August 10, 2011

6 months as an expat

The other day it just dawned on me that I've been living in California for 6 months (for those who don't know my story, I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina). I arrived in this country on February 2nd and got married on the 25th.

I guess I hadn't realized so much time has passed by because there's no countdown; I mean, there's no deadline, no limit, I came here to stay for good. Although then again, when I look at my life in retrospect and think about my family and all that I've left behind, time counts and somehow, 6 months seems like a timespan worth mentioning.

I can honestly say I feel truly happy and blessed to have had the chance to come here to marry my better half. And, if Dimitri could talk, he'd probably say he's never been happier, hehe. He looks healthy and has gotten used to having a little brother.

In order to summarize my first impressions on this country, I've come up with these 3 lists: "things I like", "things I don't like", "things I find weird".

Things I like
* Diversity. I love the fact that there are lots of races living in harmony. I don't feel looked down on and people don't care about what you're wearing or what you look like. There's also an amazingly wide range of products in the stores.

* The landscape. I love being surrounded by mountains! It's so relaxing and the air does certainly feel purer than what I'm used to.

* My neighborhood. I thought I was going to hate not living in the city, but I got used to it and I enjoy the calmness and the little animals I get to see every day, such as lizards and hummingbirds. Can you see the hummingbird on the top left? ;)

* The surrounding cities. I definitely love Hollywood and Pasadena! They're about 40min from home, which is not too bad.

* Thrift stores. You can get amazing bargains here; I've bought clothes for $2 which were in great condition. Vintage stores sell stuff at reasonable prices, too. Melrose Ave. is the place to go if you love vintage ;).

* Portions. Portions in restaurants are huge! This isn't good when you're dieting, but it feels nice to get a doggy bag with leftovers for the next day :p.

Things I don't like
* Public transportation. Not driving is a big disadvantage. Train fares are expensive compared to those in Buenos Aires and buses do not come as often as in my home city. I'd better learn how to drive soon!

* Chains. Especially within the food industry. I so miss the independendent coffee stores and restaurants I used to go to in Buenos Aires! Here, you're lucky if you're able to find a store or restaurant that is not a chain.

* The layout of shopping centers (not to be confused with shopping malls). Stores and restaurants are all gathered in one spot with huge parking lots. The architecture of these buildings is very unappealing; all the stores look exactly the same: square and brown! :( I wonder if this is the same in other states ...

* Lack of pedestrians. In Ontario, you rarely see pedestrians! Which can be a good thing; however, at night, it gets kind of scary. Plus, streets and freeways are very dark in this area.

Things I find weird
* Mobility power chairs. There're lots of people using them; some of whom don't seem to really need them. I've been told some people use them just because they're obese.

* Spanish. Lots of people of Latin origin don't make an effort to try to speak English. I've been approached many times by people who asked me questions in Spanish. I mean, I'm from South America, but nobody should be able to tell I can speak the language because I look Asian, haha. David has experienced the same thing and he looks 100% American. He does speak Spanish, though, but why do they assume he does? I suppose this only happens here in California and in the other states bordering Mexico, right?

* Vets. Why do they charge a higher fee when you want to talk to a veterinarian? The cheapest way to deal with a visit to the vet is to handle your pets to an assistant and wait till this person comes back and lets you know what the doctor has said ... I don't get it. Isn't the vet's job to communicate with the patient's owner?

I'm sure there're many things I forgot to mention, but this is a very long post already!
Hope I haven't bored you too much ...

Have a great day, everybody! ;D


Ashley said...

I love when you do these posts! It's so fun to see through your eyes! I'm really glad you and Dimitri are happy here!


Fashionistable said...

This is a great post. Nice peek into your fist few months in the States. I like your list of like, dislike & weird. I would find it weird not to speak to the vet too.Xxxx

Lucija said...

I love your post and how you presented everything there is. You seem like you're having a good life there :)


Marie said...

this is bautifully written, miki

chantilly said...

i actually didn't realize you've only been living in the states for 6 months! when i moved to nyc, it was a huge shock and took me awhile to get used to it. you've adjusted beautifully, and that's so amazing :)

Anonymous said...

Happy half anniversary! It seems like you've really enjoyed your time in the State so perhaps it won't be long before you celebrate your 20th year? Hehe... it's a great feeling to be with your better half :)

Wishing you all the best for the next 6 months and thereafter...

Lots of love from Sydney,

x Kel

talking closet camaraderie

Heike said...

I LOVE Pasadena, too! :)
Is that your wedding picture? SO lovely!
Can't wait to read more posts like that!

Dorothy Explor'r said...

i love this post..! and yes, you are quite amazing to be able to do this. i don't know how i'd fair if i relocated to a diff country!