Jun 11, 2015

Seven years and surviving!

Today marks 7 years since I first stepped on the land of opportunity, the United State of America. A totally different place and culture from what I grew up with. And to say that I have had a hard time adjusting is an understatement. There were times when I wished I stayed in the Philippines - where everything seemed to be too simple and easy. At that point, that's what I felt and boy did it change!

A lot has changed since then. I think it's safe to say that the changes were for the better. But I think my husband would be a better judge than me. Not talking about bias.

Anyway, here are some of the better changes in my life in my first 7-year journey in the US:

I'm a better driver. 

I guess everyone becomes better with experience but some gets worse because they think they're too experienced. I could say that I am both.

My first year of driving was the worst. My husband told me that it's normal. I think to make me feel better but I'm not too sure if he's telling the truth. All I know, at that time, I wished I never have to drive at all.

Why? Well, let's just say that on my first day driving alone, I almost ran into the building where I had my first dental checkup here in the US. Have you ever stepped on the accelerator but meant to step on the break?! Yeah, that's what I did. Luckily, the curb was the only casualty.

On my first week, driving, I decided that I wanted a body molding on the passenger side of my car. So when I made a right turn in a parking lot and dragged my car against a rear bumper of a truck, The plan was a success, except that it wasn't really planned. And oh my husband confessed that he purposely didn't get my car repaired to remind me to be extra careful driving.

Then, I got into two accidents - one wasn't my fault and one was partly my fault and I will never take the full blame because it was a road rage caused by an impatient driver behind me. It was also my first ever ticket for not yielding to a Stop sign. I did yield but because I gave in to the other driver's rage, I proceeded to cross the intersection and didn't notice a car coming through which ended up semi t-boned my car. Gosh, that was scary! That was the time that I really wished I didn't to drive anymore! But momma gotta make some money!!

See, I didn't learn how to drive until I got here. Never thought I would ever drive!

In the Philippines, where I came from, owning a car is a luxury. We couldn't afford it but we eventually owned one, a very old, used one, which I never had the slightest thought of driving. But when I got here and became a stay-at-home Mom, I knew I would need to get a job for the sake of my sanity but there wasn't a lot of jobs around that were just a walking distance from where we lived. So I had to drive.

That was a little over 5 years ago. I'd had just a couple fender bender and speeding tickets since then. Nothing major, thank goodness! I can drive comfortably now and park better. Now, I'm glad that I'm driving so I didn't have to drag my husband shopping or wait for him to get home and begged him to take me to places because my boredom was killing me while staring at the four corners of our house.

I know more stores.

As a typical woman, I love shopping! But not knowing where and what stores were, kept me away from my happiness, much more with not knowing how to drive. It also didn't help that my husband only knew a couple of places (i.e Walmart, HEB Grocery, Autozone, and Firestone). Now, I know hundred more places than my husband. I guess he can consider it his nightmare, but he was the one who taught me how to drive! :-D

I know Ross Dress for Less has a good bargain apparels, home decors, and other stuff. I can get branded stuff at a fair price at the outlet mall and we have two good ones around here in Austin (Round Rock and San Marcos). I know almost every single HEB around (thanks to Google maps). I got addicted to makeup and know exactly where to shop to add to my collection. I consider Container store as my candy store. I enjoy going through the maze in Ikea. I also have  a few favorite restaurants!

Being able to drive was a huge help for me with adjusting and getting accustomed to the culture by going around places and meeting new people.

I am a better cook.

Now, this is something you really have to ask my husband about and possibly my son. But my son may give you a way-too-honest answer. But for me, I think I am better in the kitchen.

I remembered cooking grilled-cheese sandwich for the first time. I think it was also my first time turning a stove on all by myself, or held a spatula. It seemed to easy, but I burnt it, so I guess it wasn't as easy then. Now, my son says that I make the yummiest grilled cheese sandwich in the entire universe because it's made with love (Yes, I told him to say that! Costs me $5 :P ).

Honestly, my cooking is more of a hit or miss. but I will take credit for not burning most food now (ie grilled cheese sandwich). I could follow recipes way better now and I have a better memory of what were cooking in the Food Network channel.

But hey, I never cooked and learned how to cooked until I moved here. I didn't have a choice!

Growing up, my parents or my grandma always cooks for us. They never showed me how to. And I never tried to learn either. But that was the past. The present is I do cook now, when I'm in the mood. It may be the best tastin' one, but my husband says it's edible (most of the time).

I've become picky with friends.

If I was in a pageant, I'd probably won the 'Ms. Congeniality' award.

I've had a lot of friends. I consider myself friendly and nice to everyone most of the time. Especially when I first came here when I didn't know anybody but my husband's family. Then I met people at church, bumped into fellow Filipinos, and hangout with people at work. So, I eventually mingled with a lot of people but only a few I consider my real friends.

When I first came here, I was always eager to meet fellow Filipinos. Whenever I see one at the store, I always flash my winning smile, introduce myself, add them on Facebook, and exchange numbers - all because they are Filipinos. And as my acquaintances have grown bigger, I realized, I've never talked to most of them.

Then, there's this group that I only see and talk to if we see each other at parties. Of course, let's not forget the ones that you only hear from when it's your birthday. Thanks to Facebook for reminding my 'friends' that August 11 is my birthday!

But thankfully, there are still people around me who stuck through. People whom I may not see everyday, but I know who are going to be there when I need someone and me to them. Though they're not as much as I used to have, but that's ok. I only need a few good ones!

I've learned humility.

This is not more about the culture but on individual's personality. But culture has a huge contribution.

Growing up in a third world country, life was never easy, unless you're born to a rich family. So, moving to the USA is a huge step-up for most of us. It's like rags to riches story. It was a bit overwhelming for me, at first, to all of a sudden have a lot of things I never thought I would have like my own car, a smartphone, a bath tub, microwave oven, dishwasher, laptop, and the list goes on!

I kept telling my husband "Americans are spoiled!". And he agreed. He'd been to the Philippines a couple of times and he saw what it was like living there, even for a short amount of time.

And having all the 'fancy' things, I felt like having the right to brag. So, I'd post every single new things I bought, every presents I received, every places I went to, every restaurants I ate at, and everything I spent money on, in Social Media. I think I just wanted to show off how good of a life we have here. But none of it actually made me any better person than anybody.

At some point, I realized that material things are not something to brag about. They will eventually disappear. They don't make you look better nor make anyone feel better. It would only cause jealousy and ends in chaos. I've learned to keep them to myself, be thankful for whatever I have, and pray that other people would also receive all the blessings they deserved.

I don't post as much about material things anymore. but I still brag about my family and things I've done to touch the lives of other people.

Life in the United States isn't as easy as what think but definitely not as hard as it is in the Philippines (at least ours were). Yes, we are far from the life that we're used to and from friends and relatives which gives us a different kind of happiness. But it's nice to step out of comfort zone and seek happiness from other things. In our case, it's not too lonely anymore.Shout out to my husband who's always been my strength from day 1 and never left my side no matter how crazy I've become. And last but definitely not the least, I thank our Almighty God for these blessings - my husband, family, friends, and EVERYTHING in between. 

Happy 7th year to me and Dion!!

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