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Do you realize how big the US is? Really? I didn’t until recently. Having lived on the west coast all my life, it was easy to get a lot of different places by taking a somewhat short flight. San Francisco in an hour, Arizona in two, Denver in three, New York in five, Miami in six. Not too bad to go from one side of the country to the other, but traveling left to right you also factor in the time difference and you get from LA to New York in Miami in about a day all told. Europe is different. Take this past week for example.

On Sunday I flew from Amsterdam to London Heathrow in about an hour gate to gate. The best part is that the UK is an hour behind Central European Time so technically I got there 10 minutes after pulling away from the gate. Not bad, of course you lose it going back.

Istanbul from the back of a taxi

Tuesday I flew the longest flight since being here – four hours – to Istanbul, Turkey. (Now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople –They Might Be Giants. Song was stuck in my head the whole 15 hours I was there but I digress.) Wednesday I flew Istanbul to Budapest in just under two hours, then Budapest to Warsaw, Poland in an hour. I think, from Amsterdam, Istanbul may be the farthest route to a major European city. Everything else is an hour, two, maybe three.

 

It’s not just the fact that all of these places are so close, but there’s a big difference between a two hour flight from Amsterdam to Warsaw and a two hour flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona. From LA to AZ everyone speaks the same language, dresses the same, eats the same food, listens to the same music, and on and on (for the most part of course). Go from the Netherlands to Poland and you are in another world. Especially outside of the major city. Different people, language, dress, completely different culture. So far I feel like this is the coolest part about being here. This is what makes life feel very different from what I’m used to.

Europeans I talk to don’t quite get why I’m so awestruck by this because the States are so big and there are so many places to go. But really, the US is pretty homogenous. I guess the differences between countries is something I was conscious of coming in, but am now starting to understand and experience first hand.

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