People often think living abroad is nothing but a dream. People think of snow, the signature brands, the lights, the sights and the sounds. They think that if you’re here, you live a fabulous life. A life that is fun and easy. An uncomplicated and carefree life.
But not everybody knows the realities behind this so-called fabulous façade. A lot of people don’t realize that it is just a clouded version of the truth. Yes, there is a little truth in it, but you’d be surprised on what really lies behind the life of someone abroad. And it is a common trait of Filipinos to sugarcoat the truth from others. But hey, I’m not one to sugarcoat, so I will give you the real deal. Life in America is a big do-it-yourself everything. This is the true story of life in America!
First in Order: CHORES
Back in the Philippines, it is common for every household to have helpers. We had drivers and maids. Basically, life was comfortable. No need to drive yourself to school or work. No need to worry if the laundry has been done or not, or if the house is clean or not. You always had someone to help you out. I spent 30 years of my life this way. And dang, was it good! I always felt like a spoiled princess.
Fast forward to today… California, USA.
At 6:00 a.m. I wake up to a cold shiver. It’s wintertime and mornings can get pretty chilly (around the 50s). It takes a great feat to get up from bed when you’re all warm and snug under your comforter. But as with any other person in this world, I have to get out of bed and face the day. I warm myself with a cup of tea.
I actually admire those who are living in the East Coast because they have an extra chore, shoveling snow. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’d have to shovel snow every day before going to work! I’ll probably have a fit body in no time! Whoever said they want the cold and snow all the time, I suggest you live here first then reassess your statement. I stare at the stove and wonder what breakfast to prepare. I’ve got an hour and a half to get everything done and bring my daughter to school.
Zoom I go. Cook breakfast, prepare lunch, get ready for work, and lock the house. You would almost liken me to a robot with a programmed routine. Memories flash in my mind where my nanny would just call out to me to come down to the dinner table and everything is perfectly laid out. Those were the days.
The day whizzes by at work and I find myself running after the subway. I’ve to catch the Metrolink at exactly 5:45 or else I’d have to wait for another hour. This is my exercise routine everyday in the morning and in the afternoon. Running shoes? Check. Station stairs? Check. Breathlessness? Check. I arrive at the train and slump at a chair. I doze off immediately like any other working individual on that train. I dream about days when I would wait outside the curb as our driver brings the car to pick me up. Sigh.
I get home, and this is what welcomes me: dirty dishes, a messy living room, unprepared dinner, a full trash bin and a pile of laundry. Okay, I can do this. I take a deep breath and I get going with my chores. Though technically, we share chores, but you know how it always ends up. Chores.
Back in the Philippines, my only “chore” was to clean my room. But most of the time, I had help, too, so it was not that hard. But here in America, you do everything yourself. You pick up after yourself. You clean and organize everything yourself. Yes, most of what I do are backed up by handy home appliances. But one, I don’t have a dishwasher so I was the dishes manually. Two, I cook everything from scratch; nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Three, try doing this on a chilly night and you’re shivering while you move about. Even if the heaters are turned on, you’ll struggle a bit. Fun, right? I don’t think so. This is the Real American Life.
After I’m done, I just feel tired. People back in the Philippines usually think that when we get home we just chill out after work. So not true! In fact, it was always a question in my mind. How come when I was in the Philippines, I still had strength to go out with friends on Friday nights (or any night for that matter) after work?
Here? I couldn’t wait to get to my bed and pass out. Seriously, this is what I want to do at 7 p.m. Sleep. Rest is a valuable commodity.
This is one of the many realities of life in America. It is a far cry from what people usually think it is. But don’t get me wrong. I love living here. America has taught me the great value of independence. It is something a lot of people have not yet mastered. The stark difference between life in America versus the life I was used to in the Philippines is huge in so many levels. It’s a bumpy ride, but I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating! So sit back and relax ’cause there’s more to come!
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