Brussels Belgium - Flickr
Most people in this country try are totally ignorant of how people outside of it live. In fact according to this piece from a 2006 Denver Post, “Only about 23 percent of Americans own a passport, and only 10 percent of those actually leave the country.” That’s not very many and I am sure the figure now is much lower. It also does not even specify the destinations. This was not always the case. When the dollar was higher, there was significantly more travel and in the 1950s and 1960s when there was still a military draft, a lager number of service men and service women would be stationed in Germany or France of Greece or some other NATO country for their length in the military.
Also business travel was far greater then as well.
Here are a few thing I have gathered from those I know from overseas and off the internet that you might find interesting.
There are no Malls or Strip Malls or shopping centers in Europe. Unlike here shops and stores are mostly in and around the larger metro areas. European cities are still the main centers of retail. There are some big box stores, but mostly near the biggest cities.
Single family houses are an exception in nearly all of Europe. Especially Holland (The Netherlands) and Denmark and Belgium where land is at a premium. Multi-family units they call Flats of Villas are pretty much the norm. What we call apartments or townhouses or condos or even duplexes. Rent is also different and according to the sites I have seen more flexible as well. Most Germans and French also rent the homes. This is partly do to the banks being a lot more conservative about mortgages. But renting there is perfectly acceptable alternative. You generally do not find housing developments like we have here either.
They are also more energy conscious that we are. With recycling and the use of on demand hot water being common.
European cities tend to be more spread out that here so public transportation is a necessity since retail and housing and work are spread out as well. The automobile built a good part of America where as Europe was already pretty much built before the auto arrived. Public transport made more sense.
Living near one city and working in another, as well as commuting from France to Germany or Italy for holidays is common. Inter city rail makes more economic sense than flying for most Europeans. It was also the only way before aviation.
Supermarkets are rare and generally only in and around the bigger cities. Unlike here where in some areas, like Florida, they seem to be everywhere. Shops for meat and bread and vegetables are more the norm. Nothing like a Walgreens of CVS. Drug stores are called apothecaries or chemists (in the UK) or pharmacies and that’s all they are.
In most of the European countries the “Safety Nets” so often cited were established just after WWII as part of the rebuilding process since nearly everything was in disarray. In Germany it goes back the the late 1800s.
We are far too isolated here in this country which would explain a lot of the parochial and antiquated attitudes.