Vacation is always better when you know it is below freezing back home. I got to escape the cold in February by going to Mexico. Sitting on a lawn chair, sipping piña coladas, and swimming in a pool.

And of course, at an all inclusive resort, you abuse that perk. I ate more than I knew I could!

During this excursion, my family was treated like royalty by the employees that worked there. Since we ate at the same places for breakfast and lunch, we were recognized, and even got to know some of the people that waited our tables.

I liked how tipping was not “stressed”; the people working there did not make it seem like they were trying to get a gratuity. But, we thanked them anyways.

Every day, after every meal, my brother and I were given money to find our waiters and compensate them for their kindness. They never looked at the money, which surprised me. It felt like it did not matter how much they got, and that’s what I felt made it genuine.

But after a couple days, I started to notice something. We were only tipping about two to four dollars. At first, I thought that we were being stingy. Even though we weren’t paying for our food, I still thought we could be giving more.

I started thinking that if we tipped like that back home, we would look “cheap”. Tipping a few dollars would not be seen as acceptable, but here, it seemed totally fine.

I researched the Mexican equivalent to the American dollar. I found that a U.S. dollar bill is worth 18.85 Mexican pesos. That didn’t mean much to me, so I found that a 12 ounce Coke is equal to a little more than 14.5 pesos.

To my displeasure, I still didn’t feel like I knew what my money could buy. Gummy bears in the gift shop were $10, and I couldn’t tell if that was their worth, or the “resort price.”

I asked my dad what a two dollar tip was like in Mexico. He looked it up on his phone. I was surprised by the results that the minimum wage in Mexico was $6.36 a day. Not per hour. If you assume an average work day is eight hours, that is about 80 cents an hour. American minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

This thought process caught my attention because at the resort, everything was in dollars, meaning they knew what my money could buy, but I didn’t.

In fact, I know nothing about Mexican economy, or any other country’s economy besides my own, which I still barely know.

After going to Mexico, I started to think about the money I spend on video games. Even a few dollars would go farther than the way I am using it. Five dollars seems small to me, but it may be worth a whole day to someone else.

I also realized that I didn’t know a lot about the United States and how it relates to other countries. I feel like it is important for people to know this, especially kids. Isn’t it important to know the places you visit, like the Bahamas or Canada, when you visit them?

Sometimes, it seems like I forget that there is a world outside of the United States, and some people might also feel this way. As a kid, this seems especially relative. That is why I wish the school would help us know about the world we grow up in, and not just the country we live in.

Knowing the chronology of our world is important, but I think knowing about the one I live in is just as important. In history class, we talk about how America worked with ally countries during war time. I think it would be important to learn about how we handle foreign affairs in present times.

Even if we had only a couple days, I think that school would benefit from teaching us about trading with other countries, how commodities are shipped here, and even the countries Americans visit the most. The world seems like a big place to a kid, and if school could close that gap, I feel like I would be prepared for vacations, much less going out on my own. Right now, vacation is what I need to know about, so at least I will be inspired to learn!