What do you think of Europe? Obviously we are fairly big fans or we wouldn’t be running a whole website on the subject, but what kind of person is it who reads these pages? And what is the general consensus on what Europe is like and what Europeans are like?
Of course this is a little bit of a broad set of questions with no right or wrong answer, but trawling the web for a while can help us to coalesce some qualitative data and crowdsource some opinions. Here we will look at what the general consensus is on the continent.
When you talk about ‘Europeans’ or ‘the continent’, often the image that seems to pop into people’s heads is that of a laid back lifestyle sitting in cafes and eating toasties on cobbled streets. You might think of Italian food, of French wine and of German beer gardens; and searching around the web seems to expose these ideas pretty quickly. Meanwhile it seems that people who are not from Europe themselves also tend to focus on the history (searching for Europeans in Google images brings up mostly pictures of famous Europeans from history and famous battles), the apparently clean cities and streets, easy transport and ‘lax laws regarding drugs and prostitution’ (to quote a guy on one forum). And generally it seems that these things are well regarded.
The Gap With Reality
So how accurate is this image? Is it fair to say that Europeans are a cultured bunch with nice towns who like food and wine? Of course it isn’t – and Europe is far too large a continent to really make any sweeping statements about the people. Europe is incredibly different depending on where you visit and it’s divided into so many small countries that there is very little that is true of all of them (and making sweeping statements about any one country is of course folly to begin with).
So where do these ideas come from? Well one place of origin could be the way that Europe is represented on television and in films. Of course in scenes of travel in any film only the best and more traditional aspects of Europe are going to be shown (few movies are filmed in slums). At the same time it’s the traditional and quaint areas of Europe that people are going to visit when they go on their holidays – again no one is going to want to visit the rough neighbourhoods around Brixton, London when they could be visiting Rome, Paris, Athens or Bordeaux. This might also be partly why the word ‘Europe’ tends to refer only to Western Europe when used online among non-locals (with the exception of the UK which seems to exist in our minds as a separate entity due to its Island and non-Euro status).
At the same time though there also seems to be a trend for viewing Europe in terms of what America isn’t: the history for instance, and the cultural cuisine that isn’t burgers… this could very well be an example of the grass being greener on the other side, and it may be that many people outside of Europe are simply focussing on those aspects as they are the ones that seem the most romantic.
This post was written by admin on August 2012