I didn't do the whole "buy a Eurail pass and sleep on a train every night between cities" routine in college. Hell, I never did it (nor do I plan to). Many of my classmates did, though, on the break between classes during our term in the UK. I spent time with family, only getting to three cities in the same time most of my friends went to 20. Many of them came back with stories of mishaps and unintentional adventures along the way - most of those having to do with the trains.
It's not that train travel in Europe is confusing. Far from it, it's usually quite orderly and logical. The two problems Americans have the potential of running into are that most of us don't take trains at home (the rail network here is laughable), and we're also generally not used to dealing with anything but English. (There are several politically charged comments I could make about that fact, but I'll refrain. For now.)
Well, these days there's no reason for Americans to be confused about train travel in Europe anymore. Among other reasons, there's the fabulous Eurail Blog. It's informative and interesting, varying between tips about train travel (both Eurail-specific and otherwise) in Europe and travel tidbits about the places one stops between train trips. For instance, recently there was this great tip - make Mondays your big travel days. Why? Many museums are closed on Mondays. Clever, no?
At any rate, it's a great site for anyone who's coming up on their first European train trip, or anyone who hasn't done Europe by train in awhile. The only downside is that it's making even this beautiful sunny day in Portland pale in comparison to being on a train in Europe somewhere...
Full disclosure: Eurail Blog is part of the BootsnAll Travel Network, my new employer. As I learn more about the various resources in the Network, I'll post information about them here.