Comparing American and European teens

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Summer is the perfect time to relax, let loose and explore. All around the globe, adolescents spend the entire school year planning and dreaming about their summer vacations.
Naturally, with each geographical region comes a different plan and a different dream, mostly because of the opportunities given within each area.
While I cannot speak for every continent on the planet, I have had my fair share of summers in both the United States and Europe and they are both very different experiences.
While summer in the United States generally implies summer camp or sightseeing with parents, a European summer gives teens much more responsibility and freedom.
We are not talking about the secret life of the American teenager here, which sometimes entails  teen parties, drinking and other things. Of course not all American teens engage in these activities, but some do and not all parents are aware of it.
The difference between European and American teens is that the majority of European parents are aware of their children’s actions. And they do things legally because the drinking age in Europe is lower than that of the United States.
European summers usually include loads of choices. Of course, shopping is mandatory, considering teenagers there dress like “Gossip Girl” characters.
Second, a trip to the beach and/or pool is also required. European teenagers also adore tanning, though they use the sun as their primary tanning source, rather than tanning beds, to get their summery glows.
And last, but not least, clubbing is on the list of things to do. Since it is possible for anyone to get into a club once they turn 16, and the drinking age in all European countries is between 16 and 18, it’s a no-brainer why teens prefer this type of fun to anything else.
The question is: do Europeans get to have these experiences too early? And what about their childhood? Well, no country seems to be right in what they allow their teenagers to do. Sure, Americans still do most of the things that European teenagers do, but wouldn’t it be better if a compromise was made and teens wouldn’t have to hide their drinking and partying?
It does not have to be an extreme. If teenagers were allowed into clubs at an earlier age, or at least if more non-drinking clubs were open across the United States, teens would have better ways to entertain themselves and a fair amount of bad statistics that currently haunt our country would probably be lower.
The American teen has something over its European counterpart, though: Maturity and innocence. It’s not uncommon for American teens to have a summer job and maybe even party a bit, but when his or her friends call for a TP session or a shaving cream fight, he or she likely will not say no.
European teens, on the other hand, just pretend to be mature. If put in the same situation as the American, the mere thought of a shaving cream fight might put a grimace across his or her face.
Even though these two continents seem to have extreme belief differences about the ways teens spend their summers, some activities do not change around the globe.
The traditional dinner and a movie is well-regarded on both fronts, as is the traditional concert or music festival. Screaming fans will be screaming fans wherever they get to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”
Although, I think Americans get a point for enthusiasm, too, at least in the movie section. As for concerts, well, that point goes to Europe’s youth. All in all, a balance between Europe and the United States seems like the perfect vacation to me.

--Madalina Ciuca is a senior at Los Alamos High School.