8 years in America!

8 years in America!

Welcome to America!

2007 Hongkong Disney
2007 Hongkong Disney

Today is April 19. On this day in 2007 I got on a plane in Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport with my fiancé and flew to Detroit, Michigan, USA. It was a VERY long day. We changed planes in Tokyo and by the time you add in the time to travel to the airport in China, checking in, clearing Chinese customs and waiting to board our plane, it took almost 20 hours for us to finally arrive at what would become my new home. Because of the time zones and crossing the International Dateline it meant that this day actually had about 36 hours and it seemed that I spent most of them travelling! Anyway, my husband and I always celebrate that day as a sort of anniversary. It is the day my life REALLY changed. We go out for a Mexican dinner. If you’ve been reading my story you know that was the first meal I had in America. And you may remember that I HATED it! I think my tastes have changed over the years and I actually like Mexican food quite a bit now. Or maybe we found a better restaurant, but anyway that is our new yearly tradition. So today I am writing a special post. It’s about some of my biggest memories of the years since I’ve been here. Also what some of the big news from those years was to put things into perspective. I hope you enjoy but I have to go now. My enchilada is getting cold and my margarita is getting warm!

My first Jack-n-lantern
My first Jack-n-lantern

2007 – I arrive and have some pretty serious culture shock! I don’t like the food. I can’t read the signs. I can’t understand most of the people I talk to. All my friends are halfway around the world. And we don’t have much money! In the world, the iPhone is first introduced and the mortgage crisis hits!

My first Christmas
My first Christmas

2008 – I now had my green card so decided to go to work. It started with me volunteering at our local school to be a classroom helper but turned into my first American job as a part time tutor! To get to my job I had to learn to drive and I got my first car! In the world, the financial crisis spreads around the world, Barack Obama is the new American president and my home country, China, hosts the Summer Olympic Games.

My first Easter
My first Easter

2009 – This was a bad year and a low spot of my life in America. Because of the terrible economy 2 of the Big 3 American car companies went bankrupt. Since my husband works for a supplier to these companies he was laid off from his job for a couple months. He got called back but it really scared me. To make that time even worse, my mother-in-law got very sick and passed away. Money was super tight but my little part time job actually helped get us through. That was when I decided to step up and get a real job. So I started working on getting my Chinese teaching degree accepted so I could teach in America. Our house got a little busier this year too as my stepdaughter moved in with several pets! In the world, the same bad economy; and another death with Michael Jackson.

2007 winter
2007 winter

2010 – I got my first real job in this country. I had to take 10 big tests but finally got my teaching certificate. After only 1 interview I got my job. This was still not a fulltime job but much better. I travelled to Europe for the first time ever with my husband on his business trip. In the world, Lady Gaga wore her meat dress to the MTV Video Awards. The Facebook movie “The Social Network” hits theaters and oil covered the Gulf of Mexico.

2008 Winter
2008 Winter

2011 – I got an offer for a full time job so changed schools. But my new job was too far to drive so we had to move and started looking for a new house. We found the one we wanted and got ready to move early the next year. My stepdaughter had moved out but now my stepson had graduated university and moved into our house. We finally started to get a bit of savings so we went to visit China for the first time since I had left. In the world, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies. The Arab Spring upsets Egypt and Syria.

Road trip 2008
Road trip 2008

2012 – A pretty quiet year for us. We moved into our new home and worked on the garden and house most of the year. It was a very hot summer so we got a lot of use out of the swimming pool our house came with! In the world, Barack Obama wins another term as American President and brought in his Obamacare health care system. The economy finally seems to be moving back up.

First trip to Chicago
First trip to Chicago

2013 – My stepson got married. He and his wife had a new baby. Wait, this means I’m now a GRANDMOTHER!!!! I returned to China when my husband went to Shanghai for a business trip. In the world, the city of Detroit files for bankruptcy. Edward Snowden leaks NSA secrets.

First camping trip
First camping trip

2014 – Now I get laid off. But because I’m so awesome, I found a great job after only 10 days. I spent another summer in China! But now I don’t enjoy it as much. I think I’ve become too American! In the world, Ebola makes the news! Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappears without a trace. A robot spacecraft lands on a comet.

baseball game
baseball game

So in these 8 short years, I’ve become a wife, a stepmother, a grandmother, a teacher, a blogger and an American citizen. It probably took 4 of the 8 years until I felt like I finally fit in here. And when I got my citizenship papers I actually teared up a bit at the ceremony. It wasn’t that I was giving up being Chinese, I’ll always be Chinese. But it was the beginning of a new chapter, in a pretty awesome life. Thanks so much for being a part of it and I hope you come back for more!

Cheers!

Grace

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