And am I pathetic. There are only 3 countries where I’ve spent more than six months (France, Italy and Portugal — ok 4 with Germany but I was a toddler), while coloring the whole Russian territory for 4 days spent in St Petersburg is of course an outright lie, and that’s about the same fiction for every other country (dots to the cities visited would be a lot closer to reflecting the truth). The only place I know decently for having visited or lived about everywhere around is France. With only 5 states, my map of the US shows my utter ignorance of most of the country.
My (lack of) knowledge of languages is equally appalling. Except for French and English, I can’t claim I really speak anything else. I used to be fluent in Italian, but didn’t practice it in 15 years, my German has always been dismal, and I’m not making any real effort at learning Portuguese (lack of time being only partly an excuse). My 3-year old daughter is a lot more at ease in Portuguese thanks to school, and we’re putting her on a fast track to learn English as well (I started at 14, which really doesn’t help you get a decent accent).
At least we made the right decision by starting to live abroad last year, and there’s no way back. we just have a lot of travelling around before we feel adequately in tune with the world. We’ve recently met two couples here near Lisbon. One is German/Czech, the other is Canadian/Turk, and do these people ashame us. They’re familiar with Costa Rica, Turkey or Malaysia, countries that we not only never visited, but frankly we don’t even know much about them either. Until we’ve spent time in Latin America and Asia, we’ll simply remain provincial Europeans.
So what’s next after Portugal? Hopefully the US (and probably Austin, TX) if we can get papers done in a timely fashion. Or some place in the Americas if we find the right mix. I’m told Costa Rica rocks, we’re also wondering about Chile and Argentina, the rest seems too violent to raise a family there but maybe I’m prejudiced. Montreal is a fine city, but damn is it cold up there (NYC, Boston and Chicago are not on our shortlist not only because of the weather but also because of high taxes and real estate price — NH is more attractive than Taxachusetts but there’s still the cold and rain). In any case, we’d rather move away from the Euro zone for a while.
03/28/04 update: Most Visited Countries