Thursday, March 3, 2011

Opposites Attract

After being here for a month now I finally feel settled in and very comfortable here.  There are not really any major differences between here and home, just many small ones.

  • Here they use the 24 hour clock instead of our 12 hour clock.  I am still getting used to this and sometimes still have to count on my fingers to figure out what time it is! It helps that my cell phone and the computers at school display time in 24 hours, but when reading a non digital clock I always think of the time in 12 hours.  I tried to change the clock on my lap top to the 24 hour to force myself to learn the time better but I could not find how to do it.
  • Here, they write their dates differently.  In the US, we always write our dates as: month/day/year.  In Europe, they write it as day/month/year.  Usually in order to avoid confussion I just write the month out with the date. 
  • The US in only one of three countries that do not use the metric system.  I do not know the converesions very well so sometimes when people say a place is only so many kilometers away, or some is so many meters tall, or when food says that it has so many kilocalories, it is hard for me to understand what that really means and to be able to judge the distance, height, etc. 
  • Here, they mearsure tempeture in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.  At first I thought this was an easy conversion because I knew that 32 degrees F was 0 degrees C so I thought that 42 degrees F was 10 degrees C.  This is not correct. The conversion from F to C is F temp.-32 * 5/9.  This is not easy to figure out so usually when I see the temperature in C I have no idea what it really means other than what it feels like outside.
  • Even their standard size of paper here is different.  In the US a standard piece of paper is 8X11 I believe.  Here their paper is about 8X12; about an inch longer than ours.
  • Here, in numbers, they use the comma and decimal point differently than we do. We use the comma when using thosands and they use the decimal point and vise versa.  So we write 1,000 and here its 1.000 which has been hard to get used to. 
  • Another opposite thing is that they wear their wedding rings on their right hand where as we where themn our left.
  • The standard business hours here are also a lot different.  I feel that in the US business open really early and are open till really late and some are even open 24 hours.  Here is just the opposite, they open late and close early.  One morning I was walking to class with a friend and we wanted to stop at this bakery quick at grab something for breakfast.  It was 8:30am and it stiill was not open! Last night we were going to a store, that was kind of similar to Target.  We knew it closed at 6:00pm and we got there after class at 5:45 and they had already closed their doors.  Also, most countries have laws governing store hours on Sundays.  Most store are required to be closed, but the tourist shops can be open and some grocery stores will be open for a few hours.  At Whitewater, the university library is usually open till midnight every night and on weekends which makes it really nice to having a quiet place to study.  Here the library closes about 6:00 at night and is not open on the weeknds.
  • The only place that is open longer than in Wisconsin is the bar.  In Whitewater the usually bar time is 2:00am here it is about 4:00am.  People here usually do not even go out to the bars till between midnight and 1:00am.  Here the drinking age is 16 instead of 21.  But to get into clubs and bars you have to be 18, or sometimes 18 and under can go in and drink but only till a certain time.  Some bars even require you to be 21, which is weird because they can drink at 16.  I am not sure of the reason behind this. They are also allowed to carry open alcolhol in public.  So many times, students will be drinking a few cans of beers on the way to the bars which is definaly not allowed in Wisconsin.
  • The driving age here is 18 instead of 16.  But here driving is not as big as in the US because everything is a lot closer together and they have a much better public transportation system with the buses and trains.  The cars here are also so much small than cars in the US, but they also get better gas millage which is necesary because the gas price here is really high.  It is €1.5 for one litter and there are about 3-4 litters in one gallon. People also bike and walk a lot more and I have finally bought my own bike here! At least they drive on the same side of the road as we do!
  •  The money here is similar to the US.  They have 50, 20, 10, and 5 euro bills.  Then for coins they have 2 euros,1 euro, 50 cents,20 cents,10 cents,5 cents, and 1cent.  In Holland, the seem to not use the equivlant to the penny at all. When the price comes out to be 4.97 or 4.99 they just round up or down depending.  Also, the tax is already included in the price you see listed on the shelves which is nice so you know exactly what you are paying.  Another difference with money is that they do not normally tip for services such as waitresses. 

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