This will be your life now.
We arrived at the airport around 8PM (April 29) and were warmly greeted by our 2 uncles, whom we haven’t seen for years. They asked us about our flight and warned us of the jetlag we would be experiencing for the next few days.
It was my first time in the United States, and mind you, I was never used to going out of the country. The farthest place I have been to was Hong Kong, for four days! – I never pictured myself living in another country.
Our first photo in the US – April 29,2015
First thing I noticed upon arriving, was the cold weather that enveloped the entire city. It’s not your typical Baguio or Tagaytay cold; this type of cold has no air or breeze. It’s like being stuck inside a dry freezer. It’s hard to explain, but when you feel it, you’ll know what i’m talking about.They said that this wasn’t even the coldest yet, because winter has just ended and the month of April falls under Spring. (During this time, I had no idea of the seasons. All I knew was Wet and Dry season).
During the drive to our uncle’s home, I noticed how wide the roads were; there were 6 lanes in the freeway and never did our car stop for traffic. Lamplights illuminated the dark highway with an orange glow and the fog gave it a more chilling effect. (well, this was something I wasn’t used to seeing everyday)
I said to myself: “This will be your life now, Miko. Better get used to it.”
We arrived at our uncle’s house where we were warmly greeted by our relatives. The De Guia family agreed to let us stay in their place, until we found a place of our own – that means we needed to find a house that was close to Kurt’s school and look for a job that was both accessible and convenient for us all.
Their house has 2 rooms, but unfortunately both rooms were already occupied, so we stayed in their Living Room / Entertainment Room.
The De Guia family
The four of us squeezed ourselves inside that room for almost 6 months, but I ain’t complainin’! In fact, I was blessed to have relatives who have guided us and helped us while we were in the process of settling down.
Home is where your heart is.
With this experience, my concept of home changed. It was no longer confined and defined by being just a house, home is where your family is – where your heart is. It may be a room, it may be house or an apartment, it could be anything. It is your safe haven, an area that you can call your own; a place where you can run to for comfort, for joy and for fellowship. This was home and we didn’t mind living in a small space.
During our first months, we didn’t stress ourselves in to looking for a place, we were still in our tourist modes. Besides, it was our first time here in the US, so why not explore?
Universal Studios, Hollywood
We went to different places in the USA. We went to San Francisco to see the famous Golden Gate Bridge, we visited Las Vegas and took a side trip to the Grand Canyon, we went up North to visit Hollywood and Los Angeles.
The places we went to really opened my mind to the reality of how small I was compared to the grandeur of each place I visited. I realized that I enjoyed the “little boat” that I was in too much, that I failed to see the vast ocean right in front of me. I basked in my comfort too much that I missed out on a lot of things in life. This only became possible when I started stepping out of the boat.
Jesus didn’t bring you this far just to leave you behind.
Weeks before I left the Philippines, I started using the hashtag #SLMWMTIWB (Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders). It was taken from the bridge of Oceans by Hillsong:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
I won’t dive into this (get it? dive?) in detail because I will be saving it for another blog but the point of this hashtag was to remind myself Who called me out to walk on water – it was Jesus. Jesus didn’t bring you this far just to leave you. He called you out because He wants you to walk with Him – to see that you are capable of NOTHING unless He gives you the power to do so.
Looking back, I can honestly say that without Jesus’ help, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
Maybe I would still live in mediocracy and complacency.
Maybe I wouldn’t move.
Maybe I’d just enjoy seeing beautiful places through computer screens.
But thanks be to God, for He has called me out and hasn’t left me since.
BACK TO REALITY
After a month of touring, it was time to come back to reality – we weren’t tourists but immigrants. We needed to look for a job and decide where we’d settle down. So I started looking for one and ended up being a Team Member in Target, which is one of the most popular department stores in the US.
I was assigned in Softlines, or the clothing section of the store. So all day, I folded clothes and placed them in the right hangers, I assisted customers whenever they needed help with sizes/colors, I manned the fitting room by counting how many items customers brought in and was also called in to be a cashier every once in a while.
Target San Jose North Softlines Department
To tell you quite frankly, my ego was flushed down the drain – this job humbled me. Back in the Philippines, I personally interacted with clients from one of the biggest Pharmaceutical brands in our country. I saw celebrities almost every week and actually worked for THE top advertising agency during that time. I never imagined myself folding clothes for a living.
But you see, it’s different here in the States. Nobody actually cares who you were in your country. People here are equal. Nobody cares if you’re a janitor, a garbage man or a construction worker; they’ll respect you, no matter what color your collar is. Very rare are there instances of work discrimination because at the end of the day, everyone works just to get by.
The school where you graduated from in the Philippines has little or no credit at all when you start applying for jobs here. Employers here usually look for local experience + local education in order for them to hire you. So you really should start from the bottom, in order for you to reach the top.
Working at Target became one of the most memorable work experiences I had. It forced me to practice my English skills more (in a good way) and allowed me to witness the American culture first-hand.
I’m telling you – there’s no easy money here in the US. Everyone works their butts off to make a living; other people even work 2-3 jobs just to get by. The notion of OFWs living like Kings and Queens in a foreign land is a myth. People here earn in dollars and spend in dollars – so its technically the same. I salute every OFW and immigrant that are working multiple jobs in order to save and send money back home. You fight the loneliness plus fight the stress that your job is giving you. Your resiliency represents the Philippines very well. Good job!
Landing a job was the first step of my independence, but I still had a long way to go.
Our family still had to decide which school Kurt will go to and where we will settle down.
San Jose was a very great place; but there was something in Los Angeles that caught our attention.