European Culture Shocks

So you have decided to move to the old continent. That’s great! No matter what your moving reasons are, we are positive that you will enjoy your new life in Europe. Now, you may have already hired international movers NY and started your relocation process. However, there are a few things you should learn about Europe before you start living there. Of course, over time, you will slowly assimilate and get used to the new way of life. But it is always useful to be at least somewhat prepared for those most common European culture shocks. Undoubtedly, you will experience at least some!

What are European culture shocks?

First things first, let’s clarify what culture shocks really are. If you have never traveled abroad, then you may not know that they exist. On the other hand, if you have spent at least a few weeks in another country, you may have noticed its differences. We’re not talking about the obvious here, such as the exterior, language or people. We are actually talking about habits, lifestyles, and attitudes that the country’s residents exhibit. Even though America and Europe may be similar in a few aspects, there are quite a lot of situations where this isn’t the case. So, for an American visiting (or in this case, relocating) to Europe, it might be difficult.

The four stages of  a culture shock

Amidst the preparation for your long-distance move, this cultural aspect is something you shouldn’t overlook. Culture shocks don’t just come and go when you’re planning to live in the new country. Surely, when you’re only visiting, you’re highly likely to forget about most things after a few months back home. After all, it didn’t affect you as much. However, when you relocate to a completely new environment, there are a few basic stages of culture shock you will go through.

  • The Honeymoon Phase – everything is new, exciting and great! You notice only the good things about the new culture.
  • Rejection Phase – after a few months, the reality becomes overwhelming. You might feel misunderstood and out of place.
  • Regression Phase – you start to see only the negatives. The new culture is no longer interesting and you start to seek out only people who are similar to you.
  • Recovery Phase – if you live in a place long enough, after about a year you will go through the recovery phase. You will learn that things are simply different, and will accept and respect at least some aspects of the new culture. Still, you will learn to cherish what you left behind.

    European culture shocks can make you feel depressed.
    There will come a time where you will feel sad about moving abroad. However, all that shall pass and you will soon get used to the new way of life!

Examples of a few European culture shocks

Of course, each person is their own individual and they will react to change in a different way. Although European culture shocks will affect everyone differently, there are a few things everyone (or almost everyone) agrees on. Moving out of NYC to any European country will be a challenge. Nevertheless, it will be one worth taking. It’s important to remember that each country is unique in its own way and that not all of these culture shocks can be universally applied.

Food and drink in Europe is not like in America

Almost every American that came to Europe praises its cuisine. Each country has its own specialties and they are proud of it. If you ever befriend a local, make sure to ask them to show you all the hidden restaurants and bars. Unlike in the States, you will see people freely drinking alcohol in the streets. Speaking of drinks, drink sizes are much different compared to the US ones. They don’t serve coffee in large to-go cups, but rather in small ceramic teacups. On the other hand, beer sizes are larger! On the whole, the drinking culture differs in many ways from the one abroad. Unfortunately, there are rarely any free refills in restaurants or free packets of condiments. When it comes to street food, kebabs and gyros are the most common and popular ones.

Various street food in Europe
One of the positive European culture shocks is the food. It’s just so delicious!

The smoking culture in Europe

Many Americans say that this might just be the biggest shock they experience when they come to live in Europe. While only 1 in 5 Americans still smoke, cigarette smoking is still going strong across the pond. Not to worry, there are still designated smoking and non-smoking areas, but seeing cigarettes in almost every market isn’t uncommon. E-cigarettes are slowly rising in popularity, but there are still a lot of smokers. If you go to Greece, for example, you will see that almost 32% percent of adults are smoking cigarettes on a daily basis!

Close up of a cigarette burning
Unfortunately, the tobacco culture is still popular all over Europe.

Grocery store situation

Whilst there is a supermarket on almost every corner, there are usually smaller than a regular American grocery store chain like Target or Walmart. There are more specialized stores. For instance, if you want shampoo, you would go to a body care store. Need plates? Visit a kitchenware store. Another little difference many Americans notice is the lack of bottled water in stores. In most European countries, people drink regular tap water. Therefore, they rarely buy plastic bottles, which contributes to their eco-friendliness. They also do not have plastic bags in stores! You are expected to bring your own reusable bag for groceries.

Experiencing European culture shocks should be expected

Apart from the things mentioned above, there are plenty more differences you will encounter in Europe. Lots of history, afternoon naps, a slower way of living, the dreaded metric system are just a few more. Public transportation works in a different way, and there are trains all around! The apartments and houses are much smaller than in the States! Because of this, you may end up thinking about storage NYC before your move. All of this information should worry you. In fact, it should make you more excited about your upcoming relocation! Fortunately, the internet is full of videos, articles and authentic experiences. In this way, you can properly prepare yourself for European culture shocks. Finally, as the French say, au revoir et bon voyage! (Goodbye and safe travels!)