Friday, February 24, 2017

Friendship Spotlight

Hi all!

Its been a while (too long) since I have done one of these, so it felt time for a Friendship Spotlight.  The friend I would like to focus on today is Dalibor Hanzal, otherwise known as Dali.

Dali is one of the first friendships I forged upon moving to Germany.  Our paths crossed when both of us were attendents at a German-English meetup group (a la  I sat, tentative and nervous, at the long banquet table crowded with thirty something people.  Having just moved to the country one week prior, my slate of "friends who live nearby" was an obviously empty one.  Unquestionably the hardest part of moving somewhere far flung is finding your social slate wiped clean.

Close friendships take time, investment and effort which first means finding the people you like and with whom you click (a task that involves a lot of sifting, in and of itself) and then patiently and consistenty investing in building up those relationships.  This is how to grow a close friendship, which sadly offers no possibility for fast forward potential.  Moving somewhere new means being lonely for a while, which is certainly not the end of the world but can be emotionally challenging.

Dali was one of the first people with whom I clicked and who helped me move towards filling that temporary gap in my life.  After three or four meetings with the German-English group, I decided to reach out to him, as he seemed like a cool dude.  As many of you may agree, initiating an opposite gender friendship can offer potential for misunderstand and confusion with regard to intent and what type of interest the other person might be implying, so I crafted my invitation mindfully as I knew he had a girlfriend and I myself had a boyfriend.

He wrote back, "yes!"  And an awesome friendship got rolling.

Our initial meeting was at the Frankfurt Christmas market, splitting a potato pancake and drinking from steaming mugs of gluhwein.  We connected over several topics along with the typical get-to-know you questions.  As soon as I unearthed the fact that he too was an avid Harry Potter fan, the deal was sealed.

Dali and I have met regularly over the last 3.5 years.  We often have tea and coffee.  We have shared several superb brunch spreads, both being breakfast enthusiasts.  We have done a handful of photo shoots together.  Two, meandering around Frankfurt for my blog (the happening Berger Strasse and the bustling, colorful Kleinmarkthalle).  Another during which the two of us explored Frankfurt and both snapped pictures, Dali offering me photography pointers along the way.  And finally, a food photo shoot, cooking session and finally, chowing down on what we had made, at his place.

To see our recipes from this photo shoot, here are the links to the Quinoa Sweet Potato Salad and the Refined sugar-free Baked Stuffed Autumn Apples.

Weve visited a handful museums together.  The Communication museum, the Film museum, and a fascinating one-time exhibition about Gladiators, which both of us were rivited and wide eyed over.  Loved this.

Card games have commenced over tea and coffee, coupled with our always interesting conversations.

I have attended Dalis birthdays every year.  I will be at his and Ricardas wedding this June.  He has been at all my birthdays and joined a number of my dinner parties. 

We have many mutual interests, namely reading, traveling, writing and food.

I am always excited to be regaled with Dali and Ricardas travel adventures, which they embark on together often.  Greece, road tripping all over Italy, exploring the Nordic countries, a trip to Hawaii coming up, they are always heading somewhere interesting.

Dali has been an unfailingly enthusiastic and supportive friend of all my projects and ventures (my travel blog, my bigger writing aspirations, and my cooking/baking blog). 

Dali is witty and intelligent, warm and kind hearted, a giving and loyal friend.  He is a riveted listener and someone in whose company I always feel relaxed.  I always love spending time with him.  He is creative and inventive, always coming up with unique and intruiging business ideas and projects.

A surprisingly sweet gift (both literally and figuratively) that Dali brought me back from a trip he and Ricarda took to Italy!!!

I am lucky to be able to call him a close friend.  I look forward to many more years of friendship with Dali.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tea Party Time!!

Hi all,

This past weekend, I hosted a tea party with friends.  While it didnt quite pan out as expected (a few of them dropped like flies the morning of, due to sickness and other emergencies), it ended up being just as wonderful.  Cozy, great conversation, delicious desserts, relaxing and just really lovely.

We talked about dating and relationships (of course.  When you put a group of girls together, what do you expect? ;-)), work, hobbies, German versus American culture, and more.  Lots of laughing and engaging topics.

Hosting friends is one of my absolute favorite things ever.  Whether a dinner party, tea and cake, board game night, you name it.  I love everything about it.  Putting together a menu, deciding on decorations, coming up with a sweet little favor for each guest, laying out the table just so, cooking and baking the food and of course, actually laughing, eating and conversing with my wonderful friends.

So, without further ado, here are the four desserts I served and a few photos of the spread.

Blueberry & Blackberry Vanilla Tart

Melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies

Matcha cake with buttercream frosting and raspberries

Earl gray brownies with coconut cream on top (plus a sprinkling of pistachios and edible rose petals).

You can find all of these recipes on my other blog, Sweet. Raw. Free.  All the recipes on there, including these, are refined sugar-free, lactose-free, gluten-free or raw.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Elusive Soulmate Relationship

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are.”

This seems to be the central driving force behind our search and experiences through different romantic relationships over the course of our lives.  We long to find our "soul mate."
A term that has been long revered throughout history in literature, film, poetry, song, and of course, human relationships themselves.  But what is a soul mate exactly?  And what sets them apart from other loves?   

People often lump feelings of being in love with someone as being one and the same thing as soul matesThese are not the same thing.  Just because you are in love with someone and feel close to them does not mean its a soul mate type of connection.

Also, many people end up settling.  A large majority of us remain in life-partner relationships because we “settle,” for a multitude of reasons.  Firstly, we may have a real subconscious fear of being alone, and since we’re biologically designed to fall in love, it’s only natural that we pair up.
But frequently, we prolong what are meant to be temporary relationships and mistakenly settle into them for good.  There are relationships which must last for a certain period of time to close out a particular chapter or period of growth in our life, relationships in which we’re meant to have children with our partner but not necessarily remain with them, and relationships which are just plain confusing because a vortex of emotions clouds us from seeing our predestined path.

So what is a soul mate?

1.  You just know.  When you have a soul mate relationship with someone, its difficult to put the feelings within this relationship into words, but you just know it, in your heart and deep in your bones.  You know there is something different about this one.  And this is not to be confused with simply feeling infatuated and in love, which is a stage and will ultimately simmer down.
With soul mate relationships, the feelings and connection between the two of you remains profound, resonating, poignant.

2.  You get each other.  With a soul mate, you just understand one anothers natures and character.  You get, in a profound, deep sense, what makes one another tick, what moves each other, you can generally read the emotions and thoughts on their face.  You sometimes even finish one anothers sentences.  There is a sense of being pointedly tuned in to each other.

3.  Its intense.  Soul mate relationships are emotionally jarring, both in positive ways and in negative.  When you are this close to another person emotionally, passions are easily stirred.  However, soul mate relationships are intense in the best ways as well, meaning, an incredibly close friendship between the two of you, being able to read one another easily, etc.

4.  You have a mental connection of sorts, even when apart.  You might both move to pick up the phone and call one another at the exact same moment.  It turns out that many times, you were thinking about each other simultaneously.  If separated by this person for a long time, even still, there will be many moments of synchronicity between the two of you, some of which you will be aware of and many of which, you wont.

5.  You cannot imagine your life without him or her.  With a soul mate, you feel so deeply understood, so comfortable, so close to this person that you cannot (and do not want to) imagine your life without them in it.

6.  You look each other in the eye.  Soul mates tend to hold eye contact more often than others.  They hold one anothers gazes more frequently, both during conversation and other moments spent together.

7.  You consider them one of the people to whom you are emotionally closest.  You can tell your soul mate anything, reveal your whole self to them, feel free to be completely you when in their company.

8.  Your soulmate makes you feel entirely whole, healed and intact, like no piece is missing from the puzzle.  On the other hand, a life partner can be a great supporter and long-time companion, but is limited in his or her capacity to enrich your spirit.  That is a key difference between a soul mate and a usual romantic relationship.

9.  A soul mate, while accepting and loving you totally, is also a mirror.  They show you where your greatest weaknesses and challenges lie.  A soul mate inspires a significant and meaningful amount of growth within you.  They reveal to you your own demons and help show you the way to battling said demons.
This doesn't just mean someone who is open with you about your faults.  Many relationships have this aspect to them, as healthy relationships should.  What this means is that a soul mate in particular opens up a desire within you to grow in ways that you never felt before.  Somehow, both silently and aloud, they light the way.

You might also be wondering, does a soul mate always have to be romantic?  No.  Absolutely not.  Friendships can be soul mates too, as well as familial relationships.  However, again, its important to remember that just because you are close to someone and love them does not a soul mate make ;-)

Many people long to stamp the label of soul mate on their relationship because its romantic and because somehow, it makes them feel better about their relationship choice(s).  This somehow affirms that the relationship they have chosen is both good and the right one.  "Soul mates" is the elusive, gold trophy that everyone longs to acquire.

A soul mate is a distinct, rare, special type of connection with another person.  Many people never find this (in large part, because they settle too quickly in relationships- both romantic and not, that arent as ideal and well fitting as they could be if they were willing to be braver, more patient, pickier and search more carefully), and those who do find soul mates?  Keep in mind that the number of soul mates you will have within your life time is likely to be counted on less than one hand.

That is why soul mates are so romanticized, so revered, so idealized.  Because they are elusive.  Because they are so rare and thus, very special.

"A soul mate is an ongoing conversation with another individual that the soul picks up again in various times and places over lifetimes."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tell me whom you love...

"...and I will tell you who you are."

That is the rest of the quote to the title of this entry.  You can tell a lot about who a person is in looking at who and what they treasure deeply and think highly of.  However, that isn't the topic of this post.  The focus of this entry is on love.  I know.  Several of you just rolled your eyes cynically and thought, ugh, I am all set.  With Valentines Day just around the corner, I am trying to escape this puke worthy invasion of all things heart-and-romance-related.  Not read more about it.  Have I shocked you with my mind reading abilities?  Hold on just a second though.  I am not talking solely of romantic love (though yes, that will be part of this article).  There is much more to this article than that.  If you invest the seven to ten minutes in reading this, you will likely be glad you did.

If you are willing to open up the context in how you view and define "loves of your life," you may see that in fact, your path thus far has been far richer than you thought.  Lets go for a wander down the lane of love memories and life snapshots, shall we?  I will show you what I mean.

Your first best friend.  An important relationship to be sure.  A defining one.  The boy or girl with whom you first felt that immediate recognition and click.  You went forward to build a deep bond between the two of you, playing together for hours every chance you got.  The two of you might have jump roped for hours, or played cowboys and indians out in the woods until realizing hours had passed when the feeling of your empty stomach finally rumbled for dinner.  You snuck junk food from the pantry in their their house or yours, devouring it together, gleeful grins.  You looked forward to seeing each other every day in school and probably on weekends as well.  You never imagined your life without this friend in it, your partner in crime.  You likely got into mischief together.  In fact, I know you did.  I bet these are some of your favorite stories to retell nowadays.  Silly arguments broke out between the two of you sometimes, which at the time felt serious and huge.  You admired and looked up to them, all while they annoyed the crap out of you equally as often.

What you longed to be when you grew up.  A veterinarian.  A painter.  An author.  A magician.  A Japanese sous chef (yes, little sister, that is a nod to you).  This was one of the first honest and true wishes of your life.  Before society told you there were "better" jobs which would garner you a heftier stack of dough (which you were told was of top priority) or earn you more respect from the masses.

Both of these are first loves of a different sort.  But they are love just the same.

How about the activities and passions that, as a child, resulted in you forgetting to eat or use the bathroom.  Youd begin in the early afternoon and look up with shock to see that the light outside your bedroom windows had gone dark.  Evening had fallen, the hours having slipped past as you lost yourself.  What was this activity or topic of interest for you?  We all had one, if not a handful of these cherished activities.  (For me, it was writing- surprise, surprise).  And chances are, it was not something you imagined would impress others or someday increase your social standing.  I am willing to bet that instead, this was something which made your heart alight purely for the sake that you loved it.

This is first passion, which is closely connected with love.

How about your first kiss.  A frequently romanticitzed and touched upon milestone of life, idolized in literature, music, movies, etc.  There is good reason for that idolization though.  Because the first kiss is memorable, purely on the basis of it being the first.  Its likely that part of you thought maybe you loved him or her, within the hold of your puppy love crush.  So sweet, wasnt it?

Or, the first boy or girl you had a genuine, knee shaking crush on.  The day your eyes scanned the playground to discover that suddenly, not all kids of the opposite gender were "disgusting."  That instead, there was one who caught and held your attention, though for reasons you couldn't possibly begin to explain.  That boy with the smattering of freckles across his nose, the perfect sprinkling of constellation across his face.  His hair a shaggy mess of curls that seemed newly appealing.  The girl with a slight gap between her two front teeth, her smile causing your insides to tickle ever so slightly whenever she looked your way.  The way she always wore the same necklace and carried a different book in her hand, making her seem mysterious and worldly to your young mind as you watched from afar.  What did the necklace mean to her?  Had she read every book in the universe?

And then comes the first love.  This is the love that changes the trajectory of your emotional life forever.  After having a relationship with this person, you will never be the same again.  They induce growth inside of you that you hadn't known possible prior to this relationship.  Causing feelings to stir inside which you hadn't known existed until you felt them.

But then, just when you least expect it, the game changer will come along.  Knocking the breath out of you.  This is the never-saw-it-coming love.  For some people, this is their first love.  For many though, its someone who comes along later on.  They may have thought it was their first love during that relationship (often times, this is a long one, our first love), only to realize they were wrong.  That the true game changer was to come later.  This person coming into the picture after you've grown, experienced significant previous relationships that opened necessary doors in your heart and induced growth within that were paramount, all leading to this big one.  This is the person who will make you realize that in your thinking of previous loves being the big ones, you now realize that was all wrong.  This is the person who blows your world apart in the most awe inspiring and stunningly beautiful of ways.  A few people meet this love when they are young.  Most though don't meet this one until later on.  Possibly in their thirties, forties or even beyond.  You know it when you find it though. 

Now, that's not to say that the loves that come before this one aren't equally as important.  They are.  Each love shapes you.  Each love will continue to induce further relevant growth within.  Each love is important.  Each love is different.  All of which deserve to be remembered, both for the lessons they offered, for the mistakes we made and learned from, and finally, just for the romance and joy we experienced with that person.  These are all some of the most awe inspiring and beautiful aspects of life.

And what about the friendships that surprise you and go deeper than you ever fathomed?  These are usually the ones you least expected.  They may even be people that at first, you wrote off or assumed they were not your type.  But the friends with whom you grow especially close, the ones to whom you feel comfortable revealing your soul, the ones who you can trust and the ones with whom you can laugh hysterically with and talk to for hours, these are deep loves.  And they are just as life changing and important as the big romantic loves.  The only difference is minus the romance.  Romance aside, the other emotions and weight of these relationships are the same.  

How about the cat, dog or horse you love(d)?  Or maybe for some, it was/is a guinea pig, hamster or lizard.  People who have never had pets might scoff.  "Its just an animal," they might say dismissively.  It isn't just an animal though.  For those who have owned and loved a pet, they know the truth of these words.  You can love your pet just as much as you can love a friend or family member.  Its a different kind of love, but is similar in strength.  Beloved pets are companions, family members, silent supports and comforts when we need them.  They can be a source of great laughter and joy, providing us with tons of silly stories to regal our likely bored friends with over and over again ;-)

What about the accomplishing of huge goals and the surmounting of feats that you didn't think were possible?  Running a marathon?  Picking up and moving to a brand new state or country in which you knew no one?  Changing careers smack dab in the middle of your life?  Embarking on the adventure of having a child?  Making a huge, life changing sacrifice for someone you love?
All of guessed back around to love.  Self love and bravery.  Deep, resounding love for someone else.  This can be romantic, but just as often, it isnt.

The first awe-inspiring experience (and subsequent ones) you had (and have had).  Seeing a particular city or famous site in person of which you had long imagined and yearned to see.  Maybe the hulking Colosseum or the sky over Tuscany painted in smokey pinks, navy and amber as the sun sets behind the Ponte Vecchio bridge.  Or the time you first sampled crepes from a street vendor in Paris, the City of Light which you had dreamed of visiting all through your teens, and now you are finally standing amidst the city bustle.  Succeeding in accesnding the top of a particularly high mountain, the top shrouded in mist, the world laid out in miniature below you.  Snorkling the carribeann blue waters of somewhere tropical, fish in vivid arrays darting past you in the otherwise silent world of underneath the water.

All of these moments spark something in your heart which, if you allow it to, can then fill and overflow.  While this isnt "love" so to speak, its an emotional similar in intensity and importance.

Consider the gestures that maybe you do not reflect on as much as you could...
-the friend who brings you back a small token from their time away on vacation
-the friend/family member/loved one who texts or emails you, just to say they are thinking of you
-the surprise hand written card or card package you receive in the mail
-come moving day, the friend(s) or loved ones who sacrifice their own time to help you move
-the people close to you who take time out of their life to read or look over your work
-the loved ones who organize a surprise party in your honor
-the travel adventures (and resulting memories) you take with close friends or loved ones
-Getting back in touch with someone to whom you fell out of touch with, but which you always regretted losing the connection with
-the friends who are always there when they say theyll be
-the friend or loved one who actually takes the time and effort to listen, riveted, with genuine attention and full interest (no smart phone in sight)
-the people you care about who show, via their actions, that you matter to them

All of these, and more (the list can go on and on and on) are expressions of love.

So for those of you on this Valentines Day who are wallowing in self pity and saying to yourself, "I am single so I hate Valentines Day.  I am totally alone.  This sucks."  Ask yourself the question again but from a different vantage point.  "What are all the forms of love I have in my life?"  And even more importantly, "how do I give my love to others, in search of nothing in return."

I am willing to bet your answer(s) with regards to you life (and its supposed lack of love) might look quite different.

Some additional questions for your own insight and reflection:

1.  Who are five people in your life whom you love deeply?  Why are they important to you?
2.  Name three friends in your life whom cannot imagine not knowing, who have affected your life in important and deep ways.
3. What are two hobbies or interests that fill you with joy, that make time fall away, that you look forward to with excitement and anticipation.
4.  Think back on your romantic loves.  A vast majority of romantic relationships will end.  This doesn't invalidate what they were while we were in them.  Instead, we can choose to reflect on the good we took from them with joy, wonder and thankfulness, while moving forward into growth and better fitting relationships.  So, with that said, reflect on the special, romantic experiences of your life thus far.  I imagine you have at least a handful of these moments, maybe all with the same person or with different people.
5.  Knowing what you know now about love, friendship and relationships, consider what you might do differently going forward in order to make your relationships more the type that you would consider even deeper, closely connected and healthier.  What might be three important lessons you have learned and can implement going forward to make your relationships, both romantic and not, more successful?
6.  What places have you visited and thus, experiences you had within those places, that remain with you?  That bring a rush of joy and awe to your mind whenever you conjure up these memories.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Differences between Europeans and Americans

Happy Sunday, all!

Over a fabulous brunch this weekend with two equally fantastic friends (though really, every brunch spread is the bomb), we happened upon an especially entertaining conversational topic that, once we began, we took off running with.  The Stereotypes of Europeans/German versus Americans.  This discussion garnered lots of laughs as well as some fascinating and engaging topics. 

Basically, LOVED it!

As an aside, I thought this would be perfect for fun reading in the form of my next blog topic ;-)
So, here we go.  The differences (which of course are somewhat stereotypical while simultaneously being rooted in truth) between Americans and Europeans/Germans. 
Important note: many of our topics are applicable not just to Germans but to Europeans generally.  However, a few are more German stereotypes specifically.  I will specify which is which.

European/German versus American Differences

1. European/Germans tend to be more open to sexuality, more laid back about this topic in general.  Americans tend to be far more uptight, nervous and repressed sexually.  I have observed this both visually as well as conversationally while living abroad.  Europeans are more laid back with regards to their own nudity in front of others, whereas this is generally something that most Americans feel quite shy and some, even ashamed of (the latter being unfortunate as its just a human body).  In Europe, they acknowledge that sex is a natural and normal part of human life.  They tend to be more comfortable discussing it openly.  This reverberates out to things like sex shops not being the seedy, secretive affairs they tend to be in the US (here, its no big deal), as well as even to something as simple as PDA.  In the US, people tend to be more shy and skittish about expressing their affections physically in public.  In Europe, people stand closer to one another while conversing (with a romantic partner of even a platonic friend).  They hug and touch more often.  And yes, they do not hesitate to kiss and even make out a little, in public.

2.  Europeans are more laid back with regards to their work ethic.  Yes, its true.  In Europe, the standard is 6 weeks of vacation per year.  I can vouch for that, and let me tell you, its life changing.  In Europe, they favor a work-life balance far more than Americans do.  On this side of the pond, the mentality is more along the lines of, one works in order to fund their life.
In the US, this mentality is the opposite.  Its no secret that as a whole, Americans are overworked.  Instead of working to live, they live to work.  With a meager 10 vacation days per year which often extends well into several years of being with a company before they are allotted one additional measly week, people in the US are often exhausted and overly focused on their work life, often times neglecting their social lives and passions out of simply not having the time and being too tired after all the hours devoted to work.  To me, this signals less life enjoyment and happiness.  Lower levels of health and less fulfillment.

3.  Now, this is more of a German thing (as opposed to being a widespread European thing since Italians and Spanish are known for being the exact opposite) but Germans are less approachable, less openly friendly, cold and generally not easy to talk to.  Sometimes they are even downright rude, pushing against you to move past with no seeming awareness nor any acknowledgement of your presence in front of them.  Americans are significantly more open, warmer, much easier to approach.  An American will turn and begin chatting with you during your commute home.  There is nothing unusual about this.  A German would NEVER do such a thing.  An American may come up to you while you are out and about, to ask for your number or just chat for a few minutes, inquiring about any good restaurants nearby, the weather, or any friendly conversational topic.  A German would never do this.  Even my German friends agree, wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm, that Americans are far friendlier, far easier to connect with, approach and befriend.  That in Germany this is incredibly difficult is a bummer.  This results in making friends and dating being a much easier venture in the US.

4.  An interesting counter point to #3.  In the US, Americans are more openly friendly, this is true.  However, Americans are unfailing polite, to a degree in which you never quite know if they are genuine or not.  Let me explain.  An American will greet you with enthusiasm and excitement.  They will claim wanting to be friends and "oh my gosh, we have to get together sometime soon."  However its a 50/50 toss up as to whether they actually mean it or "just being nice."  This makes it tough to know where you stand with many Americans in terms of things like friendship.  Americans are always "nice," whether its fake or genuine.  Only time will reveal which it is.
Though initially colder and with a tougher exterior to break, once you befriend a German, you have a friend for life.  If they don't like you or don't wish to be friends with you, you'll know it.  They do not entertain with false niceties like Americans do.  Shockingly, this is actually a relief.  In this sense, you know that the friends and connections you have are all real ones.  You know that the people you are friends with actually like you deeper.  They aren't just "being nice" because they feel "too guilty" to not be your friend.  Germans take their friendships seriously. 

5.  This is another Germany specific thing (as opposed to a European one).  Germans are far more structured than Americans in general.  They have more rules and regulations.  Pertaining to what?  You might be asking.  EVERYTHING.  Rules, guidelines, these are two of a Germans favorite words.  They are punctual to a point with regards to their meal times, with regards to meeting times, etc.  Americans tend to be far more flexible, far less structured, more spontaneous and easy going, than Germans.  This is both a blessing (sometimes) and can be a curse (sometimes as well).  If a German says he will meet you at 7pm, he will be there at 6:58pm.  If an American says 7pm, it could be 7pm, or it could be 7:05, 7:10, even 7:15pm.  This can make Americans seem slightly less reliable than Germans.

6.  Germans are not as open in terms of inviting new friends into their home and life.  They tend to make friends at a young age and stick with that same group of friends for years and years.  Germans like routine.  They like regularity and predictability.  Americans are very open to making new connections, forming new friendships, opening their home to people, etc.  This can result in making the act of forming friendships much easier.  Americans tend to be more outgoing whereas Germans tend to be more reserved and buttoned up.

7.  This is more of a wide spread Europe thing as opposed to a German thing.  Europeans are FAR more intellectual, worldly and interested in the goings on in the world, interested in learning, interested in the pursuit of broadening their education and way of thinking, than Americans are.  Americans look down on and criticize intellectualism.  We make fun of nerds (aka smart people) as being "losers."  The majority of Americans know far less with regards to the world, history, science and the like, as opposed to a European.  A vast majority of children throughout Europe speak two or three languages by the age of 10.  Almost none of the Americans I have ever crossed paths with had this skill under their belt, nor is it one that particularly interests us.  Europeans pride themselves on knowing things, on learning.  Americans often scoff at this.  There is a reason one of the American stereotypes if that we are ignorant.  Its majorly rooted in truth when compared with Europeans.

8.  In Europe, everyone smokes.  There is no negative stigma to it over here so sadly, its still wide spread.  Luckily, a negative stigma has grown with regards to smoking over in the US.  This has decreased the percentage of people who smoke cigarettes in large numbers.

9.  People are far worse drivers in the US as opposed to many Europeans.  In Germany specifically, the drivers education is far more intensive and drawn out than in the US.  In Germany, one has to pay a couple thousand dollars to take their drivers test.  If they fail, which many people do, they have to re-pay the $2,000 again, just to retake the test.  In the US, you sit in a classroom for a handful of hours, drive several times with an instructor, and then you are on the road at age 16.  In Europe, its more cost intensive and time consuming, resulting in much better drivers as a general rule.

This might explain some things... ;-p

10.  Americans tend to be more confident about things.  At its most negative, this can be arrogance.  Americans think they know how to do everything.  They are fond of saying, "I've got it, I have it figured out.  I know this."  Germans are far more humble.  They tend to say things like, "well, I am not totally sure about that.  I can sort of do it.  I know a little bit about this, but I could learn far more."

This is of course, not necessarily a list rooted in concrete fact.  These were merely our opinions and observations.  Myself (American) and my two friends (German) came up with this list together, bouncing our own opinions and thoughts off of each other, all the while, laughing and nodding knowingly.

Can anyone else think of some stereotypes that differ vastly between a European standpoint versus an American standpoint that I missed?  I am sure there are many!