With the passage of time, I have figured that one can call any place their home provided there is love and compassion. Finding my love across a continent, there is not a moment with Mr. Right that I regret moving away from my dear home. However, there were times too when my husband used to be busy with work and I was stuck in an alien city not knowing what to do feeling extremely lonely. [Read more...]
If you’re mulling over the decision to move to another country for good, you ought to realize that this is a life-changing choice you should carefully think over based on your priorities and values. In my case, love and having a family of my own won over the other factors I considered. But marriage is not always the reason why you would have to migrate to another country. [Read more...]
Since I moved from Manila to the US, I have made a lot of friends. Just recently, one of them had plastic surgery that went horribly wrong. The reason? She used a surgeon that wasn’t properly trained to do the job. We told her not to do it. We told her to use a properly licensed, professional clinic, like this one that does breast enlargement in Austin, Texas. She didn’t listen.
She had her breasts enlarged, not that she really needed to. Everything seemed to be fine and she told us we had been worrying for nothing. Until 6 weeks after the procedure when she started to get sores appearing.
She did go to her doctor and he said there was nothing wrong with it although we were pretty sure she’d picked up an infection of some kind. The day after that appointment, it had got worse so she went and saw a doctor at the hospital we all work at. He told her it was infected and gave her antibiotics.
When she went back to see her own doctor, he took her off the pills and put her on a new set, which didn’t work. In fact, it got so she ended up with a large boil on top of the incision area, which morphed into a large hole.
The doctor did nothing, just told her to wait and see if the pills worked – they didn’t. Another month passed and she complained of a green-orange pus coming out of the hole. She went to the hospital and toy removed the implant to stop any further problems but, within a couple of weeks, the other breast became infected. Two boils appeared and, before she could get a doctor’s appointment, they had burst, creating a worse mess than the other one did.
She had to go in to hospital and be put on a drip. Blood tests revealed she had staph aureaus, a nasty infection, and the remaining implant was removed. She is on the mend now and the doctors have told her that she can have new ones in a few months if she wants them.
She doesn’t want them. She’s learnt her lesson and from now on, she says she is staying away from plastic surgeons.
I always thought that America was a land of professionals. These were the people who knew what they were doing. It seems that isn’t the case. There are an awful lot of unprofessional, unlicensed and untrained people out there who call themselves plastic surgeons but know nothing about what they are doing.
That said, there are a lot of excellent professional clinics around so, lease guys, don’t make the same mistake my friend did. If you think you need or want surgery, make an appointment with a proper clinic. We found this plastic surgeon in Minneapolis, who is professional, fully trained, fully licensed and, more importantly knows what he is doing and cares about his patients.
Your health is worth more than a botched boob job; make sure you get it down right.
These last ten years have been an interesting experience. I’ve met dozens of new people, made friends with some likeminded individuals, and met the love of my life. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and in fact, I had to overcome a lot of culture shock when I first got here. There are so many different things you might not know how to deal with. So, for people who are just fresh off the boat, here are some of the things you might need to learn about America.
It helps to keep an Open Mind
When you first get here, I guarantee you that you’re going to be asked a lot of questions. The first thing I was ever asked about, however, is balut. Now balut is dish that is enjoyed everywhere in the nation, but in America, duck fetus is considered strange. As time went on, these questions extended to my culture and other dishes from the Philippines. Whenever you feel pressured by these hundreds of question, remember to keep an open mind. Don’t get too frustrated, because sometimes people are genuinely curious.
What you see on TV is vastly different from Real Culture
A lot of people like to think that we can learn everything about America from television. When I assumed the same, I was greeted by more than a few curious glances and kind lectures. It actually helps if you think about it in this way. How would you feel if Americans based their perceptions about you according to what TV your country churns out? Basically, I’m sort of reiterating my ‘keeping an open mind’ tip, but curiosity helps a lot here too. I met a lot of my friends who were more interested in the best sewing machine for beginners and other kinds of knitting hobbies as opposed to the stereotypical stuff like guns and McDonalds.
Money comes easily if you’re willing to Work
One of the reasons why America is still called the land of the free is because of the work you can get. I know a lot of friends who were transferred here because of their skill and work ethic. If you’re worried about a job or money when you first get here, don’t fret. Employers are always looking for hard working people, so being able to buckle down and get stuff is an important characteristic to have.
You have to learn Spanish
America’s main language has always been English, but that’s changing really quickly. While it will be a long time before Caucasians are considered a minority, Spanish speakers come in major numbers. If you close yourself up to this language, you will be missing out on a whole American sub-culture.
In all honesty, I can’t really cover all the most important things I’ve learned about America in one post. If you’re still a little worried about what you’ll be doing here when you arrive, why not take up a hobby? Like I said earlier, looking for the best embroidery machine in order to learn sewing and knitting is a great idea. You can also take up more physical endeavors if you want.
Growing up in the Philippines was a constant challenge. The disparity between the rich and the poor is so great that you can immediately see the difference between the social classes. The rich of course, went to school in fancy cars, or at the very least, school buses while the poor who went to public schools rode public transportation. Those who were really impoverished walked barefoot to school in tattered clothes.
Such is the reality of life back then. Some people’s living conditions are so saddening. For example, there was a lack of proper bathrooms in the area where informal settlers lived. You will see children doing their business on canals and grassy areas without any consideration for their own health or sanitation. As a result, diarrhea and other similar diseases were prevalent. They did not realize that they were the ones causing their own demise.
When I moved to the US, I was pleasantly surprised at how different the poor here behaved. They may be homeless, but they weren’t as unsanitary as the informal settlers back home. I mean no disrespect, it’s just the difference between being poor in a third world country and being poor in America was really very different. Here, the poor used porta potty rentals situated near shelters or trailer parks. They took baths and showers in gasoline stations and washed their clothes in coin-operated laundromats. They were poor, but they looked and behaved in a civilized manner. They carried themselves with dignity as if to say that they were poor, but not out. Some of them managed to finish school and turn their lives around.
These success stories happened in the Philippines too, of course. However, the situation there becomes more bleak with every visit. There are more people who sleep on sidewalks and under bridges, and there are still no portable toilets that they can use. They do their business anywhere and everywhere, and even in the internet age, people are still dying from diarrhea and dysentery. How I wish that there would be sponsors for decent toilets in depressed areas. That would make their lives a little better.
A lot of people today take traveling as a hobby. There are people who love to travel by groups because they believe that new adventures are meant to be shared in the company of friends and family. On the other hand, there are those who like to travel alone. For them, it is one way of unwinding and escaping from the harsh realities of life. It gives them peace of mind and freedom of being the person they truly are.
When I was still living in the Philippines, I had planned to visit all the provinces in the country and of course, see the most popular tourist destinations. During my college days, I actually took a job at a famous fast-food chain in Manila and saved all my earnings for my annual Philippine tour. It may sound crazy to some people, but for me, traveling is food for the eyes and soul. With thousands of adventures that awaited me, I never considered traveling as a waste of time and money.
My dream of exploring the whole country crashed when I met the love of my life. It came to a point when I thought of giving him up because I was not really a fan of long distance relationships. I thought that once I agreed to migrate to the United States, I would never set foot in my country again. After a few months of deciding which one to choose, I chose love and soon found myself on a plane bound for the United States.
Thinking that my husband might get offended if he ever found out that I almost gave him up for the chance to travel, I never spoke to him about it. He is a diesel mechanic and the company he works for always assigned him to different parts of the country. There are times when I accompany him, especially when he needs to stay out for a few weeks. So basically, I did a lot of traveling because of his job.
A few years ago, my husband was assigned to Africa. As expected, he brought me along and the trip coincided with our 7th year anniversary. I bought a lift kit for his truck as a gift, and in return he gave me a lavish Africa trip by this travel agency that customizes Africa tours. I was so shocked and amazed at the same time! Somehow he managed to get me the exact gift that I wanted. It doesn't matter that it was Africa and that it was another country which I never thought of visiting, it was still a great treat for me. Later on, my husband admitted that he felt guilty for taking me away from home country and this is why he brings me along to all of his travels.
It is so nice to think that I gave up my dream of exploring the Philippines and still got something extravagant in return. Now that I have already visited a lot of beautiful places all around the globe, I still wish that one day I could go back to the Philippines and pursue the dream that I have had ever since I was young.
Everyone dreams of having a long and lasting relationship to treasure for the rest of their lives, but unfortunately not everyone can have it. Some people patiently wait for the right person to come along, while others strive very hard to put an end to the search. Everyone has their own ideals, but it breaks my heart knowing that most people today are more interested in physical attributes rather than the person’s character. It seems to me that those people who are not blessed with superstar looks are more likely to suffer from waiting because of something that is not actually their fault.
It is normal for every woman to think that she is beautiful, but honestly speaking, I consider myself as average when it comes to looks. Just like any normal Filipino teenager, I tried everything to enhance my average beauty. I learned how to apply makeup effectively, to dress appropriately, and to act correctly in public. With all the years of learning and hardships I went through, I believe that now I have achieved most of my dreams. I endured various types of rejections in the past, but now I am very much needed by one special person, my husband of eight years.
There are times when women who are about to reach their 30s get teased for not having a boyfriend or having any plans of marrying someone. The joke actually hurts, because I believe most women want to get married and have a family. Although there are those that are resigned to the fact that because of their looks, it might be impossible to find someone willing to marry them. It could be stressful and depressing for someone who desperately wants to marry yet cannot do so. This desperation at times lead to women finding alternative solutions, such as cosmetic surgeries, to enhance their appeal and find the happiness they crave.
I am not ashamed to admit that I too, had cosmetic surgery. For me, it is like magic that transformed me from a not-so-ugly duckling to a swan. Most of my friends are complaining about their flat chests which made me realize that I also wanted to have bigger breasts. I did not rush into it headlong, though. I did my research while still in the Philippines. I learned how much it would cost, the process involved, the recovery times and everything else I need to know. Money was not the issue back then. It was my fear of being under the knife. All those needles and sutures make me shiver. My savings had been preserved due to my fear, but at the back of my mind, I was still cherishing the idea of having bigger breasts someday.
My husband did not allow me to get a job ever since I set foot in the United States so I spent most of my time online. I did a lot of research on the process of getting breast augmentation in San Diego. Upon checking out this website, I learned that they offer laser breast enhancement, which surely does not have any surgery involved. After some thought and a talk with my husband, I started looking up renowned cosmetic physicians online.
It has been two years since I went through a breast enhancement operation and I can say that it helped me a lot. I became more confident in facing my husband’s business partners, and they praise him being lucky to find a beautiful Filipina wife.
I grew up reading Vogue and looking at Runway magazines from the shelves. If there was extra money, I’d buy back issues, you know the ones which weren’t sold from previous months, and pore over them like they were sacred texts. I loved fashion and everything that was beautiful and I had a keen appreciation for art and beauty. That didn’t mean though that I only liked the expensive brands. Back in the Philippines, I was able to buy nice-looking heels which didn’t cost very much. I had nothing against cheap heels since I only used them for special occasions. In fact, most of the time, you’d only use a pair of shoes once and that’s it.
When I got married to an American and migrated to the US, all of these changed. My husband was not a wealthy man but he liked to lavish me with gifts and give me a taste of the life I did not have. We’d go shopping for designer bags and branded clothes and yes, expensive shoes as well. I did not realize that red-soled shoes could be so expensive! But I didn’t complain as they fit me very, very well. So from rarely wearing heeled shoes I went to to wear six inch heels to corporate functions and parties that I attended with my husband. I felt proud and confident that I was wearing body con dresses and magnificent jewelry. At the end of the evening though, my calves would ache from wearing heels for long hours. This was a problem that I rarely encountered in the Philippines.
Back in Manila, people don’t wear heels 24/7. The working class wear slippers which we fondly call tsinelas when they commute to work in the morning. These slippers are all weather and all-terrain proof. They make it easy to run after jeepneys or ride buses to and from work. The corporate heels are worn once inside the office or the establishment where one works; they are again removed once the clock hits five o’ clock.
I was an office girl once too, but I wore maybe two-inch heels which I shucked once I was seated at my desk. I wore them whenever I got up and whenever there were meetings and presentations. We cheat, yes, and that is why I did not have this problem before: varicose veins.
I didn’t want to think that it was because of my age so I told my husband (who adored my legs, by the way) and he immediately sent me to see the top vein doctor in Manhattan. I raised a quizzical eyebrow because that seemed a little extreme. It was only a few veins, not like I was unable to walk or anything. Anyhow, I followed his advice and booked an appointment with a vein doctor in Charlotte. We were traveling at that time and I didn’t want to wait until we were back to get a consultation.
True enough I needed some treatment to get rid of the spider veins and varicose veins which were spreading up my legs. It wasn’t a life or death situation, true. But I’m glad that I chose to do something about it rather than wait for the condition to worsen.
One thing I noticed in most of the homes in my new neighborhood was the ubiquity of deckings. There’s hardly a house that did not have it, as far as I could observe. Somehow,I felt like our newly purchased home could be better with the installation of a new deck.
I’m really happy and thankful I didn’t have to spend a lot of time working on my documents and other legal requirements to be able to get married and move to the US. I can’t say everything went easy breezy but I’m just glad my first few problems living in a new country involved decisions on our new home and not issues on my legal documents. My husband wanted my opinion on everything. I helped him pick our new home and he gave me the responsibility to decide on what to do with the old deck that required renovation.
I thought it was better to have the deck renovated or to have it destroyed to build a new one. Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult finding a decking supplier and builder. I just asked some of my new American friends and they enthusiastically offered recommendations. Well, there weren’t that many construction company review websites back then so relying on the Internet was not that viable. The recommendations of friends were very helpful.
I decided to go for a softwood deck. The wood used, as I was told, was called spotted gum. Yes, the name had some influence on my decision to pick it. It intrigued me somehow and I thought it wasn’t a bad choice considering its high density and toughness ratings. The colors available were also great.
After a number of days, we finally had a new deck. It provided a very comfortable place for relaxation. It was completely different from the old one we had to dismantle. However, it lacked the appeal. I knew it could use some decking, some decorations and the addition of elements to make it comparable or even better than what the neighbors had. Yes, admittedly, I exerted quite an effort to have our new deck built because I was slightly jealous of the decks our neighbors had back then. After all, I was trying to live the American life and spending some time at my new home’s deck to enjoy the new environment was something I really wanted to do.
Decking our home’s new deck involved the use of some color coordinated potted plants, chimes that produced soft beautiful sounds, and some rustic-like furniture. My husband contacted an electrician to have beautiful warm lights (including a dimmable one at the center) installed. Overall, I really loved the result. In a way, that new deck sort of became my initiation to American living and styling taste.
While moving across continents, I developed several habits that were alien to me before the big change. One of the many lessons that I learnt the hard way include certain paper management tips. There are times when old records are needed in an emergency, or when a new application needs to be filed and paperwork has to be done. On such occasions the following paper management tips helped me get through many chaotic issues that could have developed serious consequences in the long run.
Maintain a Log at Home
In Manila, there was a rare need to maintain logs of house income, expenses, utility bills and other installment slips. However, in the US if we need to apply for a loan, invest in a property or file our taxes, the need to maintain a log is essential. Good Housekeeping has plenty of organizing ideas, but my favorite is to buy a multi-layered folder and make sections of all bills, receipts and other important papers. Without spending more than 5 minutes on a daily basis, all the important stuff goes into one place without getting mixed up or disappearing when needed.
Scan Important Documents
With my experience, I have learnt that all important documents should be scanned so that in case any of the hard copies goes missing, there is a way to retrieve it. Although places like hospitals, car insurance companies and financial organizations do have a copy of the agreement or reports, but to sort it out and get the original one back having a soft copy helps a lot. I came across a document scanning service (http://www.prodocumentscanning.com/), that makes the entire job easier. Paper management and keeping important records intact are not a problem ever since I started availing the services of these document scanners.
Store Data in a Removable Disc
Apart from having a log at home and getting important papers scanned, I developed a habit of saving it on a removable disc such as a CD or USB. This reduces the chances of losing data in case the system breaks down or a virus deletes the data stored in the hard disc. Being cautious and keeping important documents safe is better than going through lengthy procedures of retrieval.
As unfair as it may sound, being an immigrant in one country creates a de facto disadvantage when it comes to dealing with legal problems. There are many reasons for this. For one, an immigrant may not know that much about the laws in the country. The immigrant may not be familiar with the justice system. Also, locals still have some level of partiality in treating with non-citizens or immigrants. While there are those who are already tolerant and more accepting, there are still many who have varying levels of discriminatory attitudes. Thankfully, I haven’t encountered legal issues and problems myself but I can attest to how differently you will likely be treated if you are just an immigrant in a country. If you want to avoid having legal problems in the country where you want to move , remember the following tips and suggestions:
Always have the necessary documents or papers to prove the legality of your stay in the country. If you are working, you should have the necessary visa and papers. Identification cards and licenses are going to be very important in establishing identity. Also, be sure that your documents are valid and updated.
Be familiar with the laws of the country or at least the state or city where you intend to reside. There are many seminars for immigrants that can facilitate this. Know your legal rights and responsibilities. It is also advisable to have your own efforts to learn about the general laws and local rules and regulations of the town or city you intend to become a permanent resident of. There’s no excuse in being ignorant of laws and rules. For instance, you can’t excuse yourself for violating traffic laws just because you’re new to an area. Moreover, be very careful not to violate any of your visa provisions and requirements.
If you change your address, be sure to notify the office or agency that oversees your immigration process and documents.
If there is a criminal record or undesirable information about you or the people closely associated with you, it is recommended that you disclose it. This is to avoid suspicion. Being honest has its advantages although it does not necessarily augment or hasten your immigration application. I know of someone who had to look for a defense attorney as he needed a Tulsa criminal defense lawyer for misdemeanors just because of a small misunderstanding.
Associate yourself with other immigrants with good standing. It helps networking with or establishing links with other immigrants in the area you reside in. There will be times when you will need help and there’s nobody more likely to extend it than other immigrants like you.
Essentially, avoiding legal entanglement boils down to being careful not to violate laws by knowing these laws and trying to learn more than just the basics. Discrimination against immigrants should never exist but it’s better to prepare for it by being highly aware of your rights and responsibilities.
It is true that your lifestyle will depend on the location you are in. When I was still living in the Philippines, it was so hard for me to spend my money on things that I do not consider a necessity. I previously worked as a fast-food crew, and only receive minimum wage. Since I don’t earn that much, I always made sure that every cent I have would not go to waste.
My lifestyle in the Philippines was very simple. I sleep, read, go to work, and go back home after working long hours. Whenever I have free time, I normally surf the Internet to avoid unnecessary expenses. I am so used to this simple routine that I never thought would ever change. Let me just share the story of how I made it to the United States.
Since I am a bit stingy and I spend most of my free hours online, I met this wonderful man who changed my life. At first, I was hesitant to join chat rooms because it sounded silly. Then I finally came to the point when net browsing was no longer fun, so I decided to join a chat room. That was where I met the love of my life. After a few years, we decided to get married and he brought me to the U.S.
My first months in the United States were a bit uncomfortable, since I am not fluent in English. After a few more months, I finally got a job as an office clerk. One thing that I love about working here is that I earn more, compared to the salary I received in the Philippines. But given the high cost of living in the U.S., what I earn practically covers only my personal expenses, but just the same, I am not as stingy anymore, given that I can depend on my husband for other expenses.
Migrating to the United States was indeed a life-changing event for me. But of course, there are times when I wish I could visit my hometown where all my favorite local dishes are available.