A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Taking a Mini-Retirement Now: Reason #48 February 22, 2010

Four to five weeks holiday isn’t a dream it’s standard in Western European countries.

If you think that a four to five-week holiday is a dream it’s not; in fact, it’s a reality in Western Europe and other countries around the world.

After traveling around the world for 10 months and now living in Italy for the past year, going back to the United States is going to be a challenge.  I still don’t understand this American ideology that one needs to work 60…70..80 hours a week, taking virtually no vacation (two weeks on average) while trying to move up the corporate ladder.  The European economy, in general, is a sound economy and average employees receive four to five weeks holiday, in some countries siesta’s during the day, and in general, they don’t stay at the office longer than they have to; whereas, in the States, the more hours you put in gives you bragging rights.

“I worked 70 hours last week,” one employee says to the other.

“Oh yeah, well I worked 80 hours, slept in my office and still haven’t showered today,” the other retorts with a coffee-induced- shaky-smile.

I don’t even want to imagine what this conversation will be like in ten years if this workaholic lifestyle continues. Things could get pretty smelly (pun intended).

The point is, four to five week holidays seem like an absolute, unattainable dream for Americans; one, that is often times in our hopes but out of reach. However, it is not unattainable. Millions of Europeans and citizens from other countries live this dream each year.  They have a balanced lifestyle of work and play; this is their philosophy for life.

We, as over-worked, stressed out Americans, need to reanalyze our work ideology.  Really, I promise, you’re not being a slacker if you work fewer hours; in fact, it’s the smart thing to do. Aren’t you a better employee when you aren’t anxious and strung out on caffeine?  Aren’t you a more productive employee when you get a good night’s  rest?  Aren’t you a more efficient employee when you choose a working method that suits you as long as you produce results?

Weekends are essential for recuperating from the work week, just as four to five weeks of vacation are to recuperating from the work year.  Don’t feel guilty for wanting to take off on holiday for four to five weeks; rather, Americans, you should be feeling pissed-off that you’re not already.  And, look at the Boston Tea Party–with enough pissed off Americans, we can change the rules.

 

It’s About Time. November 5, 2008

I remember in 2002, when I backpacked throughout Europe and studied abroad in Rome, Italy, giant PACE (peace) flags, the color of a rainbow, hung from almost every apartment window. In 2004, I lived in Perth, Australia for a year long exchange, and watched from abroad as Bush was re-elected for a second term, the weeks after which, I felt more heat and ridicule of “being an American”. In 2005, I travelled in South America for two months; my mom wanted me to sew a Canadian flag to my backpack and tell people I was from Vancouver. For the past six years that I have been travelling abroad, being an American has not been a comfortable or exciting identity to hold. Usually I get the “I’m sorry for you” look, or the “I hate Bush” comment, which for me has been okay since I agree.

This year, however, as I spent 8 months travelling around the world, there was a new feel to being an American. In fact, it was exciting to say that I was from the USA. My thoughts about the upcoming election was the first thing asked by foreigners and locals once they found out I was American. Instead of the “boo, another stupid American” glance, it was a look of excitement, “What do you think about Obama and McCain? Who do you want to win!”

“OBAMA!” I would exclaim. 98% of whom I talked to would smile back at me, their eyes lit up as they shouted, “Yes! Me too!”

It was refreshing that foreigners weren’t trying to talk to me about the war in Iraq or the IQ level of my President, instead they were looking to the future of America and the changes that would hopefully take place witha new president. Obama has quite the feat of obstacles ahead of him. He is only one man. He is not perfect. But, he is a change. He is hope for America and the international community alike.

With Barack Obama being elected as the United State’s 44th President, I finally feel great about proclaiming to the international community that, “I am American!”

And thank goodness…it’s about time.