For a long time I was staring at this blog window blank. A dizzying compendium of thoughts and words struggled to make their way from my mind to the screen to no avail. My head was brimming, almost exploding, with issues and concerns that needed to be sorted out, sifted through and absorbed.
Culture shock. These are the key words to my current stream of consciousness. It was right under my nose but I was oblivious. As I've written in Coming to America, "so many things to do, plenty of places to go to, a multitude of people to meet, and an onerous amount of information to digest."
To say "migrating to another country is not easy" is an utter understatement. Travelling, which I love to do, is one thing. Relocating to live and work in a totally different environment is a whole different ballgame. You have to play by the rules to reach goal. But first, you must comprehend the rules to play the game smart.
The most continguous and cumbersome task related to coming here is reading, understanding and accomplishing all applications for my immigration. It never occured to me there will be about five or six to file. Up to now I'm still lost as to what I485, I685, I75 and etcetera indicates. I'm not even sure of those alphanumeric codes. One might even be an interstate highway.
The second thing I can think of is opening a checking account. I've never had one, ever, which goes to say I was neither in any kind of business nor moneyed enough to be signing that rectangular piece of paper every now and then. Bank terms are quite technical for me. My head aches taking in all those instructions and terms and conditions. How I wish information can be presented on a more exoteric level.
Add to the above the fact that English is not native to me. Both my reading and listening comprehensions have now been put to the test, perhaps incessantly. It's quite a challenge for me to correspond in English, be it in a professional setting or a casual occassion. Written communication is more manageable because you work on your own time. But talking to someone or a group of people has a sense of urgency because feedback is immediate.
I was once speaking to a live agent over the phone and he was talking too fast and his jargon was too specialized for me to be able to keep up. So I got lost somewhere in the conversation and was constantly asking and confirming information he needed. When I asked him to, "Say that again, please." He replied in a rather annoyed and contemptuous tone, "I don't know how else to put it other than the way I did!" Taken aback, I remained polite enough to say, "I'm sorry, sir, English is not my first language so please bear with me." I could've been more assertive or chosen to be an equal a**hole, though.
Let's get to getting around town. On several occassions, I had needed to take the bus or train. The sense of adventure is definitely a welcome excitement, especially if you're discovering cities as diverse as San Francisco and Los Angeles. But exploring the world around you can leave you on tenterhooks, especially if you're on your own. I will expound on this on an upcoming blog entry about using public transportation.
Of course, there's also private transportation. Although I haven't driven long enough back home, my friends tell me it's good that I haven't formed a lot of (incorrect) habits which can be hard to break. I read the DMV booklet cover to cover several times to get acquainted with road rules. I also took driving lessons which was nerve-wracking because you go behind the wheel, and my instructor being an immigrant was, like me, linguistically challenged. My efforts paid off. I passed all three tests - written, vision and road - on first take.
Computers and the Internet are two inevitably intertwined avenues where there are much to explore. It's like a whole universe out there. Up to now I still don't know how to work blogrolling, rss, xml and atom. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, or a microchip off the CPU. I often find myself jabbering about esoteric terminologies and softwares. And they come in gigabytes, baby! Go configure. Newfangled gadgets and complex gizmos? I honestly find myself veering away from them until I get familiar with their sight. My technology acumen definitely has room for exploration and possibilities.
Well, those are just about what I choose to write about for now. I can already foresee this early future concerns I have to brace myself for. Sooner or later I will have to deal with car ownership and maintenance which entails paperworks to be accomplished, proceedings to go through, another technical tome to ponder on, and passed-on knowledge to weigh in the mind.
Coming from a financially simplistic life, having a credit card of my own is another matter. I pretty much know how to use it - flash, swipe and sign. But there are nitty-gritty details of credit card use which are very important to grasp and remember.
I miss internet cafes because here, PCs, like cars, are necessities, not luxuries. I will have to buy a laptop or desktop soon, and that would mean another set of technical and actual contraptions to grapple with.
Oh, well. One day at a time. Come to think of it, after having orderly written about being overwhelmed, I don't feel as swamped as before.