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10 Things that Might Surprise You When You Move to the United States

10 Things that Might Surprise You When You Move to the United States

I was born and raised in the United States. However, I did not become a citizen until I became an adult.

This is because my parents lived and worked in America as staff members of a foreign diplomat to the United States, and then I returned to live in France.

Believe me, that’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Because of their work, I grew up with other diplomat kids and attended a school that was focused on educating international students.

Here is a list of ten things that I know might surprise people who move to the United States.

1. So Much Food (In More Ways Than One)!

The United States really stands out because of the amount of food that is available here. Some of this has to do with plenitude. There literally is a huge abundance of food and drink. Stores don’t run out of food, and water is freely available. But, there are other factors at play.

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One of these is the selection. The idea that you can purchase multiple brands or versions of bread and milk is a new thing for many immigrants. Huge serving sizes in restaurants is another factor. My parents still remain stunned at the idea that portions are actually doled out with the assumption that people will ask for a doggy bag. Then, there is the fact that you can buy food everywhere. The gas station has food. The office supply store has food.

2. You Learn to Speak English Faster than You Learn to Think in It

I was raised speaking English, so this doesn’t affect me. But, I can say that I have known several people who were raised speaking languages other than English. One experience that I have heard is that it is very common for people who move to the United States to be able to speak and write in English. After all, many kids are taught English from an early age.

In spite of this, most people still think in their native languages. This can be awkward for them because they have to translate both their thoughts and their words into English before they can interact with the Americans.

3. It’s Really Easy to Buy a Gun Here

In the United States, you can buy a gun at Walmart. There are conventions where people attend to do nothing more than display, talk about, buy and sell guns. Many feel as if they are being abused by their government if they are not allowed to own as many guns or bullets that they want.

Guns are usually associated with military service or gun clubs. Many crimes and disputes seem to involve guns. In spite of this, it is a politically divisive issue in the United States.

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4. Everything is Really Big

Cars, homes, stores, etc. – all of these are big things that new arrivals will encounter when the move to the United States. Department stores and ‘big box stores’ sell a wide variety of goods that are available only in specialty stores in other countries.

The idea that homes can be built over an acre of land or span several stories is also new to many people trying to make America their home. In many countries, everything is much more scaled down.

5. Families don’t Live Together

In the United States, it is fairly rare for a great-grandparent, grandparent, parent, and a child to live in the same home. Sometimes it does happen, but it is usually the result of an embarrassing event when it does happen. Young adults are expected to move out of their homes at the earliest opportunity.

Parents who do not launch their kids are often deemed failures, as are their kids. The only exception to this is parents or grandparents. It is usually acceptable to bring them home to live with you. I get the respect for elders. It’s just that in my experience households contain members of multiple generations and nobody finds fault in that.

6. You have to Get a Permit or License for Everything

In the United States, you cannot simply move, build a house, keep animals for food, or farmland just because you want to. Filling out forms such as the citizenship application can certainly be threatening. In spite of this, most people choose to work and live where they must live under certain rules. These include whether or not people can keep livestock, hang laundry outside, or perform other standard tasks that are considered to be normal, but are blocked by neighborhood watch groups and homeowners associations.

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One area where new immigrants can find some relief from the red tape and bureaucracy is with the ESTA application. This visa waiver application can be completed online in ten minutes or less.

7. There is Amazing Cultural and Geographical Diversity

Because the United States is so big, it is possible to live, work, and interact with a very small piece of this nation that does not reflect the whole of this nation. Get in a car and drive for several hours and you will go from the prairie land to beaches, deserts, urban landscapes and farms. In each area, people have different points of view, personal history, and values.

Get in a car and drive for several hours and you will go from the prairie land to beaches, deserts, urban landscapes and farms. In each area, people have different points of view, personal history, and values.

8. Everybody Drives!

My friends, my parents, and other immigrants have one thing in common. They are shocked at the number of people who own cars, and how many of them drive to every single errand that they encounter.

In some areas, it is literally impossible to move from one place to another without a car. For some people, it can be hard to negotiate because people cannot always rely on public transportation. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with interstate transportation.

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9. All the Small Talk

On the train, in the line at the store, no matter where you are, people in the United States are going to ask you how you are. They are going to talk about sports, celebrities, and a variety of other topics. The complicated part is that sometimes these things really interest them, but these are just subjects that are intended to be

The complicated part is that sometimes these things really interest them, but mostly these are just subjects intended for small talk.

10. Obesity is More of a Problem with Poor People than Rich People

In America, the poor people are more likely to be overweight than the wealthy people. This is because, in the United States, foods that are processed, high in fat, and are unhealthy tend to be very cheap.

On the other hand, meat, seafood, fish, and fresh vegetables are either too expensive or simply not available to people. Because the United States is so large, there are many food deserts, where the access to affordable, healthy food options is limited or nonexistent because grocery stores are too far away.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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