Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Coming to America by LJ Schroeder
Coming to America
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? :)