In the last couple posts, I’ve been telling you about my first few days after I arrived in America. My story continues today! I had left the huge city of Shanghai to live in a tiny town in Michigan with my fiancé. One of the first things I noticed was how quiet our neighborhood was. I sat on our front porch for a long time and not a single car or person went by. This was very unusual for me and I started to wonder if anyone really lived in this town! Of course most of the people in our area were either at school or work and later in the evenings, things started to get busier. I never learned to drive when I lived in China. It’s pretty common actually and very easy because there are buses and subways everywhere in Shanghai.
Until either my fiancé got home and could take me to a real store or shopping mall, the only shopping I could do on my own had to be within walking distance. I had walked around some of the other parts of town and didn’t seem to have any problems so thought it was time I checked out the shopping action. Our house was only a few blocks away from the little downtown area so this wouldn’t be a problem. And besides, I liked to walk. There were a few stores, some restaurants, a movie theater and some other businesses in the town so that’s where I headed. Most of the stores were sort of boutiques so I took a look around to get an idea of what fashion meant in small town America. For the most part I decided I hadn’t been missing much! There were a few nice items and the sales people were very cheerful and helpful. Of course I still couldn’t understand most of what they were saying to me, but everyone was so friendly it didn’t matter.
I didn’t see much that interested me until I walked into a lingerie store. OMG! There in front of me was the biggest bra I had ever seen! If you know any Chinese women, you may have noticed that most of us are pretty small in that department. These bras I saw could easily cover my whole head, in each cup! I couldn’t help myself and started to laugh! I thought I must have moved to a land of giants! Of course I didn’t know enough English to explain to the sales clerk what I was laughing at, so figured I had better leave and get back to my shopping. It was pretty clear there was nothing for me at that store! It didn’t take long to check out the rest of the stores in the small downtown. Since I couldn’t talk much with the sales clerks and I still wasn’t sure about the American money and how the prices compared, I was just window shopping that time. I was still trying to get used to people on the sidewalk saying hello to me but I kind of liked it. I had grown up in small towns in China but most of my adult life had been spent in big cold cities. I never expected to become a small town girl again but at least during the first few days it seemed, so far, so good. Coming up next- Now, about that house!
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