When I talk to friends at home in the US, sometimes I have to pinch myself a bit; complaining about work or traffic or whatever sometimes sounds a bit rich when it's in the context of living in London. I sometimes have to bite my tongue when moaning to Americans about how little vacation time I have (25 days per year, for the record, completely allocated through the end of 2011), or how rainy an English summer can be, or how annoying it is when the Tube workers or French air traffic controllers go on strike. Even though it's crap in context, it just sounds glamorous.
So when my boss called me into a meeting room last week to tell me I'd been selected to go to a super-exclusive training conference in Athens for three days starting this Thursday, my first thought was "man, I have to give up my weekend plans." But of course, I'm excited - as my friend Kat said "most people get sent to Scranton for training... you're going to Greece!". I've never been to Greece, and I'm pumped because the average temperature is meant to be around 30°C this weekend. Woot! Who cares if I've already packed my summer clothes away!
And that is one of the most amazing things about living abroad: all of a sudden, the world is smaller, more accessible, not just at your fingertips but in the palm of your hand. Weekends away can be in the lovely rolling English countryside, or in world capitals like Paris and Rome, or in places you might not considered visiting before like Zagreb or Malmo. London is in some ways the center of the universe - not in the way that the UK thought of themselves during the height of the Empire of the Rising Sun - it is perfectly located straddling continents, regions, and time zones to reach pretty much everywhere.
Thus, everytime something really seems crap - like when I have to get up at 5:30am tomorrow for the taxi to take me to the airport to fly to Athens - I have to remind myself that, oh, it could be so much worse. The life of an expat might not be glamorous at all, but definitely has its perks.