Upon learning that I chose to become a citizen, many of the English people I know have simply responded, "Why?", followed by questions about the ceremony.
Why did I do it? There are many reasons, some of them easier to articulate than others.
- I enjoy and appreciate the pace of life here (keep in mind that I don't live in London!). It's not a 24/7 environment; if you need to go to the grocery store on Sunday, you've got a 6 hour window to do so.
- I feel like people here and in Europe work to live,
theywe don't live to work. It is expected that people will book a 2 week holiday (and will still have another 2 or 3 weeks to use). I think I was able to do that twice in the US, and it was done on an exception basis.
- I've gained a new perspective and feel much more a part of the world.
- I find the UK to be a very tolerant and diverse country.
- I've had the opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the world. I've been on work teams with people from India, South Africa, Singapore, Mauritius, France, Ireland, Germany, India, and Spain, just to name a few.
- There is a strong environmental agenda. Recycling is done everywhere. Road tax is based on emissions. Wind turbines and solar panels are common sights. The cars get better gas mileage than in the US (even when accounting for the bigger gallon in the UK) - and most use diesel, as the emissions are lower and miles per gallon higher.
- The history is incredible. I've visited many sites, buildings, and churches that have been around for more years than I can imagine; places I had only read about or seen pictures of. Walking around Stonehenge, visiting castles, stepping inside a church that is over 1,000 years old, having dinner in a 400 year old pub, taking the dogs for a walk along an old Roman road. It's hard to put into words, very awe-inspiring.
- It's a beautiful country with stone houses, barns and fences that dot the landscape, narrow winding roads, and charming villages. It's green all year long, although sometimes you have to shovel away the snow to see it. I drive over Woodhead Pass every day as I go to work and come home. And every day, at least once, I say to myself, "I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place". How many people can say that?
- The British humour - I won't pretend I always get it, but it certainly is growing on me.
- And one of the most important reasons - it feels like home. That's not to say I don't miss all of my friends and family in the US; I most certainly do.
Next up - registering to vote and getting my passport (a requirement if I plan on getting home after my next trip out of the country).
County Hall in Derbyshire - a beautiful building
Before the ceremony. The seats visible in the picture were for guests. My chair was up front, facing the middle.