There are just some things that I love about this country — there are some things that they really do right here. (Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things I love about home too, I’m still proud to be an American and whatnot.) But seriously, these people know how to take a vacation.
I was at Starbucks yesterday evening, and I was chatting with the barista. She’s about my age, and has a little girl, so we have a fair bit in common. She was asking how I was doing, since she hadn’t seen me in a while — but that was mostly because she’s been on vacation. “Where did you go?”, I asked, and she replied, “Oh, just at home. It was only 11 days, but it was a great holiday.”
Only 11 days.
I don’t think I’ve taken an 11 day vacation anywhere, home or otherwise, since I’ve been an adult. (And I’m not counting the near month we spent here, trying to find housing, get phones, get bank accounts, move twice and attempt to determine if our stuff had, in actuality, sunk into the Atlantic — it was a lot of things, but it was not a vacation.) Even our honeymoon was just 8 days (and that felt luxurious).
As far as I can tell, “holdays” here commonly run from about 2 weeks to a month or more, without anyone batting an eyelash. If you have the vacation time saved up, you take it. If you want to go for longer than your accrued vacation time allows for, you take unpaid time. Time spent resting, relaxing, and spending time with family is a priority, and no one is expected to fit it in to two weeks a year. While you’re away, there isn’t guilt about being away from work, or stress about what your boss or co-workers will think about you being gone for “such a long time”. You want a break, you take a break; you come back, you work. It is understood and expected that people require this to be happy and functional — it isn’t seen as an indulgence or frivolity.
If we manage to actually get it together and plan it all, we have no less than 8 weeks (8 weeks — take that, 8 day honeymoon!) of vacation time planned for 2012. There really is somehting to the European mentality about going on holiday — I think this is going to be one of my favorite parts of living here.