I’m off to romantic Sedona, Arizona, on Friday for three days with my German friend, Inge. You may be asking, “Why not with your husband?” The answer is simple. I live in the United States where work comes first and relaxation is a four letter word.
My husband is longing for a vacation. The last one he had was in August 2007, and I can tell he really needs one. There are however three problems. First of all, his boss doesn’t want him to take more than one week off at a time, even though he’s been a pillar of strength at the same law firm for ten years, (minus the one year we lived in Belize.) Secondly, he’s supposed to bill the same number of hours whether or not he takes a vacation. This obviously means working twice as many hours when he returns from his vacation. How can you relax when you have to do that? Third, we shall soon have two sons attending University in the U.S. Our 18-year-old is starting UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara, this August, and our oldest is in his 3rd year of engineering, at the University of Michigan.
For those of you who live abroad, California is considered in-state for us which means the fees are around $22,000 per year, including the dorm, food and books. When your son/daughter studies out of state, which is the case of our oldest, tuition and books amount to $40,000, not including room and board. Multiply both those fees by 4, for a University degree. No wonder people have the work ethic here. Many young students start a new career with loans of $160,000. Some people say, “Get a scholarship, but what if your kid is one of the 99% who does not excel at baseball, football, etc? My Danish friend’s son is also in college, and he gets a set amount per month for lodging from the government, and tuition is covered. He will be able to start a career debt-free.
I love asking people I know at my local gym if they have any plans for the summer. 99% of the time, they say, “I have to work, so we’ll probably take a couple of 3-day weekends to Santa Barbara or Las Vegas.” I’ve never heard anyone say, “We’re off to Brazil, or Australia.” I envy Europeans for the amount of holidays they have and the amount of traveling they do. It doesn’t necessarily seem to be related to a highly paid job either.
When Duke and I visited the tiny island of Nana-Nu-Ira in Fiji, for our 50th birthdays, a lifetime dream of mine, we met a couple from England. Both husband and wife were school teachers in their 50’s, and every year, they take the whole summer and fly around the world on a special ticket where they can stop when they chose to. They also take a holiday in the fall which is usually to Greece or the Canary Islands. I’ve never met a husband and wife who are both school teachers in the U.S., ever taking a round the world trip, EVER.
I know the economy affects all of us, and times may be different now.