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.
You, the ascetic, went all that way for a change of scene, perhaps to the desert, perhaps to the hinterlands covered in snow, perhaps amidst a people whose language seemed obscure, strange, but alluring. Enchanté? Oui.