Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Expat's American Dream Part I: The People

Summer time is what all students look forward to. American, Austrian-- it makes no difference. We all love a vacation from school. But for me summer seems even more sweet. It's the time where I get to come home. Back to the good ol' USA :) I get a chance to see my cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends but most of all I love it because it makes me feel like I really am home.

Since I've lived in Austria for nine years, most assume Austria is my home. Which even though my physical home is there and my friends and school are there, I still feel a strong connection to America. Expectantly, some Europeans call it American arrogance ;), but believe it or not when I try to explain this to some Americans they are surprised at this as well. 

And so this summer, through the months I am back home again in the US, I set out to explain why.

First of all, let me say this, Austria is a wonderful place. With it's mountains and the beautiful city of Vienna, it  truly is a great place to live.

But there is something about America, that makes it different. It's what is talked so frequently of today in the political field because some of us are worried we may be losing it.  I however am not one of those people. Because of living in Austria, and observing our differences between our nations, first hand, I am a strong believer in the American dream and even the struggles we are dealing with today can't steer me any other way.

Matter of fact, in the summer my beliefs are reinforced even more as I get to spend more time with my fellow Americans. And the reason I wish to discuss today is the people's kindness. As I travel abroad, I have seen many different cultures. I've been in the homes of princes and in the slums of the India. But nowhere, have I seen the kindness of the American people. 

And this may sound crazy, but I even look forward to the moment when you get off the plane and the airport crew are standing there in there yellow vests popping jokes in their local accents. And then I get to the immigration desk and I'm so excited to have that small conversation. Because somehow when the officer says "welcome home" it immediately makes me feel so happy.

I'm not sure why for sure but I think it has do with the fact that it's like there reaching out to me. And for Americans that sounds ridiculous but to me, a guy who lives abroad, it's not. That customs officer could just stamp my passport and send me through-- but he doesn't. And I have never been anywhere else where they do welcome you to their country at immigration. Yes! Believe it or not, it's true! And it's not that people are trying to be rude, it's just not part of their culture to do that.

Of course this is just a small example but everywhere the kindness of the American people makes me feel so welcome. Even when I go out to eat and order and they give me a warm answer I feel good because that just doesn't happen in other places.

Like it or not, it is in American Culture to be nice to people, and that is just part of why there is an American Dream.

To be continued....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Europe Effect .... Recovered!

I started this blog back in September, and unfortunately didn't keep up with it. So as of today, I'm going to start reflecting on all of the things I've done this year. I've had experiences most teenagers haven't. I've traveled to both Europe, Asia and Africa-- and I'm ready to share those journey's!

So please, keep on reading and enjoy the journey!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How I Separate the Real Friends From the Fake Ones...

As I look at the gadgets on my desktop, I’m happier than ever to see September flying by so quickly. The month of September for me and I imagine many other students is one that I dread. One of the reasons I dislike this month so much is the fact you have to adapt back to going to school, doing homework again and getting used to the all new stress of your new level of school. I imagine this is the reason that I share with kids all around the world.

What separates me from the rest of those kids most of the time is that there is another thing I have to deal with at the beginning of each school year—Friends that have moved. For those of you who do not know me well, I go to a different type of school where people are constantly moving and going because of their parent’s jobs.

I started this school year not knowing who I’ll be hanging out with in the next couple weeks, whether it be someone completely new to the school, someone who already goes to the school that I just haven’t made an effort until now to know or maybe, maybe if I’m feeling down, I’ll exclude myself.

That is the feeling that often invades me but thanks to that small group of people who don’t go anywhere for at least another year, exclusion is not an option.

I’m not going to drown you in the downsides of moving friends but rather tell you what I’ve learned from it all:
Sometimes friends moving is good because it allows you to not only reach out and give some else the pleasure of a new friend but also you find out whether or not your friend who moved is really a friend. With technology these days, there is no excuse for people not to keep in touch with you.

What I’ve found is that they’re lot of people who you thought were your friends but really just were looking for someone to hangout with because there was nothing better and that can be sad, but the ones that make an effort to keep in touch with you, those are the real friends and those real friends make all the difference.

So for those of you who live somewhat normal lives (where people don’t move all the time), next time a friend moves first decide if this friendship is worth your time. If you want to try, then reach out. Now you’ve done your part, all is left is to see what happens. If you’re lucky you’ll have changed two lives for the better.

In the words of an anonymous philosopher, “Fake friends are for a while, real friends are for life.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hiking in the Alps of Austria

I've decided to base this first post not  as an explanation for what I'm going to write about on this blog simply because that is too much of a cliche' and life is too short for us to be the same. So instead of that I will start this post as I would any post, so enjoy...

Is it normal for a 14 year old boy to spend half a week hiking and swimming in the alps of Austria with his entire grade simply to just get to know each other? I guess not really but hey I'm not really the typical guy with the typical life am I? :)

Just the beginning of the hike!
Even so, I try my best to take advantage of these experiences and I can say with a full heart that I've never been on a hike like the one we went on -- anywhere. I'm a boy scout so I know hikes and I have to say there is something rather majestic about hiking above the tree line in the alps of Austria. I've attached some pictures but to be honest they don't truly capture the depth of the beauty of this hike. All I can say is that when I have those days in Vienna where I miss America all I have to do is think back to those glorious mountains, the sheep bahhing and the small path winding around and around the deep never ending valley to fix up my mood.

Now don't get me wrong, the hike wasn't all just a beautiful and mesmerizing journey through nature :). First I had to convince my Austrian friends that Americans actually know a thing or two about hiking and mountains, and that we aren't all fat and stupid. Like I haven't had that debate before...

Then towards the end as we got low again we were walking on a road full of construction and I became so exhausted that  I stuck my thumb out to a giant tractor and the driver (not expecting him to stop) actually stopped and looked out the window. With a grin he shouted out to me in German, "Wo muesst du gehen?" (In English: "Where you want to go?")

"Schuldigund aber dein Tractor ist zu klein fur mich!" (Sorry but your tractor is too small for me!"  I shouted back over his massive roaring engine. He laughed and drove on. Wow I didn't expect that to him :).

All in all it was a great trip! Check out the pictures below! By the way the photos are courtesy of my friend's Lauren D.F. and Danielle D.

Incredible Alpine Waterfall!
The Austrian Flag being used as a trail marker.
What a Hike!