Personal experience. How America Has Changed Me - ForumDaily
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Personal experience. How America changed me

America has radically changed my life. And I like it! Photo from the personal archive of the author.

America has radically changed my life. And I like it! Photo from the personal archive of the author

It will soon be 3 years since I moved to California. In a past life, I lived in a city with a population of one million, worked in a management position in 2 jobs at the same time, and was thinking about how my husband and I could go on a trip to Asia for several months. Since then my life has changed a lot. I live in a small town in Silicon Valley as a housewife raising 2 one-year-old children and I’m wondering if it’s dangerous for us to go to Brazil in a crowd. My life has changed a lot. And America “had a hand in this.”

At first I fell in love with small talk

In our 12-story building in St. Petersburg, it was not customary to communicate with neighbors. But I was always the first to say hello in the elevator and wondered why people were embarrassed by basic politeness. Now I’m chatting with my neighbors left and right - about children, wallets lost in the corridor and the upcoming events that are planned in our “central square”. I can easily compliment a complete stranger and exchange impressions of the last movie I watched with the cashier at the supermarket.

The culture of small talk has become a habit, and it is definitely a useful skill. And very pleasant: wishing each other a “good day” is like exchanging positive vibes. And yes, I am one of those who do not believe that all American smiles are fake.

And got used to answering machines

Although at first I was terribly angry when I heard “leave your message after the beep.” And she never left anything. Because if I call a person, I want to talk to him. I want to discuss something and maybe make a decision right away. But talking to emptiness is somehow not very good.

But now I appreciate the convenience of this function. Because it saves a lot of time on empty talk. For example, I handed over my camera for repairs and when they called me to say that it was ready, I couldn’t pick up the phone. And I saw the missed call after the repair shop’s working day had ended. And if there was no answering machine, I would sit and wonder why they called me - to say that the camera was repaired or that the parts needed for repair never arrived. And so I listened to their message that the repairs were completed and the camera could be picked up, and I was able to plan the next day the day before.

Became an exemplary driver

In St. Petersburg, I was a very aggressive driver. Every day, traveling on the road, I understood that I, or me. Therefore, I did not hesitate to press the horn as often as I wanted, and screamed curses at those who, in my opinion, were behaving inappropriately on the road. Not that I violated the rules of the road, but in big cities the rules for survival on the road are slightly different from official sources.

And literally 2 a month after moving to California, I stopped waiting on the roads for situations in which I would have to fight. I relaxed, leaned back on the seat, stopped squeezing the steering wheel to white knuckles and loved driving along (mostly) ideal roads even more.

I, too, like everyone else, let cars pass in front of me, without thinking, “Where are you going, dear?” Actually, they also let me through if I suddenly gape or don’t get my bearings on the new road.


Driving in California is a real pleasure - great roads and polite drivers. Photo from the personal archive of the author.

Driving in California is a pleasure, with great roads and polite drivers. Photo from the author’s personal archive

I became more relaxed

I have always taken life very lightly and, probably, with this attitude I have earned the opportunity to live in another, very cool, country. I easily packed 2 suitcases and crossed the ocean. I didn’t experience any “withdrawal” and just began to live a normal life. I'm not bothered by public washing machines in an apartment complex, and I'm glad to see the huge number of people from different countries gathered in California.

I am happy that the dog lovers here are cleaning up their pets on the streets, and therefore my children and I can flop on the first lawn.

We walk along the streets past the houses of local residents, writing stories about who among them is doing what, and at the same time we admire houses rather than tall fences. Some of the tenants of these houses, seeing us, throw their affairs in the garage and are suitable to chat, mainly about children. I am not ashamed to ask me to wrap the leftovers with me, worrying about what they think of me. We, like the locals, have learned to sit on the ground and wherever it pleases. And yes, the local lawns in the parks are designed for this purpose.

I got a credit card. Several credit cards

I have never had a credit card in my life.

And I have always believed that credit cards are for those who do not know how to handle money competently. But the financial culture of another country left no choice, and the first credit card settled in my wallet. Then the second one. And another one. And even a credit card that was issued to me at a clothing store.

Well, here I am guilty myself, because I could not understand that it is exactly the credit card I am offered to issue, I thought they give me a regular customer card. But experience is experience. Thank God that we track the balance on all these cards is the husband, and he also set up automatic payments.

I started going to the library again.

Ooooh, local libraries are something special and deserve a separate post. I started going there when my children were about 8 months old. In the children's room they could play with the toys there, look at books for little ones, plus I read them books that I wanted myself.

The library really saved us on rainy days; we always “walked” there on such occasions. Plus, sometimes we got to local entertainment events - free children's music classes.

And for adults, the library is a pleasant place to go both for books and for lectures. This is a culture I have long forgotten, which I remember with great pleasure.

Children's Library Hall in Foster City, California. Photo from the personal archive of the author.

Children's Library Hall in Foster City, California. Photo from the personal archive of the author

I'm starting to forget what cats look like.

And I joke that my children won’t know this. Because in 2,5 years of living here I saw cats on the street 3 times, and my children only once in 16 months. Yes, I think so. But we see deer at least once a week.

You know, it seems to me that someone up there knows better than us where we need to be. Now I am happy as ever to live in a small town. Of course, I miss Petersburg and its seething life, but now I feel too good here, and I don’t want to return to the stone jungle for anything. I want to live in an apartment on the highest 3 floor and know that my parking space is always free. I want to go when I want to go to the pool in the courtyard and spend only 30 minutes on the way to the ocean. And who knows how much I will change for another year so through 3.

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See also:

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