clark Kent sort of way as you go about your daily errands. On the other, you kind of wish you could stop a moment to enjoy a nice chat with the store owner sitting outside his/her front stoop.


Dave514 said...

Yup, the food is better, especially in Italy. but if I lived there I'd miss my bacon, toast, bagels and English orange maralade. I'd have to go to at least Holland or London for my food fix.

National Health Care, yes we need reform but not this mess the obamanation wants to shove down our throats.

Yup, vacations are better there.

Handys in Europe are better but we're catching up. I don't need all the stuff out there, thank God.

Living Michigan must be a drag com'on out here in the West, no dropped calls and almost immediate phone connections.

Remember, distances are short in Europe and rail service great.

There was a time when you could take something out of the store on approval without paying for it. That was really knowing your retailer. I think that's a thing of the past.

All of the advantages you submitted come at a cost. It's one I'm not willing to pay, the lack of freedom. In England you are a subject of the Queen, in the rest of Europe you are the subject of a Socialist State. You can only do what the government allows you can do. i left England in 1955 for this reason.

In the US you are a citizen. Here I have the RIGHT to bear arms. There has an implication far beyond the obvious. You need to think about it.

I'll go back and visit it often but I'll live here, thank you.

Francesca Maggi said...

Thanks for sharing! I will tell you that in Italy, people still give you things on credit: from the daily cappuccino to the dry cleaners to all kinds of's always a nice treat - makes you have faith in humanity, even in a place where your Amazon orders don't arrive cuz they've been stolen out of the mail!

J.Doe said...

I agree with the first point, the food in Europe is much better although after a while the lack of ethnic foods got me down.
Getting things on credit and knowing the store clerks depends on where you are living, both in the US and in Italy. In Italy I lived in a big city. I never got anything on credit and when I was short a few centissimi the store clerks waited for me to put some item back on the shelf. In the US I live in a smaller suburb town. A gas attendant gave me some extra gas 9I paid him in full thye nedxt day) and the store clerks at some stores all seem to know me and my daughter.I don't think this is a European/US thing but rather a city/smaller town thing.
I do think wholeheartedly that the US healthcare system is sick and needs to be changed. While I'm not completely going to throw out any type of universal healthcare or European models, the healthcare in Italy sucks. Most people there who can afford it have some kind of private insurance to back up the public system or just pay privately on their own. Waiting a few months for a bed in a hospital when one has a speck of cancer is more than stress inducing, it could be life ending.Little specks of cancer grow.
A very interesting post though. As always your posts have some humor in them. I just think a better title would have been 'Why I think Europe is better than the US'

Anonymous said...

I live in Italy one month of each year. Even though I love Italy, there are several things that make me really sad...

Some examples are: How dirty places are. I've been to many cities from Milan to Rome to Calabria, and there is just graffiti EVERYWHERE! So sad that many buildings are covered in this. I come from Chicago where we are lucky because our mayor keeps everything super clean! You don't have to worry about seeing trash in almost every street!

Italy has a really big garbage problem. The last couple years have been getting bad. Sometimes garbage doesn't get picked up for weeks and it's just everywhere on the streets....

I love my Italia, but I feel like the people should care a little more about how they treat their land and keep it clean!

Oh, and lets not compare airlines! Alitalia is just getting worse and worse each year. They have very bad customer service!