Why I left the US

In hindsight, growing up in white, middle-class suburbia in 1980s America was kind of like being brainwashed. I grew up believing that having money was an objective to strive for and that life was a ruthless competition. I worked hard in school and got a good job because that was what was expected of me. That was the path that was supposed to bring me happiness, except I followed that path, and I wasn’t happy.

At 23, I was already living the corporate rat race, working nearly 60 hours a week for a huge multinational conglomerate in Washington, D.C., and I felt too young for the lifestyle I was leading. In the course of my two years there, Washington had turned me from a naive political science graduate with aspirations of single-handedly changing a failing political system into a jaded, disenchanted old lady.

The tipping point came while I was sitting at home one Sunday evening. I felt a mounting sense of dread at the prospect of having to go to work the next day, and I started strategizing about how to stage my own kidnapping in order to get a few days off. That’s when I realized that I had been betrayed. I had believed every word of the American dream — work hard, make money, be happy — but it wasn’t so. Something had to change. 

I had friends who were working hard to prepare for early retirement, and even though I had no idea what else I could do, there was no way I was waiting that long to enjoy life.

One of the obvious alternatives pointed out to me, constantly and mostly by men, was to find a husband. That may have been the logical next step to most people, but after I read The Grown-Up’s Guide to Running Away From Home by Rosanne Knorr, I was convinced I needed to move away. I had traveled extensively on family vacations throughout my childhood and had recently returned from a work-related trip to Honduras. I thought about those experiences and dreamed of seeing the world, learning a language and being immersed in different cultures.

I had believed every word of the American dream — work hard, make money, be happy — but it wasn’t so. Something had to change.

It seemed that I needed to do something radical to find the happiness I hadn’t found via the “American dream,” and what could be more radical than leaving behind my country to live in another?

It was a pivotal moment in my life. I knew that if I brushed the idea under the rug and pretended it wasn’t there, I would end up regretting it, so I leaned into it.

After deciding to talk to everyone I could about my need to leave the country, I realized that I knew a lot of people who knew people who have done exactly what I wanted to do. One of those stories helped me choose a destination. A friend of a friend had moved to the Virgin Islands and was making more money taking tourists out snorkeling than he did working at his office job. That was it: If the Caribbean wasn’t a symbol of happiness, I didn’t know what was!

I didn’t hesitate to give my two weeks resignation letter to my boss after that conversation, and I reduced my belongings to merely a backpack. I went from owning a closet full of designer pantsuits to getting by on two pairs of shorts, three T-shirts and a pair of Tevas. I chose Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the West Indies, because I wanted to live in a non-English-speaking country, but knew there wouldn’t be a complete language barrier since I learned French in high school.

A few short months after giving my notice, I was sitting on a plane, looking out the window at the palm trees and sugar cane fields as we landed. It was the most liberating experience of my life because, finally, I was doing something for myself that I chose. My friends and family supported my decision mostly because they all thought that I just needed a year of travel to “get it out of my system.” But a year abroad turned into 20, and I never went back.

 
 

From Guadeloupe I traveled around the Caribbean and Latin America before settling in Europe. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been mine. On more than one occasion I questioned moving back to the U.S., but why I never did can only be explained by a combination of changing ideals — mine and the country’s — that to this day have not been reconciled.

Living abroad helped me see that life is not a race or a competition. The people I met abroad showed me how to find pleasure in leisurely lunches and long conversations. While I had always felt my life in the States was like a hierarchical ladder, with work being on the top rung, my life abroad felt more like a circle ― work was important but so were friends, hobbies and personal happiness. My lifestyle abroad felt more natural and focused on enjoying the present moment rather than a constant struggle to achieve “success” at some undetermined time in the future.

On more than one occasion I questioned moving back to the U.S., but why I never did can only be explained by a combination of changing ideals — mine and the country’s — that to this day have not been reconciled.

I grew up believing that the United States was the greatest country on Earth. In school I read that we were founded by pioneers with grand democratic ideals. We were the instigators of change, the protectors of justice and the leaders of the free world. It never occurred to me that the nature of us flaunting ourselves as No. 1 meant everyone else was second best. And when I experienced firsthand that “second best” was actually a whole lot better than what I was taught to believe, I felt a profound sense of betrayal.   

The U.S. is not the same country today that it was when I left it 20 years ago. I didn’t live in the America that’s scared to send its children to school for fear that they’ll be massacred by an adolescent with access to assault weapons. When I went back for a visit in the spring of 2017, I was horrified to learn that my high school in upstate New York has become a kind of gated community — no unauthorized visitors are allowed on the premises. Students need to pass through metal detectors to get inside and are patted down as if they are about to board a plane. My former elementary school is now littered with security cameras. It deeply saddens me that my teacher friends have to worry that they may need to start bringing guns into their classrooms for self-defense. It feels like the situation has gotten out of control and that America has spiraled into a gun-slinging Westworld.

Living in Europe has afforded me a luxury I never thought would matter — gun control. There’s nothing better than knowing that no one I know owns a gun. In the south of France, where I live, it is absolutely impossible to walk into a store, buy a gun and ammo, and leave with them in the same day. And beyond all of that, the military-grade weapons you can buy anywhere in the U.S. are illegal for ordinary citizens to purchase.

Of course gun control is not the only benefit I enjoy living in Europe. I certainly could say more about the work-life balance provided by the 35-hour workweek, the five weeks of paid vacation I enjoy each year, the two years paid unemployment benefits I would receive should I lose my job, my access to free health care, paid maternity leave, affordable child care, free education from age 3 through to university or the state-provided retirement pension I will receive at age 65.

Living abroad is not a choice for everyone, and I’m certainly not advocating that people massively immigrate elsewhere. However, it should be cause for reflection: Why is everyone taught to seek something better for their future rather than enjoy the present? Why is the U.S. government unwilling to fix issues around mental health, gun control and education, when those things will clearly improve the lives of its citizens? How many people have to die before something is done? Why is health and well-being for all not a national priority?

I love America but I hate what it is becoming. I’m sad that I cannot share the protection and benefits I enjoy daily with my American loved ones who are as deserving of them as I am. So while I chose to leave it, if others don’t want to, I now try to encourage them to fight for change.

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A friend of a friend had moved to the Virgin Islands and was making more money taking tourists out snorkeling than he did working at his office job. That was it: If the Caribbean wasn’t a symbol of happiness, I didn’t know what was!

 

I notice that when she packed her backpack for her trips through the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, she didn't pack any panties. 

Happiness can be found anywhere as long as there is contentment in our heart. Lots of us find happiness in America. Heck, there are happy people even in Guyana. I can understand her point of view but it is not the only valid point of view. There are people in caravans at the southern border right now trying to enter America. It has been good to lots of us and while we currently have a poke for president, he only has two and a half years left ......... if not sooner.

One last thing. she said that she never went back to America and in the very next paragraph, she said that she did for a visit in 2017. 

These whites have the same dreams of the third world countries as Guyanese have for ABC countries

 Wait until she gets attacked at night by criminals then her dreams will be broken and she will run back to the USA. 

It is like those back to Africa African Americans from the 1960s who went back to America. They all came back to America because dreams cannot full a hungry belly

 

Of course gun control is not the only benefit I enjoy living in Europe. I certainly could say more about the work-life balance provided by the 35-hour workweek, the five weeks of paid vacation I enjoy each year, the two years paid unemployment benefits I would receive should I lose my job, my access to free health care, paid maternity leave, affordable child care, free education from age 3 through to university or the state-provided retirement pension I will receive at age 65.

 

YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT IN AMERICA, BEING #1 IS BRAIN WASHED IN THE AMERICANS MIND, THEY NEED TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND SEE LIFE , MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ENJOYS A MUCH BETTER LIVING.

Prashad posted:

These whites have the same dreams of the third world countries as Guyanese have for ABC countries

 Wait until she gets attacked at night by criminals then her dreams will be broken and she will run back to the USA. 

It is like those back to Africa African Americans from the 1960s who went back to America. They all came back to America because dreams cannot full a hungry belly

 

guess America don't have criminals

Prashad posted:

These whites have the same dreams of the third world countries as Guyanese have for ABC countries

 Wait until she gets attacked at night by criminals then her dreams will be broken and she will run back to the USA. 

It is like those back to Africa African Americans from the 1960s who went back to America. They all came back to America because dreams cannot full a hungry belly

 

Bai, while I insist that America is the greatest country in the world and I would rather live here than anywhere else, I must temper your enthusiasm a bit by reminding you that even in America, one can also get attacked at night by criminals. Also, America also has its share of hungry belly people although lots of those seems to be a result of their own actions.

Prashad posted:

These whites have the same dreams of the third world countries as Guyanese have for ABC countries

 Wait until she gets attacked at night by criminals then her dreams will be broken and she will run back to the USA. 

It is like those back to Africa African Americans from the 1960s who went back to America. They all came back to America because dreams cannot full a hungry belly

 

She is in the south of france dum dum...probably on the outskirts of Nice. The climate is good all year around, lots of great scenic places to visit, great restaurants, quiet life or busy life,  whatever you want. It is not a third world location.  My sister is in Valencia, daughters in Nice and Girona. My kids move a lot but I doubt they are coming back. I am gonna find my way there as soon as I can. I have lived most of my life here and no longer is surprised. I want adventure in europe where so much history is around you.

Prashad posted:

These whites have the same dreams of the third world countries as Guyanese have for ABC countries

 Wait until she gets attacked at night by criminals then her dreams will be broken and she will run back to the USA. 

It is like those back to Africa African Americans from the 1960s who went back to America. They all came back to America because dreams cannot full a hungry belly

 

Remember they were coming to Canada if Trump won ? Guess what ? They cannot leave the greatest nation on earth, they were all bluffing.

Reeper posted:

Looks like she ran from the US to go right back to a 9 to 5 in Europe. The Caribbean did not work out it seems. Many gaps in her story, not enough to convince anyone why the US is supposedly a hell hole for the rest of us living here. 

If you can fit in the culture you will like it. By now you would have acquired some backup money to support an easier lifestyle than a nine to five. After working hard one deserves to live easy.As long as you are here work always take priority. My sister has lived there part of the year for more than a decade. My kids are gone now close to ten years also. They have a home here as well that they visit once or twice a year.

ksazma posted:

I notice that when she packed her backpack for her trips through the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, she didn't pack any panties. 

Happiness can be found anywhere as long as there is contentment in our heart. Lots of us find happiness in America. Heck, there are happy people even in Guyana. I can understand her point of view but it is not the only valid point of view. There are people in caravans at the southern border right now trying to enter America. It has been good to lots of us and while we currently have a poke for president, he only has two and a half years left ......... if not sooner.

One last thing. she said that she never went back to America and in the very next paragraph, she said that she did for a visit in 2017. 

With all the hate for Trump and all the hate that Trump spews, who will want to return to such a place. The non-white ppl who never had anything material values before coming to America have made the place a shithole.

Nobody wants to live in shithole, unless the ones who came from a shithole. For example, Guyana. Fing up the great USA.

Stormborn posted:
Reeper posted:

Looks like she ran from the US to go right back to a 9 to 5 in Europe. The Caribbean did not work out it seems. Many gaps in her story, not enough to convince anyone why the US is supposedly a hell hole for the rest of us living here. 

If you can fit in the culture you will like it. By now you would have acquired some backup money to support an easier lifestyle than a nine to five. After working hard one deserves to live easy.As long as you are here work always take priority. My sister has lived there part of the year for more than a decade. My kids are gone now close to ten years also. They have a home here as well that they visit once or twice a year.

To each his/her own  I suppose , the US is large and varied enough for me to find an ideal paradise in its vast territories.  We have from Hawaii to Alaska to choose, not counting US Virgin islands and PR.  

Riff posted:
antabanta posted:

Riff.... what do you think of the article?

Sometimes people in the US forget what real life is all about.....there has to be a balance, one cannot get caught up in the rat race

Why do ordinary people forget what life is all about and get caught up in the rat race?

Riff posted:
antabanta posted:

Riff.... what do you think of the article?

Sometimes people in the US forget what real life is all about.....there has to be a balance, one cannot get caught up in the rat race

Don't want to get caught up in the rat race, flipping burgers at McDonald's is a no pressure job. You can make an honest living and still stay out of the rat race. Some days during my working days, I felt like flipping burgers at MD might be more satisfying than pounding the keyboard and dealing with users.

Reeper posted:
Stormborn posted:
Reeper posted:

Looks like she ran from the US to go right back to a 9 to 5 in Europe. The Caribbean did not work out it seems. Many gaps in her story, not enough to convince anyone why the US is supposedly a hell hole for the rest of us living here. 

If you can fit in the culture you will like it. By now you would have acquired some backup money to support an easier lifestyle than a nine to five. After working hard one deserves to live easy.As long as you are here work always take priority. My sister has lived there part of the year for more than a decade. My kids are gone now close to ten years also. They have a home here as well that they visit once or twice a year.

To each his/her own  I suppose , the US is large and varied enough for me to find an ideal paradise in its vast territories.  We have from Hawaii to Alaska to choose, not counting US Virgin islands and PR.  

Thinking of the Keyes. Like to spend alot a time there. Crime is a problem in the West Indies. 

antabanta posted:
Riff posted:
antabanta posted:

Riff.... what do you think of the article?

Sometimes people in the US forget what real life is all about.....there has to be a balance, one cannot get caught up in the rat race

Why do ordinary people forget what life is all about and get caught up in the rat race?

Keeping up with the Jones, not being able to separate our needs vs our wants, pride, ego...thinking these are all attributes needed to achieve happiness/contentment

Riff posted:
antabanta posted:
Riff posted:
antabanta posted:

Riff.... what do you think of the article?

Sometimes people in the US forget what real life is all about.....there has to be a balance, one cannot get caught up in the rat race

Why do ordinary people forget what life is all about and get caught up in the rat race?

Keeping up with the Jones, not being able to separate our needs vs our wants, pride, ego...thinking these are all attributes needed to achieve happiness/contentment

Bhai, it takes a whole paycheck and the wife wan too to have a decent life here. I been here since 50 years ago and it hasn't change. It is worth it, moh bettah than to contend with prejudices. Just being an East Indian.

seignet posted:
Reeper posted:
Stormborn posted:
Reeper posted:

Looks like she ran from the US to go right back to a 9 to 5 in Europe. The Caribbean did not work out it seems. Many gaps in her story, not enough to convince anyone why the US is supposedly a hell hole for the rest of us living here. 

If you can fit in the culture you will like it. By now you would have acquired some backup money to support an easier lifestyle than a nine to five. After working hard one deserves to live easy.As long as you are here work always take priority. My sister has lived there part of the year for more than a decade. My kids are gone now close to ten years also. They have a home here as well that they visit once or twice a year.

To each his/her own  I suppose , the US is large and varied enough for me to find an ideal paradise in its vast territories.  We have from Hawaii to Alaska to choose, not counting US Virgin islands and PR.  

Thinking of the Keyes. Like to spend alot a time there. Crime is a problem in the West Indies. 

It is expensive and unsafe in the west indies. You go where old people are. The keyes are pretty but you get driven our or swamped out once a year. Then there are the flies.  Try any of the coastal cities on the Mediterranean and you can live easy. I do not know where in canada you can avoid the extreme  cold except Vancouver and there it is expensive.

 

Riff posted:
antabanta posted:
Riff posted:
antabanta posted:

Riff.... what do you think of the article?

Sometimes people in the US forget what real life is all about.....there has to be a balance, one cannot get caught up in the rat race

Why do ordinary people forget what life is all about and get caught up in the rat race?

Keeping up with the Jones, not being able to separate our needs vs our wants, pride, ego...thinking these are all attributes needed to achieve happiness/contentment

Peer pressure I think is the best description. Digging further. Why is there so much pressure to acquire? I think the class distinctions between the haves and the have-nots generate the ball-and-chain desire to move up. The whole culture of the west is about acquiring money which keeps us in slavery. Recently, I've been wondering if I bringing my children up to get an education and work hard was all wrong.

I wonder that myself....sometimes. But, we have to make sure they have an edge if they intend to live here. I tell mine to make sure they enjoy their youth, get involved in stuff that makes them happy..don't sweat the small stuff

At first, I was intense...but I chill out now

 

Riff posted:

I wonder that myself....sometimes. But, we have to make sure they have an edge if they intend to live here. I tell mine to make sure they enjoy their youth, get involved in stuff that makes them happy..don't sweat the small stuff

At first, I was intense...but I chill out now

 

since yuh ended up in the hospital with high blood pressue?

Stormborn posted:
seignet posted:
Reeper posted:
Stormborn posted:
Reeper posted:

Looks like she ran from the US to go right back to a 9 to 5 in Europe. The Caribbean did not work out it seems. Many gaps in her story, not enough to convince anyone why the US is supposedly a hell hole for the rest of us living here. 

If you can fit in the culture you will like it. By now you would have acquired some backup money to support an easier lifestyle than a nine to five. After working hard one deserves to live easy.As long as you are here work always take priority. My sister has lived there part of the year for more than a decade. My kids are gone now close to ten years also. They have a home here as well that they visit once or twice a year.

To each his/her own  I suppose , the US is large and varied enough for me to find an ideal paradise in its vast territories.  We have from Hawaii to Alaska to choose, not counting US Virgin islands and PR.  

Thinking of the Keyes. Like to spend alot a time there. Crime is a problem in the West Indies. 

It is expensive and unsafe in the west indies. You go where old people are. The keyes are pretty but you get driven our or swamped out once a year. Then there are the flies.  Try any of the coastal cities on the Mediterranean and you can live easy. I do not know where in canada you can avoid the extreme  cold except Vancouver and there it is expensive.

 

I am looking.

You know I had a By-Pass some months ago. Everyone who has something to say ends up telling me to stop and enjoy my life, that is whatever years I have left.

The vacations I have been taking several times a year will no longer work because when I return to Canada, I go right back to work.

I need to find a place away from here. My friends say, "most likely I will start a business there too."  Doubt that, after 4 hours on my legs, I need to relax.

Some place for a morning walk on the beach, a lil sleep outside, up and have a lil breakfast, later a lil walk to the cafe, sleep again, up sipping a vintage, dinner, sleep. Same thing the next day until that day comes.

seignet posted:

Thinking of the Keyes. Like to spend alot a time there. Crime is a problem in the West Indies. 

True enough, plus the banking system is not friendly, access to US accounts is not easy. Health care also a show stopper for me. But mostly the fear of crime. Expats have to build a jail for themselves when living in the Caribbean, especially Guyana. People become accustomed to this way of life, bars on windows and fear of death daily. Florida is a much better option. 

seignet posted:

I am looking.

You know I had a By-Pass some months ago. Everyone who has something to say ends up telling me to stop and enjoy my life, that is whatever years I have left.

The vacations I have been taking several times a year will no longer work because when I return to Canada, I go right back to work.

I need to find a place away from here. My friends say, "most likely I will start a business there too."  Doubt that, after 4 hours on my legs, I need to relax.

Some place for a morning walk on the beach, a lil sleep outside, up and have a lil breakfast, later a lil walk to the cafe, sleep again, up sipping a vintage, dinner, sleep. Same thing the next day until that day comes.

You are the ideal case for Spain ie Mallorca. Lots of brits. Cost of living is a bit cheaper than in any large city.

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