Why I love living in Europe

I come from a big country. In Australia we can leave home bound for a 5 hour plane journey and still land in the same country. The landscape changes across our vast land but, generally speaking, our culture doesn’t really differ much. Australia is a land of one official language and, aside from those with parents from overseas backgrounds, we don’t make a great deal of effort to learn any others. It’s true that the history of our aboriginal people is rich, but the physical reminders of this are usually confined to more remote areas. The oldest architecture we have is 200 years old.

I say this not to deride Australia in any way. We have a beautiful country, amazing weather and a culture that gives us a reputation for being laid-back and friendly… the combination of which means that the Australian lifestyle is the envy of many. But I do say it to provide context to an Australian’s experience in Europe.

Yesterday morning I left my home in French-speaking Paris…

Gare du Nord

I passed through Belgium, a country that speaks both the Latin-origin language of my departure country and the Germanic-origin language of my destination country…

Brussels

And ended up 500 km away in Dutch-speaking Holland…

Amsterdam

And it’s not just at language where the similarities between these countries end,  even though they are geographically so close to each other. Their histories are different. Their architectures are different. Their cultures are different. Even their people sizes are different… being in Amsterdam feels like stepping into the land of the giants compared to Paris!

This France/Belgium/Holland example is only just scratching the surface. Europe is made up of 50 internationally-recognised sovereign states, the majority of which have cultural, linguistic and historic characteristics that, although inter-related, are distinctly different.

Even though I have lived in Europe for about 6 years now, the diversity that can be found in such close proximity never ceases to astonish me. Everywhere I go on this amazing continent, I am reminded of the histories and traditions that form this huge melting pot of cultures. Whilst I would never want to be drawn into a debate about which continent I prefer, as both my homeland and my adopted place of residence have their respective merits, one thing I can say is that the experience living in Europe has broadened my appreciation of just how amazing our world really is.

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