It’s been eight years since I came to the US. Though I never had a difficult time adjusting because I adapted pretty quick, there were things that I had struggle grasping.
The first four years of my life in the US were spent in the university with everything paid for. During these years, I started realizing how fortunate I was to be able to go to college without worrying about federal grants, scholarship applications or student loans. I did not have to get a part-time job to be able to afford books and other things I needed in school. Lastly, I did not need to worry about car payments insurance and gas money (I even had a driver). I was fortunate.
The next four years of my life in the US were the beginning of my married life. These years were challenging for me; not because of cultural differences (because I married an American) but the reality that finally sank in.
Here are the four significant realities on my list:
- Mortgage is Real. After I got married and graduated from college, I moved in with my husband. He owns a townhouse (actually, the bank owns the house since it’s not paid off yet). The mortgage has been eating half of my husband’s salary every month. Can you imagine half of your salary disappearing every month? It was a huge shock for me.
- Car is a Necessity. You will not be able to go anywhere if you do not have a car in the US unless you live in the city where public transportation like trains and metro, buses and cabs/Uber are available. I realized how spoiled I was in the Philippines because of our public transportation there.
- Buying Insurance is a Must. When I first came here, I thought I only need health insurance because the college required it. I never thought that there was other insurance that you might need, like car insurance, property and casualty insurance, and other insurance that you’d think are crazy — like dental insurance for example. You could go to a dentist in the Philippines to get a filling for $20 or approximately 1,000 pesos. I once went to the dentist here in the US because of my filling fell out (I was eating ramen noodles that time). It was an emergency and I did not have dental insurance. Less than five minutes later (yes, it took the dentist less than five minutes to fill my sensitive tooth) we got a bill of $168 or 8,400 pesos. After that, I ate very carefully. There’s no way I’m losing another filling.
- You can’t just plant tomatoes in your back yard. It depends where you live and your neighborhood’s rules. I’ve been wanting to plant some vegetables for years now (because some vegetables are much more expensive than meat), but I have to ask permission from the homeowners association first. Crazy, right? You’d think that “Oh it’s my backyard, I could plant eggplant, tomatoes and string beans and no one would care because it’s my backyard!”, but that wasn’t the case! You have to ask first (at least in the neighborhood we’re living in).
I could write more, but I will stop with just four right now. These four were just a little difficult for me to grasp. It took me a while to get used to seeing mortgage and insurance bills and not being able to go out whenever I want because I do not have a car.
I realized that when you decided to live in another country, you need to be flexible enough to accept and embrace the things that are very different from your home country. It’s difficult in the beginning, but you get used to it somehow.