Two years ago today I landed in the United States as a new immigrant to these lands, clutching two suitcases which contained everything that I wanted to bring with me. It’s amazing how much shit you realise you don’t need when you have to pay excess baggage charges you see. There have been low points, high points and sharp points (the latter coming from the cat). I’ve learned some valuable things about life and about myself in the past two years like there is such a thing as too much snow (my first winter was Boston’s snowiest ever) and that kettles take longer to boil in the United States because the voltage is lower.
I’ve learned that people are mostly very friendly (with the exception of Boston drivers) and that it is possible to go for more than two days without some form of precipitation happening. I’ve also learned that my accent can sound Australian to some people and that if I don’t speak slowly some people can’t understand me at all. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as too much choice when it comes to ice cream flavours which is obviously something I approve of and no such thing as too much advertising which I approve of a lot less.
It’s pretty cool being a Brit in America. Yes, people like to talk about the standards of British dentistry sometimes and tease me about the Revolutionary War (you guys wasted perfectly good tea, nothing to be proud about) but pretty much every day I learn something new. Yesterday I discovered that Tom Brady is not in the business of scoring home runs (much to the hilarity of others) but these conversations and witty banter make life a lot more fun than it otherwise may be. For someone as socially awkward as me it’s handy to have such a good icebreaker up my sleeve when I meet new people.
The high points include discovering the beautiful White Mountains and Cape Cod and exploring as much of New England as I can. Boston is a lovely city if you can ignore the dodgy infrastructure (you can’t because it will screw you over at some point) and a great place to live. Being able to live with my wife after two years of doing the whole long distance thing is still something I am grateful for every day and I have made some great friends at work. I still have a social circle similar in size to that of a hermit but I’m working on it, I promise.
The low points include homesickness, missing friends and family and having to deal with USCIS who are currently 9 months behind with green card renewals so I have to carry a piece of paper with me which extends the validity of my current card. Sigh. There are a lot of things that I miss about the UK like beer gardens and decent cheese and the vivid green of the land that only incessant rain can provide. I also miss going to see the doctor and not getting a bill afterwards but I like the fact that because you are effectively customers of your doctor you can replace them easily if you don’t like them.
The most important thing that I have learned since moving is that things balance themselves out after time. As Bill Bryson wrote “When you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things worse, and there is nothing you can do about it.” This mindset helps me realise that as long as I don’t endlessly compare everything to how it was in England then I have some chance of being happy. Maybe not the best chance because I’m a miserable bastard and I’m happy with that choice but a chance nonetheless. Moving to another country is a rollercoaster and at the same time as being scary they can also be a lot of fun. I just have to hope that the brakes aren’t broken and that nobody vomits on me (always a possibility on the Red Line).
Here’s to the next two years and hopefully by then my new green card will have arrived. 😛