I was sitting in a meeting the other day at work, when my eyes happened to scan across the room. It was then that I took note of the fact that I was the only American present. There were people from India, France, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Armenia, and Korea. Quite a melting pot. My mind started to ponder and reflect on the different circumstances that brought each of us to this place and time from the four corners of the planet. Each person certainly had their own unique story and set of circumstances to tell. Apart from me, each is thousands of miles away from their true homes and their extended families. Each is a world away from everything that they have come to know.
I could not even imagine living anywhere but the United States. Any other country would just be too radical, too different for me to ever get used to. I'm not sure if I could ever be comfortable without my usual, everyday world and surroundings. My grocery store, mall, favorite restaurants, television schedules, climate, familarity, language, culture, .... I have spent time in several different countries around the world to attend various conferences and meetings. A typical stay is 3 to 5 days. The longest that I have been outside the United States was a trip to the Netherlands for a 3-week-long summer school. When I am outside my borders, I always feel like I am just marking time or camping out until my time to return. Usually I am filled with a level of anxiety and edginess that is not quelled until my plane lands back on familiar soil. I'm certain that I just could never be truly comfortable if I had to make my home abroad. In that meeting room, each of the folks present had made a choice between their careers and their homeland. As for me, I feel pretty certain that I would have made a different choice.