I grew up in a family that breathes cricket, so I’ve learnt a few things. I know you should scream “six!” and “four!” at the screen every few minutes. I also know you shouldn’t scream such things during a math exam. But those were childhood lessons, and twenty years later I decided it was time for me to learn new things. So I wrote out a plan, packed my bags and bought a ticket to another country. Actually my parents did all those things, but that’s a detail I’m prepared to overlook.
Twenty nine hours and one year later, here I am. I boarded the plane expecting to spend the next few months drinking smoothies and working on glamorous projects. The reality involved finding ways to spin off “Page 2 of search results” as an academic reference. In fact, my expectations were slapped in the face too many times. And for this I blame Instagram and its filtered depiction of life.
Wooden floors and exposed brick walls with a hint of Valencia painted the most romantic pictures in my mind. I would cook fancy meals and eat them while reading poetry by the fireplace. Then I would put on a thick jacket, a fine pair of boots, inspect my dashing self in the mirror and go for a long and meaningful walk in the snow.
Now I know a lot of expectations versus reality situations have been depicted by memes, but I’m going somewhere new with this. Somewhere different. Actually, I think you know exactly where I’m going. My meals weren’t fancy, I reread Harry Potter in my blanket fort, and my pretty white jacket was not so pretty after a few encounters with hot chocolate.
America is full of culture shocks. In all their spellings, they did away with U (sorry). Their “small” ice creams can feed an army. They ask you how you’re doing and walk away before you can tell them all your problems. They’re not the stereotyped bacon-fuelled fatties who think reaching for the charger is exercise. Then again, we don’t break into perfectly coordinated song and dance in the rain, so maybe I should just stop reading Archie Comics.
But despite the not-so-Instagram-able truth and the mild surprises, I find reasons to like my life. Sometimes it’s nice to know there’s always more ice cream when you reach into the bowl. Also, I read somewhere that Boston is considered one of the worst dressed cities in America. This is the best thing I’ve heard, since my look on any given day screams “she had ten minutes to get ready and she spent nine of them sleeping.”
Maybe I’ll pass this post on to incoming foreigners, so they know what to expect. Or maybe I’ll “no filter” my own fifty-something pictures of footprints in the snow.