Zuzana on Europe

(Zuzana is my youngest daughter)

This was my first time going to Europe while being old enough to see people and things and form my own opinions. I was very surprised at the things I saw and the way people are since both my parents have their own opinions that differ from mine.

The first country that we visited was Germany. Although we didn't stay long, I found it to be very structured and everything was perfect and clean. This extends to the people who seemed very business oriented and seemed to like everything to be in order.

France and Italy, to me, were just the opposite. The people seemed very laid back, relaxed, and seemed to enjoy things being out of order. They seemed to take a special joy in life, and pride in things. When we were in Italy and their soccer team lost in the World Cup, people closed restaurants and shops to mourn the loss. Of course, we didn't realize this and went out for supper.

The Ukraine was very different from any of the other places we visited. People, especially in the country, live the way people lived in Canada about a hundred years ago. They own cows that they graze and milk every day. They cut hay and dry it manually in the fields. Houses there are built step by step; every time the family that's building the house saves money, they buy another door or bricks for walls to add to the already half build house. Most of the people also don't have any running water - wells and outhouses are used. The people in the country are very friendly and helpful ready to lend a hand at any time. We did encounter some less friendly people in the cities, where at a market we went to some ladies try to rob tourists (pickpockets). We also saw filthy kids, about five or six years old, in torn clothes begging for money. In many ways the cities were worse for poverty than the country where if you own a cow you can survive.

Finally, we spent about three weeks, on a farm, in the Czech Republic where we have relatives. This is where we got to spend time with people our age that are from Europe. We experienced many things like a barrel of beer, and just hanging out with some Czech boys. We saw how different their lives are from ours. Most people our age in the Czech Republic don't have part-time jobs, but are supported by their parents and therefore they have more time to enjoy life and have less stress. This however also gives parents more control over their kids and it makes families spend more time together. People our age also don't have to worry about paying for University since it's payed for by the government. Otherwise, they generally have the same interests as Canadians - go out and have fun, etc.

I found that seeing all these different people and places made me realize that their are many possibilities in life. It also taught me more about Europe and my heritage and was a fun trip. I also learned how high the Eiffel Tower actually is especially going halfway up using the stairs.

September 1998