Monday, February 4, 2008

50 United States

The 50 United States are together one country. However, sometimes it seems as if the US consists of 50 small countries, that coincidently speak the same language and have the same president.

There are numerous differences among the states. For example, in most states it is allowed to make a phone call or send a text message while you're driving, but if you do it driving into New Jersey you might end up paying a $250 fine. When you leave New Jersey, you have to pay $3 toll everytime. Moving from one state to the other can be a huge administrative step: re-applying for a drivers licence, renewing licence tags on your car... And even the most serious laws like gun posession, taxes, and the death penalty differ from state to state.

All the 50 states have a unique nickname. Florida is called ´The Sunshine State´, California is `The Golden State´ since people used to find gold there, and New York is 'The Empire State´. Not many people know anything about the State Delaware, because it's so small: after Rhode Island, it is the smallest state in the US. The biggest city is Wilmington, with approximately 100.000 habitants. Delaware's nickname is 'The First State' because Delaware was in 1787 the first of the (at that time) 13 states to ratify the US Constitution. (This was done in the capital of the US, which was Philadelphia at that moment.) The main reason why Delaware was so quick with this ratification: it wanted to be independend and get free of the countries that had conquerred Delaware at that moment: Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands!

No matter how small this state is, Delaware is is very important for banks. Thanks to a very attractive tax system, many banks have their main office in Wilmington. But, when you combine this with a quiet nightlife, and it gives a strange feeling: Wilmington is not a small city, with a nice skyline. However when you walk or drive throughout the city at night, all you see is empty bank offices, making it a huge ghost town! The first visit is also very strange: hundreds of bank branches, for just 100.000 people.

Reasons enough to switch states. Last week I moved to ‘The Keystone State’: Pennsylvania, getting this nickname from the central, wedge-shaped stone which holds all the other stones of a structure in place to form an arch. This nickname is based upon its central location among the original Thirteen Colonies forming the United States. I choose to live in the biggest city: Philadelphia. In the heart of this city , I found a studio apartment, between the high buildings. I'm still working in Delaware. And I'm still shopping there, because the sales tax is 0%!

In the meantime, Joran Vandersloot is big news over here as well as in the Netherlands. And I finally said goodbye to my lemon, when the entire transmission broke down... Still looking for another car!

Click here to check this weeks pictures!