Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming to America by LJ Schroeder

Coming to America
Lj Schroeder

366 days in the US of A! Thank you Lord for another milestone!

It has been exactly one year and a day today since I left everything - my country, my home, my family, my friends, my work, church, traffic, life in the Philippines to be with my (then) fiance John now my husband of ten months. Yay! Come to think of it, there has been a number of milestones since my big move overseas. Except for settling down, I also I received my Green Card, found a new job, ended a decade-long career/ministry in radio, finished two semesters at the School of Ministry (and coming back for more) and did a few travels.

Life has not been perfect here in the US as most people in the Philippines assume, but I believe I am where God wants me to be. Good things don't come easy as the saying goes. I had to start from scratch, make new friends, speak a different language (moreso argue in another language), re-learn, familiarize and adjust. I know that the people and situations that I encounter have a purpose. Challenges and struggles are part of life, of growth, of our destiny. No complains - just a heart full of joy, appreciation and anticipation for things that are yet to come.

I clearly remember the first challenge that I had to deal with during my first few months- my body's reaction to the weather. Although a lot of people are drawn to the warm, sunny climate of California, my skin on the other hand got very dry and itchy... a few days later I was covered in rashes because I can't stop myself from scratching. It was hard to sleep (both with the jetlag and the skin rash) and it even got worse when I developed chronic flakes in my scalp for months. It was embarrassing and stressful. :( Good thing I found an ointment for the rashes and my body eventually adjusted to my new surroundings.

Another challenge I faced was being very dependent on my husband both financially and physically. In the Philippines, I made a living for more than a decade as a radio announcer/producer. In between I took part-time jobs like writing, wedding coordinating and hosting events. I was able to finish short-term courses, travel when and where I want to and even publish my first book.

After our wedding last September, I spent most of my time preparing then waiting for my papers (Green Card and Social Security) before I could apply for a job, so I relied a lot in my spouse for finances for getting around. For some people it's not too bad, but I felt like teenager again asking my Mom (this time my hubby) for money so I could buy simple things like sanitary pads or lotion or shampoo. It reminded me of the time I was in college- someone who just can't wait to have a job and have my own spending money. My husband has always been supportive and generous, but not having the opportunity to earn, to be productive, to contribute to our finances- made me feel powerless and miserable at some point.

Did I mention I don't drive too? Public transpo here is as rare as a Filipino obeying traffic rules. It's a MUST (even a requirement for most jobs) to have a valid driver's license.

Another thing that I have to deal with was making new friends. This is perhaps the most challenging one so far. I may have tons of acquaintances but I have kept very few close friends and they are mostly in my native land. I always tell my hubby, I wish I have friends that are not his friends (not that I don't like his friends). Oftentimes I feel like I am only their friend by affiliation.

Don't get me wrong, I love being with my husband but he can't stand walking in a garden for an hour or window shopping for four hours with me. There are specific occasions or places when a girl friend is all you need. :(

So far I haven't begged my husband to send me back home yet (a good sign!). I haven't had any major bouts of homesickness, although I dream frequently about my family, friends and the Philippines.

This country has plenty to offer, but like any other nation it has its traps, temptations and illusions. If I'm not rooted in the Word or surrounded by people that keeps me grounded, it's so easy to be carried away by materialism, commercialism, idealism, egalitarianism, individualism and all the other ism's that are rampant in this great land.

I miss my beautiful country and my people sorely, but wherever God directs me to go- I will call my home and its people I'll treat as a family.

Oh and I have a husband who's CRAZY in-love with me! (He forced me to write that. Just kidding!) What more can a woman ask for? :)


  1. LJ,I needed to read this before I embark on my own journey. Scary and exciting at the same time for me but you are right: In the end it 's all about wherever God directs us. I wish you are nearer NC because for sure, you will have a nearby friend who will go shopping at the outlet stores with you!

    Hang in there. Thanks for writing this. An encouragement, warning and a challenge all at the same time. :)

  2. Glad to hear you are adjusting to life in the States. Mare Cris and I have applied for her spousal visa and we are excited about the next phase of life and ministry.

  3. Ma'am Beng -> Oo nga, sana kayang lakarin ang NC. :) We're planning to move down south, most probably Texas kasi nandun in-laws ko. Kaya mo yan! Ikaw pa? Call me if you have q's or if you want to talk to anyone in the same boat. Looking forward to your next post! :)

  4. I fell you! You seem to have read whats going on in this crazy lil head of mine....I am not alone! I am normal (LOL) cuz you are going through the same phase...I thought I am going thru midlife crisis...haha

  5. Kuya Kev -> Congrats on your Fil citizenship! I have no option but to adjust to life here. Lol! There are low moments and some really great ones. Give us a call/message if you ever go to So Cal or Texas (we're planning to move there end of the year.) Say hi to Mare Cris for me! :)

  6. Louie -> naku sis, minsan yan din naiisip ko. either mid-life crisis o lucresia. kaso matagal na kong lukring! lol! kaya I'm looking forward to our bonding time in two weeks! :)

  7. My adjustment here in U.s had become easier because I suffered enough in France. Yea, a year is like a year of withdrawal stage. The love of my hubby helped me so much so does my in law's. They tried to push me to make friends when sometimes it's hard to predict how people I encounter think. Jon was with me every step of my way.

  8. My -> God has blessed us with wonderful, supportive hubbies and in-laws! I can only imagine how it was with you in France in spite of the allure of that country. He does the same with me when in it comes to making friends. I am the stubborn one. I have such an contradicting social life, virtually I have tons of friends/connections but in reality I only maintain a handful. :)