Living abroad

The day has come when the last item was squeezed into my luggage.  Goodbyes and promises to keep in touch was made.  I looked around my room, trying to remember those little things which has meant so much to me, walking while soaking under the warm sun at the yard where I grew up. In my heart, everything will be so different when I moved to the states.  Leaving family, friends and country where I am so accustomed to.  I am a little nervous and  excited the same time.

That was a year ago..  I don't consider myself a reference to everyone who decided to move abroad, but I think I can speak on my own experience, how it change my life and how to get through those time when the feeling of homesickness sink in.

First thing I find here,  everything is overwhelmingly different.  People driving on the wrong side of the street, or rather my wrong side.  Driving seat is on the left as oppose to the right. Road are wider, vehicles are so much bigger. Another big difference is that there are very few roundabout, and more 4-ways intersection. Watch out for stop or yield sign too, there are everywhere.  I also found that if the light is green, it doesn't mean go, you still have to yield when you are turning. Rules that doesn't apply in Asia, when I was at home, when the light mean green, you go or people start honking and giving you the finger.  

Food is a challenge too, those who likes western food, they will find this right at their alley, but for me who grew up with a staple food source of rice and clear soup.  This is very unusual.  I am not prepare to eat pizza every other night, and watching people adding cheese on to already creamy dishes is pretty disturbing.  Being new and not accustomed to the culture, I used to show my enthusiastic every time I seen different food in the table. My reaction gave different message to my friends and families here. They thought I love all the food.  After going to few Mexican restaurant and eating not very appetizing fish dish. I finally become proficient to speaking up my mind, if you don't like the food, say so in a polite grateful way that is!  Asian actually are very polite, they don't like to offend others.  But this doesn't work well for me.  I told my families here that I love fishes, well, fish in the states are cooked different way than what Asian does.  They are not as fishy. They would serve walleye or copper river salmon and not real salmon or tuna. You get what I mean?  Apparently American prefer non-fishy fish.  I don't mind steak really they know how to cook steak!  American normally doesn't cook their vegetables.  They can actually serve hundred dressing for salad, still I really crave for cook vegetables.  Luckily fresh food are easily available and home cooking is easy to do.
Egg Benedict
 Hoagies sandwiches
 18" Pepperoni Pizza
Mexican dish

But culture wise, it is very refine. People are very polite and considerate.  I seen so many times when someone drop the cart at shopping area, and so many came and help.  Strangers opening door for you.  People cordially greets you at the park and struck a conversation. They are not reserve as Asian are, they are very open and welcoming.

It is quite an adjustment for those planning to move abroad.  Why I say that?  I am definitely not prepare for the weather or seasons change. In South East Asia, you have monotonous weather. Season never change, you have either hot or very hot.   Winter was rough for me, I am cold and shivering and sometimes I wonder if I ever get warm again.  But good winter clothes helps, they may cost a lot but those who feel they wanted to scrimp and save, I will have to step my foot on this area.  A good winter attire last a long time, by then the cost doesn't mean a thing anymore, your money is worth every penny of it.  I still cringe thinking that I am going to face grueling winter again. But then you live one season at a time and you find small pleasure in it everywhere.  Snowing is fun to watch, beautiful landscape, they give you sense of peace.  Besides Christmas feel like real Christmas when we have white flakes falling on Christmas day.

I am pretty certain that I can't find a job here in the states, I tried not to give them much thought. The prospect was daunting.  The entire country is facing recession, people were out of job.   Job opening were few and unemployment are on the high side.  It is bad enough that you are worried about it every single day, having people ask about it give you reminder what a loser you are.  Here again, how I stress the important of having emergency fund tuck away somewhere.  I am glad I have unit trust built up over the years.  My parents and in laws help out too.  So we weren't too hard up. But as days gone by, and no sign of job interviews,  I become desperate.  One day I went home from my brisk walk at the park, a phone rang for a job interview.  It was very exciting week that went by.  It's my 1st job interview in the States, I don't know what to expect but then, I will wrote more in my upcoming post.  SO stay tune. 

The other thing which is great about the program here is going Green, indeed we have recycling bin for our recyclable items every week.  We can choose plastic, paper at groceries stores or bring your Green bag instead.  You can also choose to bike to work.

At the beginning, I was worried about finding food from home, but this wasn't the case, I have discovered few oriental market close by that can provide you many choice of spice from home.  So I am not deprive of my Asian home cook meal after all, beside we are not short of Asian restaurant here, I found my favorite just a ten minute walk from home, not bad at all. 
Chinese sampler

Char siu sauce available at Oriental Market
Garage sales & Real Estate Sales
This is just happened to be my best past-time, going through hidden gem among other people junks. There were signs everywhere, and you can rampage through other people stuffs and get a great deal.  We also like estate sales which means most of item in the house were up for sales.  Estate sales happens when the owner downsize, move away or other reasons that prompt them to sell all their furniture, tools, even clothes.

Covered Garage
This is something uncommon in Asia but necessity in US.  The four seasons, specially winter is the main reason why we need covered garage.  Nobody likes to wake up early to scrap snow of their vehicles.  Garage is also what people call "man cave" here, it is out of my teritory, except that tiny spot where I keep my gardening tools.

Self Serving at Groceries Store
This is actually convenient if you have probably 5 or less items in your basket but if you have a cart full, I think it's probably best leave it to the professional cashier.  I also advise to parents not to let your 5 years old kid to scan and use the self-service cashier.  You may think it's cute but not everyone can wait 1/2 hour waiting for you to complete your purchases.  I once was waiting behind a woman that let her kid to do just that, It took more than 15minute, and on top of that the kid broke a jar of hand soap.

Great value for your money
I found many item sold at the store are of good brand and value.  Many are a little pricey but you know they are of good quality.  Small strip malls are a great way to go, if you intended for small and reasonable purchases. Many people who came here the 1st time may thought that products are slightly expensive, put your mind at ease when come to quality, it came with cost.

Home and Garden
I never was an avid gardener back home, we have green tropical garden in SE Asia having blessed with humid warm weather throughout the year that we took the pleasure of gardening so lightly. Warm weather is so short here, we tend to keep our garden spruced up, it made the house much appealing to go home to.  Besides, gardening tools and supplies are readily available at the stores making it so convenient to garden.

I noticed from older pictures of the houses in the area I live now and what I am seeing now, they look identical!  It is eerie to watch the houses doesn't change but people and cars on the photos are antique.  The house where we live here now was built in 1958 and the original hardwood floor look amazing.  Like what they always said, people in the olden days built things to last. I absolutely love the ranch, single storey house with a basement.  That's another thing we do not have back home, a basement.  That space underground with Ingres window and cozy family room.  The basement here was surprisingly not as dark as I once thought of. I used to think that basement are like dungeon, dark and dusty.  I think we probably gauge our perception of American house from what we seen on the Telly. I told everyone I know back home again and again. Don't believe what you seen on TV!

NOTE:  I decided to keep this post active as I will add more discoveries as time gone by, hopefully it helps to  bust the myth what we Asian thought of the Western culture!


  1. Tu salmon taruh skit soy sauce, pastu kasi steam/microwave dia... sadappp...

  2. besa taru teriyaki sauce then kasi grille sekejap..or sy quick fried..yum yum


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