So often I take this amazing life of travel and living abroad for granted. When someone tells me I’m “living the dream” I’m quick to point out that I’m also barely paying my rent since I sometimes feel like the “nomadic life” is glorified and the day to day challenges are often not recognised.
But the fact is, I do have an incredible life. And all of us who won the “uterus lottery” and were born in countries where we were automatically offered safety, healthcare and an education can say the same.
We only have to look at Syria and the terrible plight of the refugees pouring into Europe to feel gratitude.
While I love pretty much all of the American holidays (especially Halloween), Thanksgiving is special. While the days that come after the holiday are now completely commercialised, the day itself is purely about being thankful and spending time with friends and family.
Last time I celebrated Thanksgiving it was in the United States when I was an Au Pair, and I had a great time with host family (I still rave about my host mum’s pecan pie today). This year we had thanksgiving at my friend Jessie and Izy’s house here in Antigua with friends from around the world, and we all bought a dish or two. My roommate is an amazing cook and she did something delicious with green beans and brown butter while I cut the veges for the salad (basically the only thing I can be trusted to do with my culinary skills).
Later that night, while I lay in fetal position from eating too much turkey and cheesecake (I have no off button when it comes to good food), I thought about all the things I’m thankful for.
When I first left New Zealand, I was certain that it was “the worst”. 21-year-old Stacey hated how small it was, how far it was from other countries, the weather, how expensive it was, and how it was “boring”. With the benefit of hindsight, and after traveling and living in so many places, I would now like to go back and give myself a good shake.
Sure, I may not want to live there, but having the luck to be born in New Zealand and then travel the world has given me a lot to be thankful for. Here are just a few:
- If I choose to have children, I’ll never have to put them on a boat and hope we make it to our new destination, while wondering what our welcome will be like if we do.
- If I choose to go back to school, I’ll be able to get a first-class education with an interest-free student loan, something many women in the world can only dream of.
- Since I was a teenager I’ve had ready access to birth control and education about STD’s sexual health, pregnancy and fertility.
- I grew up in a country which was the first to give the women the vote. No one expected me to live at home until I was married and then spend my life in the kitchen. I never had any doubt that I could do anything I liked with my life.
- We never had to stay inside because the air was so polluted that we would get sick from being exposed to it.
- My brother will never face persecution or death because of his sexuality and can legally get married and adopt children.
- No one ever told me what I could or could not wear.
- I didn’t grow up with the knowledge that I would only ever be able to have one child.
These may seem like random things to be thankful for, but many of them are the results of my travels. China taught me to be thankful for the clean air, healthy food and uncontaminated water, and free speech in New Zealand. Guatemala has encouraged me to be grateful that I come from a country with top-notch education and healthcare for women, and my American friends made me appreciate our comparatively low costs for higher education.
What are you thankful for? If you’re wondering how you can help those less fortunate, consider doing some volunteer work (look for a reputable organisation like New Futures Organisation), donating to a worthy course, or simply getting educated so you can dispel myths and have informed conversations about the situation in the Middle East. I personally love using Kiva which is microfinance and a great way to help alleviate poverty and empower people from around the world.