This is the beginning of a small set.
I have asked some of my foreign-born friends living in the US to write about their feelings as a resident here. I am awaiting some responses, and as they come in, I’m adding them to my blog with their permission. Those who are more computer savvy will type directly into this blog as a “guest blogger” (contributor).
Why am I doing this? For many reasons.
It’s hard for Americans to realize what life is like in the shoes of a foreigner. Additionally, it’s hard for those living outside the United States whom have never been here to imagine what life can be like. We cannot go on one person’s experience alone, of course. In my opinion, nobody is qualified to sit in judgment of the states from afar unless they have substantial experience living here – although there are some that never leave the city or state that they’re in and can only judge based on their near surroundings.
The US is hard to digest as we are a landmass of 3,537,436 sq miles (9,161,923 sq km) if you can imagine that. There are 50 states with 30,000 incorporated cites therein. And even each city has it’s own towns, styles, and personalities. If you live in West Virginia, chances are that you’ll have a different experience from one who lives in Denver Colorado. It’s probably easier to look at the USA similar to the way Europe is set up. America acts like a continent because of it’s size and it’s uniqueness from city to city. (Actually, the same can be said about every country, right?) There are even cultural differences depending on the city you’re living in. I will give one example (even though a general one). When you get married in some cities/towns in the south, the “proper” gift to give the newlyweds is a an actual tangible gift. Money would be considered an improper gift. It may even be considered as “lazy” if one were to hand over a check as opposed to actually going out and buying something. However, in NY, giving money gifts is more of the norm and said to be a convenience among those “just married”.
Basically, all I’m trying to say is that behaviorism and customs vary from city to city – state to state.
Next, we have three different types of government here: There is federal government, state government, and finally, local government. In Massachusetts, gay marriages are legal. In Nevada, prostitution is legal. In Alabama, it’s forbidden to purchase a DILDO! Marijuana for medical purposes is legal in California – yet illegal federally (strange, huh?). The list is endless.
The scenery, cost of living, mannerisms, laws, crime rate, accents, dialect, ethnic diversity, food, income, industries, tourism, weather, job opportunities, public transportation, and etc differ depending on WHERE you live. There are some places in the US where people don’t lock their doors.
Read my definition of America in my glossary section for more information.
As you can see, this is why Americans can get so frustrated with over-simplified views of the US coming from other countries.
Anyway…….. Let’s begin!
From Halifax in the UK, my friend Lawrence has answered some of the questions I asked him. He is still living in America – more specifically in Los Angeles, California (where we became friends).
Was it like you expected?
Yes, it was like I expected at first. Coming from England, I expected LA to be bright and exciting, and it was. However, I encountered things I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to ever become bored with the beach, having never lived by the sea before. I expected to be excited by the celibrities, but after a few years you come to think of them as any other average person thinks of the rich people in their town – not always positively.
What made you come here?
I came here to train to be a psychotherapist in what was being advertised as a new science. A few years later I came to think of the psychotherapy as a pseudoscience. I came to think that the kind of selling and biased advertising that drew me to it, is kind of accepted in America, and buyer beware. In England such outrageous claims would not be allowed, thus creating the illusion that all the best alternative science and alternative cures are in California. While there is some world class good science going on in places like Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA; there is also a thriving pseudoscience industry in California – so it’s good and bad.
How are you treated by other Americans?
Very well, I like the way I am treated here, my accent goes over very well here, whereas at home, it was a give away to my working class roots.
How do you compare the US to your own country?
The US seems to allow dishonesty much more, probably connected to the freedom of speech ethic. There is more freedom to do what you want without judgement in the US, however that is good and bad. In England if you start a destructive cult, people interfere to protect themselves and their children; whereas in America they leave them alone to believe in whatever.
Your legal status?
Dual citizenship, US and UK.
What makes you stick around?
I can earn more money here, and I like the educational system here. I love the weather too.
Likes and dislikes?
I like the California weather, the UK-welcoming attitude, the freedom to live as you want, the non-jealous attitude to those doing okay for money (in England it can cause resentments if you save some money and then don’t share it, there is a strong socialist streak in some sections of society which is good and bad in a way) that sometimes can come to disadvantage the savers or investors, – you also can get heavily taxed). I also like the entertaining way they teach college here, and the exciting intellectual fervent in California.
I dislike the war in Iraq, the sickening demand-for-blood-patriotism and media war-drum-beat that came after 9-11, the disregard for the environment, and the lack of universal health care. I also dislike the longer work hours that people tend to get into here in the US.
Your occupation or area of study?
Student of psychology and science.
Your age? (you can just give an estimate or be as vague as you like)
How long have you lived here?
What is your advice to those wanting to live here or immigrate her permanently?
Get the education, qualifications and job skills necessary to get a professional job which will include a health care package.