I love racing in Europe but its hard – really hard. I think sometimes people don't quite grasp that fact.
One, the courses are so much more demanding than anything we race here, and it takes a couple of years to learn how to properly race a CX bike. Two, at least for me, I live, train, eat, sleep, hangout pretty much by myself over there. That's a hard thing to do for months on end, especially when the racing is so tough and you aren't getting the results you want. All you have to do is sit around and think about the racing and there is no real escape from racing. But you can't forget the fact that those guys are just damn fast and the racing never really lets up. I have never had my legs ache so bad as after doing some of the heavy races over there.
Just like road racing, cross is part of European culture, maybe even more so for cross because of how accessible the racing is. Look at any of the Youtube video from the euro races and you'll see thousands of people at each race.
So I am in my first year of "... learn[ing] how to properly race a CX bike." Each time I ride that bike I feel a little more comfortable on it and hopefully get a little faster. Now I just have to work on my dismounts.
A faster, cleaner dismount = faster through the barriers = not getting passed by so many other riders.
Faster = happier.