It’s a stupid question, isn’t it?
Because it shouldn’t matter. Any country or region has its own strengths and selling points. Why should you care whether your part of the world is better than the other part? Why should you care that the place you want to live in is a better choice for you and your family?
Because it can matter. When it comes to the Old World and New World, there are differences. And if you’ve living abroad or have thought about doing so, you might wonder what those differences actually are.
You might make comparisons in terms of history and culture. Or as relates to lifestyle and job prospects.
I’ve lived in the New World for the past eleven years and, for me, the main difference comes down to attitudes.
|Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (anjakb)|
Old world, new world
The term ‘Old World’ was originally coined to cover Europe, Africa and Asia, while the ‘New World’ represented the Americas (North and South) and, eventually, Oceania.
In effect, the Old World was the part of the world known to Europeans before the first European contact with the Americas.
The terminology is largely historical but over time has been used to represent the differences in traditions and values, cultures and opinions, people and places. The old versus the new.
Modern day comparisons relate to working life, health care, crime rates, cost of living and other such factors. When you talk about the Old World, a distinct set of behaviours and beliefs may jump to mind. With the New World, an opposite set might come forth. Or not.
Modern day differences
In reality, the differences between the two are probably few and far between.
You could argue that the Old World Europeans have a more generous work set-up with annual holiday allowances set at five weeks in the UK and a combination of statutory leave and bonus leave giving employees in France almost ten weeks. By comparison, Australia, Canada and the US have much less and a “work hard” mentality is prevalent.
You could argue that the cost of living has been much higher in the Old World if you take cities such as London, Paris and Berlin. However, the New World has equally expensive cities with New York, Vancouver and Sydney three of the planet’s most costly to live in.
Welfare provision in Europe is traditionally strong, where as the US falls woefully short. Health care and education standards can be a bit of a mixed bag, while unemployment rates and economic growth fluctuates between the two.
What interests me most aren’t the difference above but the perceived differences in people’s attitudes.
Divided by our attitudes
The Old World is a part of the world where the values, traditions and social make-up are embedded in hundreds of years of living. And this can come through in the attitudes of the people.
You might say that the Old World has a conservative mindset and sticks to established notions, where once they were entirely new. There is a common tendency towards negative thinking, a lingering sense of seeing life’s ups and downs as setbacks and issues, rather than potential opportunities.
You might say that the Old World doesn’t always embrace change, preferring to keep things the way they’ve always been because why fix something when it ain’t broke? The Old World is seen as set in its ways, determined to stay the course, steadfast in its opinions and views.
By contrast, the New World could be seen as an embodiment of the present and, some would say, of the future. There is a sense of anticipation, the view that anything is possible. You might say that the New World looks at life through a different lens, preferring to see what could be improved upon and fixed, rather than putting up with things the way they are.
You might say there is more of an open mindedness in these parts and memories are short, people living in the moment rather than dwelling on the past. Positivity is the word of the day and anything can happen if you choose to look at life in that frame of mind.
You might say there’s no difference at all. It’s more about the individual and the way you choose to look at life. And how you choose to live it.
If you’re considering a move abroad and are keen to know more about differences like these and individual experiences, I recently contributed to the HiFX Expat Tips page where expats from around the world share their tips for living life in both the Old World and the New.
The most important advice I ever give is to try before you buy because the differences are there, on the surface or hidden just below. Plan a fact-finding trip prior to your big move and you’ll see those differences head on before they sneak up and surprise you.
So which do you prefer and why? The Old World or the New World? Or does it even matter? Do share your thoughts below.