1. In Europe "The Customer is Always Wrong". What blows my mind is that the smaller the business, the more they subscribe to this attitude. You would think that with everyone whining about the poor state of the economy, stagnant incomes, skyrocketing inflation, etc that small businesses would go out of their way to satisfy and thereby keep their customers... but no. Here its all about giving the evil eye and the grumpiest service to anyone who walks in the door, and knife-fights-to-the-death over returns or warranty claims. I never thought I'd say this but I really miss Wal-Mart.
2. Stores charge you for free 'Bonuses'. Manufacturers throw out bonus items/larger size bottles/free samples, etc intended as a free buying incentive for customers. Here they mark that $#!% up as if the manufacturer intended it as a bonus for the retailer. Your booze manufacturer toss in a little 50ml free sample with your bottle of vodka? Expect to pay more. Your 400ml bottle of shampoo come with a '100ml bonus'? Expect to pay 25% more for it now. Its the most $#@%ed up thing I've ever seen, but I guess it ties in with #1.
3. People will steal ANYTHING. Someone stole my half-dead plants and doormat from outside of my door. Who the hell steals a doormat? (It wasn't even a fancy one)
Violent crime seems much lower than in NA, but property crime, scamming and thievery are at levels the average NA can't even begin to comprehend. At this point I honestly can't say which is worse: a 0.1% lifetime chance of being murdered or raped (or some combination of the two), or a 99.9% chance of encountering some form of swindle, pickpocketing, theft, counterfeiting, vandalism or fraud every goddamn day.
4. Every country is so close, yet you hardly go anywhere because gas prices and tolls are outrageous. Americans are in an uproar because gas prices have climbed over $3/gallon. Paying over $8/gallon is an everyday reality here for years. On top of that, just about everywhere you go dings you for freeway tolls. My last 2000km road trip cost me $350 in gas and $150 in tolls. Keep in mind that anyone east of Germany is making one half to a tenth of what you're making in NA and you can start to understand why people here think a 100km drive is a significant 'road trip'.
5. About the only food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg is bread (which is dirt cheap -- I guess this is why the baked goods section of every store is under constant stampede, and bread consumption and diabetes here is through the roof). Just about everything else is significantly more expensive than in North America despite the average household having a lower income. I'm not talking about non-euro stuff that we're used to eating, like peanut butter, but simple staples like meat, cheese, fruits, etc.
I can somewhat understand how small countries cant compete with the low price of Canadian beef for example -- but why does a can of cheap generic flake light tuna cost over $3 when you can buy 4 cans for that much overseas? Beef sirloin, which was a staple of my diet in Canada, is so ridiculously expensive here that its a luxury item. I've switched to buying a generic ground 'beef and pork' blend and just try not to think about wtf is in it or how much horse meat I'm consuming.
6. Banks here are doing YOU a favor. I'm used to a bank appreciating the fact that I'm depositing my money into their vault for them to play with. Here it doesn't matter how much money you deposit, you are going to get nickle and dimed on every little transaction. Web banking has FEES here.... so I figure wth, I'll just go in and deposit my money at the teller: the teller fees are TRIPLE what the web banking fees are. You pay for statements, withdrawals, deposits, and have to pay a monthly fee just to hold an ATM card. You pay another fee if you want a bank card with 'raised lettering' that you can use in another country. I tell people here that in the US banks have offered free tablets, netbooks, etc to attract customers and they think I'm joking.
7. Nationalism sucks. In the US melting pot no-one really cares where your family came from as long as you at least make some halfassed attempt to conform to the American lifestyle and don't start flying US flags upside down or burning them in your yard. In Canada, with no deep culture of its own to speak of, multiculturalism is considered cool and nearly every large city has its little community of every culture imaginable.
In contrast, here nationalism abounds -- with just about everyone spouting off about how their country/culture/history is the best, has been held back/oppressed/persecuted/polluted by/had their jobs stolen by _______(insert pet loathed culture here). Many of these hatreds go back to the world wars or even further. I have news for you: your current Russian, German, French, English, etc youth doesn't give a flying fuck about WWII (much less WWI) and had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to your grandfather or your family business/property in the 40's any more than the average white or black North American youth of today had anything to do with slavery. Shut the fuck up about it already.
8. Europeans can't cook bacon properly. Its an absolute tragedy. Tip: bacon takes longer than 4 seconds to cook.
9. Europeans put ketchup on top of pizza. I'm at a loss for words about this.
10. YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR KETCHUP AT MCDONALDS AND BURGER KING??!! You spend over $10 on a meal and then they ask you if you want to purchase ketchup packets for your fries for fifty cents each. WTF? Its not even about the 50 cents but the principle.
You also have to pay to use the bathroom unless you have a receipt.
I do still love it here -- but if you hear someone with a Canadian accent ranting and cursing about ketchup at a McDonalds register that might be me
Some people seem to be taking this the wrong way: I'm not 'dissing' the EU, I'm actually pointing out some day-to-day things we take for granted in North America. Like much lower gas prices, no questions asked money-back guarantees, free shipping, lower taxes, lower food prices, free ketchup at McDonalds, etc.
...although I am making fun of Europeans for putting ketchup on pizza