What do you remember from your first few days in the U.S. when you arrived?
I remember that it was really, really hot because it was May and I remember like feeling the heat way hotter than in Mexico. So I felt like, overwhelmed by the heat. And I remember feeling very sad. Yeah.
And why were you feeling sad?
Because I felt very lonely.
And what made you immigrate to the U.S.?
I came to the U.S. because I met my husband in Mexico and we decided that it was best for me to come to live with him to the U.S.
And what was your first impression of the place that you arrived to?
First, everything looked the same to me. I remember all the houses looking the same, and I was very afraid because people didn't speak Spanish to me. And that made me feel like if I was dumb because I couldn't communicate and people would look at me like if I didn't know how to speak or like, if I didn't know anything. Even though I knew a lot of things, I felt helpless.
And what were some of the things that surprised you?
One of the things that surprised me was how ugly people dressed. I remember seeing everybody wearing like pajamas to the store, long shirts, like long t-shirts, with a bun on their heads, nobody had their hair done. I remember seeing the children, like, not well-kept. That was surprising to me. And another thing that was shocking; to see how much food people bought in the stores, like in the grocery stores. At the time, people would like fill up the carts. I remember seeing people even with two carts, and that was shocking to me, how much food people bought.
And what did you do on your first day in the U.S.?
My first day, my husband at the time had rented an apartment and that was like fully furnished. And I remember I was just cleaning, like cleaning and cleaning and cleaning all day long. And I remember just cleaning and cooking.
How did you feel during your first few days in the U.S.?
I felt sad. I was just sad, because I was away from my family. I didn't have anybody here. And I just felt lonely and isolated, like. Yeah, completely isolated.
And what were some of the biggest cultural differences or similarities you noticed between the U.S. and your home country during the first few days?
Uh... Nothing really. Like, I felt it was very different. Like... everything was different. They [people] were more like, into themselves. Um, I noticed that people were not friendly...at the beginning. Later on, I felt more at home because of the Mexican community. Uh, and then I started, like, you know, having relationships with other family members from my husband's side. But at the beginning, I didn't really see too many similarities.
What were some of the biggest cultural differences. You kind of touched on it a little bit, but...
One of the things that shocked me, when I learned English, was to see commercials on TV where people talk about retirement. And how they were going to retire at the beach, and they were going to travel, and they were going to do all these things and how the culture was very about themselves. And that shocked me because in Mexico at the time, nobody talked about retirement. Nobody thought retirement was a time where you were going to travel and, you know, do all these things. So for me, it was like interesting to see that that was a thing in the U.S.
And did you face any challenges or barriers in your first day, in your first days in the U.S.?
Yeah, like the language. I couldn't get out of the apartment because I didn't speak English. The other thing is, like, since everything looked the same, I felt I was afraid to get lost. I didn't have a car, so I couldn't go anywhere. So I was just, like, stuck in the apartment.
And did you have any presumptions about American culture that were challenged during the first days in the U.S.?
Oh, yes. I had the idea of the U.S. being this like... that people were very smart. Like Americans, I thought they were smart. And later I kind of figured out that they were not that smart. So that was something that was shocking to me.
And what advice would you give to other newly arrived immigrants in the U.S.?
To learn English. As fast as you can. That's very important. Like just go to school, go to English adult school and learn the language.
Thank you very much.