Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life in Europe:

I have now lived in Western Europe for almost four years. I really feel at home in Western Europe. I don't feel like an outsider and I don't feel foreign, either. Ik spreek Nederlands. There is a strange transition period when one is an 'immigrant', and when the people who previously surrounded you, in your former home, actually don't know you, or what it is that you are up to, anymore. Or where you spend your time, where you live, or what your daily life is like. There is no sharing of experiences, except digitally. Whenever I went back to the USA after living in Copenhagen or Düsselforf, I couldn't help but compare and question every aspect of my life in the States to that of mine in Europe. It was just different. I do love the young and educated super-liberals in the USA who hold Europe in such high esteem. Myself being one of them, when I lived there. When asked what their preferred political affiliation they easily spill out: Social Democracy. It's easy to look to Europe from America and think that everything here just works. 'Oh in Europe they have high speed trains. In Europe everyone cycles. In Europe, people eat dinner over the course of three hours, and really... just enjoy life. In Europe they have six weeks of vacation. In Europe they're really environmentally friendly. In Europe the cars are really little and they tax gas–and car ownership–quite a lot. All for the better I say!'...I guess most of these things are true. But Europe is not a magical paradise that Americans tend to get through the media. Europe is a continent with a beautiful background and landscape that its daily life occurs against. This is no way makes people more cultured or educated. But it's often hard to see beyond that when visiting Europe for the first time. I recently dug through my former digital publication and found my first post, about my first few days in Copenhagen. I was so stunned to read how different I thought daily life was in the Nordic, from that in the USA. But I imagine at the end of the day, the lifestyles, beyond the visuals, were quite the same. We are all humans, part of a larger circular cycle that interconnects and intwines us all.