Spending over a month now in another country has proven the American stereotype to be true. Fat and lazy – speaking for the whole obviously. Europeans do things completely different and it’s so fascinating to get to see. So, as my experiences have taught me, allow me to show you a little bit of what I’m talking about.
6:00 a.m. – My alarm goes off. Groaning, I roll over, hit snooze, grab my phone and retreat back under the covers. Nestled here, I aimlessly scroll through my various social media accounts until the alarm rings once again.
6:20 a.m. – Finally, after I gather up the energy, I roll out of bed and stumble into the shower. I stand in the warm water for as long as possible, still not completely awake.
7:20 a.m. – After dressing myself in Nike shorts I wore yesterday and a t-shirt, I hop into my silver Honda and try to decide which fast food breakfast to choose from this morning; my options are limitless. Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Taco Cabana, Whataburger, Shipley’s, and so many other deliciously greasy options – all within a mile from my house and campus.
7:25 a.m. – I remain in my car as I pull through the drive-thru to order a McMuffin – roughly the size of my hand, a greasy hash brown and orange juice. Well, it’s fruit juice at least.
7:35 a.m. – As I drive onto campus, I consider my options for parking. My 8 a.m. class is in the Castellaw building, so I attempt to find a parking spot as close as possible to the entrance.
7:45 a.m. – After driving through all of the parking lots near by, I decide I’m just going to have to park on the top floor of the parking garage and walk to class. Ugh. I haul my backpack out of the back seat and descend the elevator four floors and trek the 200 feet to my class.
8:00 a.m. – Out of breath, I take my seat where I will remain for the next 75 minutes. I might as well crack open this bag of Cheetos to kill some time.
9:15 a.m. – Class is over and I can’t stop thinking about getting in my car and driving to pick up lunch before work; but I still have two more classes to walk to before that even becomes an option.
12:05 p.m. – The time has come and I am starving for the Chick-fil-A I’ve been thinking about all morning. I hop in my car and go through the drive-thru once again.
12:15 p.m. – As I carry my bag of well-done French fries and the freshly made Chick-fil-A sandwich into Robinson Tower, I debate on taking the elevator or stairs up to the seventh floor. After a few seconds of trying to decide, I realize there is only one option that makes the most sense since my hands are full after all. Elevator it is. I ride all the way up to the seventh floor of Robinson Tower, sit down at my desk while I work and eat my lunch at the exact same time. Here in this very same desk I will sit until 5 p.m. when it is time to rush to my next responsibility.
7:00 a.m. – My alarm goes off and I’ve decided I won’t let social media consume me any longer. This isn’t the first thing I will check in the morning nor will it be the last thing I check at night. Rather I rest in bed just a little longer, trying to build up the endurance I need to get out of bed and into the shower.
7:15 a.m. – I am up and in the shower. I proceed with my usual routine and get ready for the day. Breakfast is a little different though. I make a small bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh fruit. After eating, I begin getting dressed and putting the things I will need for the entire day in my backpack.
9:30 a.m. – The time has gone so quickly and it’s time to leave the apartment to make it to our first class of the day. We walk down to the bus stop just around the corner from where we are staying in the city center and look at the sign to see how much longer until it arrives. Thankfully it only says three minutes away.
9:33 a.m. – The bus arrives and takes us promptly to our class at Corvinus University located at a beautiful spot on the Danube River here in Budapest.
9:50 a.m. – We are all here waiting for one of the Hungarian professors to begin their long-winded lecture for the morning session. It is hard for any of us to make it through since we are all so used to short 50-minute lecture and even those are hard to endure sometimes.
12:00 p.m. – The lecture is finally over and we are all hungry for lunch. We walk over to the nearest restaurant for our two-hour lunch break so we can be “quick”. After we find a place that looks decent, we sit, order and wait to be served.
12:45 p.m. – At this point, we have obviously devoured our meal and now have to impatiently wait for the check. After a few minutes, no one has even come our way. We flag down our waiter and ask if he can bring the check as soon as he “gets a chance” but really we mean now.
12:55 p.m. – As we sit and wait for the check, we notice that no one else is rushing through their meals. And they are definitely not in any hurry to get their checks and head back to any destination. We look at our watches only to realize how much time we have left in this lunch break and decide to just sit and enjoy each other’s company.
1:45 p.m. – We walk back to the university and prepare for our last two-hour lecture of the day.
4:00 p.m. – Class is over and we all walk over to the market where we will buy a few things to eat for the coming days. Meat, fruits and veggies – they have it all. As we walk through, we are trying to figure out what the words say and what the different meats are. We can’t buy in bulk either because their refrigerators are so small and their produce is so fresh that it goes back quicker than the processed stuff we eat that can last two weeks.
American and Hungarian cultures obviously have many differences, but why?
Why do Americans feel the need to rush through every moment instead of just taking time to enjoy?
I think lifestyle makes us the fat, lazy, stereotypical Americans everyone sees us as. We watch documentaries in school and TV shows about people being overweight, yet that still isn’t enough to make us stop and change the way we live our day-to-day lives.
After a few days of walking literally everywhere, we were all exhausted and our feet quickly began failing us. We weren’t used to this kind of exercise or the long use of our God-given “walking machines”. When we want a “quick” meal, we know there is no such thing here. Time is valued here, where in America we believe there aren’t enough hours in the day and we feel the need to rush through any and everything. We feel entitled to time when in reality it could all be taken away in an instant.
We have an idea of these health- and time-management issues in America but you don’t really understand until you live it outside the country. Once you experience the people and the culture, you understand the real definition of “why”. The types of transportation we use and the foods we eat are on opposite sides of the spectrum and play a large role in the obesity problem in America. The greatest example of this is Americans going out to eat to catch up or for social hour with family and friends. In Hungary specifically, people stay to themselves and aren’t big “socializers”.
Just traveling and observing has been the biggest lesson of all. Walking the streets in these European countries, you do not see fat people. Portion sizes are smaller, food is higher quality and not as modified, if at all. Everyone walks everywhere. This type of living has molded these people by teaching them to live tougher, more durable lives. I am envious of their simplistic style of living and I am sad for America seeing how we can’t get ourselves under control in any of these areas.
So here’s a big “Congratulations” to Europe for doing a good job of a proper way of living.