Stereotypes that Europeans Live Up To

Everyone hates stereo types, even Americans, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. Before making my first trip over the big pond, the only thing I could do was believe the stereotypes of different countries because that was all I knew. Much to my dismay, they aren’t always right… shocking, I know. However, of course, sometimes they are true, and it just becomes something to laugh about with new friends I make. Therefore, I decided it was only necessary to talk about what I have observed with the people I have met!

***disclaimer: these are just observations of people I have met and gotten to know, take all of this with a grain of salt***

Americans love to party.

First, we will start with the American stereotype. As I did my research for this post, I asked all the people I have met what their stereotype for Americans was. The resounding answer was that we love to party, which I can’t say isn’t true. Just as every other stereotype, there are people who don’t match this description, but let me just leave it at this – New Years’ Eve, Mardi Gras, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

Germans love beer.

This was quite comedic to me because where I am from in Northern Kentucky, we are just a bunch of German Catholics who love to drink beer and have beer fests (in Cincinnati). Of the plethora of German friends I have made and seen in my apartment, I always see them with bottles in their hands in the common room. I even took a trip to Hamburg, Germany, and the case was the same there too!

English love fish and chips and tea time.

When I asked my friends (yes, more than one!) about fish and chips in England, they said that it’s mostly eaten by the beach, and restaurants that make them are found everywhere. Also, they verified that tea time is in fact a real thing every afternoon… wonder if they have drunk with the Queen too?

French are very lax.

Of the stereotypes, this is the one that drives me crazy the most. Before coming, I had heard that French people aren’t very time sensitive and are very chill, but I truly did not understand until I lived in France. Waiters at restaurants take hours before they even take an order. French professors take days to respond. Many students come into class 30 minutes late and think nothing of it. However, this has given me a new perspective because I am so used to the quick lifestyle of America!

Fins are attractive and fit.

Being such a small populated country to enter the Olympics, it’s crazy that they made it in the top 10 countries in all of the world! And the Finnish people I have met don’t shy from the stereotype of being fit – they work out every day and participate in many sports, from cycling to rowing! Additionally, many models worldwide come from Scandinavian countries, and maybe I’m biased, but the Fins I have met are model perfect.

Canadians are nice and polite

Now everyone knows this one… I feel like if I asked anyone in America what their stereotype of Canadians is, they would agree that they are “nice and polite.” I mean, “Sorry, eh?” Now does this stereotype come from personalities of a majority of Canadians, or are they truly just all very polite and kind?

Kiwis are relaxed

As with people from Australia (which I can’t attest to as I haven’t met anyone from Australia), I get the vibe that New Zealanders surf all day and chill all night, maybe with a little bit of rugby thrown in the mix. And the Kiwi that I have met is proof of this stereotype! As someone who worries about every little thing, it is a breath of fresh air to have someone who is just so relaxed, chill, and calm about everything life throws at him.

Obviously, there are many more countries with many more stereotypes, but I wanted to report on the people I’ve met and their own opinions of the stereotypes of their home country! It’s always a fun time when we live up to the stereotypes and expectations of other people, but even funnier when we don’t! Stay tuned for a report on that 😉

My Favorite Experiences (Harry Potter)

As I’ve been studying in London, I have been able to just live the dream in regard to anything Harry Potter. London is of course the perfect city for anything related to the books and films, and I’ve been lucky to experience essentially everything it has to offer.

If you like Harry Potter, London is 100% the place for you, and here’s why:

1. The Warner Brother’s Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter: This is the tour of all of the sets, costumes, props, etc. from the Harry Potter films! It is absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to go 4 different times since I’ve been here, and two of the times were for themed dinners in the set of the Great Hall (which was probably the coolest thing I have ever done)! Once you get there, you get to see everything from the films from the set of the Gryffindor Common Room, to the kitchen of The Burrow to the amazing costumes for the Yule Ball. I would definitely recommend going near Christmas because the Great Hall is an absolute dream and is breathtaking all decorated in silver.

2. The Premiere of Fantastic Beasts: This was of course not a constant event in London, but it was one I was lucky enough to go to! I got up at 4am to get in line for a free ticket to attend the premiere, and I was able to meet tons of members of the cast! I got autographs from almost everyone in the newest film, plus Jason Isaacs! Unfortunately I missed out on meeting JK Rowling, but I did get to see her, which was still so cool, and I was there to hear her speak about the film. If you happen to be in London when the next installment of the Fantastic Beasts films come out, I would absolutely say you should go!

3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the play written with JK Rowling following Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults tackling parenthood. The play focuses on one of Harry’s sons as well and how he deals with having Harry as a father. It is honestly amazing. I read the screenplay before going, and I wasn’t a fan, but it really is something that just works on stage. The magic they are able to do right in front of you is unbelievable. If you’re in London for an extended period of time, you should enter the Friday Forty, which is a weekly lottery for some of the best seats for only 40 Pounds (the play is two parts, so 20 pounds per part). I was crazy lucky and won the lottery 5 different times between October 2018 – March 2019. I gave the tickets away to some friends one of the times, but I went the other 4 times because it is really just that good.

4. Harry Potter Walking Tour: This is really cool and is a nice way to walk around London on a fun tour. I would recommend going near the beginning of your time in London, so you can see a good amount of the city right off the bat! You walk to a ton of different places including streets used as inspirations for the films. It’s also inexpensive.

5. Oxford: Oxford is a bit away from London, but is definitely worth a trip! Some of the scenes in the first film were shot here, and it’s really cool to see in person. They have a Harry Potter tour here as well.

6. House of MinaLima: Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima did all of the graphic design for the Harry Potter films such as the front pages of the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler. They have an exhibition of the different pieces they created for the films that is free to see and very cool.

7. Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station: At King’s Cross Station there is a real life Platform 9 3/4! You can take a fun picture that looks like you’re going through the platform as well as go in an amazing shop with lots of cool merchandise. I live only 10 minutes away from King’s Cross, so I’ve been a ton of times, and it’s always fun.

London has been beyond perfect for someone who loves Harry Potter, and I’m so happy I got to see/do everything that I did. Not on the list, I also met the illustrator of the illustrated versions of the books, Jim Kay, on Harry Potter Book Night. This was also an incredible experience, and if you keep an eye out for any HP announcements regarding London, you’ll be sure to find amazing events like that!

Sacrificing Travel

I was fortunate to be able to study abroad for a full 9 months instead of just one semester, which allowed me to be a bit more relaxed about my travel. For instance, I have been able to see and do a ton of different things around my city (London) instead of trying to travel around Europe most weekends. I’ve been able to see 5 different plays/musicals on the West End, do seriously every tourist attraction possible, and just enjoy the city that I’m living in.

Of course, I also travelled around Europe, but lately I’ve been reflecting on choosing to sacrifice travel in order to study, which has been difficult to do. Before I left the US for London, I made a list of cities/countries that I absolutely wanted to see. I’ve been able to see most, plus a couple I wan’t planning on as I met friends who live across Europe, but I did not hit all of them. Specifically, I was very set on going to Germany, Austria and Poland, and my family originates from these areas of Europe. I had originally planned on using the next few weeks to hit the remaining places on my list, but ultimately I’ve had to decide to stay in the UK.

For anyone who may not know, the exam system here is very different. I took 4 year-long courses with no exams and very little coursework throughout the two terms. However, my final exams are each 3 hours long and 100% of my final grade. We have a full month off from classes before exams begin to study, and originally I thought that would be plenty of time to travel as well, but man I was wrong.

It has been difficult to sit back in London and study every day while I see others choose to travel during their final weeks, but I think ultimately I needed to remember that this is study abroad, and I can’t forget about my classes and grades. I’ve been able to see some absolutely amazing places, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to travel and study, even it meant sacrificing some places on my list at the end.

An Icelandic Itinerary

In planning for traveling across Europe, I had put together a list of places I’d like to visit in my time here. Iceland was on that list, but given its geographic location and the overall cost to travel there, I figured it was probably not a place I’d get to visit this time around.

Fortunately, a little bit of spontaneity spurred the decision to spend my spring break there. I’m lucky I decided to go when I did. I was able to find a cheap flight to Reykjavik with WOW Airlines. With their recent shuttering, I’d have a lot more trouble finding a cheap flight.

I spent 7 days traveling all over the southern half of Iceland. I’m lucky I went with a Spanish and Finnish friend from my program, because they decided to rent a car when we got there. That made travel incredibly easy, and there’s no way I would’ve been able to see anything other than Reykjavik if I’d gone alone.

One of the best things about Iceland is all of the hidden gems. I’m normally not the type to travel without solidified plans. I used to love knowing what each day would hold ahead of time, but being in Europe has helped me realize that flexibility when traveling can make your experience much more enjoyable. My friends and I only booked hotels or hostels for three of the six nights we were there ahead of time, and had we booked all six in advance, there’s no way I would’ve been able to see some of the hidden gems there. Whether it’s Olafsvik near the Snaefellsness National Park on the West Coast, or Hof near Vatnajokull National Park, there are all sorts of wonderful towns to enjoy.

I would highly recommend a visit to Blue Lagoon. It’s somewhat expensive, but I found it was worth every penny. It was one of the most relaxing experience of my life. The crystal blue hue of the hot spring was breathtaking.

Geysir, Glacier Lagoon, Reynisfjara, and the Golden Circle are all within a day’s drive from Reykjavik, and are can’t miss spots if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the Icelandic landscape. Iceland exceeded every expectation I had for it, and I found it to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.