It has been almost one year since I first arrived in the United States in mid-July 2014. Even though this is not the first time I have lived abroad, I have had to deal with some challenges and interesting things while living here.
The biggest challenge is adapting myself to the four-season climate. I only experience dry and rainy seasons in my home country Indonesia. I arrived in the U.S. in a city called Tucson, Arizona, during the summer. It was very hot and dry. The temperature reached close to 40 degrees Celsius every day. Of course, it is also hot in Indonesia, but the average temperature during dry season is usually below 34 degrees.
I later moved to Athens, Ohio, which is much colder than Tucson. Before my arrival in Athens, some friends told me that the temperature during winter could be as low as -30 degrees. I decided to escape from the cold weather by traveling to South America, which has warmer climate. When I got back to Athens, however, it was still cold. The lowest temperature I have ever experienced was -14 degrees.
The temperature also fluctuates. In fall or spring, the morning temperature could fall below 0 degrees, but it could be up to 15 degrees in the afternoon.
I need to prepare different clothing for almost each season. In summer, I can just wear T-shirt and shorts. But in winter, I need winter jackets, sweaters, scarfs and boots to keep myself warm.
Back home, I eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day. We have different types of oranges, mangoes and bananas and vegetables — such as papaya leaves, cassava leaves, spinach and water spinach. The prices are cheap. In my family, we always cook and eat fresh food. I recalled my mom was angry when she saw me eating chicken nuggets. “They are not real food,” she said.
When I first came to grocery stores here in the U.S., I was amazed by the amount of frozen, canned and preserved food on the shelves. I noticed that sometimes there is only one section for fresh fruits and vegetables and the rests are filled with frozen food. Fresh fruits and vegetables here are quite expensive. A bag of chips is cheaper than a bag of oranges.
But thankfully, there are farmers markets that offer plenty of fresh products. But they are not cheap. I have to make a bit of a sacrifice by spending more money to buy fruits and vegetables for the sake of a healthy life.
In Indonesia, we have public transport, such as trains, buses, minibuses, taxis, motorcycle taxis – locally known as ojek, and rickshaws – three wheeled vehicles. Even though the public transport is sometimes unreliable, as they are not well managed, I can still easily get from one place to another.
Here in the U.S., it is sometimes not easy to do so. Big cities like New York City or Washington D.C. indeed have good public transportation, but some cities are not so easy to get around. For a visitor who does not have a car and driver’s license, getting around can be a challenge. When my friends and I went to Las Vegas, for instance, we had to rent a car to go to Death Valley, located outside of Vegas, due to lack of public transport.
System of measurement
Indonesians use the metric system for measurement, and Celsius for temperature. But the U.S. uses a very different system, and Fahrenheit for temperature. It gets confusing for me. Up to now, I still find it difficult to think in the U.S. system. I downloaded an application on my cellphone to convert everything into metric system.
Despite all the challenges, I enjoy living in the U.S. I have met a lot of good people and experienced different cultures.
Have you ever lived abroad? What challenges did you face while living abroad? Leave us a comment!
Words in this blog
fluctuate – v. to change frequently
grocery stores – n. stores that sell food and household supplies
preserve – v. to prevent food from going bad
unreliable – adj. not able to be trusted to provide what is promised
download – v. to copy a program from one computer system to another
convert – v. to change something into a different form