Everything felt surreal when I moved to the United States in November 2013. I was so excited to finally be with the love of my life after eight months of separation but at the same time sad because I’ll be leaving my two kids behind for a few months. It was hard, but it was a decision I had to make to ensure that everything will be easy and safe when they come here. For all we know, “love of my life” could have been a crazy, serial killing pedophile living a double life…scary right?! Other than that, we also wanted a few months to ourselves, to get to know each other better and enjoy couplehood.
It was my first time in the US but not my first time to travel abroad. I remember, the thought of permanently staying here for God knows how long and speaking English 24/7 gave me chills! I tried to keep it cool though. I didn’t want people to think I don’t belong here. But no matter how hard we try to hide it, immigrants will surely experience major culture shocks at one point or another. So I’ve narrowed down a list of my first moments of culture shock in the United States.
1. The first fast food restaurant I went to was In-N-out and of course I’ve been to several others since then. I remember thinking, they only have burgers? Where’s the buffet of choices I was so used to seeing in fast food chains in the Philippines? Where’s the rice?😋
2. Kids here converse like adults. They’re even introduced properly and included in conversations. Back home, kids are simply ignored, unless they’re super cute!☺️
3. Food in the US is served in BIG portions!
4. Free soda refills! In the Philippines, there’s an additional charge for “bottomless” drinks.
5. Here, they use paper towels for everything. They don’t bother keeping a rag. Back home, we have a countless supply of dirty rags.😁
6. Americans are friendly and polite. Cashiers often ask how I am, how’s my day doing or something. Back in the Philippines, they just ring your items and go about their business quietly. Also people here say excuse me, thank you and please as they look you in the eye. Back in carabao land, unless you want to be mistaken for a pervert or weirdo…you don’t make small talk to strangers and look them in the eye!😆
7. For the most part, drivers follow rules here in the US and flow of traffic is orderly. Hello?! no jeepneys!😜
8. In the US, there are many people living alone vs. in the Philippines where people live in multigenerational homes and have strong family ties. Not to mention, childcare is never an issue because either there’s an endless supply of nannies or Uncle is home doing nothing. 😆
9. Ads for legal services. I just have to point this out because I remember I was so shocked when I first saw a billboard of a lawyer advertising himself and his services. In the Philippines it’s considered unethical.
10.When I left the Philippines, online shopping was just starting to make its footprint in the society. Here in the US however, it has been going on for many years now. It’s not only convenient, you can also buy almost anything online! But I must warn you, it’s addictive!
11. Up to this day, I’m still in awe about how easy it is to return items you bought either online or in store. Just bring the items to the store or ship them back to the retailer and they’ll give you a full refund. No questions asked , no judgments. I know I’ve lied a few times just to be able to return items in the Philippines.😬
12. Here, only the rich can afford live-in nannies and helpers because they’re ridiculously expensive. In the Philippines, we can afford to have 2 or more…a day shift or a night shift, a cook, housekeeper, a laundry lady or just someone to hold your purse or umbrella.🤗
I say everyone experiences many forms of culture shock when traveling or moving into different countries and culture. However, it is how we deal with it and help others with the transition that make a difference.
How about you? Do you have any culture shock experiences you want to share? Please feel free to voice out your thoughts and comment below.😉👇
KC & a truckload of hugs and kisses💋
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