Change Yourself…Change The World.

Let’s Complain about the Expense of Europe
May 28, 2009, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Switzerland

Let’s talk about 5 dollars for 30 minutes of internet.
Let’s talk about minimum of 13-21 dollars for a meal.
Let’s talk about 35 dollars a night for the cheapest hostel.
Let’s talk about how the Lonely Planet ‘Europe on a Shoestring’ is a lying liar.
Let’s talk about how laughable it is to go to an Indian restaurant in Switzerland and see Chicken Tikka Masala for THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS, when it is two in India.

Well, I think I’ve complained enough. It’s hard to feel miserable when you look outside and marvel at how gorgeous the mountains in Interlaken are- or ponder how the rivers could be SO blue- or why ‘Egg Ice Cream’ actually tastes pretty heavenly- or feel your stomach knot in apprehension and excitement because tomorrow you will free-falling from 15,000 feet above the ground.

The problem with Europe is that there are SO many amazing things to do, so much food to taste (fish and chips in England, macaroons in France, fondue in Switzerland), so many sights to see (The Tower in London, the Eiffel Tower in France), so many adventures to try out (sky diving, bungy jumping, paragliding, ZORBING), so many cool shops- my wallet is literally aching to jump out of my pocket and empty its contents in five minutes. And then you always have the thought ‘I’m in SWITZERLAND right now. I may never be in Switzerland again. I should enjoy myself to the fullest extent, shouldn’t I?’

But I still find myself walking half an hour to my hostel instead of taking the bus, fruitlessly trying to argue down prices for hostel rooms and train tickets with an apparently useless student I.D. card (thanks a lot, ICE), and that general feeling of unpleasantness every time I go out for a meal and end up paying way more than I had hoped for. We are definitely not in SouthEast Asia anymore, friends. We are not even in the states. We are in Europe.

I feel that I am seeing now, more than ever, what a luxury it is to travel. I suppose that it hasn’t hit me as hard until now, because my school tuition covers my room and board, all of my excursions, and I get stipend money on top of it. And living in SouthEast Asia is fairly dirt cheap compared to the USA. But now that I’m out of school… I see how much it really costs to live and travel- and especially in the most expensive places in the world. But at the same time, I’m really happy to be getting this experience. I feel that I’m getting this kind of reverse awareness- now I have some small semblence of understanding for how it must feel like for people from Asia who come to visit or live in the US- to think ‘1 dollar for water?? I could buy that for 25 cents in India.’ Or the indignancy of the price of a hostel in Boston. I feel that it is good to get both of these experiences, rather than always having the pleasure of only having to spend two dollars for a meal- instead having to pay twenty. It teaches me patience, good humor, perspective, awareness, humility, and most importantly, how to travel better and more cheaply. Traveling in Europe is as much of a learning experience as it is traveling through Asia.

…..but I am much happier now to be going back there in a few weeks. BRING ON THE BUCKET BATHS, BANGLADESH!

Switzerland is gorgeous, of course. I have absolutely no reason to whine about anything at all in my life. Just being here is enough.

Much love,

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