My Biggest Mistake After Moving to the United States
Around this time of the year in 2013, my husband had already left for the States, leaving me alone with our blended family of five children. At the same time, I wasn’t really excited about the move, as I was just too busy to handle the last two months of my German life. It’s a good time now to review my biggest mistakes when I moved to the States.
Around this time of the year in 2013, I supervised downsizing our 2400 square-foot house into a 40-foot container, moved to a family-sized room in a local hotel, and handled the mood of my 13-year-old who now hated me for destroying her teen life.
When I arrived in Washington on October 23rd, I felt exhausted. The only thought that had kept me alive this far was telling myself “Once you’re there, you can relax. You’ll go to museums and have extensive spa sessions.”
I was looking forward to taking better care of myself. And I’m pretty sure anyone who has experienced moving from one country to another is smirking right now.
Moving to the US: My First Mistake
Forget about spas. Forget about museums. Forget about slowing down. My biggest mistake after moving to the United States was thinking that stress would end the day I arrived in DC.
I arrived one day after the container had arrived. My new house (thanks Hubby for finding a new nest BEFORE I arrived) was full of boxes waiting for me to open. Although we left my husband’s children with their mom in Germany, I had still three at home who started attending new schools, enrolling in new activities, and finding new friends.
Of course, my teenage daughter still hated me, but the unlimited access to American candies (like 5 Gum, Nerds, and Sour Patch), American clothes (Abercrombie, Hollister), American shoes (Converse), and Netflix made her life better than expected. My little ones, who were ages 2 and 4 at this time, adjusted more easily. Once they found their toys, they were happy to be with mom, dad, and big sister.
I’d say I needed one year to adjust to my new life. In September 2014, after all the kids were back in school, I started to work on this blog. When my new baby went live, I knew this was my new home. I can only speak for myself, but I needed to achieve something professionally in order to feel at home here.
Moving to the US: My Second Mistake
My second mistake when I moved to the United States was to completely underestimate the size of the country. Sure, I knew that the country was larger than Germany or France, but I needed to live here to appreciate its immensity. Germany is about half of the size of France and about 85% the size of California. On the other hand, France would fit inside Texas, which is almost twice as large as Germany.
As a matter of fact, the sheer size of the country means that the “typical American” doesn’t exist. I guess this sounds strange coming from my mouth! Isn’t the purpose of this blog to explain the cultural differences between French people or Germans and Americans?
Put simply, what I mean is that a Bostonian has more in common with a New Yorker or Chicagoan than with Alaskan natives. Believe me, I try very hard not to make assumptions about Americans. I can watch myself and see how my life in three different countries has left indelible footprints on my personality. However, as diverse as Americans can be, they still have enough typical attitudes binding them together to give me blog material.
Moving to the US: My Third Mistake
My third mistake, and this one is a funny one, was to remove all fans from the second floor. Laugh at me if you like, but I just didn’t know better! I’ve written extensively about A/C in the US and France or Germany here.
Today, 87% of American homes are equipped with A/C compared to only 4% in France and 1% in Germany. Since my new American house has A/C, I removed all fans but one. They were ugly (fact) and unnecessary (wrong). Guess what? One year later, we installed new ones!
What about you? What mistakes did you make after moving to the United States?