My time in Europe is quickly coming to a close. For the past three years (would have been four if it wasn’t for Osama) I have had the privilege to live in a part of the world others pay thousands to visit. I think I’ve been pretty good about getting out and seeing The Europe. There is always more I could have done, but just like anywhere, some weekends are best spent sitting your ass on a couch and relaxing.
I don’t think I’ll ever have so many profound experiences in such a short period of time again. I’ll miss living here dearly, but I’m looking forward to being back stateside for awhile. I have to say goodbye to the tile roofs and cafes of Italy, and say hi again to the vinyl siding and strip malls of the states. However! I can now make small talk with waiters and get some nachos or a Slurpee at 2 a.m. if I want. I hope to one day live overseas again, but am very much looking forward to being closer to my family and friends and the conveniences of the States. Plus I’m excited about my new job. I get to corrupt young minds and the military public affairs field for years to come.
Below I’ve listed off a few things I’ve learned as an American and a soldier living overseas:
- Drinking Chianti IN Chianti earns you bragging rights.
- The most important word to know in all of Eastern Europe is “pivo.” It means “beer” in, like, ten countries.
- No matter where you go in Eastern Europe, the band Europe’s “Final Countdown” can be found on the jukebox and will be played at least once a night.
- Absinthe tastes like shit.
- The best pizza I ever had was in a small town in Poland. Go figure.
- Bratislava is a weird, weird place. But that is what makes it so cool.
- The coolest McDonald’s in the world is at the Brennar Pass in Austria. Looking over the Alps while eating a Big Mac rules.
- In Budapest, a vampire just may pop out from any corner.
- Venetians are cocks.
- Romans rule.
- I don’t care what anyone says, France is awesome and the people there are nice as hell – at least in Normandy.
- A baguette and sausage are the perfect companions to a beer.
- British people can party.
- Nothing is more serene and humbling than walking through the white crosses at the American cemetery in Normandy on a day when it is closed off to everyone but military and press.
- U2 is HUGE in Ireland. Who would have thought?
- The wonders of Ireland can be found both inside and outside of the pubs.
- Nothing is cooler than being called a “lad” by an old Irish guy.
- The countryside of Switzerland is absolutely beautiful. The girls at the Swiss Hooters are not so much.
- Rabbits are very popular pets in Germany.
- Listening to Dixieland jazz in Prague is surreal.
- The best way to spend six Euros in Europe is by climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence.
- Street signs, speed limits and traffic laws in general are mere suggestions in Italy.
- Topless beaches aren’t as cool as you might think.
- There is only one kind of salad dressing in Italy. Vinegar and oil.
- If you drive to Germany for any type of temporary duty, it is an unwritten law that you bring a rack or two of Heffenweizen back with you to share.
- Weinerschnitzel is just a fried pork cutlet.
- Everywhere in Europe is pretty much what you expect it’s going to be like.
- If you have a layover at the airport in Amsterdam, you drink a Heineken. Even if it is 10 a.m.
- You come to Italy expecting Tony Soprano. You get Justin Timberlake instead.
- The really dark red meat at the grocery store is horse.
- Shooting an AK 47 and riding Russian tanks and helicopters in Poland is good clean fun.
- Only a country that produced The David, St. Peter’s Bascilica and Piazza di San Marco could invent gelato.
- Grappa tastes like shit.
- When skiing or snowboarding, there is no better lunch than red wine and pasta.
- Guinness tastes better in Dublin, especially on St. Patrick’s day.
- American Soldiers are treated like celebrities in Normandy. WWII vets are treated like gods.
- Starbucks sucks and charges WAY too much for an espresso.
- You grow to love the sound of bell towers chiming unless you live or are staying next door to one.
- The best place to see the Italian countryside is from the top of those towers. Just don’t be leaning over the railing when the bells go off.
- Watching a female’s reaction after using an Italian hole-in-the-ground toilette for the first time is priceless.
- Gypsies are only cool in movies. In real life, they steal your stuff.
- The mullet is not dead.
- A man saying “ciao” is only acceptable to those living in Italy.
Adrian Schulte is a native of Colorado who stumbled around life for a while until joining the Army as a journalist at the age of 22. For eight years immediately following 9/11, he traveled the wold on Uncle Sam’s dime documenting the exploits of American paratroopers in exotic locales such as back country Poland and Afghanistan. He left the military in 2009 and spent a couple years as a fed in Washington, DC. He escaped the yoke of federal life and now lives back in his home state of Colorado working as a professional communicator for a government contractor. He still enjoys traveling. And chicken.