I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: It’s time to start tackling my upcoming dilemma. Where do I head next?
My contract in Barcelona ends in June, and as much as I love the city, I’m not sure another year of teaching English is in store for me. It may be time to pursue other paths. While I would be open to staying abroad, the current financial crisis in Spain is bleak for finding work.
But heading “home” doesn’t necessarily mean heading home. If I return to my home country, I have my pick of 50 states–something that most Europeans are quick to remind me is a huge luxury, and I should take advantage of it.
Keeping the History Alive
While there are certain things I’d look forward to when returning to the U.S., there is much about Europe that I’d miss. Namely, the history.
My building in Barcelona is older than my home state of California. I walk on cobblestone streets originally tread by horses. I pass by a Gothic cathedral every day. I’ve attended medieval festivals.
But a move back to the U.S. doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice that feeling of tangible history. After all, the U.S. has its own story, even if its heritage isn’t as old and wrinkled as its European grandparents. Pilgrims, independence wars, civil wars–sometimes I forget the U.S. didn’t begin with the Gold Rush.
Richmond’s on the Table
I’ve never visited Richmond, Virginia, nor had I given much thought to moving there until recently. But the Internet’s abuzz (ok, not the whole Internet, but this one home improvement blog I follow religiously), and the verdict’s in: Richmond is highly underrated.
The more I read about Richmond, the more I imagine myself there. As added incentive, I already invested in a heavy winter coat in Bilbao last year. I might as well put it to use during those East Coast snowstorms, right?
Richmond is affordable, well situated (near DC and New England, but also the gateway to the South), and not overrun with Wall Street bankers or techies. But what appeals to me most is Virginia’s historical roots.
Virginia was the birthplace of the colonies, and thus, the country. Richmond was the blood bath of the Civil War, and the capital of a nation wanting to succeed. It’s positively littered with sites referencing battles, war leaders, presidents, pilgrim offerings, you name it.
And if I ever feel nostalgic for California, I could head to Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery. Though it’s not as glam as the film industry itself, it’s the burial site of 18,000 confederate soldiers and two U.S. presidents. (And locals say it’s a great picnic place in the summer! Creepy or delicious?)
Plus, in an ongoing restoration project, the city of Richmond is uncovering its original cobblestone streets. It’s like they heard my personal plea. Now if they’d just resurrect a cathedral from the Middle Ages, I’d never have to choose between the U.S. and Europe.
So Richmond’s on the table. I may leave Europe in June, but that doesn’t mean I have to forgo a sense of living history that I’ve come to love through traveling. I can just switch to doing so on my home turf.
Have you ever been to Richmond? Am I making a serious mistake considering it, or is it actually as cool as I’m starting to believe it is? (Important bonus question: Would you picnic in a cemetery?)
This post was written by me (I hope that much is clear!) for Hipmunk.com‘s #HipmunkCityLove campaign. I may be based in Europe, but I jumped at the chance to highlight a number of fantastic cities in my home country. All opinions and where-to-next dilemmas are my own.