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During these last few weeks of the winter I start to get antsy. The cold and being indoors too much starts to get to me and I begin to daydream more than normal. And when I say daydream, I mean online shop. As you know I’m on a shopping pause for now, but that doesn’t stop me from online window shopping. To keep myself in check I like to go big; houses, vacations, and cars. Since they would take a big commitment, I know I can’t do much damage to my budget when online browsing for any of these big ticket items.

The latest itch I have is to move abroad, somewhere in Europe. The husband and I have talked about it before, with each conversation filled with wheres and hows. I’m not quite sure how to go about it, or what we’d do for income, or how hard it would be to be so far from family. What propels me to constantly research and think about all those questions are the lifestyle differences between Europe and the US.

From what I witness, read and experience on a daily basis I’m not sold that the US is the best place to live for the way we want to raise our family. This doesn’t mean that it’s not a great and beautiful place to live, it’s just that I don’t know that the experience I’m having, or that my kids will have is really our preferred way of living.

My points of contention are various, but mostly having to do with family centric issues that I feel our country is dictating but also failing us. Our healthcare system and practices, our school systems, our maternity/paternity leaves, and our parental rights being stripped are a few… the extremely conservative yet exploitative use of sex would be another.

I’m not an expert on any of these topics, but I see and hear enough to have an idea of what I find to be working well in the US or Europe, and what’s not. Below are some of the things that keep my head wandering and wondering what it would be like to live abroad.

Health: American portions are all out of whack. Many of us are fat. Our food is made of corn fed everything, GMO’s, and filled with preservatives. Our healthcare system does not encourage preventative health, but heavy doses of pharmacuticals and “quick fix” surgeries.

Families: Right off the bat just giving birth is treated as a disease that must be managed for the impending doom it could be. Many women aren’t being given accurate information by their providers and even more aren’t being given the ability to chose how they give birth.

Once you have a baby there is no maternity or paternity system in place that allows you time to bond with your child without worry of when your next paycheck will be there. Sure, FMLA gives you 12 weeks if you work for a company large enough to have to abide by that, but how do you pay your bills if you were surviving paycheck to paycheck?

And how about how many hours most of us work not only to pay for childcare, the mortgage or rent, and keeping everyone fed? Parents are working their butts off to provide for their families. Many never taking any personal or vacation time because they may not get paid for time off, or fear they would lose their spot on the ladder they have been sacrificing so much to climb.

Add it all together and I don’t see any value or respect being placed on families.

School: Standardized tests and Common Core. Because I don’t yet have a child in grade school, my understanding of the public school system is limited to what I hear from friends that do. From what I can tell there are a lot of parents very frustrated with how frustrated their young children are. Kids in kindergarten and first or second grade no longer get to learn by playing and interacting. They are having “knowledge” shoved down their throats, and if they won’t swallow it must be because they have ADD and should be medicated.

Then once you get into the upper grade levels many schools have dropped their art and music programs. It appears that we as adults have decided that chemistry or calculus is more important than playing in the band or learning photography. And maybe to those aspiring doctors it is… but what about the kids that don’t excel at academics? What about the creative free thinkers? Why are they being made to feel like those aren’t real skills that should be embraced and developed?

And God forbid you want to home school your kids. Because you know, parents that homeschool couldn’t possibly obtain the tools necessary to educate the young minds they’ve been responsible for up until now, right? If it’s not structured the way the state school system has deemed appropriate, these kids are set up to live in the basement forever and never contribute to society, right? For some reason I have a feeling most of those 42 year old basement dwellers were not homeschooled.

Sex: Women and their bodies are for sex right? That’s about what I can tell when I see  any advertising… or when a woman is being told she should cover up while breastfeeding. We like to parade sex around and use it for attention, yet we aren’t allowed to have it. Sex is a dirty, dirty thing that will send you straight to hell with an STD. This topic strikes a nerve because it also awakens my feminism and the double standard of sex for men and women, so I’ll just leave alone and save the rest of that rant for another day.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have the balls to make a move that big. And I don’t know that there aren’t a whole list of rants that I would have about living somewhere in Europe. These are just some of the issues I see happening to and around me that I’m not fond of.

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