I’ve heard a lot of people over this election declare, “I’m leaving the country if Trump wins.” Well, it looks like the time has come. The question is: Are you ready?
- First things first, you’ll have to get your passport. What–was traveling outside of the US never a priority of yours before? Or you couldn’t afford it…but now suddenly you can? The population in the United States is over 324 million, and about 126 million valid passports in circulation. That means less than 50% of American citizens currently hold a valid passport, which is fine if a person genuinely couldn’t afford international travel/had absolutely no interest. Only time will tell how serious people are about living abroad.
- Secondly, be prepared to learn the language. Come on guys, we can’t be hypocrites–if we complain endlessly about people moving to the USA without learning English, then we’ve got to put the same expectations upon ourselves. Don’t expect it to be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. I don’t care if German has like a bajillion ways to say the word the (der, die, das, den, dem, des, and so on), you’ve got to commit yourself and do it.
(By the way, this isn’t how German sounds).
“But English is the international language,” you say, “most everyone in the world knows a little English anyways,” you say, “I’ll get by,” you say. Although all of those statements do have some truth to them, you should still make the effort to learn the language and customs of the country you are going to be living in. Americans already have a horrible reputation for not learning the local language. Let’s change that.
- Leave the guns at home. Strict gun laws in Germany, absolutely no guns in the UK and Australia–are you prepared to say farewell to that right? You should know that most everyone I talk to in Europe assumes that all Americans are packing all the time.
- Okay, so maybe leaving your guns at home–being left to your own devices, even if someone attacks you in the comforts of your residence–isn’t an issue for you, but what about saying goodbye to Walmart?! There are a lot of things you’ll have to part with. A lot. Unless you plan on paying ridiculous prices to import that can of pumpkin. You’ll have to make a lot of adjustments–compromise, or learn to live without.
- Remember, every country–I mean it: every country–has its own food, culture, and shops. It’s a lot to adjust to. And never accuse them of being the same–they’re not. Deutsch is not Dutch. Denmark is not Deutschland. Don’t make foolish assumptions.
- Brace yourself for the diversity. Where I grew up, Mexicans were as diverse as we got. There were a few Native Americans and some African Americans, but that’s nothing compared to the diversity I see here. From Russians to Nigerians, Palestinians to Indians, from Asians to Egyptians: Europe truly is a place of many colors, cultures and languages. Can’t handle that? Then you better stay home.
- My final tip for today is: Be prepared to pay for all those “free” benefits. Yes, the health insurance in Germany is phenomenal–I don’t know how they do it (but I also don’t know how long it can last). And I promise it isn’t free. It comes out of your paycheck. Are you willing to share?
Aside from those points, here are some other things to consider: Family emergency? You can’t just jump in your car and be home in a matter of hours. If you can’t afford a plane ticket, you’ll be swimming across the Atlantic. Drive an SUV or a truck? As a general rule, the roads in Europe are narrow and the parking spaces small–not to mention that the gas is more expensive. You can bring your SUV with you, but you might feel like a monster truck sometimes.
Of course there are loads and loads of positive aspects of living abroad. It’s eye and heart-opening; it makes you a better person; it forces you to get out of your comfort zone; it pushes you to try new things. I can only recommend international travel.
But seriously, is abandoning our country in her greatest time of need going to help or change anything?
No. No it isn’t.
By all means, get your passport and see the world if you have the opportunity to, but remember that the United States of America is our home. It is a beautiful country–a land full of opportunity. As citizens of the USA, we have so much to be grateful for and proud of. No, it isn’t perfect, but nowhere is. (Seriously, don’t leave the country thinking life will be sunshine and daisies and carefree and perfect elsewhere).
It is our duty and obligation to be good citizens and to stand up and fight for the rights our forefathers sacrificed so much to give us. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
There are many other ways aside from abandoning our home to make a statement.