Photo credit: Thomas Hawk
We’ve seen wondrous sights and witnessed dozens of new cultures and customs and I will be forever grateful for that, but what is the greatest thing I’ve discovered? How lucky I am and probably not for the reason you’re thinking. I still firmly believe that if you want to travel it simply takes hard work, dedication and changing your priorities, it has very little to do with luck. The reason I feel lucky is because of the complete chance that I happened to be born in the United Kingdom.
I grew up in my home country going on short holidays to experience different cultures but I still wasn’t wholly aware of the massive differences from country to country. It takes time to appreciate those and we’re fortunate enough to have had plenty of that over the last 17 months. I’ve taken everything about my home country for granted because it’s all I’ve ever known. I was obviously aware that it’s very different elsewhere in the world but until I experienced it first hand these contrasts are generally things I just heard about on the news.
We’ve travelled to 18 countries on this trip and I fully expected to be absolutely in love with quite a few, having dreams of living there some day. I was really surprised that although I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so many countries the only one I would only consider living in is the USA and even that would have its compromises. Every other place involved changes that I wouldn’t be willing to make in order to live there. I’m seeing the UK with fresh eyes and realising how profoundly lucky I am to have been born there. Believe me, I realise that the UK has flaws like every country but for me the good things far outweigh the bad.
Great things about being a UK citizen
- We live in a safe, democratic country where citizens are granted great freedoms. This is the thing I took for granted the most and it wasn’t until I’ve spoken face to face with people that don’t have the same luxury that I realise how lucky I am.
- I can travel pretty much anywhere in the world on a UK passport with very little visa/immigration issues. I was completely ignorant about how envied the UK passport is until we’ve talked to other travellers.
Photo credit: csaga
- We have a welfare and medical system that takes a lot of international criticism. I for one am incredibly grateful that anyone in the UK, rich or poor, can walk into a hospital and be treated free of charge.
- Never again will I complain about having a minimum of 20 days holiday plus 8 public holidays per year. We are so fortunate that the work/life balance swings very heavily towards life.
- Our country is very heavily populated but we still have vast regions of absolutely stunning, unspoiled landscapes that are free from pollution and destruction. The highlands of Scotland is still one of my favourite places on earth and I can’t believe I live only a few hours away by car.
- Our proximity to Europe is enticing and the continent is incredibly easy to access, I can’t wait to explore more of what’s on my doorstep.
- We’ve had a tough few years financially but the vast majority of people in the UK don’t know the true meaning of the word poverty. We should be grateful that most of us have a roof over our heads and can feed our families.
I’m seeing my home in a new light and I’m glad this trip has allowed me to gain some perspective. Now if we could just change the fact that it rains 80% of the year…
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