Category Archives: immigrating

Quintessential American Experience #1: The county fair!

Well, I have arrived and started to settle into my new life in the USA. A small housing development in rural NE Ohio to be precise. We picked up our marriage license today, and, since Kyle has two days in a row off, have headed down to Amish country. I am really excited to be here – the Amish were always SO foreign to me, yet so fascinating. I am really excited to explore more and learn about their culture and lifestyle.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Kyle was working on a Saturday, so my in-laws took me to the county fair. It was a really fun experience. Prior to this, I had never heard of tractor pulls or elephant ears, nor had I had the chance to sample the glories of deep fried oreos. (On an unrelated note, 3 weeks in the US plus 2 in Nz plus a couple of not caring weeks in Japan = Laura’s weight going in the wrong direction. Time to do something about that. From Wednesday, when I get home from Amish Country).

Anyway, without further ado, here are some photos:

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There were a bunch of animals (duh). They were cute. I wish their cages were bigger though, even if the fair was only short term.

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Oh my goodness gracious me, way more rides than we have at fairs in New Zealand. My sister-in-law and I went on the ferris wheel. I forgot my fear of heights until it was too late – It hadn’t dawned on me that it was a non covered/outdoor ferris wheel, so you could feel the breeze and see the tractor pulling, and freeze in terror at any rock or creak the ferris wheel made.

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Dinner. I attempted to get quintessential American fair food: A corn dog and nachos. After about 3 minutes, I realised the folly of my ways.

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And THIS is tractor pulling! Basically, tractors compete to see who can pull a weight the furtherest. Well, the people driving the, do. These were loud. Really, really loud. (sorry it’s blurry – my phone doesn’t take great motion pics)

After a while, watching loud tractors made me a little restless, so my sister-in-law and I went for a wander.

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This looked really American, so I made her pose in front of it.

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I found the fair quen of a different county fair. Apparently the represent their county at other fairs as well.

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This is a giant pit of dried corn. Really. And I got to play in it. My life is fantastic.

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This sort of thing reminds me that I’m not at home any more.

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Deep fried oreos. And stunning photography, no?

Anyway, that was the first of many adventures I anticipate having, in between sitting at home shouting at my computer in an attempt to somehow turn that shouting into a masters degree.

Also, a big welcome to Ohio to Molly, at A Move to America http://themovetoamerica.wordpress.com/ . Molly has just made the big move here as well, and is much better at actually updating her blog!

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Home for a minute

I went to New Zealand for a couple  of weeks. It as grand. And cold. But not as cold as winter really should be. Still, I was just glad to be away from Japanese summer, where they had the hottest day on record. Anyway, a few photos 🙂

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My darling mother.

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Nothing says Marlborough, New Zealand more than sheep in a vineyard.

I’m home

I’m home. New Zealand. It feels… strange. My city is a place I remember and feel connected to, yet so many years away, combined with the significant changes brought about by the quake 2 years ago mean I feel like a stranger in a familiar place.

If I were staying in New Zealand more than a couple of weeks, I feel I’d have to be well prepared for reverse culture shock. I think I’m already getting twinges. It’s funny how things that have always been second nature become a challenge. I struggled to figure out where to line up at the food court, or when to give over my money. It feals somewhat surreal.

It’s also strange to think that a week ago I was in Japan. It’s funny how quickly and dramatically things changed. Yet here I am. I had some amazing experiences in the last few weeks in Japan. I love that country, and am looking forward to return, perhaps one day with our children. I’ll post some updates on my last few weeks sometime.

Tomorrow I head for Blenheim to catch up with Mum. I’m excited for the drive, but kind of expect to spend it sleeping, as I am still on Japan time, therefore getting up at what will feel like 3am.

The journey over was long. I expected it though, considering I chose to sign up for 34 1/2 hours. I discovered jjust before leaving that I had something due 30 minutes after I arrived, so spent a fair amount of time working in the nicest cafe in the Kuala Lumpur low cost terminal. Which, by nature of being in the LCCT, wasn’t teribly nice. Nevertheless I got it completed.

In Sydney I was able to catch up with my father, who works there during the week. I saw the Opera House and took token photos, as well as purchasing a boomerang and eating a good meal on the waterfront. Basically as much Australia as one can fit in during the space of a few hours.

Then I arrived, and crashed.

Expat 2.0 = USA

Well. Yesterday was one of the most important days of my life. More than ten months after filing, I had my US fiancee visa interview.

I had it at the US embassy in Tokyo. I have literally never been somewhere so secure in my life. I had to get permission from a friendly Japanese police officer to cross the road to get to the queue to be allowed to go through the first security check. They have it set up that the only way to get to the embassy is through this crossing. After going through initial security (like airport security, but wi a few added bonuses – they take your phone!) I walked over to the consular section, where I went through another metal detector and had my bags searched, before going through to the consular lounge.

There were a number of people waiting. I was given a number, and sat down to wait to be called. The room had multiple windows, like a bank. I was called up three times – the first to look at my enormous pile of documents, secondly to get fingerprinted, and finally for the interview itself. My nerves were thankfully calmed by a little boy who befriended me. This little 5 year old boy could seriously name every station in Tokyo, and was directing me everywhere I could possibly want to go (I explained to him that I had to go tony hotel in Ikebukuro, then over to Tokyo station to catch e shinkansen home. He gave ,e correct directions, including the lines to take etc). He also absolutely insisted that he had walked by my house in semi rural Kansai, and was quite the expert at a sport that was a combination of tennis and soccer. He also spent a good 10 minutes comparing the details of the sinking of the Titanic, Britannica and a couple of other ships. Kid was smart!

Eventually it was time for my interview. It was a fairly simple process. The officer was really friendly and put me at ease. At the end of the interview I was to,d I was approved, and to expect my visa in a week or so.

OHMYGOODNESSTHISISREALLYHAPPENING!

Home.

The other day I was cleaning my apartment, when I came across my old, broken camera. I had a quick look, and discovered I’d left my SD card inside. I popped the card into my computer, and within minutes felt myself pining for home. Here’s a couple of the pictures I found, all taken on the train between Blenheim and Christchurch, a couple of days before leaving for Japan.

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Everything’s coming up roses

Well. Yesterday my health check arrived in the mail. Last night I finished filling out my last form for a while. Next weekend I will fly to Tokyo for my visa interview the following Monday. I still have a whole lot of gathering of proof our relationship is legitimate to do, but that shouldn’t be difficult, considering we communicate daily.

I’m really excited, but really nervous. Not just about the interview, but about the move itself. The US has so many awesome things to offer, but there are still cultural differences I need to learn to understand, and the usual worries that come with a big change, especially career wise – my degree is in primary teaching and the elementary job market is tough to break into. It makes me incredibly nervous. I’m working toward my masters at the moment, and I honestly don’t want it all to be in vain. All I can realistically do though is push. We’re prepared to move states if that’s what it takes to find a job. If I’m allowed to test in (depending on state), I might look at adding middle school credentials, especially in math – in New Zealand primary school lasts longer than US elementary, so my students were technically middle school aged.

It’s also the usual nerves of trying to meet people, make friends and find my niche. I plan on volunteering though, which will hopefully help. Also driving – we called the DMV in Ohio and I’m allowed to drive on my international permit for a year, which is great but terrifying – I’ve driven on the right hand side a grand total of twice in my life – the first time my friend made me switch back with him because I was driving too slowly – the second time I chose to switch because there were, gasp, other cars on the road. Even though I’ll legally be allowed to drive, I’ll go for a few practice drives around the neighbourhood with Kyle before venturing out alone!

On the plus side, I get to go to Tokyo soon :). That’s really exciting!