20 Everyday European Things That Are Luxuries in America

Ephraim Obare
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Welcome, my dear transatlantic friends, to the land of understated luxuries! Yes, we’re talking about Europe, where everyday things somehow transform into extravagant experiences when seen from an American perspective. Curious?

Well, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a delightful journey through 20 seemingly mundane European staples that are, in fact, quite the luxuries across the pond in America. So, grab a cup of what Europeans call ‘real’ coffee, sit back, and prepare to have your mind luxuriously blown. Let the tour commence!

Vacation Time

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A month off? For most Americans, that’s a pipe dream. In many European countries, it’s the norm. While the US still lags in offering paid vacation time, France and Spain boast an impressive 30-plus days of leave each year for their citizens.

And if you think thirty days is a long time to be away from work, consider this: Denmark gives its workers five weeks off (35 days). Some countries, like Sweden, even offer more than 40 days!

Work-Life Balance

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Another cultural difference between Europe and the US is the attitude towards work-life balance. Europeans understand that life isn’t all about work and set aside time for their family, friends, hobbies, and other interests. They don’t view leisure activities as a luxury; they value them as a necessity.

In contrast, many American workers feel pressure to be constantly working. Companies that prioritize work-life balance are the exception, not the norm.

Rock-Solid Consumer Protection Laws

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Strong consumer protection laws protect Europeans. These laws are designed to protect citizens from unfair and exploitative business practices. In addition, they guarantee rights such as the right to return a product for a refund or exchange within a certain period. In many European countries, this is 30 days after purchase.

In the US, however, these consumer protections are not as strong. Companies often get away with misleading or deceptive practices, leaving customers with little to no recourse.

Privacy

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Europeans also benefit from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive set of rules to protect citizens’ data. In particular, it guarantees that companies must inform customers about how their data is used and what rights they have regarding their data. This is an essential protection for Europeans, giving them control over how their data is handled.

In the US, however, there are no such rules in place. Companies can collect and use customers’ data as they please without even informing them of their activities. This leaves consumers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by companies.

Quality Bread

White Bread
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No offense to Wonder Bread, but European bakeries take bread to a new level. Locally sourced and artisanal ingredients make for a freshly baked loaf you wouldn’t find in the US.

France, Italy, Germany, and other countries have perfected the art of bread baking with loaves like baguettes, focaccias, ciabatta, and more.

Universal Health Care

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Many Europeans have access to quality healthcare without the worry of crippling debt. Most countries have a universal healthcare system funded by taxes.

This means citizens don’t need to purchase expensive private health insurance plans or worry about bills when they become ill. According to a U.S. government website, if you break your leg, you could end up with an account for $7,500. If you need to stay in the hospital for three days, it would cost about $30,000!

Quality Chocolate

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Try finding a Hershey’s bar that can compete with Swiss or Belgian chocolate. Europeans have the highest quality chocolate because they often use premium ingredients and traditional methods.

The result is deliciously rich and creamy bars, truffles, and other confections that satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth.

Siesta Time

Napping at Work
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Particularly in Spain, the afternoon rest is a cherished tradition. After lunchtime, many businesses close so employees can take a break and go home for an hour or two. It’s a practice that could help increase productivity and reduce stress levels.

Paid Maternity Leave

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American mothers can only dream of the paid maternity leave their European counterparts enjoy. In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees up to 12 weeks of leave, but it doesn’t come with a paycheck.

European countries like Germany offer 14 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. This helps mothers stay home longer to bond with their babies without worrying about financial hardship.

Real Farmers Markets

Farmers
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In Europe, farmers’ markets are a treasured tradition. These authentic outdoor markets have existed for centuries and are still popular today. Local farmers bring their freshly harvested produce to sell directly to customers. A European staple is fresh produce, meats, and cheeses at weekly markets.

These traditional markets offer an opportunity for people to get ingredients that haven’t been processed or chemically treated. It is suitable for the environment, helps support local farmers, and can be a more budget-friendly option than shopping at the grocery store.

Good Public Transport

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In many parts of Europe, public transportation is so efficient and ubiquitous that owning a car isn’t necessary. Americans often view this convenience as a luxury. Yet, for Europeans, public transportation provides an efficient way to get around their cities.

This feature of European life primarily demonstrates a commitment to sustainability: getting places without driving and polluting the air. Public transport also promotes social interactions since people tend to converse during commutes.

Soccer Fever

Soccer Fever
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The passion Europeans have for soccer is unparalleled in the States. Europeans see the sport as more than just a game; it’s a way of life. Soccer reflects European culture, expressing national pride and joy that unite people.

The camaraderie between fans is palpable when they come together to support their teams. It’s often said there’s nothing like experiencing a live soccer match in Europe.

Affordable Fast Internet

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Europe offers some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. This allows people to access information quickly and easily, promoting regional collaboration and connectivity.

The fast and affordable Internet also encourages entrepreneurship, opening opportunities for new businesses to develop and succeed.

Good Cheese

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Europe’s selection of cheese makes American supermarkets look like child’s play. Everywhere you go in Europe, there’s a variety of cheese, from creamy Brie to salty Parmesan.

Cheese has become an iconic part of European culture, with many countries having their unique recipes and flavors that make them stand out from the rest.

Long Lunches

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The luxury of time is never more evident than during a languid European lunch. Many Europeans are still lucky enough to have an hour or two lunch break, allowing them to step away from work and relax with friends.

Because meals are typically family-style and shared, these leisurely meals usually involve meaningful conversations about life and relationships. This is something that most Americans don’t get the chance to do due to their busy schedules.

High-Speed Trains

High-Speed Trains
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Travel from country to country in a matter of hours? Yes, please. In Europe, high-speed trains make it possible to traverse vast distances in a short amount of time. Travelers can get from point A to point B quickly and comfortably.

These efficient rail systems connect even the most rural areas with bigger cities and metropolises, making travel much easier and more accessible.

Environmental Awareness

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Europeans are often ahead of the curve, from recycling programs to renewable energy. Citizens, businesses, and governments encourage and embrace sustainable practices.

This environmental awareness is reflected in the way people travel. Trains offer a more sustainable form of transportation that requires much less energy than cars or planes, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s no wonder that Europeans have been advocating for better public transportation networks for decades!

Wine Culture

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In Europe, even a budget bottle of wine can be excellent. Europeans have perfected their wine culture, making wine much more accessible to everyone. The wines are usually made from regional grapes, and the production methods vary between countries.

Europeans appreciate good food and wine but also know the importance of moderating consumption. It’s common to find aperitifs or light beers at meals to encourage responsible drinking habits.

Pedestrian-Friendly Cities

Jaywalking
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Many European cities are designed with pedestrians in mind, making walking an enjoyable and common form of transportation. Most city streets are lined with many sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The narrow roads and cobblestone streets make it easy to explore by foot and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

Food That’s Free From a Boatload of Artificial Additives

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Food additives are a significant problem in many places around the world. In Europe, however, regulations on food additives are stricter, and it is not uncommon for food to be free from preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. This ensures that people can access fresh, natural ingredients they can trust.

The European Union also requires labeling of foods containing certain additives, as well as those that are genetically modified or grown with the use of pesticides. This helps people make informed decisions about what they consume and allows them to enjoy healthier food options.

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Author

  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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