Now that I’ve been home for three days and the events over the past three weeks are still fresh in my mind, it’s interesting going over all the differences between the United States and Europe. Many people on this blog have already elaborated on these differences, but I thought I would give my own insight on them as well.
The first difference between life here in the United States and Europe is the amount of walking that is done. Many people in Europe are found in major cities, where walking can be done to take care of most everyday things. For example, in order to find food, you would not have to hop in your car and drive five miles to a grocery store. Chances are in Europe, you can walk ten to fifteen minutes to find most groceries. Here in America, I need to drive about five miles to buy basic groceries.
A second difference between Europe and the United States is that the amount of biking done in Europe is far greater than the amount done in the United States. The one city in Europe where this can be clearly seen is Amsterdam. Here, the bikers contribute to the traffic of the city more than cars or buses. There are bike lanes separate from the actual road to ensure the safety of the bikers. However, when it comes to right of way, bikers usually are in control of the flow traffic. Personally, I thought that the bikers were making the flow of traffic much more chaotic and that it could be simplified using just public transportation. However, that’s simply because I’m not used to the way people move about the city in Europe.
A final difference between Europe and the United States is the use of public transportation. When greater distances need to be travelled and riding a bike is not an option, the use of street rail cars, busses, or subways is an effective and relatively cheap way to travel. During our time in Europe, we often took advantage of the public transportation systems as it was the only way to view multiple parts of a particular city within a given day. If I where to live in a city the size of Amsterdam, Paris, or Berlin, I could see myself using bike and subways to move around the city. It seems that the use of a car solely within the city does not make any sense from an economic standpoint or environmental standpoint.
This trip to Europe was fantastic, and I probably will never again go on a trip with this much adventure and exploration. Professor Brouwer and Professor Plaisier certainly put together a trip of a lifetime. I am very grateful for this opportunity and will never forget this trip.