Moving abroad can be amazing. You get to experience new cultures, meet new people and discover things about yourself that you never expected.
Moving to Chicago was an excellent decision for me, and I’ve come back with tons of unforgettable memories from my time there.
There’s a kind of nervous excitement about moving abroad that fills you with butterflies.
It comes from not knowing what to expect.
I hope this post will dispel some of that nervousness & increase the excitement even more!
Read on to see what to expect when you move from India to the USA:
- The People
The first thing you notice is the number of foreigners walking around you, till you realize that it’s you who’s a foreigner!
In my experience, most people are adorably sweet and polite. I can’t even imagine how nice Canadians must be if this is considered brash.
If you can speak English, you’re pretty much sorted, but navigating accents can still be an issue, as they vary quite drastically even within the country. Give it a couple of days and your ear will start to adjust to them.
Your Indian language becomes your code language. However, be careful – After a while, you tend to lose all filter in public, making you hyper-aware of your conversations around Indians.
Being multi-lingual is not common there, so people generally assume that you’ve learned English only after coming to the USA – this has led to a lot of funny conversations: “You’ve been here for just 2 months!? How is your English so great!?”
- Unintentional Racism
Like the earlier example about English, you might experience some amount of unintentional racism – in that, they really don’t know enough about India.
Once, a cashier at a store very excitedly said to me
“Oh, you’re from India. How exotic! Do you guys have like monkeys and animals just jumping around in the streets? How is that like?” True story.
He honestly thought that India is still an undeveloped jungle. But, like I said, it wasn’t meant to offend.
- The food
Yes, the food tends to be blander than we’re typically used to. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to ask for extra spicy food in most places. But be careful in Thai & Mexican restaurants, the extra spicy there could really burn your tongue.
In department stores, be prepared to be struck by the sheer variety of everything! Milk! There are like 20 types of just milk – the only milk types I knew about before moving was Cow milk & Buffalo milk. So try out the food. Especially the bread. Mmmm… the bread.
- The seasons
As Indians, we don’t really get to experience seasons. You put on a coat in the winters & carry an umbrella in monsoons, but you don’t really feel it. In Chicago, however, you feel the full impact of every season – Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. You notice the first tulips blooming at the beginning of Spring, and you get your hair broken in half going outdoors with wet hair in winters. True Story. I can write a full post on just the magical weather in Chicago – maybe I will.
By that, I don’t just mean freedom. I mean you won’t be dependent on ANYONE.
You will be your own cook, maid, handyman, and everything else.
It can be terrifying, but once you start to get the hang of it, there’s no feeling quite like it. You know that you can take care of yourself – anywhere.
- Friends are family
In a foreign country, the friends you make are your family.
You share everything with them, and they’re the ones you can count on. It is very important that you have people who care about you around you.
- Lots of video calls
You’ll be missing people back home a LOT – so be prepared for a lot of video calls & time-zone management.
I hope you enjoy this new chapter in your life as much as I did.
If you have had any such experiences, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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