From Affordable Tuition To Paid Time Off: 5 Ways Europe Outshines US, According To American Expat In Ireland


In 2018, TikTok user Kayleigh Donahue packed her bags in Rhode Island and jetted off to Dublin, Ireland, for what she thought would be a year-long adventure. Fast forward, and that year stretched into four rich, eye-opening years. Though she’s now moved back to the US, she still misses many things about European life.

Let’s dive into five areas where Donahue believes Europe outshines the U.S.

Traveling Is Easier and Cheaper

Europeans’ frequent country-hopping is enviable and, as discovered, highly affordable due to budget airlines. Image: Dall-E 3

In Europe, zipping across to multiple countries without emptying your wallet is the norm, thanks to an array of budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. Living in Ireland, Donahue managed to explore over 10 countries, from Italy to Greece, often snagging flight deals for as little as 20 euros. The convenience and affordability of travel in Europe allowed her to immerse herself in diverse cultures and landscapes, something that would have been much pricier back home.

Generous Paid Time Off

European labor laws ensure substantial paid vacation, a stark contrast to the US. Image: Dall-E 3

Europe takes work-life balance seriously. In her stint there, she enjoyed 29 paid vacation days, plus public holidays, adding up to roughly 40 days off per year. That’s a stark contrast to the US, where many don’t even get paid time off. European companies don’t just offer vacation; they encourage you to take it to recharge fully.

Multilingual Culture

Unlike the US, where bilingualism isn’t emphasized, Europe fosters multilingual education from a young age. Image: Dall-E 3

Unlike the US, where bilingualism isn’t as emphasized, Europe thrives on multilingualism. From Dutch to Portuguese, the people she met in Dublin could easily switch between languages, something that both impressed and inspired Donahue.

Quality And Prices Of Food

The availability and affordability of fresh, high-quality food were starkly different in Europe. Image: Dall-E 3

The quality and affordability of fresh produce in Europe were a revelation. Markets brimming with fresh fruits, vegetables, and artisanal products like bread and cheese were regular sights. In Ireland, Donahue spent about $50 weekly on groceries, a figure that has at least tripled since returning to Boston.

Affordable College Tuition

Pursuing higher education in Europe also proved more economical. Image: Dall-E 3

Tuition fees in Europe can be a fraction of those in the US. Donahue earned her master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin for about $20,000 per year — half of what she would have paid stateside. This affordability makes higher education more accessible and less financially daunting in Europe.

Image Created Using Dall-E 3

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