Chicago, Illinois – Senior citizen friends who came here as tourists or green card holders but returned to our native country after only few months here warned me that I might not last a day before thinking of going back home. Their common complaint: the cold weather and “culture shock.” (I already explained what culture shock meant in my previous column).
My friends said their arthritis got worse while others got sick of pneumonia as soon as they arrived home. Homesickness and feelings of isolation are also other reasons why they cut short their travel abroad.
Since I arrived here on April 20 the weather temperature is 54F or below (about 30C or below in Phil. reading) which is quite abnormal as it is still spring here. Blame it to climate change.
My first two days were challenging as the weather was really very cold. But when I discovered that by just taking a shower every day, especially before going to bed, the temperature will be normal. Not to mention that the house of my daughter has heaters in every corner, including cars. Pambihira, diyan pag malamig, walang goli. Dito, pag malamig, dapat iligo!
Adopting the usual 30 minutes to an hour walk I have been doing every morning in my Damosa Fairlane residence there also makes me active the whole day here despite my age. No arthritis or rayuma.
Homesickness and feelings of isolation, not at all, as the main purpose of my coming here is to work on the renewal of my passport, SS card, green card, and eventually my citizenship. The first three were already accomplished, while I still have to follow up the last one.
I continue sending columns to TIMES almost every other day which I haven’t done there. The reason why my doctors say I will never suffer dementia as I am always in my computer, listening to music, and seeing television shows. And if I ever think of going out, I have my Volvo car ready.
Changes in eating are not much of concern as there are lots of ready to eat Filipino dishes, like kare-kare, sinigang (bangus or baboy), lechon, paksiw, dried fish, pritong talong, just name it.
Of course, I’ve also experienced being bullied or discriminated as in all countries anyone can be object of discrimination. But this may only temporary for as long as how fast you are to react to the situation. As an example:
While seated near the window of my flight from NAIA to Los Angeles Airport, a six-footer white passenger came and said: “That’s my seat!”
“Yes, I know but can we exchange seats as I wanted to be near the window?”
“No, I bought that seat,” his answered in an angry voice.
“Bastos, you don’t need to shout as I am only asking you if it is possible,” also I answered the guy on top of my voice.
Believe you me, the guy never move from his seat until 10 hours seated when he felt going to restroom.
He asked if he can pass as he is going to relieve himself, this time in more respectful way.
Dah, I said to myself. Marunong ka rin palang matakot.
In almost all eating places and shopping malls we went too with Nathan, the American-German boyfriend of my daughter Tala, at first, I am nobody to everyone. But after I personally paid the bill using my own credit card, when I came back to the same places I was treated like VIP. Dah, akala siguro nila piso ang ibayad ko sa kanila noon. Hehe!
Here, most people never carry dollars but credit card. Tala gave me one with unlimited fund.
Just keep an open mind and a positive attitude and you will easily adjust to your new world.
Nathan, who introduced me to everyone “My future father-in-law” (He and my daughter are sweethearts of almost six years) says, I am the guy who is never afraid of meeting people and talk to them.
Well, why should I, as journalists, we meet people from all walks of life, ask them questions, and write later what we heard from them, may he be the President of the country or ordinary man on the street.
But as a reminder to would-be visitors of this host country as written in a handbook for Filipinos immigrating to the United State of America, “Avoid making unnecessary criticisms and comparisons between your home and the US.”
“Give yourself time to adjust and don’t be too hard on yourself as you transition. Each person adjusts at their own paces. Don’t compare yourself with others.”
Amen to that.