I am so glad I have the opportunity to live in Europe and see the world from a different perspective. My friends and I often teased each other about first world problems when we were whining about our cable going out or our laptops not being fast enough or the new video game being to easy to beat but until you interact with people who aren’t from a first world country you really don’t get it.
The last few months I have been on a few freelance jobs sites trying to make some money writing. When I put in an application I always look a the profiles of the other applicants on the job to see who I am up against. If you see writers from the US, England, Germany and a few other countries, the going rate requested for a job is anywhere from $15-45 USD per hour. If the applicant is from India, anywhere on the African continent or some countries in central and south America, the requested fee per hour is anywhere from $3-12 USD per hour. Keep in mind everyone has experience, most have college educations, and the work required is the same.
I can’t imagine working for $3 per hour. I haven’t done that since I was a waitress at Pizza Hut in Valley Center, KS when I was in high school and at least I got tips. Not that that always helped, if I got the table of state troopers they always tipped 35 cents each not matter how good you were at keeping their drinks filled. Yes I’m still a little bitter.
My fees fall right in the middle of the first world requests. I ask for a fee of $22 USD per hour. But sometimes when I look at these other people I wonder why I’m worth that? Do not get me wrong, I’m not saying I doubt my skills as a writer but many of these people have done more ghost writing jobs than I have. I got out of writing and haven’t done it for years so I’m comfortable admitting I’m a tad rusty when it comes to editing (thank God for friends who are willing to read my work and give notes: Lisa Henshall). But there are writers on these sites who write for a living, have been writing constantly for years, are educated and yet they earn $4 per hour because of where there are from. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
If nothing else, moving to Europe had made me more grateful for everything that is available to people in the US. While I think, and I’m pretty vocal about it, that the US government and big businesses have a long way to go in the way the general population is treated, Americans still have it pretty damn good.
I realize these are lessons I could have learned in the US but If I were still in Kansas I’d still be working in a shop and going to school to study nutrition. I never would have had a reason to seek out the freelance websites and begin bidding against people from other countries for writing jobs. So it was the move to Europe that made this experience possible.
I’m not going to be ready to go back to the US anytime soon. I want to keep meeting people and learning more and expanding my experiences. When I feel like I have learned a good base of knowledge I will want to go home, because the US will always be home. Though, knowing me, I will never feel as if I have learned enough.