I have a confession to make… I love my country, the United States of America, and all things American.
After my husband and I got married, we decided to move to the U.S. for a new start. We arrived in the summer of 2013 and began adapting to life in the country we loved so much. One of the first things we noticed was the lack of a swimming pool in our community. Sure, there were some makeshift pools you could find in people’s backyards, but none of them were anything compared to the crystal clear waters of our beloved Mediterranean Sea. So, we decided to build a pool.
My parents were also a big help, offering to pay for all the expenses. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to build our dream pool. It took us a few months to plan and then three weeks to complete. While it wasn’t the most glamorous project we’ve ever worked on, we are incredibly happy and proud of the end result.
We didn’t want to keep our new addition to ourselves, so we decided to invite our friends over for a fun weekend swim. To our delight, everyone had a blast in the water and it became a regular thing to spend time with our friends by the pool.
Then one day, while we were talking, we noticed something strange. All of our friends had stopped by to hang out, but not one of them was a child. It dawned on us that we may need to adjust our strategy a bit. After all, children need to learn to respect their elders, so we decided to keep them out of the pool for now. We also started to teach the adults how to swim, so they could enjoy the pool the same way we do.
Adjust Your Expectations
When you move to a new country, you will inevitably experience culture shock. Even the most well-intentioned Americans will find themselves doing and saying things that they never considered themselves capable of. You may feel particularly bad about yourself when this happens, especially if you come from a country where polite and considerate behavior is commonplace. In such instances, you may feel as if you have to apologize for the ‘wrong’ things you say or do.
However, this is something you have to learn to accept. As much as you may want to fit in and be like everyone else, you can never do this perfectly. It is a losing battle. Instead, you need to accept who you are and what you say without feeling bad about yourself. The less you focus on what others think and say about you, the better you will feel about yourself.
When my husband and I moved to the U.S., one of the first things we noticed was the lack of a swimming pool in our community. Sure, there were some makeshift pools you could find in people’s backyards, but none of them were anything compared to the crystal clear waters of our beloved Mediterranean Sea.
So, we decided to build one. It took us a few months to plan and then three weeks to complete. While it wasn’t the most glamorous project we’ve ever worked on, we are incredibly happy and proud of the end result.
Have Fun And Be Careful
One of the things you will experience in your new country is the climate. In the U.S., we are blessed with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. In Greece, the temperature rarely rises above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for swimming. Unfortunately, the dry heat makes it harder for the average American to stay hydrated, so you will need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is one reason why our friends from Greece have had such a high incidence of heart attacks and strokes compared to people living in the U.S.
Another problem you may encounter is parasites. These are animals or insects (such as mosquitoes) that live in or on the human body and cause infections. Most people are susceptible to these parasites, especially in less developed countries. After a heavy raindrop falls on you, you will most likely end up with a mosquito buzzing around your head. While this is unpleasant, it is nothing compared to the horrors these parasites can cause. One of the simplest ways to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes is to stay indoors during the day. If you cannot avoid being outside, then cover up and use repellant sprays or lotions to keep the bugs at bay. There are also some prescription medications you can take that may help reduce this risk as well.
Since we cannot always be careful about the risks and inconveniences that come with living in a new country, we have to consider the benefits. We want to make sure that we still enjoy our new lifestyle when we move to the U.S. In the process of adapting to our new environment, we have learned a lot about ourselves and our limitations. While it would be easy to feel bad about the missteps we have made, in reality, we feel good about our mistakes because they have helped us grow as people and as a couple. We are happier and healthier than we were before we left Greece and we strongly believe that keeping our brains active and engaged is the key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
In the future, if we are able to continue our lifestyle in the U.S., we want to be able to do so safely and with as little disruption as possible. This is why we had to find a way to adjust our expectations about interacting with strangers and the need to keep our children away from the pool for the time being. If we can continue to do this, we know we will end up raising a strong and independent adult who we can enjoy our retirement with. This is a priceless gift that we are more than happy to give ourself and our country, especially since we had the opportunity to build the pool we always wanted in the first place.