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Cultural overview: Western Europe Cultural overview: Western Europe
by Joseph Gatt
2019-11-12 08:19:55
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Every individual and country is different. In some cases two neighboring villages can have very different values and mindsets. Sweeping generalities on culture in Western Europe.

Generalities

Most Western European countries have decent income levels and decent social welfare systems for the poor. In many cases rich people are not admired and modesty is always admired. Rich people tend to avoid bragging about their status.

weseur01_400Most Western European countries are very heavily bureaucratized, and almost every business transaction or social transaction will need some kind of paperwork.

The further North you go, the more likely people are to behave in serious manner at all times, and dislike jokes or light-hearted conversation. The further South you go, the more likely people are to joke around. But even when people joke around, they do so in restrained fashion. American or African-style joking and light-heartedness are frowned upon, and people are likely to tell you to “get serious.”

Language

Almost every European country has an official language. There are many regional languages that have official status in many cases. Many Europeans are polyglots. The most popular languages are English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. All five languages I just mentioned will be a huge asset in social or business transactions in Western Europe.

Note that many speak several languages, but don't speak English. This confuses the Chinese or the Koreans who tend to believe that English is a must. In Spain and Portugal for example, many, many people speak Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, in some cases Italian as well, but can't put a sentence together in English. In Italy, many speak perfect Spanish, Portuguese, French, in some cases German and even Dutch, Greek or Albanian, but can't put a sentence in English together.

Either way, despite speaking many foreign languages, most Europeans will rely on professional translators for written documents. They may speak foreign languages, but a lot of times can't write foreign languages very well.

Note that most Europeans dislike speculation and generalities in writing. This means they tend to hate all the work I get done, because I usually work with generalities. In Europe, they tend to prefer carefully sourcing their notes, and any claim has to be backed up by precise sources. “I know because I know” won't convince most Europeans.

Stereotypes they have about foreigners

Anti-racism laws tend to be strict in Europe. Some high profile cases even involve people getting fines or jail time for saying something like “most drug dealers are Black or Arab.” Now those guys didn't say “most Arabs and Blacks are drug dealers” but those are the words the media put into the guy's mouth.

So stereotypes exist in the sub-conscious mind, but are discussed very carefully, if at all. In Europe, don't use culture as an excuse, don't say something like “I did that because that's how we do it in Korea” or “I want to do things the Mexican way.” Most Europeans believe in the universality of culture and values, and few Europeans know that the world runs around vast cultural differences. The word “culture” itself is often used to mean music, dance, folklore, movies and books rather than behaviors and values. Keep that in mind.

Greeting

Men rarely kiss men on both cheeks (exceptions are the older generation of France's Jewish Sephardic community and other Middle Eastern minorities). Men and women can kiss each other on the cheek once (Portugal, Spain) or twice (France, Belgium, Italy) or three times (some parts of Belgium, France and Switzerland) or four times, I heard there's a village where they do that five times.

In the Netherland, Scandinavia, the UK and Ireland greeting tends to be a lot sloppier and it's usually either a nod or a wave, or no greeting at all. This is for friends.

In business, handshakes tend to be mandatory for both men and women, kisses on the cheeks are rare. Notice that there are many, many instances where Europeans don't answer the question “how are you?” but it's still polite to give that greeting. 

In any case, slaps or other greetings exist, but tend to be considered unsophisticated.

Small talk

Note that Europeans rarely if ever discuss their family, money or religion. If there's a religious holiday, rather than say “I'll be celebrating the Eid on that day” say something like “I have an important thing on that day.” If your religion requires you to pray, excuse yourself without specifying what you're about to do, and pray discreetly. If you have religious dietary restrictions, ask for “strict vegan food” rather than “Kosher” or “Halal” food.

So you'll get cut off if you discuss anything personal like family, money, or in some cases even your personal travels. Small talk usually involves discussing the news (business news, political current events etc.). Gossiping about other businesses or other people is frowned upon (they do that in Belgium and Greece though) and either way Europeans tend to duck a lot of questions, and can cut you off if they don't like what they're hearing.

Note that if you're a woman and dealing with men, a lot of men will hint at spending the night with you, especially in the South (sometimes in the North as well.) What European businesswomen do when they deal with all men is they bundle papers together and slam them hard on the table, or keep tapping the pen real hard on the edge of the table, and give such men a “killer stare.” That tends to freak a lot of men out.

Meals

Here's the deal, and I have Americans and East Asians in mind here. Europeans are stingy. Or they tend to be. Each time I invite Europeans for lunch or dinner, they tend to order the cheapest thing on the menu, and some even refrain from eating. Others will have “just the soup” or “just the salad.”

Eating voraciously is very much frowned upon in Europe. Yes there are obese people in Europe, but that's usually people who overindulge in sausages, cheese and Nutella at home. When eating out, or are invited to people's homes, you'll leave very hungry. Portion sizes tend to be very small, and a lot of the food is not filling.

Buffets and barbecues exist, but even then Europeans will tend to limit their food intake. Either way, the best conversations of your life won't take place at European parties. It's usually someone monopolizing the conversation and talking about their job at length, or someone lecturing about politics, security or economic issues. During meals, dialogues are not the norm. 

At home

If you're invited home, and this happened several times to me, the first couple of hours, the host will be preparing meals, in some cases going out for shopping. If other people are invited you can mingle with them, if you're the only person invited, you'll have to play with your phone or watch TV.

Europeans will either invite you for a snack or for dinner or lunch. If invited for a snack, you'll be expected to leave a little before dinner time, and no matter how great the conversation, they will rarely invite you to stay for dinner. If invited for dinner, you'll be expected to leave at a reasonable time, three or four hours is more than enough, no matter how great the conversation.

Of course if it's a close friend inviting you and that he or she lives alone, they could suggest you spend the night, but in any case will be expected to leave the next day after breakfast, perhaps after lunch. If they live with their family, they will rarely invite you to spend the night.

Note that in Europe when men invite men home for the night, they usually share a bed (and there's nothing sexual about it). A very close female friend of mine, who has been dating this guy for many, many years and whose partner worked in another city and only came on weekends, shares her bed with male friends (and invited me to do so, but I slept on the couch) and there's nothing sexual about that either.

Everyday life (hospitals, banks, the post office, pharmacies)

The healthcare system has a great reputation. Note that complicated procedures can be costly, despite all the insurance and all that. Surgery requires being on a waiting list, and the wait can last up to six months or more. Doctors and dentists often don't tell you what they're doing with you, and tend not to warn you that you are about to experience severe pain. They will also expect you to remain stoic if in pain. But healthcare is free for most things.

Banks and the postal services are excellent. Note to Asians and Africans etc. Banks will call you each time you get a paycheck. Banks will tend to monitor your spending closely, and will invite you to discuss your financial situation once a month or once every two months. If you're overspending they will tell you to watch out and give you tips to spend carefully. But they will also try to sell you all kinds of insurance and financial services, and will use hard sales tactics for those. What I always do is tell them “I never sign anything on the first day. I don't sleep with women on the first date.” and that makes them laugh.

Pharmacies can close on Sundays in most European countries, and can close early in the evening. Europeans are also no big fans of medication, and many go through colds without swallowing a single pill.

Shopping

Europe is of course great for shopping. Big sizes can be hard to find. Shopping venues tend to be overcrowded, especially on the weekends.

Note that Europeans can use hard-sale tactics in some cases, and can use psychological pressure to get you to buy something. In some cases the psychological pressure is huge. So what's my trick? When in Europe, I go out without my debit card, and put like 20 Euros in cash in my pocket. That way if they use hard-sales, I don't have the means to pay for it. If I like the product, I come back later to purchase it. 

A couple of shopping tips: if you want board games, books, or in some cases technology like video games, or toys, go to the flea market. The board games and books will tend to be used but in good condition, but are sold at a bargain, in some cases given away for free, in other cases sold for a Euro or two. The same board game, but the brand new one will cost like 50 Euros. The choice of books at flea markets is excellent. And if they're kind enough, they'll give you the books for free.

If you want fruit and veg, you'll get much better deals at local markets. Supermarkets tend to overcharge for fruit and veg, but at the market, you'll get bargains. Some markets also sell supermarket products at hard-discount prices.

Final shopping tip: in immigrant neighborhoods, you can get amazing deals at small grocery stores run by migrants in some cases. Don't know how they are able to afford to sell at such discount prices, but a lot of products like coffee, cereal, and canned food will be sold at much lower prices than in supermarkets.

Asking favors

Most Europeans will never ask a favor of any sort. Don't recall being asked a favor by any European. In some cases if you can provide something, they'll be like “if you want to give it to me, you can, but you don't have to.”

If you ask them a favor, prepare yourself for rude refusals. A Spanish friend of mine once told me when I asked him a favor “do I look like the Pope? Or the Dalai Lama? Or Mother Teresa? Or the King? Or Santa Claus.” You get the idea.

Bragging

Have you ever heard a European tell you they have the best wine or the best cheese or the best healthcare system? I've never a heard a European talk like that. Even Sarkozy, who many thought was a pathological narcissist, was subtle in his bragging.

Here are a couple of stories. Mary Pierce was born in Canada and grew up in Florida, moved to France when she was 14. Played for France but culturally pretty much an American. A French journalist praised her game and she said “thank you.” The French journalist thought she lacked humility for saying that.

Second anecdote. Soccer player Zidane scored two goals in the 1998 World Cup final. Since about 1999, I don't think a French journalist ever asked him to recall that fact.

In sum, in Europe, you don't hear millionaires bragging, you don't hear sports stars bragging, you don't hear entertainers bragging. Nor does the average worker brag about sealing the deal.

BUT, Europeans are deep inside extremely proud of their achievements, and can get bestial if their achievements are downplayed.

Dating

First thing, a lot of European men and women deliberately stay single. Why? Because dating costs money. Pragmatic and practical. That is they will avoid dating and going out, save money, and buy an apartment and pay cash for it.

Second thing. When European men have their eyes on a girl or European women have their eyes on a guy, they can go miles to try to date that person. A Belgian friend of mine got a job in Congo just because his love interest (love was not reciprocal) was in Congo. Problem is, when the guy moved to Congo, she moved elsewhere. Examples like these abound.

Third thing. European men tend to be straightforward when they want casual sex. They don't beat around the bush when they look for that, nor do they play dirty tricks in most cases.

Note that American-style restaurant and cinema dates are not common, and Europeans are a lot more casual about dating. Could be a café, could be a walk, could be a visit to the book store, could be a rock concert, could be watching TV all day.

Final note: you could get dumped for your personality. Some Europeans hate extroverts to the core and will dump you for “talking too much.” While others hate introverts to the core and will dump you for “not opening up.”

Marriage

Half the children born in Western Europe are born out of wedlock. Some couples never marry but have three, four, five or more children, in some cases with five different men.

Most Western Europeans will dislike extravagant weddings. Small is beautiful as they say. They will invite family and close friends. Short ceremony, in some cases no meals served, in some cases no music or dancing. Most Western Europeans will rarely invite their colleagues or acquaintances. For the anecdote, I was once invited to a wedding, and was then “dis-invited” that is told I should not come. I thought that was pretty clumsy, but hey.

Note that minorities tend to stick to their traditions. Muslims will have Muslim weddings, Africans will have African-style weddings, and if the couple is of different ethnicities, they might blend in elements of both cultures.

Also a warning to those who date Europeans hoping they can marry them and get a visa. Many such people end up stuck in a relationship with no marriage prospects. Many Europeans will not get married, and won't give a damn that you need to get married to stay in the country.

How they treat children

Over the last couple of decades, or 30 years, pedophilia is all over the news in Europe. Many high-profile pedophile scandals are in the news, and almost every week there will be a documentary about pedophiles and child rapists.

So, Europeans are very, very paranoid about pedophiles. And the paranoia is sometimes scary, sometimes crazy. So if you have European children, the wife is expected to do all the showering and washing and bathing and toilet work, and many wives unfortunately won't trust their husbands for that kind of stuff.

General rule is: don't touch children, don't kiss children, avoid buying chocolates or candy just for the children, avoid calling the children “cute” and if you're a man don't invite children under the age of 10 to a play date with your children. Let your wife make that suggestion.

You get the idea. I know it's a little crazy, but that's the general idea.

In sum children are very closely supervised by their mothers in Europe, usually play video games during their free time, and are very closely supervised by women at day care centers and kindergartens. Note however that many elementary school teachers are male in Europe and it's usually 50% male teachers and 50% female teachers at most elementary schools.

Final sad anecdote: a teacher was once arrested on suspicions of pedophilia and spent several months in jail. Parents stopped sending their children to that school until they had guarantees there was no foul play, and wanted a quick and fair trial, and the teacher was not granted presumption of innocence by the parents. When the doctors did all the tests, and the investigation was carried out, it turned out that the child had severe bouts of diarrhea and that's what caused the bleeding and irritation. Sad story.
 
Pets and animals

There are very few crazy cat ladies or owners of multiple dogs or pets in Western Europe, although they exist. Few children ask for pets to be adopted.

Many will own a pet, especially single men and women. Women tend to shower their pets with affection, while men will tend to be colder with their pets. As in North America, some are crazy about cats while others are crazy about dogs.

You will notice however that many Western Europeans will feed stray cats, and could create a colony of cats around the neighborhood. Note however that the animal rights movement is not very strong in Europe, and associations like PETA are a little dormant. Vegetarians and vegans exist in Western Europe and are big in the UK, but elsewhere are few and far between.

Driving

A lot of the driving is safe, and rules are very strict and tend to be strictly enforced. Truck drivers have to rest for 20 minutes every two hours of driving, or some variation of that. Drunk driving can lead licenses to be revoked, in some cases at the first offense.

The main danger is bicycles, scooters and motorcycles. So when you park your car and open the door, check behind you to see if there are any bikes around, and get out quickly and shut your door. You want to be at the lookout for bikes. Speeding is considered a serious offense and can get your license suspended and revoked.

Note that for repeated drunk driving offenders, you will have to take blood samples every day and prove that you have been teetotaling for a year or more, for you to be allowed to retake your driver's license. So either buy drinks and drink at home, or use public transportation or taxis when you go out for a drink.

Religion

Some surveys indicate that around 80% Western Europeans are Atheists, although many have Christian or Catholic roots. Either way, many Europeans tell me that “religion is like football. I like to watch it but I never play it.” Either way, religion will rarely be brought up during conversations with Europeans.

Many Europeans find overt displays of religion to lack tact. Very few Europeans will wear a cross, and many conservative Jews are encouraged to wear baseball caps rather than scull caps. Proselytizing is very much frowned upon, and most will coldly shut their door if Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses come preaching.

This means that Churches resort to other means for proselytizing. Seventh Day Adventists run '”quit smoking programs” or “vegetarian cooking lessons” where they preach the Word, while other religions will have doctors or nurses in crowded streets encouraging free health checks, and the good Word will be preached during the health check. Either way, while a vast majority of Europeans claim they are Atheists, many have confused religious beliefs, and can turn to religion if facing an existential crisis in the form of workplace strife, mourning, or divorce.

Smoking, alcohol and recreational (legal and illegal) drugs

Cigarettes are very expensive in Europe, still many, many Europeans smoke. Smoking is widely tolerated by parents, and parents don't encourage their teenage or adult children to quit. Adult children freely smoke in front of their parents. Smoking is banned in most closed places, including pubs, but is allowed in verandas and areas outside pubs. Some most will drink coffee or beer on the pub's veranda, even in the freezing cold. Most pub verandas have outdoor heaters. There have been politicians who want to ban smoking on pub verandas (so far only Canada has implemented such laws) but the government might as well ask pubs to go out of business, because everyone drinks on verandas, very few people sit inside.

Alcohol is tolerated in moderation, but note that most grocery stores and places that sell liquor close early. This means if you're having a party, you want to buy way more beer, wine, champagne, or liquor than needed. Getting drunk is frowned upon, and your European wife could kick you out of the house for being drunk. Public intoxication is a crime in some European states, and you'll have to spend the night in jail and pay a fine if that happens.

I'm talking to the Chinese and Koreans here: the European police does not intervene in cases where there's someone who passed out in the streets from drinking. That is if you call the police, they will tell you straight out that they won't send a team for that. So carry your buddy home, or leave your buddy lying in the streets. Note that there are laws banning pubs from serving alcohol to people who seem to be intoxicated. That is after 7 or 8 pints of beer, the waiter will tell you to pay the tab  and go home.

Final note on alcohol: many of my friends accidentally became alcoholics in Europe. Here's how it works. In many countries, co-workers get together in the morning on weekends, and start drinking very early in the morning. They then spend the entire day bar-hopping and in some cases drink until they pass out. They also head to the pub every weekday after work. So these friends of mine were drinking if they were not working. Then they started drinking at lunch. Then at breakfast. Symptoms of alcoholism include tremors, drinking huge amounts of alcohol and never feeling you've had enough drinks, cutting sleep short or insomnia and spending the entire night drinking, and feeling nauseous in the presence of food and throwing up everything you eat.

Marijuana is legal in some states, banned in others. Many smoke marijuana openly, and few get arrested. Drug use is decriminalized in some states, other states have “medically assisted drug use” to “prevent overdoses.” Either way, drug use is illegal in some states, and can carry prison sentences.

Death and funerals

The unfortunate trend is many children are estranged from their parents, and many, many Europeans die alone, and no one shows up at their funeral.

Tight-knit families are not the norm, but they exist. Some choose religious funerals, others secular funerals. Some choose burial, others cremation.

Either way in a lot of countries the tradition is to deliver eulogies, to stay calm and avoid crying, and to go for a drink after the funeral and try hard to discuss anything unrelated to the passing of the loved one.

Social gatherings (conferences, cocktail parties etc.)

Dress code tends to be formal. Here I'll discuss art galleries, concerts, movie premiers, academic conferences, and cocktail parties, very briefly.

Art gallery expositions will see the artist lecture on their work, and the lectures usually last something like 10-15 minutes. They will explain their work and how they proceeded and what inspired them. The rest of the evening will be trying to find people with good conversation. Personal life is rarely discussed, most won't tell you who they work for, many won't tell you their names. Most will discuss the news with you.

Concerts: If you show up early enough, you could meet the musicians and chat with them a bit, even when they are famous, even when they are superstars. There will be an opening, and during the opening most people chat, some listen to the music. There are instances where the star of the show is a little too drunk to perform (they are artists after all) so they might show up late or other musicians will be playing with the star of the show only showing up intermittently.

Movie premiers: You probably won't find that many big names at movie premiers, in some cases you might find a big name or two. Either way big names are not always the smartest people and not always the best conversation partners. After the movie screening, the director could take questions. There could then be a cocktail party, featuring some kind of art exposition, sometimes featuring musicians or a band. Many will talk about the movie, and some people won't be very subtle if the movie was a bad one.

Academic conferences: Many, many of the “professors” you'll meet there are arrogant pricks of the worst species. They know everything about everything, no one else knows anything about anything. They will correct your grammar or pronunciation when you talk to them, they will correct your facts if you tell them anything, and a lot of times, they'll lecture you on the kind of stuff they know you can't contradict them about, because no one cares about that part of history. There rare few who are relaxed about their job and not too impressed by their intellect is the group you want to hang out with. You'll usually find them sitting alone at tables, smiling and drinking coffee. You want to take a seat with them.

Cocktail parties: This is usually where a lot of the fun people come. Drinks will be served and most of the people you'll meet there are very interesting. Business cards will be exchanged and people will want to keep in touch. Keep in mind, especially if you're a woman, that some of the men are trying to get a date for the evening. Watch out for that. 

K12 education system

Scandinavian countries are famous for their small class size and decent pay for teachers. The further South you go, the less teachers get paid and the bigger the class sizes.

Both men and women enter the teaching profession. Teachers tend to spend their entire career teaching, although in recent years, let's say since around 2005, there have been notable mass defections from the teaching community. Stagflation, crazy bureaucracies and the lack of interest from students are the main reasons cited.

Western European countries tend to put a lot of focus on history and science, language education has always been problematic because some students are better at foreign languages than the teachers themselves. Literature is slowly being abandoned, and students are often not encouraged to read anything outside their lecture notes. In most of Western Europe, students are discouraged from asking questions in class, and discouraged from talking in class or from giving presentations. This is why European leaders often don't give the most eloquent speeches.

School tends to finish with a university entrance examination, with formats varying widely from school to school. In recent years, academic inflation has been the norm and most will make the cut to college.

University education system

The UK and Ireland have something of an elitist system and tuitions are expensive. France has an elitist system. But for the rest of Europe, any college degree gets all the respect.

In most of Europe professors lecture, take few questions, and recommend few readings outside lecture notes. In the UK and Ireland you get assigned about a book or two a week, and are expected to read those.

As I've discussed above, any of my Ovi papers would get an F minus in Europe, because I tend to be vague about my sources. Europeans tend to discard sources from “participant observers” (which is where most of my sources come from) and want sources from “established authors and authorities.” That is you can quote Professor X or Statistics institution Y, but if you say “here's what I observed” they will tell you something like “and who the hell do you think you are?”

How their elites behave

The further North you go, the more likely the Prime Minister will take the bus or drive his or her own car and commute to work every morning. In Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany and Austria, you'll find Prime Ministers taking commercial flights and seats in economy class, you'll find them driving their own cars, and you'll find them shopping at the local grocery store. This has started to change because of security concerns, and now you'll probably find them with body guards.

The rest of Western Europe will have the business and political elites being protected 24/7 and they will have people doing their shopping and running their errands. Many southern European countries have exclusive clubs for the elites, although with the recent recessions and slow growth elites tend to avoid hanging out in those places. Until 2008, private parties for the elites were very common. As of today, they hardly exist.

Entertainment

Europeans like watching films from directors with big names. The big names of European cinema are: Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, Pedro Almodovar, Frederico Fellini, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Woody Allen (not European but huge in Europe), Roman Polanski and a few others.

Many Europeans will listen to pop music but few will admit to doing so. Many love classical music, jazz, blues, boogie woogy, tango, afro-Cuban music, and of course, kitsch, house and trance. Many European radios are dedicated exclusively to playing oldies.

Many Europeans know their art, know their architecture, know their sweets, candy and chocolate. Knowledge of wine, cheese and food in general is also important, and many will dedicate hours to studying that topic. Cigars and whisky however are considered a little haughty, and guns and shooting ranges are considered tactless, although hunting is a popular sport. Fishing is also popular in many places. Nature is carefully studied, so you'll need to know your birds and animals. Not just their names, but also how they feed and survive.

Just a quick note: if you're stuck with the introverted kind of European, you want to try your luck discussing gardening and nature with them. Then try fishing and hunting, or anything related to nature. Works 70% of the time. 30% of the time you'll be dealing with a “bum.”

Technology

Western Europeans are not as big fans of technology as North Americans will be. Remember when I discussed labor unions the other day. Well you often need to seek labor union approval to use new technology at the workplace. Convincing labor unions can take months, in some cases years, and if you're trying to sell them technology, you're going to have to be patient, and pray your technology won't be outdated by the time they finally agree to purchase it.

Some Europeans are old-school, some don't even have cell phones. Some have never used a computer, although they are increasingly rare, they exist.

Intellectual conversation

Just like for movies or music, intellectual conversation involves a lot of name-dropping, and usually the classical ones. Don't cite Gladwell or Pinker or Ridley, you want to discuss Kant and Rousseau and Freud and Nietsche and all the big names.

Classical French, British and Russian literature tends to be discussed as well. But few will apply theory to the present state of events. Few will link Kant or Nietsche or Goethe to what is happening these days.

How to deal with money

The British and the Irish are comfortable discussing money. But in most Western European countries money is somewhat taboo. People rarely discuss how much they make, and rarely shoot prices straight.

In business negotiations, many will wait until the very end of the negotiation to start discussing the price, and many will want to agree on the product and on the quantity before they give you the price. Some will refuse to sell you anything if you insist on getting the price first. Many will give you the price, and within 30 seconds, pretend they have to move to an important meeting to avoid negotiating the price. Some want their prices to be non-negotiable.

Haggling at markets is accepted in some places, frowned upon in others, others will stick to a price and will cut you off the minute you start haggling. In markets in Luxemburg for example, prices tend to be non-negotiable.

The legal system

The legal system is Romano-Germanic, and in many cases won't allow new technologies, including videos, audio recordings or CCTV footage to be used as evidence (many countries have privacy laws, and consider that using audio or video footage is a violation of privacy). This means don't try to record your husband and use the recordings in court, because judges won't even look at them. Same goes for emails and private correspondence, those tend to be banned from being used as evidence.

So the only evidence you can use is a doctor's report, or finger prints, or corroboration, or witnesses. In business lawsuits, many documents are not allowed to be used as evidence, so you'll need a great lawyer who will know what can be used as evidence and what can't.

There is no 5th amendment in Europe. You may request the presence of a lawyer before saying anything, but a lot of times you will be questioned without talking to a lawyer first. And in some cases you have no Miranda rights, that is you don't have “the right to remain silent.” In crime cases where your gang or accomplices are still on the run, mild forms of torture could be used to get you to talk. For search warrants they will need your spouse's approval if you are married, or your room mates' approval if you share a place, meaning that if they don't let the police in, your house can't be searched. In any case, they are usually not allowed to search your bags or your pockets, or to ask you to strip. They will conduct body searches with metal detectors, and will ask you to voluntarily take out what's in your bag or your pocket. And if you're a woman (or a man) you are usually allowed to ask for a person of the same sex as you to question you.

Farewells and before you leave the country

Many Europeans organize farewell parties, but Europeans are not always the best party planners. They will usually invite all sorts of people from different backgrounds and there will be a lot of awkwardness during the party. Or they will invite way too many people in a home that can't contain that many people. Or they'll invite people who cause trouble during the party.

Either way farewells tend to be a little messy, or a lot of times they'll have mixed feelings. They'll be happy you're gone (Europeans tend to be a little pessimistic in life) and tend to believe that bad things could have happened if you stayed. On the other they'll miss you (although not too much).


      
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