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quote freya starkPeople often talk about cultural differences between western and eastern countries. Indeed, the way of thinking, traditions, religious customs, living conditions, and so on in these countries are way different from one another; however, how about the western world itself? Surprisingly, a closer look at it can reveal a multitude of curious details regarding the way people of, for example, Europe and North America speak, behave, and communicate in general. In fact, the differences between Europeans and Americans are so numerous that one could write a book about it.

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Perhaps, the most obvious trait of the majority of Americans is that they smile a lot. It does not matter whether they have a strong reason to smile, they do it. A smile is not just a powerful marketing tool, helping vendors sell more goods or attract customers; for an American, it is also a way to show that someone is friendly, that life in general is fine, and that a person is glad to see you when meeting you. Europeans, on the contrary, prefer to keep a more neutral facial expression. They smile mostly when they are in a good mood, or feel amused, and so on; however, if there is no strong reason to smile, a European’s face will remain neutral, or even dull. This especially refers to eastern European people; in Russia, for example, there is a proverb saying that “laughing for no reason is a sign of a fool.” Still, it does not mean that Europeans are grim, or that they do not have a sense of humor. The same refers to communication in general. Americans are extremely communicative; small talk and chats are common. Europeans talk mostly when there is something to say, and rarely enter communication just for the sake of talking to other people.

The next big difference is political correctness. America does a great job by making so many ethnic and religious groups of people live together peacefully, and political correctness is a big helping hand in this. However, there is a downside: you have to pay attention to what you say all the time, because an average American is rather easy to insult. Even a friend’s constructive criticism may be perceived as an intrusion or an insult. American people prefer to express what they think carefully, considering how it might affect surrounding people. Europeans, although being quite politically correct as well, are more straightforward, even with unfamiliar people. A European friend will almost always express their opinion on different occasions, and will not hesitate to remind you that you need to lose some weight, dump your partner, or take a shower.

Americans are a nation of great contrasts. Perhaps only in America you can find incredibly open-minded and flexible people who can easily embrace everything new, incorporate it in their lives, and enjoy it; in this country, you can find religious fanatics that still believe in the manifest destiny. Europeans are moderately conservative; although they do not strongly oppose new ideas and can tolerate many novelties, they are mostly people adhering to older ways and traditions. There are many religious people in Europe (as well as atheists) but unlike Americans, they do not manifest their spiritual orientation as often.

Although Europe and America are parts of the western world, people inhabiting them are different in a lot of ways. Generally, it can be said that Americans are people of contrasts. They are open-minded, flexible, and ready to embrace everything new; but at the same time, American society manages to breed incredible conservatives and religious fanatics. Europeans, compared to Americans, are more moderate. Furthermore, Americans smile a lot—sometimes simply because of etiquette; Europeans mostly smile for a reason, and if there is none, they prefer to keep a neutral facial expression. Americans are extremely politically correct; in the majority of cases, it is indeed a beneficiary practice, but it can also mess up daily or even intimate communications, sometimes preventing having close relationships; Europeans, on the contrary, are more straightforward, preferring to tell the truth in direct (although maybe not pleasant) ways. Each way of communication is different—neither is correct or incorrect.

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