When I was 16 I took a trip with my religious education class to a Buddhist monastery in the borders of Scotland. As we rounded a corner in the Scottish mountains we were shocked at the sight of the Tibetan style architecture. When we arrived at the monastery itself, we were greeted by a nun who was just finishing her lunch. They eat lunch?
After living in Taiwan for a few years there are things I have come to love and not love about the country. It is a wonderful place full of equally wonderful people. As a foreigner I have been treated well by the Taiwanese. Most will agree that Taiwanese people are among the friendliest, and most hospitable in the world.
Will our isolation increase through the infinite freedom of information and ubiquity of the Internet? Longer summers and lesser days / school year are the remains of the US agrarian economy, when planting picking and harvesting took place in a greater number of homesteads than today. US schools continue to have fewer days... and if well charted and scheduled, this freedom fosters creativity.