Friday, October 17, 2008

First Day

The day I arrived in the United States I remember dimly. I hadn’t slept for more than 2 days (trip + rather long farewell party) and I could barely remember where in the world I was and why. I do recall long lines in the JFK airport; a border guard with a perfect set of teeth, his standard “What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?”, and my lower back ache from the 9 hour plane ride.

I remember the bustle and commotion: people rushing, talking, turning, shouting, eating. I remember getting dizzy from hearing different languages at the same time. “America is a country of immigrants”- I heard this before, it just never hit me what it really meant.

The other things that were extraordinary enough for me to notice (despite of my coma-like condition) were yellow cabs that for some reason kept beeping; tall glass buildings, billboards, humidity and some rather eccentric fashion choices.

My first night in the US I spent at Columbia University’s dorm. The dorm was the complete opposite of what I expected it to be. I thought I would see huge rooms with king-sized beds, leather furniture, soft carpet and TV/DVD sets. A nice mix of Marriott and Ritz hotel suits. Instead, I saw gray walls (which in their better times were white), a wooden military looking bed with a dark green mattress, one antediluvian chair and cabinets. My dream of a soaking bubble bath was brutally wrecked by the view of dirty shower stalls that were supposed to be shared by at least a dozen other tired and sweaty exchange students.

I thought everything in America was supposed to be cool (well, except food)…My dorm in Poland, where I spent 4 wild years, was much more sophisticated and cozy.

My culture shock began…


Darlene said...

I can't wait to hear more. I love to travel, and can tell you all about first impressions in other countries. But you can never get an outside perspective on home... so it is neat to hear.

Traveling is an amazing analogy for our journey with God. And, It is such a blessing to see God's creativity when you visit different parts of the world. Thanks for sharing!


Happy Mama said...

Thanks, Darlene!

I just hope people will not take some things personally. I do love this country, but there are still so many things I don't understand.:-)

Great analogy, by the way. I never thought of it that way.

Sean said...

Can't wait to hear more myself...You may have written more though.
I always wondered what people think when they visit a unknown place for the first time.
Great stuff!

Sean said...

Can't wait to read more too!
It's so great hearing what you first thought about America.
Oddly enough...Didn't we meet in Sociology?
Anyway...This is by far the most interesting thing I've read in a while...Thanks!

Happy Mama said...

Sean, I believe it was Political Science:-)

Sean said...

Oh yeah. That's right. Thanks

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Once I start reading your posts, I find it hard to stop. I linked to you on my blog today; I hope that is OK.

Marina said...

thanks for sharing what it was like for you when you first came to the states, marina