This week my teachers have been on strike, so I have had a lot of extra free time. I had the opportunity to visit Stonehenge and Bath, attached are some pictures!
I have been reflecting on my values and what is really important to my future. Living in Europe has been pretty eye opening, and has emphasized the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Something I really appreciate is that it is more convenient and cost effective to be healthy in London, whereas in the cities I have lived in in the United States, it is cheaper and easier to be unhealthy.
To illustrate my point, I will share what a normal week would look like living in my apartment in my college town. Once a week I drive to Walmart, because it is much too far away to walk, and I buy enough food to hold me over (about $30 each week). I am fortunate enough to live close to campus, so I can walk to class. That’s about 20-30 minutes of walking four times a week. I don’t really have any other pressing reason to go outside, and exercise becomes a chore.
Living in Surbiton, I get groceries twice a week. I walk to the local grocery store (about 15 minutes) and buy a bag full of fresh food, and whatever I might be low on in the pantry. The food is not pumped with sugar and preservatives, and it tastes fresher. I spent the same amount of money in USD each week, but I am able to get much more food. I never would have believed that groceries would be cheaper in London than they are in Idaho, but they are. Walking to campus takes about 20 minutes each way. On average I walk between 30 minutes and 1 hour every day. Rather than being a chore, exercise is ingrained into my way of living.
I believe the fact that many cities are more condensed in Europe affects people’s health. Because most of America was designed more recently, with cars in mind, things are more spread out. This makes it more convenient to drive often, go out for fast food, etc. I don’t have an explanation for the extra sugar pumped into the food, unfortunately.
I am already thinking of ways I could return to Europe in the future, for study or for work. In the meantime, I am hoping to make adjustments back home to improve my quality of life. For starters, I would like to invest in a bike. I enjoy grocery shopping in small quantities multiple times a week rather than getting a bunch all at once. A bike basket would allow me to carry a bag or two of food and get from my apartment to Walmart. The bike is not as fast as taking my car, but it would be better for my health and the environment.
I feel lucky that my college town has a large farmers market in the summer and fall. I plan to make an effort to buy my food from the market, and not just from Walmart. I am very resourceful with my money, but I think it is worth it to spend a little extra on higher quality food.
Before moving out for college, I lived in a very isolated place. If I wanted to walk from my house to my high school, it would have taken me 7 hours. Walking was just completely out of the question. It’s no wonder that American children, compared to many other developed countries, are more unhealthy and unhappy. Everywhere I go, both in the UK and in mainland Europe, I see children walking outside on their own. I am going to miss seeing that when I return to the US.