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Kanniewaggie

Reflecting On My First Year In The States

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One year ago I landed in the USA, after a crazy 6 month journey where we learned we won the DV2014 in May 2014 (checking our 2015 entry status), getting all the paperwork in order, keeping fingers crossed we make it under the cut, getting medical exams completed (and surviving the accompanying pep-talk and scare-mongering), flying back and forth for an interview, job hunting on the internet, a blitz LSD, much research on destinations, a month holiday to Alaska and California, and packing 2 suitcases with the critical items for emigration.

 

We were very fortunate to have good friends in the USA to lean on and help make the transition easier. Through them we were able to get our Green Cards in hand before flying to the US, and also to find an apartment, furniture and a vehicle when I landed late November 2014. It really helps to have someone with experience ready to advise, guide and help you avoid stupid traps. Of course there were also you lot who provided a ton of helpful hints, tips and information to make decisions and plans much easier to deal with.

 

During our LSD to RTP and Charlotte (NC) in August, I made an appointment to see the recruiter at the staffing firm that contacted me during my internet job searches. This may have helped land me a good contracting position with Bank of America in Charlotte, which was also a blessing because our good friends lived close by and was able to welcome me to my new home. But, on the downside, landing a job that quickly meant a change in schedule and I had to leave Hubby in SA to finish up while I hastened westward across the sea ! Fortunately the 6 weeks went by in a blur of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, induction at work, assembling flat-pack furniture, Skype kuiers with friends and family over the Festive Season and driving on the wrong side of the road.

 

Once Hubby arrived with his 2 suitcases (makes the drive from the airport easier if you bring less baggage), we set off exploring our new country. During the first month while Hubby was doing interviews with a variety of employers, I was sent off to Jacksonville, FL, for 10 days to work in a control room there. Jacksonville, FL, is a mere two hours from The Happiest Place On Earth, so naturally Hubby had to get in the car and drive down from Charlotte, NC, so we could experience a longish weekend of some magic and happiness !

While there Hubby managed to survive some tough online interview tests, and upon our return to NC the next week managed to get a contract position as well. Only, this was in Cary, NC, some 200 miles east from home-base ! Well, Hubby started commuting weekly over to Cary, while we explored Charlotte on weekends. Towards April, as our apartment lease in Charlotte concluded, we moved to a house in Cary, where we could keep our pets, who were scheduled to emigrate later in the year once we have settled. I was fortunate that my job allowed me to work remotely, and that my manager approved this arrangement.

 

Along the way we had an adventurous wine festival in Blowing Rock, a fun trip to 2 PGA tour events, a Baseball game (with beer and fuzzy memories of the evening), a couple of trips to Carowinds to ride the worlds tallest and fastest giga-coaster and a bunch of other thrilling rides, a trip to DMV to finally get our drivers licenses and a trip to the beach (Myrtle Beach, where we ate a lot, especially some fantastic sushi, and oysters at a dodgy-looking bar, and drank a lot of Jack to fight off the unpleasant weather)

 

In May I visited South Africa to fetch our "4-legged kids", and brought only the eldest along, because the younger had adopted her baby-sitter and preferred to stay there...

Back in the USA, we continued exploring and visited Boston to see U2 in concert, ride awesome rides at Six Flags New England, joined a local golf club and played fun events like Nine, Wine and Dine, got a Weber and braaied a lot, got all manner of mozzi repellent and fly-shooers (n Vlieeplak werk steeds die beste), got bicycles and cycled all about town and ate too much Cookies-and-Cream ice cream.

 

By the time September rolled in we were expecting the excitement to start fading away, but we had booked a cruise to Hawaii last year (while cruising to Alaska, you get discount for booking onboard, and we are suckers for discounts ... Already have our next cruise booked while cruising to Hawaii...), so off we set on more adventure !

When we returned from Hawaii, fall had taken over NC and it was miserable and wet and cold for days. But we found SA Red Wine, as well as a good shaker of mulling spices, so Gluewein comforted our sorry spirits.

 

In October we flew to SA again, but sadly this time for a funeral. My mother passed away suddenly in the ripe old age of 74, a couple of weeks before her birthday. It was unexpected and while she was suffering some health problems lately, she was an old kanniedood. We managed to get a week off from work to go to SA, which speaks volumes about how the people here value family and relations. Even though we just returned from an extended vacation a few weeks earlier, there was great understanding for our situation from both our employers. And although we are both on contract, meaning we are free to stay at home and not get paid, we were not made to feel that we should "hurry back" immediately after the funeral. I have great appreciation for the way Americans work. They work hard, but they play hard too. A well balanced Work-Life balance is something we can aspire to here.

 

Finally we went to see the All Star Cricketers in action in The Big Apple a coupe of weeks ago. What a fun and noisy day with A Lot of Indians and some Aussies, English and a few Saffas too ! The Sunday we toured Manhattan and saw Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty off in the distance and a little bit of Central Park. Sadly no Friends attraction or exhibition, but we did experience a bit of home at Braai on 51st in the heart of NYC !

And that, in not so much a nutshell, is how the first year went ! There is still so much to go see and do, we surely won't sit and wonder too long about where to next.

If you have the chance to come to the USA, just go for it. There is a million places to go and even more to do, so you will find somewhere that you can be comfortable. Just go with it and leave pre-conceived notions and ideas back in SA: start fresh and be whatever you want to be - America lives up to the tagline "the land of Opportunity". Go grab it !

See you at the airport :-)

 

 

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Great Post!

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Fantastic! I am so glad that you have settled in well and started your new life. May you have continued success!

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Awesome post! Sounds like you've had a great experience so far.

 

Can you say more about what you meant about the pep talk and scare mongering at the doctor?

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Great post, sounds like quite the roller-coaster ride. Nice to have friends there to lean on. That's one of the parts that have me a bit worried still, we'll have to battle it out all on our own. Hopefully we won't wander into a bad part of town by accident. Also all the small little culture shock traps we will be stepping into. I see a lot of embarrassing moments in our future. Heck, I won't even know how to put fuel in my car. :P

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Lol Tarka! Those little cultural traps will nab you for at least 2 years. Over here in the UK we struggled to figure things out without scraping our noses along the way. I remember doing a temp job just after moving here 12 yrs ago and answering my mobile at work (my father had called from SA and he never called before so I thought something was wrong). Little did I know that it is NOT ok to answer your mobile at work here like it was in SA. My temp job ended that day. :D

Looking back I can laugh at how many things we innocently didnt realise. ;)

Edited by Pickles

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Dankie vir 'n lekker-lees joernaal Kanniewaggie! Dis lekker om weer 'n immigrasiestorie van 'n nuweling te lees. 'n Mens word so gewoond aan die lewe hier in Noord Amerika, dat om dit deur nuwe oë te beleef altyd 'n plesier is. Ons kyk met groot verlange na NC, en sal seker een of ander tyd 'n trippie daarheen inwerk.

 

Geniet julle nuwe tuiste!

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.....Happy Christmas to Forum contributors. Good luck to you in the coming new year; 2016.

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