Hi friends, how are you today?
I have been reflecting lately on how this American experience has changed me (be it small or big things) and wanted to share my thoughts in today’s post.
- It made me wear gym leggings in public. And not care about how I look that much anymore. Seriously, I’m not just saying that. It’s true people.
- On a more serious note: It changed my understanding of American culture. Even though I had travelled to the US several times before moving here, most preconceptions I had about American culture and daily life came from tv shows (hello Glee), movies and other people’s opinions. Obviously, even though there usually is some grain of truth in there, reality is different (what a surprise). What I’ve encountered and experienced here is that people are incredibly open and friendly. Especially in the first few months after my arrival people I newly met and told about my background were all very supportive and literally everyone would say “Welcome to America”. I don’t know why this simple sentence stuck with me so much but I found it to be such a nice detail. I also thought that if I were to have the same conversation in Switzerland with someone that had recently moved there I would never say “Welcome to Switzerland”. (Maybe I’m just not a friendly person or would you?). What I’m trying to say is that given the international and migrational backgrounds that basically everyone has that you meet here, people tend to be curious and welcoming towards “newcomers”, which is a nice experience. Furthermore, what I found to be even nicer, is how people here are genuinely involved with their community and do a lot of volunteering. Much more than is usual in Switzerland I think. It is regarded a total normality to be engaged in some sort of activity in your community and to spend time volunteering. I really do appreciate this “can do attitude”, where everyone wants to help each other out, at least around here. I think that communal feeling is what has surprised me the most (in a positive way).
- It reshaped my values. My generation is seeking in attaining extreme levels of success, notoriety (ha), or success in whatever they do (I know generalizing). Still, there is a constant thirst for more and to be more. While that may sound exaggerating I think that it is somewhat true, we (and I’m not excluding myself) are always looking into ways of further evolving and being successful at what we do. However, when I moved to the US, I was forced to slow down. A lot. I had to sort out all of my paperwork for the work permit, had to figure out this new living situation etc. The far slower pace of my life translated into me putting more time into relationships with friends (and new friends), personal interests and hobbies than into professional prowess, which was something I had never done to that extent when I was working before. As I am now back into the whole application madness, I look back and reconsider that it is important putting enough time aside for your personal interests, friends and family.
- It made me more open-minded. This sounds really cliché, but it’s just so true! Living abroad does something incredible: You are exposed to an eclectic bunch of different people and you learn more not only about others and their approach to life but also about yourself. I’m already grateful for the many fantastic people from all over the word that I’ve met, that I’ve had conversations with (even if it was about seemingly small daily life things like what sort of food or shoes are typical for the place they are from). I loved every bit of it. Because it allowed me to learn about people, their experiences and other cultures in such a personal and deep way. Even as a European meeting people from Finland, Sweden, Denmark makes me realize how little we know from each other. Not to mention, all my new friends from China, South Korea, Vietnam or India, which is even more interesting! In short: My change in attitude has been brought about by the people I have met and the friends I have made.
- It changed my language skills and ability to communicate When I arrived in the US, I was a confident English speaker I’d say. Still, I found it awkward at times speaking in English (to the extent where I would plan what I would say when I was going into a bakery or government office). Now, I am in a state where I don’t even think about it anymore, I. JUST. TALK. I’ am definitely enjoying speaking English, I sometimes even will drop a word or two in English when speaking to Philipp (and he will be looking at me like ???!!). Just because they seem more fitting to me than the German version of them.
Have you also lived abroad for a while? If so, how did it change you? I’d love to hear!
Have a lovely week!