I have lived in two other countries: France and Germany. I'm not here to bash either one, because they both have wonderful things to recommend them. I lived there as a child and made some wonderful friends of their citizens.
My family moved to France when I was four because my military father had a tour of duty near La Rochelle. Since no American school was nearby, I attended L'Ecole de Ste. Joseph, the local Catholic school. I spoke no French, of course, but I had to learn it quickly in order to understand the nuns and students. Several young French students took me under their wings, so to speak, and all were patient with me, because I was the only American student there!
Our landlady, Madame Rue, was quite a character. A widow, she rented her house to our family, and I remember her joking with me. When I was six, I was already as tall as she was! Her home was well furnished, and when my mother was in the hospital for an extended time at the birth of my brother (due to complications), a Frenchwoman was hired to be my nanny. Janine took great care of me, and I basically remember her smile and her kindness to me.
In Germany, my mother was impressed with the cleanliness of the country. Stores, restaurants, streets--were all kept immaculate. One thing I remember was the local German candy store that was within walking distance to our home (Army family quarters that were beautifully furnished). Nowadays, no parent would allow an eight-year-old child to walk alone several blocks to a store, especially in a foreign country! I wouldn't have even allowed our daughters, now adults, to do that. HOWEVER, the kind old gentleman who owned the candy store was always patient with me as I decided on what I wanted, and it was often chocolate. You've heard of German chocolate? I rest my case. And of great importance, Germany was the place where we got our first dachshund, Elia: a red standard female.
I have the freedom to worship and practice my faith, to jump into my car and drive wherever I want, to speak my mind, or not. Clark and I enjoy traveling this great country of ours, because every section has its own distinctions, including accents. We are from the South and live in the South now, and our speech always gives us away. Holly and Philip lived near Boston when they planted a church there a number of years ago. Oh, we definitely sounded different there!
Kurt and Bethany lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a number of years ago as well, and we definitely sounded different there, too!
But we're all Americans, and for my country, I am thankful to be its citizen.