Updated: Jan 21
It is happening. I have been away for too long! I can barely remember what some of these American things are. I have been in Denmark now for about five months and I am really starting to miss some American novelties. If you come to visit, I may or may not have a long list of items I will need you to bring.
I never knew how much patriotism I had until people here start asking me questions about the USA. Back home, we take a lot of things for granted. America - the land of the free, home of the brave, and second to none when it comes to customer service. My God, I miss good customer service.
The first five months here have been full of ups and downs. Some days I love it here, other days I hate it. But I have been told that is natural when moving to a new country. Eventually, it is supposed to teeter out and the highs won’t be so high and the lows won’t be so low.
For my fellow Americans back home, do not take these things for granted. Some seem like a given, but life in Europe is very different.
47 Things Americans Take for Granted
1. Cheap cars
The average cost of a compact car here is $60,000 USD. That’s right. A nothing special, cardboard box without AWD. And forget that cost, the registration can be as high as $18,000.
2. Mexican food
I mean it is nonexistent here. Not one tamale for 3000 miles.
3. Food is relatively cheap
I’m serious. Stop complaining. You can’t get away from a restaurant here without dropping $76 USD
What is Amazon? I’ve actually been asked that question here in Denmark. Bless their hearts, they don’t know the true happiness that comes with next day shipping.
5. Constructive criticism
Here is what you did well and here is what you need to work on. Next time your boss tells you that, thank them. Europeans don’t bullshit, they are straight forward.
6. Good customer service
I have yet to walk into a store and hear this greeting, “thanks for coming in, how can I help you today?” Not one time.
So you want your nails done? Make sure to call in advance. They likely have an opening 6 weeks from tomorrow. And you’ll have to pay $85 for it.
Oh, you mean American football?
9. Gasoline is actually cheap
You think $2.83 is bad? Try $5.93/gallon.
10. Ice in your cup
If you like cold drinks, sit outside.
11. Drinking fountains
I will never understand why there are no drinking fountains in my workout facility. Everyone fills up water bottles in the bathroom sink, ick.
12. Personal space
Americans in general prefer more personal space. But here, if there are tons of open seats, it’s likely that someone will pick the seat right next to you.
13. Wide-open spaces
I love this song by the Dixie Chicks. But yes, dirt roads, open fields and horizons that stretch hundreds of miles.
Me: hello can you point me to the salad dressing aisle? Him: sure *hands me a bottle of cream fresh dressing* me: oh yes, but where are the rest? Him: that is it…
In November the sun never came out… It hid behind the clouds from 9AM-3PM.
Where are my good ol’ Texas boys at? Let me tell you where they aren’t… There are grown men who race me to the door every day in this town, just to push past me… *facepalm*
17. Classic American breakfast
Mmm pancakes, Denver omelets, greek yogurt, bottomless mimosas and real bacon! It is so hard to find good American brunch places here. Pastries only get you so far...
18. Free water
Excuse me, but why did you charge me $5 for tap water?
And no. Curry doesn’t count. What I wouldn’t give for some New Mexico green chili…
20. The way the phone rings
It’s not ring ring ring… here it’s beep beep beep…
21. Clorox wipes
Next time you see the giant pack at Walmart for $10 count your blessings. They don’t exist here.
22. College sports
One of the many reasons I love March. Life without college basketball is so weird…
23. Buying in bulk
Only take what you can carry. We go to the grocery store 4x per week, just like everyone else here… it seems so inefficient.
Who invented this? And why didn’t you bring it to Europe? I have a bone to pick with you.
I could cry… I can’t even talk about this one.
26. Peanut butter
The one thing all ex-pats complain about.. the nut butters. They are not the same…
27. Measuring cups
I mean… aren't all the good recipes written using cups and tbsps? What the heck is g and ml??
28. Garbage disposals
Well… at least goldfish are safe.
It is all too common here to hang dry clothes. Thank your lucky stars for those fluffy cotton socks you have on.
30. Multiple cars
What a dream world. I can’t even imagine a world in which Rasmus and I would live in Europe and each have our own cars. We would have to be ballin’.
I mean, I can’t say I’m thankful a mountain lion ate my horse, back in New Mexico. But it does make for a good story.
Church? I thought that was only for Christmas eve…
33. Thin mints
In what kind of world do thin mints not exist?
34. Large servings
If I get one more miniature coffee served to me, so help me….F$^&# ^@(&!#
People think I’m insane when I say my family has guns… like multiple. Haaallo. What are we supposed to do about the bears? And sweet Pete, you haven’t lived until you’ve shot some skeet.
Well. It does exist in the EU. Just not in Denmark. What is life?
37. Friendly strangers
People do not acknowledge strangers here. Period. No smiles, no “good morning,” no “excuse me.”
My first Danish paycheck just came in... and it was taxed 60%. Sixty percent came right off the top. Excuse me while I go cry.
39. 24/7 stores
Next time you take a dark chocolate run at 1 AM, think of me.
40. What the hell is a kilometer?
Them: 0.6 miles. Me: ugh. You would. Europeans know every conversion.
41. Return policies
Same vein as customer service. You can’t return it unless you are still in the store.
42. Wearing sweats in public
Just don’t. It’s social suicide. Unless they are covered by a giant peacoat, then you're fine.
43. Window screens
Which politician is Europe boycotting? It seems like such a logical, useful tool…
44. National parks
Yes, I miss Smokey the Bear. Also, what is camping? People sleep outside? For fun? I don't understand.
Cheap name brand clothes… how novel. The clothes here are 10x as expensive.
46. Yummy fast food
I am starting to dream about Panera and Chipotle.
47. Dietary restrictions
Yeah, you just enjoy your gluten-free muffin, egg white omelet, and almond milk latte. I’m pretty sure 90% of people here don’t know what gluten-free means.
Wow. That felt good to get out! All jokes aside, I am still adjusting, clearly. I miss all the things that are comfortable and safe. I am an outgoing, go-getter type. But change still is hard, no matter who you are or what you are doing. Rasmus and I are just starting to enjoy grocery shopping, and I’m starting to find products here that I love.
Moving to a new country is so much harder than it sounds. Luckily for me, Rasmus is very sympathetic. He has moved countries many times before, and he knew it wasn’t going to be all rainbows and cupcakes. So when I had a meltdown at the end of December, he was ready.
But this is what life is all about—getting out of your comfort zone, being wrong, trying something that scares you, crying, failing. I love this quote,
"You have to know fear to know fearlessness. You have to know absence to know presence. And you have to know pain to know happiness," -unknown.
This is not easy, but it is the complications that make the ride beautiful.