pocketnico saidAlso, I have to say that in my experience of travels, we really aren't as different from each other as we like to believe. I mean, most of us who are from industrialized/globalized countries, we have far more similarities than differences. Sure, we have some different beliefs, habits, and modes of expression, but they're quite minor in the grand scheme of things. I hate harping on such little things when we're basically the same.
This is a great observation. I lived in France for a full year during college. It was great.
There were also plenty of things I hated about France and that surprised me greatly. In particular (now this was 1999) they were AWFUL about recycling. Even in the largest towns, it was all I could do to find a place to recycle my glass and plastic bottles. Even in Paris it was terrible. Almost everything there went to the incinerators- a fact that Germany hates. Now in Germany at the same time, you could recycle something as uncommon as a cassette tape in a place as common as a train station.
Another thing I encountered in France was widespread racism. The racism I found against Arabs in France was unlike anything I had ever encountered in the US, and I would argue that, given the recent riots in Paris, the French are easily 40 years behind the US with internal racial tensions.
Now, no matter how cool Germany was...need I mention the racism I saw there against Turks?
But I digress. To agree with Pocketnico's point, after a full year in France, the novelty and romanticism wore off and I got used to life there. Sure there are lots of differences, but ultimately I came to experience "life in just another western country." Plain old life in industrialized France... I lost my desire to leave the US, and it was during that time away that I started to miss some peculiar things here. That made my decision to stay here.