AutoTopic: Have You Ever Lived Outside The Country You Were Born In?
My first response to this AutoTopic question is a question, well, at least two questions:
- What is the definition of “lived”? Does this mean longer than a week, month, year, what?
- Define “country.”
Ok, obviously I’m supposed to comment on some extended time spent outside the good old USA, so the answer to the basic question is yes. Now, the list of countries I’ve physically set foot in are as follows: the US, Mexico, Ireland, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Leichtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Serbia and/or Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan, and technically North Korea as well (giggle). Obviously time changes where you have been: Kosovo. I think we recognized their soverienty. Hmm. I don’t think airport stops count, and a week’s stay nominally doesn’t qualify you to know whether or not you can comment about a place with the exception of Kuwait and Qatar, which could drop into a pit in the Earth and I’d just smile. Using those criteria, the list shrinks to the US, Kosovo, Germany, Korea, and Afghanistan. I can’t use war as a disqualifying factor, because Korea would also technically drop off (Trivia: the Korean War has not technically ended; we are still under armistice).
Realistically I can’t comment on Kosovo now, since when I was there it was mainly smoking craters, smoking Kosovars, and lots of mangled shit. Afghanistan requires a book-length document, so I’ll decline on that one too. I was born American so the US drops off as well though it is by far the bestest place to live. Using my fingers and some toes, this leaves two.
Germany: Funny how a group of folks a shitload of Americans are descended from can be so alien. I can also vouch for a lot of truth in some of the stereotypes we carry around about the Germans. This is the only nationality group who could in fact make a train system run on time, and yes, if you beat a drum marching down the street you will have a squad (military squad, not Band Camp squad) behind you in less than five minutes. In Germany, beer = water, water ≠ water you are used to, so just order beer. If you plan to visit, abandon whatever diet plan you are on. Guess where most of our fried food and gravy tendencies originate? I will say that of all the countries I’ve driven in, Germany is the easiest to deal with because they actually follow the rules and drive on the correct side of the road. However, if you find yourself on the autobahn and can’t bring yourself to rocket along at 200mph, stay in the right lane. Older Germans are quite friendly, the younger pretty much want you to go away. All of them speak English, so don’t be fooled and watch your mouth. If you’re single and find yourself attracted to some of the tall, blonde and angular ladies, make sure you’ve covered your language skills adequately so you don’t walk up and say something bright like, “I have french fries in my leather pants.”
Korea: Asia is night and day from what we’re used to. So much is different it is a challenge to assimilate it all let alone relate it in a paragraph. However, if I had to make a rank ordered list then Koreans would definitely be at the top of the “Most Like Americans But Not” list. These are some wacky party animals at heart, and their national drink is soju – Korean white lightning. Don’t bother trying to learn to speak their language unless you’re one of those language geniuses. But if you can reasonably say “hello” and “thank you” then you’ll get the warmest hospitality possible. Korea is about one generation beyond being a 3rd world country, so these folks know how to work, and there is still an interesting mix of technology with old-Asian practice that you can smell in the morning (they fertilize with human waste since there aren’t a lot of farm animals like cows). I left regretting that I’d not explored more of the country.
That answers the question, for the most part. Now for the comments…