Friday, June 20, 2008

A Grim Reminder of Home

I went to the post office today to pick up a parcel. Instead of the usual goodies my parents send me while I'm abroad, I get a stack of work related letters and bills. The letters from work immediately gave me feelings of anxiety and I can feel a wave of nausea from the pit of my stomach which begs the question...

Is it worth it to go back? I have been in the UK for almost 2 months now. Riding on the bus the other day in the middle of rush hour, I was surprised how people were generally mellow, calm, and quiet. I remember coming home from work on BART where everyone in the same boat was either, frantic on the cellphone talking about work, stressed out, or generally apathetic, tired and miserable.

I asked FH if this was usual, and he said more or less. People here just don't give a shit. At the end of the day, they leave work at work. They don't talk about work when they are at home. Also, he doesn't think they have as much stake as Americans in losing their job. They don't have to worry about losing their health insurance because they are covered by the NHS. I experienced the NHS firsthand when I was in that motorcycle accident four days into being here. They were very thorough...did xrays, cat scans, lab tests, administered drugs. And at the end there was no bill at all, you just walk out. I was amazed. All the while I was worried at how I was going to pay for all this.

Also they have a great social welfare system. If they lose their job, whether it be laid off, quit, or fired, they still get a check. Nobody ends up homeless here. If you see a homeless person on the street it's because they want to be there because they have subsidised housing from the government (nobody is ever refused). Yes, you pay taxes up the ying yang but I wonder if it's all worth it, living a stress free life, well not completely stress free but less than Americans have to fret over.

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