When I get back from trips to Europe, I always get really down on America for a little while.  The Coke has high-fructose corn syrup, nothing is properly old or historic, everyone’s clothes are bad, and the weather is TERRIBLE.  This feeling could indicate one or more of the following things:

1. I should stop taking trips to Europe in the hopes that I’ll forget how much I like it.

2. I should just move to Europe already.  London, or maybe Amsterdam.

3. My love of Europe is skewed because I don’t go there very often, and because almost every time I’m there I’m on vacation.  If I moved there, I wouldn’t like it as much as I do on vacation.

4. I should move to a more Europe-like area of the U.S., like Portland or Seattle or something.

14 thoughts on “europhilia

  1. On moving to a more Europe-like area of the United States: I forget where I read this, but it’s also been observed that Chicago is slowly gentrifying into Vienna. And I can think of some awesome mutual acquaintances who reside there.

  2. Having lived in Europe for 3.5 years, I can tell you that you do start to miss certain things about America – in particular the convenience of opening hours of stores! Of course, I lived in a very rural area, and would jump at a chance to live in London.

  3. Re: point 4 – YES. When will you be here?

    Although honestly Boston is more European than Seattle (not to mention it has actual history, almost 400 years of it), and I understand that Montreal is supposed to be the most European-like city in North America.

  4. Well, there is only one way to find out. Do It.
    I would also suggest Paris or Barcelona. I have lived in London and loved it but that was a while ago and now I find it very fast-paced. I have visited Amsterdam loads of times and find the Dutch signage difficult to make out, not to mention the severe winters. I live in Cork, Ireland and would recommend it also as long as you don’t mind that it if often rains between the showers!! If its on your mind, then you will regret if you don’t do it.

  5. My impression on returning home to Boston has been that the informational signs in European airports have multiple languages, plus universal symbols, while Boston has English-only, minimal signs, and a guy announcing, “American passpots hee-ah, other passpots ovah thay-ah.” And of course there’s the money – American coins have no numbers to indicate their value, just words like “One Dime” – very helpful. And I’ll second the motion about Montreal; it’s nice to be able to drive to a city that feels European: French language, great metro system, a Formula 1 race, new flavors of potato chips…

  6. My experiences living and traveling abroad has taught me that there are good and bad things about everywhere (obviously). When I travel abroad, I get down on the US. But when I live abroad for more than a year, I start to really miss the things that make me American, and Texan in particular. This is surprising since when I was younger I was embarrassed a little about being from Texas because of the things people assumed about Texans (you know the stereotypes). I know that I will always live here now- this is where I fit.

    That said, I’m all for traveling and living in other countries as frequently as possible and am on my way to live the next two years in India! I know I’ll come back to Texas, my house and family and friends are all here. But I don’t think you have to live in the place where you fit all the time. Move around. I think lives and personalities are too big to fit in one place. If you like Europe and can manage a way to live there for a while, by all means go do it! You can always come back.

  7. Well, and starting from Portland (and probably even from Austin), it’s not that hard to get homesick for America in Europe.

    * public drinking fountains
    * public trash cans (let alone recycling bins)
    * ADA accessible buildings
    * bagels

    It’s so easy to spend time beating up on America because, well, we make it easy. But for all the stuff we get wrong, we get a lot more right than we ever get credit for; for all that Europeans (or specific countries, anyway) get right, they get an inexplicable pass for a lot of stuff that they get wrong.

    Bagels, for god’s sake. Why is it so hard to find a decent bagel in Germany? They’ve even got donuts, now, it’s not like it’s a radically different technology…

  8. Part of my consideration in moving to Boston was that it was probably the most European city we’ve got, at least physically/geographically. Some of the other ways in which it’s European(the lack of late hours and general convenience, which definitely bugged me more than I liked to admit when traveling in Europe too) and in which it isn’t(the super type-A competitiveness and stress of everything) are among the reasons I left.

    Chicago is too overwhelmingly big to me. It’s great to visit, but the logistics of living there seem exhausting, and expensive, much moreso even than somewhere like New York or London or Paris. It’s mainly because the transit just blows. Admittedly I was spoiled on that front in Boston though, with a 20 minute door-to-door subway commute and most everything I needed within walking distance. The only killer there was the T shutting down at 12:30 at night. If it only ran until 2:00 or so, they would have a perfect setup.

    Portland does seem more and more attractive, except I don’t know much of anyone there and it’s too far from home base and family. But that’s definitely the kind of city I’m looking for if I decide to make another go at city living.

  9. Move to Europe for a while. Try it out or die wondering. I worked and lived in London for 2 years before going home (Australia). It was the best thing I ever did with my life so far.

  10. If you want to be less “american tourist”: When someone asks you where you’re from, don’t answer “Texas”. Answer “america” or “the united states” or “the US”. If a european tourist of indeterminate origin was in the states and gave their home as “Languodoc-Rousillon”, you’d blink blankly and look at them like they’re bonkers to think you know where that is, since you probably aren’t that knowledgeable of european geographic minutiae. (It’s a province in the south of france.) While it’s true that most people have heard of Texas and know where it is, giving your state as your answer comes off as terribly american-centric. (Have you ever heard a canadian outside of north america say they’re “from alberta”? Nope.)

  11. Deanna, you’re probably right about that. As far as why I said “Texas” instead of “the United States” or whatever, I think two things are at play here:

    1. I figured our American accents gave us away as American anyway, and every time I said “America,” most people said “What state?” or in one case, “What land?” but I knew what he meant. I guess I was just trying not to give people pieces of information they may already have figured out.

    2. My traveling companion and I are both from Texas by birth, and if you’ve ever been to Texas, you know that it practically considers itself its own nation. After all, it was once. For the most part, I find the whole state-pride, Republic-of-Texas, “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could,” sloganeering thing to be rather silly, but I guess living here for 30 years has ingrained it a bit. In other words, if I grew up in Delaware I’d probably tell people I was from the US. No offense to Delaware intended.

    Next time I’m abroad I’ll try saying “The United States” instead of Texas and see what happens. Thanks!

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