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Decision 2012: U.S. vs. Everywhere Else

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My Swedish significant other and I have been looking for opportunities to work internationally. We've discussed moving to the U.S. (where I'm from), moving to Asia (where I've worked before), or staying here (Sweden). It's our Decision 2012.

I have a dissonant feeling about moving home. I have spells of homesickness, which are frequently interrupted by anxiety and nausea.

I have recently spoken with another U.S. expat who is completing her first year living in Germany. She loves living abroad, but she has pressure from her family to move back home.

"Pressure," I asked?

She answered quite simply that her parents want her to "start her real life".

"Real life," I asked, "what's that?"

Let me clear some things up about living abroad: It's not all one big frat party. Frat parties are not language immersion classes -- but my life is. Grocery shopping is a Swedish language lesson whether I want one that morning or not. Additionally, as an expat we're forced to wear our nationality like a tattoo. We bear the international brunt of horrendous things said by Fox News, Donald Trump and Lindsey Lohan.

Regardless, being an expat is an amazing experience and I told this new expat to keep traveling. I have watched other expat friends go home to start their 'real life', and I have yet to see how their life is any 'realer' than mine, outside of the fact that they are unemployed, paying out the nose for health care and can easily find Cool Ranch Doritos.

Yet homesickness still hits me, but while I miss cool summer nights drinking beers on State and Division in ol' Chicago, I have doubts it's the right place for us.

Reasons being:

1. Bipartisan politics
  • Both parties have locked horns. There isn't a Republican or Democrat who can change that.
  • Religion has found a way to run everything, even though that's exactly what our founding fathers wanted us to avoid.
  • Our media continues to point in all directions except at themselves. We need less Hollywood, more Wall Street and Washington. But for some strange reason people keep begging for Jersey Shore.
2. Gender roles, expectations and inequality
  • Women want equal pay. They also want access to birth control. They want to be able to have sex for pleasure, just like men.
  • They are fighting the wrong battle. First, they need to tell their church, their government and their media that they are done buying into the pressure to have babies and marriages. They will need to make a strong statement and stick together. It is okay to be single. It is okay to be gay. It is okay to be in a relationship but not get married. It is okay to have babies. It is okay not to have babies.
  • Unfortunately, this will not happen, because most women don't want to give up the medieval idea that good looks, legal marriage and babies improve their net worth.
3. Class system: Blue Collar, White Collar, Gold Collar
  • The middle class will continue to shrink.
  • What happened to it being okay to be a construction or factory worker? What happened to valuing teachers? I want to physically punch someone when they say: "Those who can do; those who can't, teach." I know some very successful lawyers, doctors and business professionals that wouldn't last a day teaching 3rd graders.
  • What happened to the United States valuing their citizens? Unions -- we need them. Not everyone is a CEO, and that's okay. It takes more than one person to run a company and a country, but every occupation has value.
  • These days, we are taught by the old boomer generation that if you don't go to a university, you will be poor. People are pushed into universities before they even know what they want to do. Hence, we have a ton of confused graduates with Bachelor's Degrees. Most have a very large loan debt and no decent job to pay it off.
  • Where are all these white collar jobs to validate the need for all these university graduates? Hmm.
  • This explains why we have well-educated university graduates, quoting Shakespeare's sonnets or the chemistry table, making your grande cappuccino.
  • These people would have been better off with a hourly job, borrowing Shakespeare's volumes and Chemistry for Dummies from the library and taking the time after high school to map out a financial and career timeline that makes sense to them and their generation.
4. Rights
  • There is a lot of talk about 'rights' these days: Right to marry, right to health care, right to have guns, etc. People are worried about 'too much government control'.
  • Well, frankly, I'm okay with the government taking away guns. I don't feel comfortable with racist bigots wondering around with loaded weapons.
  • I most definitely want some free healthcare in case these people decide to shoot me for saying something they deem "un-American".
  • I'm not sure people should fight for the right to marry -- I think they should fight for the right to receive these benefits without a governmental marriage contract.
  • I've heard conservatives say that we have no right to rich peoples' money. I'd like to turn that around and say that the rich people have no right to MY money either, but, unlike them, I'm willing to share it to make a better community, school and healthcare facility. I'm pretty sure that's why I'm poor and they're rich.

I think, in the end, the idea of moving home frightens me. And, I think after all these reasons listed above, it should.