I'm sorry for the long gap in postings. I had a personal "emergency"- I needed to go home and see my family! I found a reasonable ticket price and hopped on a plane the following day. Such spontaneity is very unlike me but I am so glad I went.
In the absence of a job and social network, and in a culture that is more reserved than American culture, I have gotten quite lonely and homesick. Instead of sinking into a pity party (because my life isn't really anything to complain about) I decided to step away, get a fresh perspective and surround myself with loved ones for a week. I spent time with my parents, sister, nephews and grandparents. I even saw a few uncles and cousins. It was wonderful!!! Of course my family isn't perfect, but being away from them helps me appreciate their best qualities and happily accept everything that comes along with them.
It was a surprise to me to realize that I feel much the same way about the good ol' USA. It's not that I haven't always loved my country but I always see the things that need to be better. We are capable of so much so I expect a lot out of us. Now that I live in another country, I still think there are things we Americans need to work on, but I also see more clearly some of the best things about our country, from silly little things to major issues. I appreciate the friendliness of restaurant servers and store cashiers. I am grateful for our wonderful sytem of national parks. I'm glad that we play lots of sports and not just soccer. I like that we are a nation made up of immigrants- some recent and some long ago but almost none of our ancestors can claim to be natives. Maybe it sounds a little sappy, but long hours in airports give you a lot of time to think.
So, I guess there's no place like home and no country like your own homeland!