how are you? I guess you must be doing well, as it is F-R-I-D-A-Y! Yay! Happy weekend!
Join me today for the second and final part of the interview I did with the phenomenal trio Ly (Vietnam), Fernanda (Brazil) and Mattias (Sweden). We’re going to talk about adjusting to a life in a new country and looking back on their experience in the US. As applied for part 1 if you’d rather like us hear speaking, click on the corresponding audio files below.
Sandra: What was the easiest or the hardest part in adjusting to your new life here in the US?
Fernanda: I’m going to say that the best part of living here is that it is very convenient. Especially living in Cambridge. It has a bit of a small town, suburban feeling to it, still you have Boston close by. You don’t need a car. Also, I really like being able to head down to CVS at 2am in the morning for ice cream. In Rio, shops close very early. On the other hand, things here are very expensive compared to Rio.
Sandra: What do you find to be most expensive, the food, the cost of living?
Fernanda: I wanna say health insurance. It’s painful how much it costs…
Sandra: Yeah, that’s true, I think that both Switzerland and the US are two of the countries within the OECD that pay most for health insurance.
Fernanda: The hardest part was maybe speaking to people. I wasn’t too confident in my English when I first arrived. I’m very shy and have some trouble speaking to people anyway, so talking in another language I don’t feel so comfortable in, was even more challenging for me.
Sandra: What do you miss the most?
Fernanda: Besides my family and friends it has to be the food. I miss being able to go to a café and have something savoury and not always sweet stuff with my coffee for example. I have to do it myself that’s frustrating (laughs). Also, people in Rio are very warm and open and you can basically start a conversation with everyone if you’d like to. It’s not that I particularly like that but now that I’m gone I miss it. Same goes for music. I never used to be into Samba music but for some reason, now that I live abroad, I love it! I listen to it every day to wake up.
Sandra: Does Mattias also listen to Swedish music to wake up?
Mattias: No, not really. Every now and then I will listen to a Swedish jazz orchestra. I don’t do lots of Swedish things I guess. I came here for the American music of course (everyone laughs).
Sandra: Of course. What was the easiest or hardest part for you in settling in here in the US?
Mattias: It was mostly easy to adjust ourselves to the new life here. Having moved a lot and having lived in a lot of countries has influenced us in the sense that there’s only a few basic things we need to buy to make us feel at home.
Sandra: What are those?
Mattias: Something like a good kitchen knife for example, kitchen stuff basically. Back in China and a few other countries it used to be a window scraper. Those are multi tools for getting water away from showers in the bathroom, the kitchen and stuff.
Sandra: Do you have one now?
Mattias: No. In general it’s cooking in a place and then everything will feel at home. That’s how it has been the last couple of times we moved anyway. And in Cambridge everything feels very nice. I really like that it feels like a small place that is connected to a bigger place like Boston. I’d even say that out of all the places I’ve lived I feel most at home here.
Sandra: Why is that? Besides the home cooking.
Mattias: Cambridge kind of feels like the village I am from in the north of Sweden, just bigger. It’s more spread out. The lushness of the trees, the smell of the bushes, how it looks. It kind of reminds me of my hometown that makes me feel a bit nostalgic.
Sandra: What about you, Ly?
Ly: I love to explore new cultures and Boston happens to be such a melting pot of different cultures. So I’ll have Korean food on Monday, Vietnamese on Tuesday, American Food on Wednesday, maybe Swedish next…
Mattias: Swedish fish maybe! (everyone laughs)
Sandra: That’s as Swedish as it can get here (red. Swedish fish is a gummy candy in fish shape, probably not Swedish at all).
Ly: We’ll also have cheese fondue often, even in summer time. We prepare it in our rice cooker.
Sandra: So you like the variety of cultures coming together in one place?
Ly: Yes, that’s right. What I also really like is the wide offer of events and activities in the city. I have pottery and salsa classes, everything is quite close and it’s just so exciting.
Sandra: So you really like the that you find a lot of things to do here.
Ly: What I miss is the Vietnamese language. Maybe because I don’t really hang out with other Vietnamese people. I still text my friends. I also try to listen to more Vietnamese songs. Before coming here, I didn’t like Vietnamese songs too much, they seemed too cheesy and romantic to me. But now I love to listen to them as they make me feel good.
Looking back on the US experience
Sandra: Picture yourself as an old person. If someone were to ask you about your experience in the US, what would you tell them, what would your main take aways be? Let’s start with you Mattias, what would you say as old wise men?
Mattias: How inspiring this is as a place. And how many great people are here and how open they are. They are passionate about what they’re doing and will share that with you. I’ve been also been going to seminars here and people are always so nice. I’d say this is the main take away that is different from other places.
Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?
Fernanda: I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everybody everywhere in the world is very similar. You don’t have to be afraid to interact with others and start a conversation. It’s fascinating to me how people from different cultures can communicate and talk to each other. They’re just people. And I used to be afraid of that. I have friends from all over the world now and that is something Boston gave to me.
Mattias: That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard so far.
Sandra: That’s so nice. The pressure is on now for you Ly.
Ly: Boston really is kind of a global village. There are people from all over the world here. The diversity is great and it’s just such an exciting and innovative place to be. I also appreciate how open people are and how they will be open to new opportunities as well. They want to make things happen. That’s so different from Vietnam or even the UK. That’s one of the things I like the most, besides living with my husband of course.