So without further adeu:
3 days, 5 hours ago
Great post. Makes me want to have brew with you and soak this in some more. I quit my corporate gig right after I got my Y2K bonus and was banking on the stock market bubble. Six months later I was living in Spain. My initial trip was for 8 weeks, but I stayed for a year. A year later I knew I could never go back to a job like that again (the high paid, lots of hours kind). I felt like I broke out of the matrix and realized that lots of other countries were living it up so much better than we Americans. I tried to break some of my friends out of the matrix, but there were no takers. Its hard to convert people who have been institutionalized for so long. Lots of people I worked with would say, â€œOh, I wish I could do that.â€� Most of them young and single. I would tell them you can, but you canâ€™t do it while paying for that BMW in the driveway at the same time. After a sigh, they would all choose the BMW.
I realize a lot of Americans donâ€™t like hearing that America is not so great in some ways. America is the greatest country in many ways that matterâ€¦ if you happen to be a country. I grew up comfortable in the knowledge that we had the largest most technically advanced economy, that we had the most powerful military, that we had the best universities, the best hospitals, most material wealth, best movies and TV, and the hottest women, etc, etc, ad nauseum (poor me, I was so naive). After living abroad and over time realizing what I had been missing, but not knowing what to with my life; I had a hard time coming to grips with realization that my wealthy American lifestyle was so lacking compared to my materially humble lifestyle in various other countries. All those great stats that show the USA is #1 just did not translate into a better quality of life for me or most other people, as far as I could tell. It wasnâ€™t an easy transformation. At first I had major TV and junk food withdrawals for months. The side benefit was I literally walked my ass off and lost 3 inches in my jeans. My social life and sex life elevated to a level that is basically unobtainable within the US. Throw on top all I learned and all the great friends I made, there was no way I could just go home and plug back in again.
How could I have been so blind for so long? I was totally indoctrinated by American culture and values that I had grown up with. I saw 2 movies abroad that I skipped in â€™90s because I was too busy poring over RFCs for my job while Seinfeld and Friends played in the background. They were Fight Club and Office Space. Ironically two American movies in English in a non-English speaking country. They resonated with me all the more since they validated and put into words the path I had already started.
When I got home after that first trip I noticed a few things. First, how fat everyone was. Seriously, it took me two weeks to cope with that alone. The other thing was how bland and unfulfilling life in America was. And Iâ€™m still not over that. I now felt like a foreigner in my own country. I had changed and had experiences that just would not permit me to integrate back into American society to the way I was before. Itâ€™s why I no longer live full time in America any more. I have no idea if this is how returning troops feel when they return, but Iâ€™m slightly different now and feel slightly foreign and just not being able to connect with friends at home the same as before. This is actually a pretty shitty feeling, but who knew it would happen?
Iâ€™ve had the conversation so many times with my stateside compatriots, even the ones I grew up with who have taken the obligatory packaged vacations abroad. Itâ€™s like discussing sex with a eunuch. If you havenâ€™t experienced significant time abroadâ€¦ enough time to look back at America from very different vantage points, you are just not going to understand what some people in this thread already know.
3 days, 2 hours ago
Great story Marc.
â€œI now felt like a foreigner in my own country. I had changed and had experiences that just would not permit me to integrate back into American society to the way I was before.â€�
This is what Iâ€™m afraid you. Enough time abroad and youâ€™re permanently changed."