I have been in France for technically a month now and time has been moving so fast. This is my last week of classes before break and it has been a great learning experience. The last two weekends I traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Visiting those two countries made me realize how different they are from not only The United States but also France. Switzerland was just way too expensive for me. One hamburger literally costs 17 Francs, which is 17 Euros, which is about 18 dollars.
That was just ridiculous and I came to the conclusion that they must be VERY well off because that’s normal for them. If that is normal for them, I really want to know what it means to be rich there. Being in Lausanne was really nice and such a change of pace.
We took a tour around the town and in a beautiful Cathedral. We heard different stories about how the buildings were made and when. They had a fountain outside where people fill their water bottles up and also just drink from it, I guess the water is clean enough to do that.
Right now in Europe, the Eurocup 2016 is going on, which are different football (soccer) matches with the countries of Europe and this year, it is actually hosted in France. During my time in Switzerland, I walked around and saw that a bunch of people were gathered around a huge TV screen to watch the game between Switzerland and Albania.
I definitely needed something different and another city was perfect. Although, I did find out that in train stations and rest stops, you have to pay 1 euro just to go to the bathroom, which is annoying. That is also in France, so if you go to Europe and you have to go, make sure you have some change.
Going to Amsterdam was an actual culture shock for me, I couldn’t believe how free they were to do certain things. In Amsterdam, prostitution and marijuana are legal and it was just very bizarre. During the day, as you walk down the main streets, you just smell the marijuana in the air.
They have these little cafés just for smoking marijuana. People smoke outside, but mostly inside because it is a social norm to go to the café to smoke. I found that very interesting and bizarre. Once the night hit, so did the red lights. The regular buildings that I saw during the day turned into a prostitution houses. The windows had bright red lights surrounding the frames.
As I got closer to the window, I noticed that there were women inside of the buildings in front of the windows with lingerie on, blowing kisses at any guy that passes by and looks for a second too long. If the window frames had blue lights, that means that the woman inside is actually a guy.
Apparently, the average number of people who hire each prostitute per night is 30. 30 people a night just really shocked me and for them, this is normal. They don’t think anything of it, but I know in America, proposing that to be legal would be a huge deal.
I think seeing these women in those definitely gave me the ultimate culture shock; I didn’t think I was going to experience that. Also, if you go to Amsterdam, make sure not to get hit in the road with a bike because they will hit you and keep going.
My two trips were very eye opening and I definitely saw a lot of differences just by being there for a day. It really changed my perspective on how things operate in different places in Europe.