I’ve been in the USA for almost 8 years. I think I fit in pretty good now but it wasn’t always that way. When I first moved I had a very serious case of culture shock. Not only was I moving to a place where I barely spoke the language, but I was also going from Shanghai, a city with a population of almost 20 million to a small town in Michigan with less than 10,000 people! I think there were probably more than 10,000 people in my block of apartments in Shanghai! I had a few days to get a bit used to our little house and neighborhood with my fiancé before he had to go back into his office. Our small town was about an hour drive to his office so he had to leave early and didn’t come back until about 6pm. That first day he left me on my own, I didn’t have much to do and no one to talk to. So I thought I’d go for a walk and explore my new hometown.
There was a lake nearby and some parks and playgrounds for the local children. I decided I would walk along the lake and see where it went. I was gone for hours! On the other side of the lake were a lot of very small houses and narrow streets that went up and down hills and around corners. Looking back, I think this idea was probably a little bit crazy! If I had gotten really lost I wouldn’t know how to ask for help or even how to tell them where I wanted to go. I didn’t have a cell phone yet and had never driven a car in my life. I really don’t like to use stereotypes but I think it’s probably true that Asian women aren’t very good with directions. At least it is sure that way with me! Even now, 8 years later, I never go anywhere without my GPS receiver! One thing that was pretty unusual to me was that I saw very few people out walking. In Shanghai you never see an empty sidewalk or street but I was pretty much by myself on my whole walk. When I did see someone, they were always very nice and said hello to me. That was also quite different from Shanghai. It seems that everyone there is in a hurry to get somewhere and just don’t seem to notice other people. And they almost never say hello to you.
Somehow I actually found my way back to our house and I was there waiting when my future husband came home from his work. When I told him where I had gone and how long it took, he decided the first thing we needed to do was get me a mobile phone. If worse came to worst, I could call him and hand the phone to someone he could talk to so they could help me out. Of course he was just being worried about me being in a strange area. But I had done a lot of travelling on my own in China and was a pretty capable woman. I went on many more walks and started to find my way around the town pretty well. And I’m happy to say, I never had to call him for help because I couldn’t find my way back to our home! I arrived in Michigan in April. This is a pretty good month to be here. The long winter is finally over and the colors of spring pop up literally overnight! I loved walking around our area looking at all the flower gardens our neighbors had. I soon found out that we even had some beautiful blooms in our tiny yard and garden. I started planning my next adventure and decided I would go into our little town and see how the shopping was. You can read about what I found in tomorrow’s post!
Jean Jacket @Kohl’s
Two tone shirt @China
Necklace @J Crew
Leopard bag @Express You can see more leopard choices here.
Skinny Jeans @Forever 21
Shoes @Nordstrom Rack
A couple posts ago (I post every day so can use the words post and day the same!) I started telling the story about my first day in America. My future husband’s brother picked us up from the Detroit airport and took us to his house to visit and meet. After a while, we left for the half hour drive to what would be my home. It had been a very long day. The flight from Shanghai takes about 17 hours with a stop in Tokyo. But that’s not including getting to the airport in China, waiting for our plane to board and take off; Then on the other end going though Immigration and waiting for our bags. I was moving, so had packed up and shipped several boxes of my most important things, but those wouldn’t show up for a month or more. So the only thing of mine in the whole country was what I could stuff into 2 suitcases and a carryon bag! But I was soon to be a homeowner for the first time in my life! What could be better? And then, I saw the house! My future brother-in-law’s house we had just left was pretty new and huge! When we pulled into the driveway in the very small town and I saw the little yellow house, I wondered what I had done!
I had seen pictures, so knew a bit of what to expect. But this house was much older than I realized. Like 100 years old kind of old. That’s just a short time compared to something like the Great Wall or Forbidden City but for America, it was definitely up there in age. Then we went inside and I really wondered if I’d just made a huge mistake! What a MESS! My fiancé had been living in the house by his self, and had been away with me in China for quite a while, but I was totally unprepared for what I saw. There was stuff EVERYWHERE! A huge pile of empty plastic bags was in the kitchen. He didn’t have much furniture and what he did have wasn’t very nice. The house had two floors but the upper one didn’t have any bed in the bedroom or any other furniture. And it was just as messy as the first floor. I was super tired and worn out from the long day, and when I saw this I just started to cry. I knew my guy was a good man, but I would have to whip him into shape immediately if he was to become my husband!
I was tired and sad and a bit angry. And a LOT hungry! Since we didn’t have any food in the house we went out to eat. I had tasted quite a bit of western food in Shanghai. There are restaurants there with every kind of food from all over the world. So for this first meal in my new country, my fiancé took me to a Mexican restaurant in our tiny town. He figured they had rice, and I liked rice, so maybe I would like the food here. Maybe it was because of my mood and the long day, but I hated it! Now along with all the other troubles, I would probably starve here because the food was terrible! Of course now I eat and like all kinds of food. We even celebrate the anniversary of this first night every year by going out for Mexican food, and I’m happy to say that it’s very delicious. By this time, I was almost falling asleep in my rice and beans so we went back to my “nightmare” house. We did have a small bed in one of the first floor bedrooms and I was able to take a shower and finally lie down, but it was a very bad ending to a very long day. Like most bad days, things always look brighter the next morning and that was true for me. But you’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out more about my next adventure in small town America!