Hello again and thanks for all your great comments this week. The following touches on something that's been on my mind for the past couple of months:
I live a blessed life here. I work a steady 40-hour a week job where I am paid competitively, the rent on my apartment is greatly subsidized by my city's government, and (officially) I am given 20 days each year, outside of holidays, with which I can travel. Currently I am able to take advantage of extremely favorable exchange rates when sending money home, and my friends working in the States frequently tell me that I am wise to stay here. All these things I know, and to the best of my ability I work to never take them for granted.
However, back-patting aside, I've begun to wonder how relevant international experience is in our current economy. Clearly after two years I can't (and wouldn't) take back coming here, but what of other young people fleeing from the recession in favor of a freer globe-trotting existence? With the unemployment rate at nearly 10%, "going where the jobs are" seems a smart move, but I wonder if it isn't a slightly whimsical one. Would it be better to take on more undesirable jobs back home and help try to stimulate the economy, or is there a real (if subtle) communal benefit to be gained for individuals going overseas? Indeed last year at UW-Madison more students studied abroad than ever before, but when does that money become better spent elsewhere?
My suspicions tell me that there is a payoff somewhere down the road, although how significant that is I can't be sure. It would seem that young people have always traveled the world for one kind of exploration or another, and in places like Australia and the UK young adults are routinely encouraged to take a year between endeavors to see something new. That said, is the price of global citizenship increasing now that we face an economic situation unseen since the Great Depression? It's unlikely that the current administration is overly preoccupied with the issue, but nevertheless I think it's an interesting one to think about.