Why the (New) American Dream Is Crap (to me)

“So live that your memories will be part of your happiness” – Anonymous

American Dream crap

This crappy American Dream got me frustrated… (Photo: Kamila Figler)

This American Dream? Please spare me.

I was going to write about something else today, but after having a rather-frustrating conversation with a colleague, I couldn’t help myself but yell within, repeatedly: “The American Dream is such CRAP nowadays!! It’s a TRAP!!” In my eyes, it is such a dangerous disease, even a mind-game trapping so many talented, ambitious, dream-filled young people that it seriously makes me want to cry. And before you yell at me how many opportunities and blah blah blah are found in the USA, please hear me out.

I was telling “him” (that’s how I’ll nickname my colleague) about my travel sites and how much I miss traveling. He complained how he wishes to travel so much, but that he doesn’t have the money to do so.

I then went on my passionate speech about how we can travel extensively with little money.

I even took the liberty to quantify, dividing costs of traveling for a year vs cost of living in the U.S. for a year and how the former can be much more economical. “He,” however, kept interrupting me, repeatedly, with the same old “but you really need money, which I don’t have” complaint over, and over, and over again…to the point that, after I quantified how travel can be so affordable (Couchsurfing, $5 hostels, 50-cent meals, working online or even abroad, etc.), he even got a little defensive about it! And of course, he repeated the little complaint one more time

I’ve had it. I went on a quasi-ranty harangue myself, expressing how sad it is that America has jaded young people like him. It’s like the old “everything is possible” American Dream mantra has been substituted by an “everything is possible, but with money” motto. It seems like the only “lesson” the American Dream is currently teaching the youth (or everyone else for that matter) is that you simply must get, you must have. That it is all about making the money, the “stability” in order to turn your dreams into reality. That a stable job is the only way to go about it, and if you complain and try to fight the system or simply have a different way to go about things, well,

You have failed.

I know, you might argue that’s not everyone and/or even America’s fault. I must also note that I do understand that the “stable life,” the cubicle, the little picket fence and house are the actual dreams of many and they are happy going about it the “standard” way. But what I wish to point out is how some of those people, how America nowadays, is pointing fingers and calling losers/failures those who do not want it that way.

I came to this land for “the American Dream” and all it is doing now is telling me that I’m doing it wrong, that I can’t do this or that because of this thing or the other. That because I don’t have this amount of money, because I don’t own this other thing, I am wrong. Sadly, this is an epidemic that has spread so wildly throughout generations. And you know what?

I’m freakin’ tired of it.

I’m tired of people telling me (us!) I can’t be a digital nomad, that I’ll be a living a “sub-par life” because I’m not “stable” enough (or at all). Well guess what? I look around me here in America and I see thousands of professionals with 20+ years of solid, “stable” experience recently laid off without notice, without a reason. I see families that earned six figures last year, making less than half of that this year. I see their “stability” imploding without a timer, without a warning, in front of them. Is this the American Dream?!

What am I trying to say with this? Nothing is “stable” in this life! It is all about choices, chances we take and those taken away from us. It is all about risks. Mostly, though, it is what we make of it. And by that I mean it is what you do outside your comfort zone. It is what you try despite what “the system” told you, what would make you “look like a loser” or “a failure.”

And so I told my colleague: “You know what? It is sad that corporate America has trapped you and make you think that way. As for me? I’m grabbing the world, and life, by the cojones. And I’ll be winning

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine” ~Caskie Stinnet

Ok, end of rant 😀 What do you think about the new American Dream?

Long-term travel & college: My digital scrapbook

Hey guys! Last night (and errm, today) I spent several hours working on a digital scrapbook, as a Shutterfly promo I got through Tripadvisor to get $30 off a photobook was about to expire. So! Since I’m very proud of the product (and can’t spend any more energy in front of a computer typing), here it is! It basically summarizes (some of) the most memorable moments of my 5.5-year college stretch. You may ask, how did I manage to travel extensively while pursuing so many degrees? The short answer: Study abroad, low-cost airlines & Couchsurfing! I plan to write an entry about the specific steps I took in order to be successful both in school & in life later on.

Part 2 (including trips to Israel, Spain & Iceland) coming soon!

Click here to enlarge the digital scrapbook

June 25th in History, King of Pop’s death and why I love budget travel

And what else happened on June 25th in history…?

MY BIRTHDAY!! Indeed, a good day 😛 Here’s a little time line:

June 25th in History

1972 Juan Peron is elected president of Argentina
1983 After more than 1,500 shows, the musical “Evita” closes at Broadway Theater, NYC
1987 Maria Alexandra (aka LatinAbroad) is born in Caguas, Puerto Rico
1989 1st USA postmark dedicated to Lesbian and Gay Pride
2009 The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, dies unexpectedly at age 50
June 25th in history, Egypt felucca ride

What I was doing when Michael Jackson died

[click on any picture to enlarge]

The day Michael Jackson died, I was celebrating my 22nd birthday in Aswan, Egypt visiting the Philae Temple during the day & starting a 4-day sailing trip on a felucca on the Nile at sunset. Thus, I did not receive the news until a couple of days later, thanks to a Spanish tourist’s loud sobs “¡ay tío, mi papa me ha dicho que se ha muerto el Rey del Pop!” on a bus trip through the desert, en-route to Luxor. I couldn’t help but look back & ask “Michael Jackson died?”

June 25th in history, Philae temple

Philae temple

This story reminds me of how disconnected I can really get whenever I travel. At the time, I was on an epic Middle Eastern road trip that took me all over Egypt, Sinai, Israel & Jordan. The best part? I mostly hitchhiked & couchsurfed during my 3 weeks in Israel; while I only took local buses (read: Only speaking Arabic will help you find these); “brokered” direct tours with felucca captains, and asked by local bystanders about the best eats in town all through Aswan & Luxor.

June 25th in history, felucca ride friends

You always meet amazing people

Just got a couple of flashbacks…I remember getting lost for 2 hours in a bananas plantation by the Galilee Sea, just a couple of kilometers away from Tabgha Church of Multiplication where, according to Christians, Jesus fed the five thousand. I remember getting rides with a tourist guide, a kibbutz dweller & a grandpa on different occasions, all who recounted peculiar stories, my favorite being the grandpa’s full historic background of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict on the way back from Rosh Hanikra. These, my friends, are the kinds of experiences that stay with you and you never forget. To me, these are reminders of why I travel the way I travel–on a budget.

Jerusalem, Israel

Budget travel really pushes you to experience a place, delve into the culture, smell scents & taste flavors that are simply impossible to encounter on all-inclusive package tours or glitzy 5-star hotels. *sigh* I miss this. I miss traveling. I wish that I were spending my 24th birthday somewhere remote, getting lost again in someone’s plantation, just enjoying the moment & getting lost in nature. But my time will come again soon enough. For now? Let me hit the beach 😀

What’s the “Today in History” like on your birthday?

My Travel Blogging begins: An introduction

How did I learn English? When did I get bit by the travel bug? What motivated me to start a travel blogging? Through pictures and mini tales, I give you a little introduction and background of my life today!

I was just about 8 when I had my very first English conversation during a parade at Disney World, which ironically was my very first trip outside of Puerto Rico as well. I was able to do so just with the limited knowledge I had gathered from going into the library and teaching myself English through dictionaries and storybooks. When I came back, I remember asking mom for cable television “para poder aprender inglés.”

travel blogging intro, Disney

Tank jou, Mickey!

Soon enough I was addicted to Discovery Kids, National Geographic and the Travel Channel. Even with the closed caption, I didn’t understand much. However, I knew the shows were related to what I was learning in my history & geography classes. It was about other cultures, long plane rides away from my island. As wildfires, they ignited my passion for languages & traveling

And so my first journey started: Learning how to speak English by myself.

Then, when I was 13, I got my first computer with Internet. I remember how my online habits included blogging on Kiwibox about my life as a teenage nerd, looking at pictures & reading stories in English about all those places from TV, all while excitedly flipping though a Webster Spanish-English dictionary & chatting with my virtual Norwegian boyfriend through the then-chatting-sensation ICQ program, of course.

travel blogging intro, dorky me

And this blogger was born.

A couple of hundreds of entries later, I finally decided to take my bags, leave my family behind, and go after “the American Dream.” I moved to the USA to go to college in Aug 2005.

travel blogging intro, Venice

Venice, Italy – one of the stop of my first Euro trip (6/2005)

And a world traveler was born. Between 2005-2010, I traveled extensively, mainly during my study abroad experiences in Egypt (2008-2009) & Morocco (Fall 2009).

travel blogging intro, Egypt

Abu Simbel, Egypt

travel blogging intro, Morocco

Marrakech, Morrocco

Now here I am, 6 years later, working & living in the United States solo, after graduating with 2 degrees from the University of Tampa last fall. Languages, travel, and blogging made all of this possible. Ironically, they will also help me become a digital nomad.

My name is Maria Alexandra & I’m about to embark on yet another journey: Become a nomadic translator & writer, sprinkling Latin spice all over the world.

So it begins! Are you ready!?

Question of the day: What motivated you to start travel blogging?