Today’s guest post comes from Candace Fykes.-Rob
We all have that Uncle. You know the one. The one who after his third beer after Thanksgiving dinner declares that “There ain’t no better place to live than right here in the U.S. of A.” He always seems to say this within earshot of your quiet cousin’s significant other, who of course, is from abroad. All your older relatives nod and chime in agreement, while your other cousin who is on leave from the Peace Corps rolls her eyes.
Nobody outright negates him or points out that he has never lived more than two counties away from his house. Yet, everyone concedes that he must, in fact, be right.
And to be fair, to a certain extent, he is. Generally, most Americans share a level of access to amenities that are often in short supply around the world. But in other cases, there are benefits to living abroad that he and his ilk have yet to consider. Let’s examine them now:
The Cost of Living
The US does a lot of things well for their citizens, but it doesn’t do them cheaply. I recently ran into another group of travelers while I was in Granada. We got talking about my living situation. I told them that I was paying 250 euros for my room. “A week?” The husband asked me. “No,” I replied. “A month.”
In most places in the US, this is unfathomable. Consider also that I am staying in the city center in one of the most famous cities in this country. What’s more, when I was living in Valencia, I paid 300 euros for an entire apartment. This is about the same amount of money that my mother pays—just for her cable bill. Granted, it is one of those package deals that include Tv. Internet and a landline; but still, the contrast is staggering.
As I was moving, I contacted a good friend of mine. It turns out that she was in the hospital. She had to have two surgeries in the span of a week and was spending another week there to recuperate. While I don’t mean to undercut the seriousness of her illness, I know for certain that had she been in the US, she would have been sent home by now. Or she would have racked up an absurdly high hospital bill that as a server in a bar she would not have been able to pay off.
In quite the opposite situation, I had a Spanish friend who moved to New York. He ended up in the hospital after swallowing a cup of peroxide. As the hospital, he was given a cup of (actual) water and was sent off with a thousand-dollar bill. He fought the cost for months because (as he rightfully stated) they hadn’t actually done anything. Eventually, his bill was paid by the Spanish healthcare system. Again, the Spanish government paid a hospital bill in an American hospital. How many of us could say the same if the roles were reversed?
But one of the biggest benefits of living abroad is the opportunity to travel. In the past month, I have been in two countries and 5 cities. In the past six months, I’ve been to 4 countries and 7 cities. In the past year, I’ve been to 7 countries and 11 cities. And in the past two years, well, you get the point. I’ve been able to travel more in the past few years more than I had in a lifetime up to that point. And I don’t mean traveling for work. I’ve been able to gallivant around the globe at my own leisure for my personal fulfillment. Save for Russia, Canada, China, and Australia, most of the countries in the world are significantly smaller than the US. That makes it so much easier to cross borders and cultures.
Making New Friends
Furthermore, traveling grants you the opportunity to engage with different people and cross paths with like-minded wanderers. If you are the type of person who likes to surround yourself with people who challenge your worldview—moving abroad is for you. Every day, for better or worse you will encounter people who will challenge your view of human nature and “normal” behavior. You will also learn how to fight for your values and what you believe in without disrespecting others; a useful skill that will come in handy wherever you go.
So, after you have returned from your journey, or are just taking a little reprieve back home, look that same Uncle in the eye and say, “While I love America, I wouldn’t say that it is the best place to live without actually living someplace else. It may lead you to change your mind. You should try it sometime.”
About the Author:
Candace Fykes is an American expat and writer currently making her way across Europe. Follow her adventures on her website https://www.travelingstrange.com/.
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