Friday, April 17, 2009

Distance doesn't really make the heart grow fonder

From an email conversation with my husband today:

Can't we move to Canada???? Our kids will never know their grandparents if we stay over here!!!
I'm also worried that our kids won't know their grandparents. That's really been my main concern all along about staying here, and it really weighs on me. (That and us not being close to our parents--they were such a part of our lives for so many years. It sucks to be so far away and so estranged from them.) I have nothing personal really against Canada, but the problem as I see it is a lack of money for science. Unfortunately, I'm sort of a slave to the system if I stay in academic science, which sort of limits our options on where to live, and the US and Germany are much better bets for funding for basic science research.
I'll keep my eyes open for job postings. However, in the short term, it might be better to get a position and establish myself here while there's still money (before the recession really hits). I'm sort of up in the air about this, actually, since it could mean a big move with a family. I don't know, really, what to do.

Yeah, for some reason I only remember and flip out about it when something bad happens.
Dammit, I wish we could have been born somewhere cool so we wouldn't have to deal with this.* I don't want to go back to the US or even really Canada although that would be better. They're all new, and ugly, and spread out. FUCKING HELL!!! But at least Canada gets health care and vacation I guess. :/

Yeah, I know what you mean. I imagine it's worse for you since you grew up next door to your grandparents. Anyways, if people really meant what they said when they elected Obama, then maybe the US will get better soon (livability-wise, there's really nothing you can do about it being ugly and spread out)? Then, one option is to wait it out here until things improve. It sounds like the coward's way out (why not go back and fight to make it a better place), but the truth is that I'm more concerned about my family's comfort and security than making a stand. And to be honest, are WE more important to our children than our parents? We would really have more time for them here--I don't know about Canada, but maybe it's the case there, too. I'm concerned about us spending more time with our parents, but I don't think our kids will really miss it if that's what they're used to.

The US has so much else to worry about and any steps to improve the quality of life could be likened to socialism, so I don't know if things are going to improve, even if people were gung-ho about Obama. While we wait here for the US to become a place that might be a better environment for our kids, our parents are getting older fast. And even if they don't know what they're missing by not really knowing our parents, I know what they are missing, and since our parents are generally awesome, they are missing a lot. :( It would not be easy to get past it. It's not easy to get past the downsides of life in the US either. Freaking hell. I wish I truly believed the US was objectively a better place to live.
I've never really made a good argument on this blog as to why the quality of life in Germany may be better than in the US. Partly I haven't gotten around to it. Partly I'm worried that it would turn too political for my taste and I don't know how to get around that. This isn't a political blog and I don't want it to be. I consider myself an independent.

I've never believed that distance made the heart grow fonder. Time spent apart from friends actually seems to just make things worse. You start to have less to share with each other, and you realize you don't really need them as much as you thought you did before. You still love them, but it isn't the same as when you're around them every day. Sometimes, the more difficult things about your relationship with them become all the more clear when you're not constantly reminded of their positive aspects by seeing them all the time.

Such has been my relationship with the United States. I love it, I miss it. Some of the positive things about it have become more clear since I moved to Germany. But more so have some of the negatives. I feel the quality of life in Germany is simply better. The draw of my family, especially when I think about my potential future children, and the draw of my native language are very strong. But they are balanced exactly by the improvements in the quality of life here - better and simpler health coverage, more vacation time, less sprawl and more transportation options, slower pace of life and better work/life balance.

I don't know what to think or do, although the doing part is actually not all that much under our control. On most days, being away from my family is a bummer constantly buzzing in the background, though I can remind myself I didn't see them that much when I lived in Boston, either. But at a time like this, being away from my family is utter misery, just unbearable. And when I think about my relationship with my grandparents, and how much I love my parents and my sisters, I don't know what the hell we could possibly be thinking staying over here!! It's completely insane to deprive ourselves and our children of time with our parents and our siblings!

Then I remember - two weeks' vacation, difficulty making ends meet after retirement or feeling one can never retire, insane insurance system that may cover less or may cover more than here depending on the sheer luck of where we work, consumerism ratcheted up about 50 notches, living in a suburb and commuting 3 hours to work in our two different cars.... please, I invite you to convince me that the quality of life in the United States is objectively better! I wish I believed it was. I really want to want to go back. Maybe someone who has been here and moved back can tell me that they felt the same way, and when they got back to the US it wasn't really as bad as they were imagining?

Sometimes I wish we'd never have come here so I wouldn't have truly known what I was missing. Now, will any place feel like the right choice?

*Yeah, I realize I sound like an idiot here. I would still appreciate if people would refrain from kicking me while I'm down, but since this is the internet, I am not counting on that.


  1. The quality of life here is far-and-away better. But for me, being away from my family is such a huge "con" that all the German "pros" are nothing.

    I'm not sure if I would want to raise kids here. Things like the education system here are a huge draw, but there cultural characteristics I wouldn't want my kids picking up on (German racism has been seriously bothering me lately).

    My goal in going back to the US is to take the good of Germany and try to change the bad of the States.

  2. I lived in Germany for a while as a kid, but have been in the US otherwise, so I really can only speak for this experience. What I would say is that WHERE in the US you live plays a big role in how you feel about it. I grew up, and my parents still live there, in a small town in Kansas. People were happy, prices were comparatively low, there was no commuting, and the public schools were good. Sure you trade off some of the cultural advantages of the big cities, but the quality of life is pretty darn good. I live in Baltimore now and I struggle with whether I want to raise my daughter here. The northeast definitely has some advantages, but it loses out in a lot of ways. I suspect Boston is much the same.

    I couldn't even begin to give you advice on what to do, but have you considered another area of the country? Sure, you'll still be a ways from family, but a lot closer than you are now.

  3. We have lived in Canada for the last 5 years. Quality of life is better but not even close to how it is in Europe. For me, family time and vacations are the most important thing. My parents don't bother to visit us now so why would it be different no matter where we lived?

    I say make more of an effort to get your family to visit you and you to visit them. Really, I would never wish someone to move back after living there. I'm still not fully adjusted in the mind and probably never will be here...

    I've probably also missed out on a lot of things because of life in north america... But that's just my experience.

  4. I have lived so long in Europe that it is hard to imagine really "living" in the US (as opposed to being there on holiday).
    When I am there I really appreciate the spacious houses and large yards... the ability to buy a carton of milk at 10 in the evening on a Sunday.. the spontaneous openness.
    But when I see the problems my siblings have with health insurance and fears of unemployment and the poverty of the school systems (which has led most of my brothers and sisters to send their kids to private schools-- a terrible financial drain) I am grateful for living in a (let us call it by name) socialist country. OK so my taxes are higher and I don't own a car (don't need one either) but health insurance is universal, my kids have excellent schooling (the teachers are well paid) and university education is free. I am in a profession I love and working in a society that values what I do.

  5. We live in the situation that you describe, although my husband's parents are here which also makes a difference. But my parents are older and my mom is unable (phobic) to fly. And we have the added twist of being Jewish and feeling the racism, something I never hear spoken of by expats, because I know so few Jewish expats.Eg, that "relaxed quality of life" when things are closed on Sunday is a real hardship to Jews, making us shop on Sabbath.And I find this country very easy for a one earner family and much harder on two earners: my decision not to look for work here has two bases-the difficulty in running a household if one can shop only on short Saturdays (when one is perhaps worshipping or travelling) and 2. how to get out of work in time to see the children before their bed times, and having to hire someone to pick them up and care for them. Makes no sense to me when I am (mostly) enjoying this time with them (that is inaffordable for us as a single earning family in the metro NY area).
    But I also look at raising my children behind bars, with police protection, and know that we will return to America some day.

  6. “Then I remember - two weeks' vacation, difficulty making ends meet after retirement or feeling one can never retire, insane insurance system that may cover less or may cover more than here depending on the sheer luck of where we work, consumerism ratcheted up about 50 notches, living in a suburb and commuting 3 hours to work in our two different cars....”

    Actually, these are also things that keep me here.

    However, I am in a different situation than you.

    I grew up with only my immediate family (mother, father, brother). We lived in a different state from the rest of my family and visited them a few times a year – so I've always lived away from my extended family and I guess that that gives me an advantage when living abroad.

    Also, I don't plan on ever having kids. However, if I did I wouldn't want them to be victims of the quite flawed German school system (moreso than the the US one).

    I do know that, despite the usually awful weather, if I stay in Germany I'm guaranteed to have health care and also a social system that is set up to favor people rather than businesses – and those are things that are important to me now that I'm getting older.

    I do like the US and want to move back there from time to time (usually when the weather is awful), but I'm not going to make a decision that appears to have less cons than pros to me.

    I'm just babbling so I'll end here, but my point is that you're not alone. Living abroad is fun, educational, mind-opening but also difficult – even for those of us who have been gone for 11 years.

  7. I was reading your posts and is funny to remember some feelings from my past. When I lived away from my family I escaped the dysfunctional patterns. It was not until I moved back because my parents were aging, that I was able to gain the emotional freedom I really needed. I made peace with my dad before he passed away and I can take care of my mother when she needs it--something I know my sibs would never do and I could never live with. Whatever you decide, make sure you realize that time is precious and you can never get it back. --just a thought as I really miss dad tonight. Take care it whatever you do.

  8. 75 visitors per day and only 7 feel qualified to comment on something nearly every reader has experienced: either the quality of life in the US, or the quality of life in Germany? I must be coming off like a crazy lady :/

    K Rae: Good topic. We talk about racism a lot and aren't sure whether the US or Germany is better in this regard. They definitely treat the issue differently, but both have a lot of racism. The US is definitely more diverse, though, and that is a plus.

    Cara: Very good point - where you live does matter! I think the quality of life is pretty good where I grew up (although it does have a dark side that I don't want to forget while I'm wallowing in nostalgia for small-town life). Unfortunately, I think only cities are in our future because of our fields of work. Boston is so great for academics, but the whole city exudes stress. :(

    Expat Traveler: Yes, more visits would definitely be good! Cost is a problem, though, at least for us and for my side of the family. (Damon's family has the funds to come over more.) Also, I think certain of my family members simply aren't comfortable with such large-scale travel for whatever reason. :/ Our families also have to worry about the limited time off they get working in the US. I wish it were easier!

    Vailian: I actually don't think I would call Germany 'a socialist country' but considering the wide range of interpretations out there for that word, maybe it's not totally wrong. There was a little discussion about it in this old post:
    The virtually free universities are definitely a plus here - there is so much stress in the US saving up for your child's education. I don't care for the rigidity of the educational system, though.

    G: Being Jewish definitely adds a whole new level to this conversation! Do you know - would you encounter the same difficulties over on this side of the country, or is Berlin worse because of its geographic location in the former East, which is known to have more problems with anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-foreigner sentiment? Also, did you not have the same problem in the US with coordinating pick-up of your kids, etc, when you had a 2-earner household? If not, what was different there?

    J: I do worry about the German school system as I mentioned in my response above to Vailian. I think it's rather rigid - kids get railroaded into something early and it doesn't seem very flexible, and that whole thing is carried over into the work world too. It's definitely easier in the US to just pick up something new or change your mind about what you want to do with your life. That is a major problem when thinking about having kids here. Maybe someone can defend it to me though - I'd be interested in hearing more.

    Annette: Thanks for your response. :) Time is definitely on my mind. There is too damn little of it in our lives. :(

  9. Are you me???? The hubby and I have this conversation almost everyday.

    The grandparents thing is a big deal for us. Even though we talk to them on skype every week, it is not the same. I grew up right near my gp and I have such fond memories of being with them.

    However, like you said, the quality of life appears to be better here and I am really enjoying my time here with my little guy.

    things to ponder...

  10. Well, we've had this conversation too. I don't know where the military will be leading us but I know that at one point he will be either seperate from the military or retire. I know that at one point I want to come back to Germany. He doesn't like it because it is so expensive (if you earn your money in dollars). I know it is not the same as you are going through but I do have my thoughts about it. Where are we going? Will I ever come back? What's the quality of life? What's happening? I am very adventorous so the travelling doesn't bother me but what bothers me is the knowledge that I do not know when or if we ever come back to Germany. So I can relate a little bit.

    It is hard to make a decision, especially with what is going on over there as of right now. If you stay here, send them over as much as possible. Summer break, christmas break, student exchange etc.

  11. Has anyone ever considered how wonderful it might be for the U.S. to import the German school system or at least parts of it? Do any of you realize how many kids drop out of school or just can't make it in life here. Not everyone is college material. Imagine what opportunities might be available to kids if they were able to enter into an apprenticeship and become a master tradesman. I think the German school system reflects well in that one has in Germany a basically intelligent society with exceptional job skill levels.

    In America it all boils down to having to have money and trust me for most people there will never be enough. I would love to move back to Germany, but because of my current situation in life it is not possible.

    I also have a hard time with the puritanical ideas one often finds in the U.S.. My partner and I are not recognized by law as anything more than mere roommates this does cause difficulties for us financially and it's very hurtful as well.

    Lastly, the availibility to enjoy one's free time here cannot be compared to Germany. No quaint villages, no plethora of hiking/biking trails criss crossing the countryside. No cute and inexpensive pensions to stay in etc. etc.. Here most weekends are spent at the mall or walking in a park with alot of other people.

  12. My perspective is so different and I completely disagree with you, but maybe that's because I live in "little America" over here.

    I am constantly wanting to go back to the US and be "home." There are very few things I like about being here, and the things I dislike far outweigh those that I like.

    What it ultimately boils down to is that I want to be with my family, because relationships are what matters most to me in life.

    (sorry for the choppiness...after all the paper writing this week, I'm not feeling particularly eloquent)

  13. Yelli: If you ever figure out the answer to all these ponderings of ours, let me know :)

    Nelly: I love the idea of having our kids do student exchanges :) Germany is actually less expensive than the US, I think, if you are living in Germany itself and making Euro. I can definitely see where making dollars here is a big problem (with the current exchange rate anyway).

    Anon: You make some good points about the educational system, but the one that strikes me the most is one which you don't say directly: the educational system in the US is so absurdly variable depending on where one lives. My high school definitely did not take the attitude that everyone should be going to college; we had two tracks - college-bound, and non-college-bound. Lots of people went on to learn trades at 2-year schools. Also, I can't remember anyone dropping out of my school while I was there. All of this is in stark contrast to other schools across the nation. I agree wholeheartedly that not everyone needs to be going to college, but that's a big subject for another day! :) I do agree Germans are more well-trained for their particular jobs and I am thankful for this in places like the bank or the train station. But I don't like that they are railroaded into these jobs so young and can't really make a big switch later. Thinking of the people I grew up with, many went on to jobs very different from what they would have ended up with if they had been placed on a track that seemed appropriate when they were 12/13. Good comments, thanks! :)

    Sarah: I imagine it's definitely very different in your situation. It probably also doesn't help that you guys didn't really get to choose whether to come here in the first place, so it's an entirely different perspective before you even arrive! I agree about family, I think we are caught up on which family we need to worry about more: that which already exists and is rooted in the US? Or that which is still to come and might benefit more from life here? So hard.

  14. Great post, CN. As a couple of people mentioned, I think SO much is based on the WHERE of things. The U.S. and Canada are big places and so diverse, something for everyone, I guess. You can get anything you want if you know where to look for it.

    I'm from Vancouver in British Columbia and although I find the standard of living to be good here, the quality of life cannot be compared. Germany loses out there for me and my husband. It's a totally subjective thing, but we both feel the same way.

    I do regret that my children get to see so little of their Canadian grandparents. I also regret having them in the lousy German school system as compared to the Canadian one (check out the PISA scores). But here we are and it is what it is so we deal with it the best we can.

    We made our decision a long time ago and we're now finding it turned out the be the wrong one with very little possibility of a change at this point. Ho hum.

    Make sure you weigh the pros and cons (for now and for the future if you do choose to start a family) VERY carefully and choose wisely. I know you will. :-)

  15. Hoo Boy! Good post and no easy answers there. One thing I have realized recently is that by the time you know that life here has changed you it is too late to head back easily. It just kind of creeps up on you. As I have been meeting more people recently and of course they ask me how did I get here and given how things turned out why am I staying, I realize more and more how much I like my life here and that I see very little reason to go back. Work has afforded me a lot of time in the US in the last months and I don't feel like I belong there anymore. It wasn't even a consideration to go back even after all the chaos of the last 8-9 months. I spend more of my time trying to understand why I prefer living here than debating whether or not to stay but the answers are not black and white. The only 'but' I ever throw into my preference to remain here is what if my family needs me to come back? To that I don't know the answer now but suppose I will if and when the situation arises. I do admit that I sometimes wonder if there will be some regret to having gone on with life here.

  16. Good point about our perspective when we moved over here. I hadn't considered that before.

    And I see your point between the different families - present or future. For me, I want my children to grow up with strong ties to their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This is probably because my family didn't get together very often, and as an adult, I have looked back and felt like I missed something. Like I said, relationships matter the most to me, and I want to root my "future family" where my current family is.

    There's definitely no one single answer to this, so good luck to you guys in figuring out what the best plan is for your lives :)

  17. Interesting....

    As someone who is still in the US, but hoping and planning to move to Germany when the opportunity finally arrives, let me offer my perspective.

    Many times, in the past several years since I've decided to try to move to Germany, I frequently (and often belligerently) get asked, "What makes Germany so much better than the US?"

    And I always answer the same way: neither one is "better" than the other. It's not that simple. I believe, however, that Germany will suit me far better than the US ever could.

    Right now, I feel like I never get a break. My life is work during the week, collapse in the evenings, and spend the weekends trying to get done everything I was supposed to get done during the week. I'm on meds for stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

    Life in Germany seems to allow for a slower pace, and with a bit more free time. I like the idea that I may not have to drive in rush-hour traffic every day. I like that, on the weekends, I might actually be able to get out and travel a bit, because I don't have to worry about being too tired to drive. The list is endless.

    Also, I'm the child of a German immigrant and the daughter of German immigrants. I was raised around Germans, and frankly, understand them *much* better than your average American. Becasue fo this, I seem to "fit in" better in Germany. After spending much of my life being scorned by the "in crowd" in the US, you would not believe how appealing the idea of fitting in or belonging somewhere is.

    But then again, I'm a pretty unique case. And that's not to say that many aspects of moving to Germany don't scare the daylights out of me. I'll have no support network of friends, I'm not sure at all I can make a living there, and the thought of trying to deal with the various Amts terrify me. This would be the biggest gamble I've ever taken-- that scares me most of all.

    I only pray I can make it....

  18. Alright, I'm just going to be completely selfish in my advice. I want the two of you to move within driving distance or the same continent at the very least. It'd be good to be able to see you more often and be able to hang out as opposed to visit. The possibility of children (on both our parts) will only make travel more difficult. I know I'm not being real helpful or saying anything you haven't though of before, but I wanted to throw my thoughts out there.

  19. I'm not an expat, so I can't share a lot of your feelings of being separated from your family. Most of my family lives pretty close; my older sister (and BIL and nieces) are a 15-minute drive from our place, and even on my commute. And I see my parents every week, since I still am a scout leader in my hometown. Which is not far away, either.
    I can realte a bit, beacuse my youngest sister moved to the far south half a year ago, and it feels like really far away (which it is, for German standards ;)). Still, I know I could be with her in the matter of ours if needed.

    Regarding the quality of life here: I just love love living where I am. I love my city, my friends and my family. I feel secure, regarding the future (which may be influenced by the fact that I apparently chose the right profession in the right area). I do have some concerns regarding pension, but I can do something about it by saving by myself, and basically it's "jammern auf hohem Niveau" (whining at high levels).

    I do love travelling, but I have never lived and worked in a foreign country (apart from five weeks last summer, which I wouldn't really count). So I can't really compare how the quality of life would be elsewhere. I just know that I'm content with what I have.

    The school system here is definitely something which needs improvement, and a lot of it.
    Children are railroaded in jobs, as you put it, at the the age of 16, and chosen for that track at the age of ten. And going to a "Hautpschule" pretty much takes your chances of higher-level jobs. At the age of 10, remind you.
    I'm not sure of how to change that, but cutting funds and making teacher work longer with bigger classer doesn't exactly appear to be the right solution for me.

  20. C,

    Let me take a different slant on this.

    Do you think of yourself as an expatriate, or as an immigrant? It sounds as though you're on the cusp of one, turning into another.

    For an American, the word "immigrant" carries a lot of baggage.

    For many of our forebears, the "Old" country was just that. Old, poor, decrepit, oppressive, pessimistic. Not something ANY of us were taught to think of the USA.

    But when I look at the neighbourhood where I started life, in a Pittsburgh mill-town on the decline, and the comparatively stable Australian working-class suburb where I grew up, the parallel seems apt.

    To me, it seems like Europe or Australia offer the greater optimism and hope...and, yes, freedom.

    It is an article of faith that America is the Land of the Free. But as all the commenters recognise, true freedom comes when you're healthy, well educated, and decently fed. Living in chaos does not equal living in liberty.

    After living much of my adult life abroad, my employer sent me for a stint in New York, which as you know, is almost, but not quite, America.

    That said, my observation of life in both New York and America was this: people described their lives in the same way my grandparents described the Old Country. It's tough. You have to scrabble for a living. You have to watch everyone or they'll cheat you. You could be bankrupted by bad luck. Struggle values.

    Lo and behold, an American arrives in Europe, and finds the middle class security that our ancestors sailed across the Atlantic for. Hmmm...

    Of course, there are still some sad relics of the old world left in Europe, like an ingrained racism and anti-semitism. That said, one of the reasons I am here is because of the quite blatant and virulent homophobia in the USA. I don't want to repeat my rather uncheerful comment on Yelli's blog from the other day (Sorry, Y!) but suffice to say I'm an exile of love, to use Snooker's words.

    In many ways, I fled religious-based persecution as much as my grandparents did; they were Russians who wished to practice the Roman rite, rather than the Orthodox rite of their native land.

    That's a horrible realisation at which to arrive. That we must suffer the heart-wrenching choice between daily contact with our loved ones, and opportunities for ourselves and children--the same choice that our immigrant forebears had to make.

    OK, we have budget air travel and Skype, but as you point out, C, it ain't the same. Recent events in your family brought the point home, I imagine.

    Are we any better off than our immigrant grandparents or great grandparents? Have the generations really made progress? Sometimes, perhaps not.

  21. Christina: Canada is not the US (it's probably better in many of the regards I worry about), but your point is very well-taken. :) When you had to make your decision, what influenced you to stay in Germany, but later turned out to be not as great as you thought?

    Michelle: I am sure there is some regret at some point either way one goes - if only we could have a few shots at life to try all the options!!

    Sarah: Thanks :)

    Msnovtue: Your writing about stress is exactly the kind of thing I'm thinking I could have better luck avoiding here than in the US. It seems so harried there. If I had never left the US it would be easy for me to tell myself that it's probably not better anywhere else, or that stress is just part of my personality. But alas, I did leave...and found I didn't feel as stressed here as I did there. :/
    I can definitely understand the appeal of "fitting in" - although I will never "fit in" here either because I'm foreign.

    Nate: Believe me, I see exactly where you are coming from!! It would be so awesome to just pop over any time!

    Mo: I should have known that a language like German would have exactly the phrase I've been looking for for years!! English has no equivalent phrase for "jammern auf hohem Niveau" and it badly needs one! Thanks for that :) Re: education, I'm not really sure we can win that one - both countries have big problems in their systems. I do think American universities are better, though, based only on my personal experience - but you can't beat the price of German universities!!!

    Headbang: You said very eloquently a lot of what Damon has been thinking, too. Thanks.

  22. I emigrated from Heidelberg to the US some 20 yrs. ago; curiously enough also in pursuit of scientific excellence and opportunities.

    The US has since become my adopted country (I now hold dual, EU/US, citizenship). As it is, I am considering emigrating once again, Germany or Austria, for family and also professional reasons. More importantly, however, I believe that Europe (the EU) has delivered on the promise that the US held 30 yrs ago.

    And I fail to see how the “mess” (financial, health, transport, etc, etc) in the US can be fixed in the remaining 30 years of my lifetime. Looking from the inside, this society is coming apart at the seams.


  23. To be honest, I think your kids will grow up without a real connection to their grandparents unless you live within 20-30 miles of them. If you're seeing them 1-2 times per year I doubt it matters if you're coming from Germany or Manhattan.

    That being said, I will echo what previous posters said about it mattering where in the US you live. If I had lived even 50 miles east or west of my previous address I would have had an entirely different experience.

  24. Several years ago I read an interesting article in Stern written by a German returning to home after a couple years in the US. The comments section for the article was huge, with lots of Germans and Americans writing in both German and English about their experiences. In general, I would say that some Germans felt better in America, while some Americans preferred Germany, and then there were those who were on the fence. Sadly, the comments are no longer available through Stern, but someone posted the original article and translated the article into English:

    Alte Heimat in neuen Licht.--

    It might stimulate a few more comments on this great topic.


  25. Anon: I also worry that despite the fact that the US may be headed in the direction of improvements, it will take too long to benefit us.

    Mary: Well, Manhattan is not under consideration ;) But we do agree that if we are going to go back, more would be accomplished as far as our family relationships are concerned if we return to the midwest instead of ending up on a coast. Unfortunately we're just never going to live a block from our parents. They all live in places where we wouldn't be able to get really good work and are not inclined to live in more bustling places.

    Jeffrey: Thanks for the link! What a shame that the comments aren't available any more - they probably would have been pretty enlightening. As far as the size of things, the stores, etc...these aren't such a big deal to me. I think I can adjust to that stuff either way. I was never happy with vacation time and insurance in the US, but I put up with it knowing that was just what I had to deal with - no choice. Now that I know I don't have to put up with it if I stay here...? That makes it hard to think about adjusting back to the US way of doing things. :/


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