Plaza Voices: A World of Difference

Reading the news, it can be difficult to understand the context of current events. A plane crash in Taiwan, the conflict in Gaza, kidnappings in Nigeria... what would it look like if those things happened here? How do our lives differ from those of people in far-away countries? And what would it be like to leave everything we know behind, and move halfway around the world? If you've ever asked such questions, these resources are for you.

To get started, you might run a quick comparison at Statistics seem a lot less dry when stated in personal terms. For instance, if Nigeria were my home instead of the United States, I would have 2.6 times as many children, but make 94.83% less money. The maps showing a country's approximate size in relation to my own are also telling (check out the size of Taiwan compared to Colorado, above).

This site actually uses data from an even more extensive and fascinating site: the CIA World Factbook. It contains concise information on every nation in the world, including areas like the Gaza Strip. Get up-to-date on geography, demographics, and "transnational issues" with just a few clicks. If you prefer print, don't worry: the Factbook is still a book.

Curiosity whetted? Check out the Denver Public Library's Maps & Geography research page. Here you will find links to several excellent resources, including CultureGrams (available in-house at any DPL branch, or from any location with your library card number). CultureGrams provides a lot of the same data, but is enriched with photographs, interviews, and even recipes. More in-depth information is easily accessible through Gale Virtual Reference Library. If you're interested in comparing regions closer to home, take a look at the U.S. Census Bureau's American Fact Finder. Or learn about the experience of living abroad in any number of books and movies available through the Denver Public Library (try a general search like "living in Africa").

When I meet someone from another country, I often imagine trading places. How would I feel if I were trying to get along in their home country? What differences might I find in culture, language, and customs? What things would be universal?

Have you ever lived abroad? What was the experience like? Share your thoughts with us!

Plaza is a meeting place where people from all over the world connect with information, make new friends, and enjoy new experiences, building Denver’s global community.

To find a Plaza program near you, please see our events calendar.

Written by Amanda R. on July 23, 2014


Anonymous on July 24, 2014


If you are considering emigration, embassies and consulate websites/contacts are very helpful resources. The U.S. State Department has up-to-date information on visa, passports, travel alerts and health requirements to make sure you arrive to your new home safely. Any of the print materials will be dated but it helps get the lay of the land, for example if you can get your hands on a current edition of Craighead's which includes relocation info for over 70 countries. There are online forums and discussion groups for expats. Find someone who has made the move and ask lots of questions. Safe travels!

Anonymous on July 24, 2014


Denver is lucky with two travel clinics - Anschutz and Denver Health. They are particularly helpful if you are moving or traveling to a region off the beaten path.

CathyJ on July 24, 2014


Lots of great resources here! I'd never heard of and can foresee spending a lot of time there comparing countries.

Hill on July 24, 2014


This is fascinating!

Anonymous on July 24, 2014


MUY interesante! Gracias por escribir de este tema!
Ojala que le ayudara mucha gente entender las problemas y situaciones del gente de otros paises.

Amanda R. on July 25, 2014


Thank you for your comments! Wonderful and informative.

Anonymous on July 31, 2014


Definitely helps one understand why people have particular struggles and especially why they are so resourceful as they are!

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