Moving from your home country to another country can be exciting, daunting and scary for most. The big world of the United States of America is vast and intimidating, particularly for someone who would come from a small country. I was afraid of how I would start living my life here in Hawaii even before I set foot in the 808. Understandably so, because almost every thing here is different from where I grew up- the language, culture, technology, geography, demographics, etc etc.
I had so many doubts running through my mind weeks before we moved- how will I talk to people? Do I know enough English to converse comfortably? Will I get a job? Will any company hire an immigrant like me? Will I be able to make my own friends? I’m certain I’m not the only one who asked and are asking these questions and these are valid sentiments, after all, we are hauling our lives from home to America to build another.
Although I knew I couldn’t prepare completely for what’s to come when I get here, but I did what I can to at least help me set the expectations to the right path. I feel strongly that this is necessary amidst the excitement and romance of finally being with the love of my life. We all need to always remind ourselves that we are not going for a vacation, we are moving to build a life with our partners.
So, here are the things you can do to prepare for the BIG MOVE.
- Sort your things and decide what you will bring. Months before we moved, I was already mentally sorting through our things and deciding what we will bring and give away. Kaleb had so many things from when he was a baby and I found kids to give them to. I brought the clothes that still fits him and those he hasn’t worn. Most of the toys were given away and only a few were retained. My crafts and beads, baking equipment, sewing machine, books, clothes and shoes found new owners. This is necessary because of a few reasons: a. you don’t want to go over your baggage limit because paying extra is expensive, b. consider where you will live and what space you will have to put your things. c. you will probably end up buying new things when you get to the states. So, be wise in selecting what you will bring with you and believe me, it’s not a very easy task to accomplish. So, what do you do with your things that you can’t take? Give them away or sell them. However, make sure you bring several original copies of your personal documents like birth certificate, marriage certificate etc, etc because you will need them a lot.
- Do some stalking. This may sound creepy, but I was Googling Dennis’ address while I was still in the Philippines. I wanted to see the surroundings and the streets around where Kaleb and I will be living. I read articles and researched about transportation, what kind of stores are available around the area and whatever I could read about the way of life in Hawaii. It would be good to know where you can buy products from your country and restaurants that serve authentic food you grew up with. Here in Hawaii, we have the a big population of Filipinos which means we have a lot of places to get Filipino products like Seafood City in Waipahu where they even sell Filipino street food. We have Jollibee, Max’s and even Red Ribbon to go to when I’m in the mood for Filipino fast food. You might think that you will be trying new places to eat and use, and you will but I guarantee you will miss food and products you are familiar with. So, spend some time knowing about your future home.
- Connect with people from your country who are now living in the US. There are numerous Facebook groups and forums you can join and make connections even before you move to America. This is a good place to ask questions and get information about where you will live. But do this with caution and prudence because there are a lot of scammers out there waiting take advantage of other people. The safest group to connect to would be the consulate of your country. Here in Hawaii, the Philippine General Consulate in Honolulu is pretty active in Facebook where they announce updates in Philippines, activities and projects to gather the Filipinos living here and providing guidance to new immigrants. If you have relatives and friends living in the US, it might be a good idea to reach out to them too. They may even be able to give you pointers. In my case, because I was working with a company based here in Hawaii, I already made some friends who helped me a lot as I was settling in.
- List down the things you want to do and see when you get to the US. I hope I had more time to be a tourist when I got here because I wanted to see more and absorb my new home. I made my own list and Dennis and I are slowly checking each one off. Moving to another country is going to be a new and exciting chapter in your life and you deserve to have fun and get to know your the place you will build your new life in. Make sure that you share that list with your partner because you’re not the only one excited about your move. Dennis had a long list of things he wanted to introduce Kaleb and I to and we talked about it before we migrated.
- Find out stuff you can do by yourself. You need to understand that your partner will not be by your side all the time when you get to America. He or she would have to go back to work and you will be left alone in the house. This is reality. I had no problem with this because I have toddler who more than filled up the 10 hours Dennis was at work in our first week in Hawaii. But I have seen how boredom could damage a relationship and it’s wise to deal with it head on. You can ask your fiance or spouse to help search for free classes you can take. Universities offer free language and cultural classes for new immigrants and this is a great opportunity to meet new people as well. If you can sign up for one before you get to America, the better and it’s something you can look forward to. If you are into reading, then maybe your partner can help you get a public library card. If you’re into crafts, maybe you can take materials with you when you leave and that can keep you busy at home. Don’t put the entire responsibility of entertaining you on your fiance/spouse.
- Find out what kind of job you can apply to in America. If you are coming in to the US in K1 visa, you probably can’t work for the next six months after you get here. But it doesn’t mean you can’t go look around what job you might be interested to get into once you get your work permit. If you want to get into teaching, you might want to get an ESL training with certification while you wait to leave. If you want to be hairdresser, then get some training. In the Philippines, TESDA offers free/cheap short courses that provides certificates that you can use as part of your credentials. Just know what you want to do here as a career and prepare for it.
- Prepare yourself with the living conditions you will have. Dennis and I live with my mother-in-law in a two bedroom condo and it’s working well. My mother-in-law is the best and I like living with her. But the most important thing is that I’ve known what to expect before we got here. No surprises for me which is good. So discuss with partner how it will be like and don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify details, after all this is your life. It could also be what kind of house you are going to live in- a studio, a house with a yard, are you near the stores or you’ll be in the middle of nowhere. Setting the right expectations is very important to you and your relationship.
- Save some money. I wish I did this but I didn’t have enough time to save, specially when Kaleb came. Fortunately, I had a way of continually earning when I got here, so I had my own money. Save as much as you can because even if your partner will support you, it’s still good to not ask for every single dollar from your spouse for everything you need. You have to believe me when I say that you will want to shop when you get here. Ross is my haven! It would be good to bring some money with you when you move.
Moving to America wasn’t my dream or to any other country for that matter. I love living in the Philippines because that’s my home. But God planned my life differently and I can’t complain. However, it took a lot of work and it still is. I know the importance of being prepared as much as you can because moving to another country is a huge leap for anyone. Above all, prepare you heart and be steadfast in your relationship and goals in life.
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