Life in another country is, as you would expect, different from living in the U.S. While there is the obvious language barrier, the cultural differences are often even more confusing for people living in a foreign nation. One of the things that I’ve noticed is different from the United States, or at least Orange City, Iowa, are the ways that people have fun.
In the US, people tend to stay inside. Friends will get together at somebody’s house or dorm room and watch a movie or play a board game. Eventually, somebody will look at the clock, see that it’s two in the morning and suddenly everyone realizes that they are tired.
Northwestern alumnus Ellen Schuch, who recently moved to Spain to teach English, mentioned that the way she spends her free time in Spain is significantly different from how she does so in either Orange City or her hometown, Kansas City. When she spends time with her friends in Spain, they go out into the city.
In Europe, everybody leaves their homes when they want to socialize. Apartments are much smaller than those in America, and having a large group of people over simply would not be practical. On weekend nights, the city streets will be filled with people of all ages, although the larger groups seem to be primarily teenagers. Europeans also tend to stay out much later. They will leave their homes around midnight and then stay out until the next morning. It’s not unusual for people to decide to call it quits and head home around 7:00 a.m.
The time they spend outside consists of two main things: socializing and drinking. Alcohol does not have the same negative connotations in Europe as it does in the States. People do not generally drink with the intention of getting drunk. In fact, at the end of the night, a good portion of the people are mostly sober, despite having drunk alcohol the entire night. Groups of friends will spend the entire night wandering the city streets from bar to bar, possibly stopping at the occassional dance club.
However, despite these differerences, both Europe and the United Statese still have the same basic goals in mind: to build relationships with those around them. People have an inherent desire to reach out and let others know that they exist. Whether they choose to do so by wandering the inner city or sitting on a couch playing Halo, it all really comes down to being able to interact with other human beings. It’s safe to say that’s something that is common among all cultures of the world.