If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Surprises for the immigrants in US.

On a (much) lighter note (and I am totally ok, by the way), I saw a friend linking to this article: What 16 people couldnt believe about america until they moved.

I decided to throw some of my own - keep in mind it was 20 years ago (so I had to judge from that time, not from now), I moved from Moscow to NYC (both big cities), I was not even 24.

-squirrels everywhere, but their tails look like rats'
-old ladies drive cars (really old ladies that look like they should be in nursing homes)
-return policy in stores
-grocery/shopping bags (in general as disposable item, and for free)
-no polite way to address people older or higher in ladder (besides Mr. and Mrs.) - just the first name
-obesity level (in Russia I was considered almost fat, and I weigh the same now as I did then)
-laziness and inability to cook at home
-driving everywhere, even around the corner shop
-going to store/school/etc. in pajamas (and in general dressing up like slobs, unless you work in high rise in Manhattan)
-everyone smiles (sometimes it's annoying, still)
-when asking "How are you" nobody really expects anything besides "Fine" - it is not an invitation to talk
-you need to save for your own retirement (as a majority, but some don't?)
-wastefulness of everything - buying to no limit, too much "disposable" (sandwich baggies??), not fixing things...
-humongous houses and even apartments and constant complain of not enough space
-taking visitors out for dinner and having them stay in hotels means you like them, but cooking for them at home and giving them your bedroom is bad (totally opposite)
-gift giving for Christmas is crazy!
-nobody dress up properly when it's cold and everyone complains (I do the same now)
-education as a whole is really poor (yes, the possibilities and opportunities are great, but no push for it - all the freedom for kids is not something we agree on)
-how much and in what good condition folks throw things away (clothes, furniture, etc), you can live off "garbage" (I did for many years in NYC)
-cars stop for a crossing pedestrian (in general, as a rule)
-bottled water and
addiction to soft drinks, to drinking liquids in general - what's up with that? Cup of coffee in the morning, cup of tea at lunch and dinner. Done.
-parents too wrapped up into their kids' activities - once you can walk to school (at age 7?) - you walk everywhere by yourself, your friends, your extra classes...and if you can't/won't, parents don't owe you entertainment ("I am bored" would give you a stare in a mild case)

That was then. Even more surprisingly, not much (if anything) changed now. Just instead of squirrels I see deer in Austin on the streets (and the implications of running or driving into one are much worse, I should know). Practically my whole adult life in this country, and I still have believes hailing from my home where I grew up, my values, my ideals. I still drink little water and only tap (and no soft drinks at all), like living in small-er (at least by local definition if not by my compatriots') place, cook meals daily from scratch, walk (or try to) to places (and need to more), feel guilty about my weight being too much (and still consider myself fat), when wear yoga pants to the supermarket (pretty darn often) - feel extremely guilty about it and ridicule myself, don't throw away stuff and use it until it dies for good (and don't buy shit either unless it is going to be used daily and I can't live without it), bend down to pick up pennies from the street, disagree with education system (and shuffling kids around, even though I did that, but entertaining a 13 yo? get a book!) and drink my cup of coffee first thing in the morning (but no tea anymore, tea is really bad here, and the joy of it as a ritual is lost).

Why am I here? This is my life. I like that you really can get anywhere you want and achieve anything you dream about if you make wise choices and put effort into it. That you don't need to sleep with your boss as a female to advance your career. That you can choose where (which city, part of it, state) to live and move around easily if you don't like it. That you gets stopped by cops only if you break the rules, not because cops want your money as a bribe for letting you go. That the pay is adequate and if you don't think so - it's your own damn fault. It's the fact that I am responsible for my choices, that I can change them at any age (as long as I do no harm to others) and try new choices, - and that the toilet paper is soft:) Yeah, that's what I tell my parents at home!


Sarah said...

Yeah, the US is a strange place. Think you need to live somewhere else to truly realize that. Marc was raised by an immigrant and we did live out of the country for a time, so I think that's why I can relate to some of your observations. And yay for soft toilet paper! :)

Carilyn said...

Great post, Olga! Love to hear about the US from your perspective. I went to school in France, and it took awhile to get used to how different things were.

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