I can’t believe this. My first blog post. I have the honor to share with all of you guys what I’ve learnt so far in America. To conclude this year, I wanted to share with you all some lessons I’ve learnt (the hard way) to help you if you ever plan on studying or living in this country. I feel strongly that these lessons have shaped the person that I am today.
As I look back, I feel very content with how much I’ve got done in a year living in America alone. Remember social media is a facade, you get to pick what you want reality to be for others. While it may seem like life here in California is sunny, warm and fun in fact it was the complete opposite for me. Not many people know that it was a tough decision I had to make despite my parent’s differences. That made me feel very alone. I had no friends, no family and I was very homesick because I did not like the food in America. I also didn’t understand the culture here. It took me a while to get out of that low point in my life and now I am feeling secure and I keep working towards being the best version I can everyday for myself!
Here are six top lessons I’ve learnt living in America. I guarantee you these lessons will not only prepare your emotional well-being when you come to America but it will also save you a lot of pain and surprises.
Lesson #1 You will need to rely on yourself
In America you’re going to do everything by yourself; driving, cooking, laundry, bills, errands and the list goes on. Don’t be embarrassed if you call your mother what colors you need to separate when you do laundry (because I did! Hehe).
No one is going to help you. Now that doesn’t mean if you fall over in the mall no one is going to help you. I’m making a generalization. But 99.9% of the time you need to rely on yourself. I drive to school, I cook my own meals, I do my own laundry and on top of that I work. Oh and on top of that I need to make time to do my homework!! I do everything by myself, even in situations I don’t want to be in. Because the reality is when you need help during unexpected crappy situations – most likely your friends/family are occupied with work or school. OR your parents live SO far away it takes 2 days by airplane to see them….
When my car completely stopped in the freeway, I had to call insurance. I couldn’t just call my parents at 3am in the morning in Vietnam crying my butt off because my car had a transmission problem…NO.WAY. I refused to. I took care of it myself. And you know as silly as that sounds a small problem with my car, I did it myself. No one helped me and that is the beauty of living in this country. You might come to this country with no idea how to deal with certain situations but once you live here you will be able to deal with just about anything. You’ve got this. This is how you’re going to survive and make it through the day in this country. You need to be self sufficient.
Google is also going to be your best friend. And you will be your own best friend. Learn to rely on yourself and no one else. Because I had no family here I did all the research and found the answers by myself.
Lesson #2 You will be homesick
You know I don’t know why people don’t take this issue seriously. Homesickness to me is like the flu virus that happens every year to people. Just because you’re homesick it does not mean you’re weak. “Pain is Pain’ – Natasha Adamo once said. Embrace it. You will be homesick at some point. You’re going to miss your grandma’s cooking, your friends back home and your loved ones. Everyone copes with things differently. For me, I immersed myself with reading. I would binge-read books that I ordered from Amazon Prime when I felt lonely and scared. I started to take up new hobbies that I never did when I was back in Vietnam. I learnt how to cook by myself watching Youtube videos and printing out recipes from the Internet. Now cooking is one of my passions and I love to cook a good meal for my guests when they come over to my place.
I also started to walk more. Walking in Vietnam is not an option. Here in California the weather and air is so clean. In Vietnam the air is quite polluted and its always so sunny. If you know me well enough, you will know that I really do not like the sun. Hehe I will write a post one day about the benefits of avoiding the sun 🙂
Lesson #3 You will need a car
Public Transportation in America is not the best. It runs late, not very clean and once in a while you’re going to run into some really sketchy people. If you want to be able to travel to different places and save time. Please do yourself a favor and get a car. When I came to this country without a car I had to rely on my relatives to take me around. I was such a burden to them. Remember my first lesson? Rely on yourself. Exactly do not rely on others to take you around. Everybody in America is crazy busy. The last thing people want to do is become your chauffeur. Get yourself a car. There are so many ways to finance a car in America or you can get a used car for a good price!
Lesson #4 Time is Money
American people have this saying “Time is Money.” People would much rather get things done as early as possible so they can relax. Which means you better be on time. Remember you are in America now, this is your new timezone. In Vietnam it is acceptable to blame the traffic or be “fashionably late” by half an hour. In America do not assume so! I’d recommend you use my 10min rule and show up 10mins early to everything. Being on time is a skill that I had to learn when I came to this country because I was always late. Now I think of it, being on time is classy. Arriving on time means you honor your word, you respect other people’s time and value your time. Trust me, being early here is better than being late. If for any circumstances you cannot make it try to tell the other party in advance. Be courteous and be mindful of others. Treat them how you want to be treated.
Lesson #5 Honesty is the best policy
Now, I know we’re all adults and you don’t need to be reminded to be honest. But sometimes we forget to do so. We lie because we are scared. And that I can understand, but I don’t think anyone will be able to tolerate it if it becomes a habit. Be honest because it will give you a peace of mind. You know, I used to be really embarrassed about my major: “Communications” I would tell people “oh I’m majoring in Economics” to make myself look good. But, when I got to bed I very felt sad. I felt sad because I had to lie to people so they could like me. Sooner or late I realized, this is the major that best fits me, so why do I need to keep lying? There is no point! At the end of the day people can say whatever they want. I’m happy with my major and I think that’s all that matters 🙂
Whether its filling out a DMV form, Common application or talking to people you just met, make sure you are providing the correct and honest info. You’ll be surprised how better you feel when you can just be yourself. And remember, honest people attract honest people. So why not start now?
I’m heading to class now
I hope you all have a great day, I have so much to share about my experiences living in America. I can’t wait 😉