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Timesman: Culture shock

ILLINOIS, USA – Anybody thinking of going to the US for business or pleasure, or as an immigrant applicant, should only expect to encounter many challenges and experiences as you’re now in a new environment completely different from where you were born and grew up.

I came here as an immigrant applicant after my Phil-Am daughter Tala petitioned me last November of 2018. My immigrant visa was approved on February 18, after almost three months of patiently undergoing interviews and medical checkup in Manila. Para akong dumaan sa butas ng karayom then because of my efforts, not just the expenses, in going to the American Embassy and its authorized hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center, as the latter has also implemented very stringent requirements. I almost gave up because of the pressure and of my age.

But because of my children’s support and encouragement online and personal attention given me during those challenging months, I decided to continue. And now our common sacrifices and determination finally paid off.

As an immigrant in the US, you are expected to familiarize yourself with your responsibilities and obligations. Equally, you are granted rights and privileges that you may enjoy. To maintain your permanent resident status and eventually earn citizenship if you so desire, adherence to the requirements is essential. (Commission on Filipinos Overseas 2017 Edition)

The Handbook for Filipinos migrating to the United States of America given free by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas has prepared guidelines which will help you adopt your new life in the United States.

I was given one without attending a seminar required by the Commission in Davao City to would-be applicants because of my age and maybe it noted that my documents were all in order.

Job seekers or new to the place usually struggle with a phenomenon called “Culture shock” and other socially-related issues. The handbook defines culture shock as “the process of initial adjustment to an unfamiliar environment. It is a more or less sudden immersion into a nonspecific state of uncertainty where individuals are not certain what is expected of them or what they can expect from the persons around them.”

While I encountered that initial adjustment as early as when my documents were being process by US Embassy personnel in Manila, everything became normal to me when I finally informed that my application was approved and I can travel anytime.

I never experienced culture shock because I went to the United States not to seek employment or pleasure. I know I am in a secured place as I am living in the newly built two-story house of my daughter and her boyfriend Nathan in a well off subdivision where most of the residents own two or three cars with their houses equipped with modern and sophisticated devices and latest pieces of furniture and appliances for modern living. My daughter’s place is not far from this luxurious kind of living.

Their house is equipped with modern smart appliances and other integrated assistance features.

Let’s talk about a few of these devices. First on the front door when you approach the residence the doorbell has a video feature and notifies the owners via their cell phones even before the doorbell is rung. When the doorbell is rung you can see and talk to the person outside the door all with the security of the locked door.

Next, to help keep the first floor clean, a Roomba I7+ robotic vacuum turns on by schedule or on demand as required. A Dyson Cyclone V10 cordless stick vacuum is used easily by hand to help in areas the robot can’t reach.

The Nest learning thermostat that controls the temperature in the house learns from your living patterns throughout the day and adjusts the temperature automatically depending if you are home or away.

Many of the features are connected to a voice command assistance device called “Google Assistant.” To get answers to questions and have Google perform actions such as start the vacuum or tell you the weather report simply say “hey Google” and she give the instruction. After a short pause Google either completes the task or provides the answer to your question.

While these features are not necessary, they make your life easier and more secure in the fast pace busy workdays throughout the week.

Nathan is lead quality control engineer of a big company manufacturing sophisticated surveillance cameras and other gadgets use in warfare.

Tala, who asked for seven-day emergency leave while they were vacationing in Florida just to be with me upon my arrival here last April 20, is now back to Florida, about 2-1/2 hours by plane.

Back in the house after we sent her to the airport, I had my first experience of winter storm of ice like cotton falling from the sky and covering the whole area of Illinois.

We, Nathan and Johannah Joy, stayed the whole day in the house because the temperature outside was in zero degree Celsius. Very cold but still manageable as the house has heater and I’m always wearing thick jacket and socks while on my bed watching from the window the magical happenings outside I only saw in movies and televisions. Just imagine Alaska!

The jokes for today were provided by a lady “Google Assistant.” Yes, she knows our dialect:
Teacher: “Juan, i-english mo ito.”
Juan: “Wat mam?”
Teacher: “Ang uwak ay hinang-hinang naglakad.”
Juan: “The wak wak weak weak wok wok.”
Pedro: “Pre, kelan birthday mo?”
Juan: “August 30, pre.”
Pedro: “Anong taon?”
Juan: “Syempre, taun-taon! Alangan naman sometimes, di ba? Wag kang tanga!”

(My next topic will be no less than Philippine President Digong who is always on the front pages of weekly/monthly local community papers here published by Filipino journalists)

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