It's been a few weeks now since I have returned from Europe,Macedonia. It took getting used to as far as readjusting to American life and getting back to the grind of things. As I hopped on the bus coming back from Michigan Ave shopping this past Saturday(and getting a fab pair of Kenneth Cole boots),a stranger had asked my husband what language we were speaking. Russian? He asked which is common in this city since it does sound similar...Of course we told him it was Macedonian,and the conversation then went into America vs Europe,since he has been to Europe himself. Some of the points he made were so true and I knew all along,which have impelled me to finally write this post that I have been putting off for so long. Actually I initially had wanted to write about the country I had visited but I am more interested in this conversation that I had recently and had also wanted to blog about this for quite some time.
Here in the US, people work to live. In Europe,people live to work. I am sure you have heard this many times. Here,especially in Chicago,we are bounded by bills,mortgages,and work in order to have a decent life. We want the best cars,the best house,etc. In Macedonia for instance,things are a little more laid back. People invite each other over for coffee. People are more friendly. They may not have all the money in the world but they will offer everything and anything they have on them. You don't need one week advanced notice just to stop by your friend's place. There is no planning and things are done spontaneously.
Also,in the US, we don't talk to strangers because we were taught that they can possibly be some freak,or someone that may harm us. It is all about "me" in the US and the people here are definitely for themselves for the most part. We are an individualistic society.
Fortunately for us here in Chicago,there are many different ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants where we can relive and reminisce the countries we have visited and experienced. Perhaps though,we can learn a little bit from the Europeans and be a little more friendly to our neighbors,maybe invite them over for coffee from time to time,call that friend you have not talked to in awhile,or perhaps spending tons of money on a luxury car or home may not be necessary but rather enjoy the simple pleasures of life instead.
Maybe major corporations and firms can be more flexible and offer women longer maternity leaves and give us more vacation time so that we can come back to them refreshed, less stressful,and be even more efficient. This may in turn increase productivity and everyone is now happy.
Maybe one day,we will have that same lifestyle that the Europeans have. With the turn of the way the economy is going,maybe people will think twice about what is really important and what is not. That is a great thought.