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My first year in the US

Updated: Jan 16

This January marks my ninth month in the United States. After getting myself overwhelmed with all kinds of excitements, such as moving in with my husband, getting to know his side of the family and people at his church, visiting his friends, working on my immigration documents, the novelty has worn off eventually. It's time to write downs some of my most interesting experiences here in the United States!


1. New things that I like

A new family

I'd always thought that getting married is a big deal. Moving in together, however, is when the challenges actually began. We have been learning everyday to live with one another ever since. We shared many things in common, which is a wonderful foundation, yet we are 2 completely different individuals. We got to learn the other's daily routine, habits, hobbies,... that could be far from our imagination and of course, how to handle conflicts.


We live in a lovely suburban home with Will's mother. She has given me wonderful companionship. She is thoughtful, caring and respects each person's personal space. Two generations living together is great because we can learn so much from their experiences and they can stay up to date on the latest advances in technology. Living with Vietnamese mothers-in-law, however, is an experience that many newlyweds would want to avoid since the moms usually demand control over how their sons' spouses dress, makeup, go shopping, cook, and educate the kids.


I was also given the opportunity to meet other members of his family. We'd never got to know one other's families before getting married. I was a little nervous, but thankfully everything went smoothly, and we had wonderful times.

Nature surrounding

Our place is surrounded with lots of wild life. I can watch red cardinals eating berries on the branches from the kitchen window, run into a hawk on the fence occasionally, talk to squirrels at the park or even stand only 2 meter far from deer. The experience is simply amazing! Studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost our mood.


New clothing wardrobe due to constant weather change

I did not have a lot of exposure to seasonal variations because I was born and raised in the southern region of Vietnam with 2 main seasons. One is relatively dry (November-April) and the other is rainy (May-October) with no significant temperature changes through out the year. Texas experiences a wide range of weather, from dry in the west to humid in the east. Even though we don't have very cold winters, the seasons really change in the Austin area where we live. I had to get new clothing to fit the varying temperatures. I've developed the new habit of checking the weather forecast to schedule my activities. The fact that weather is unpredictable is another awesome aspect.


Life quality

My health has been better in general for many reasons. First of all, my sleep has been improved as at night, it is so quite that we can hear each other's stomach grumbling. There are plenty open spaces in Texas, giving people lots of personal space. In Texas, there are many open places that provide residents with loads of privacy. I once lived in a 25-m2 apartment in HCMC, where I could hear every step that was taken next door yet always worried that someone may look in on me when I was in my room. So being able to sit in the back yard with no eye on me is such a blessing! Besides, breathing fresh clean air, as a matter of fact, is not only good for our lungs but also has positive effect on our mood. And last but not least, it is cooking and dining at home. We can remove unwanted substances from the food we eat as we have control over the supplies we purchase and the entire cooking process.


New hobbies

Not going to work has spared me a certain amount of time everyday. Besides spending time preparing meals and doing housework, I've picked up new hobbies like baking and crocheting. I think they are all useful skill. Despite the fact that they may drain our finances (haha), I want to make sure we always get wholesome home-cooked food and make the most of my time.


The pace of life

Most of the people we know have a healthy work-life balance. Things appear to move more slowly and people rest better! And I know that my opinion might sound unpopular, but this is only true of the people we personally know or can observe. My reading indicates that one-third of Americans reportedly have trouble sleeping and working too much on the weekends. Numerous other factors, such as their lifestyle, where they live, and their goals, all play a part.


Having grown up in a society where taking a break is seen as "laziness," I sometimes unconsciously self-criticized me for resting. I'd always worked full-time, so being unemployed and investing a lot of time in forming new habits makes me feel quite guilty. Although it's quite challenging to manage stress, I have made significant progress after 9 months. Being stuck in my old patterns in Vietnam has made the first few months here more difficult.


2. What I miss about Vietnam

Saigon lifestyle and food

My weekly walk through the city's center in search of street food and new clothing stores was among the things I missed the most. It is much more simple to pull over your scooter and grab a lovely meal from a food vendor than to be in a long waiting line of cars. What a great use of space!

I also miss how cheap everything is and the way of life where tips are not required of me. People offering the service are expected to be skillful and responsible, in my opinion. I miss recharging after work or on the weekends by visiting a spa or hair salon alone.

As an introvert, I don't greatly enjoy social engagement, so I prefer walking to the spa, get the service done, and then go home without much chit-chat and smiling—which I realize could be considered unfriendly here.


My family and friends

I managed to call my friends and family as much as I could because I know that when I have kids or a job, I might not have this much time. Life will go on regardless of what happens, and I am thankful for what I have.


Living far away isn't always a terrible thing. Let me do a simple calculation. Without counting in other routines, the number of hours that my family and friends in Vietnam and I are up at the same time and reachable has fallen from almost 16 to less than 8 hours per day. Despite this, due of my busy work schedule and the thought that I would have time to think about our connections later, I only spent a maximum of one hour of those 16 hours focusing on our relationships. Living apart and making more time for one another is therefore better than being so close yet making little effort to be involved in one another's lives.


Living abroad actually helps filtering out negative connections simple because there is less time to even bother.


Rainy seasons (non-stop raining of course!)

Texas is well-known for its extreme dryness. My facial skin began to itch and flake excessively during the first two weeks. Additionally, it seems as though the sunlight is more intense, which is particularly difficult on my eyes first days. My whole body took some time to adjust. Given the above considerations, it makes sense to appreciate Vietnam's rainy season and how humid it could get all year round.




 

2022 is a year that means so much to me. What about yours? Let me know in the comment section! Have a wonderful new year and see you again in my next blogs!



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