A Year and Change – looking back on my first year in the USA.

Editing Note, You’ll notice this should have been posted a month ago. Drafting it and examining my life actually brought up some tough emotional stuff to do with how I was adjusting to life here, my lack of job success and missing family etc.. I don’t know if the term is already in use, but I’m calling it Expat Fatigue: The weariness of everything always being different, including you!

I don’t want to harp on it in detail, because I don’t think it changes anything and I’ve talked it through with lots of lovely supportive people on both sides of the pond.  But I do think it needs to be mentioned, as it is the dark side of the marital-visa, process and worthy of mention in these odd times, where the word immigrant conjures up the image for many here, of someone sneaking into their country to steal opportunities from Americans, while bettering their own, poor lives.

For the record, I had a lovely little life, with a cottage by the sea, I had a job where I performed a useful, if not life changing function, with colleagues I, for the most part, adored.  I had a circle of friends, girl’s nights and days outs, and regular trips to  London to see art shows with one sister and visits with the other two as often as our schedules allowed.  I had free health care and bills that were  proportional to both the services provided and my income.

I gave it up for JT as he couldn’t move because of his children, and I would do it again, every day, that hasn’t changed.  But that doesn’t mean it was easy or without cost.   So I just wanted to warn anyone going through the spousal or finance visa  process about this, and remind those here that immigrants arrive in America from a variety of places and for a variety of reasons, and if you want to know more about us, talk to us!

So many expat blog are written by people who are temporarily abroad with their spouse of the same nationality, usually for work.  They have their upbringing and national identity in common and will return together and without visa issues, to their homeland at the moment of their choosing.  As an alien spouse, you are adjusting to a permanent change, with someone who no matter how supportive they are, can’t claim a shared experience or heritage should you miss it.

So here I am, a little older and a lot more wise (to quote the Wombles, who are up there with the Beatles for lyric quotability in my book, and if anyone can name the song without using Google,  I will send them some sort of expat prize!), and here is my review of the last year:


I couldn’t have found a more appropriate film title than this one, I’m now a year into my new life in the USA and things are still changing.

Since my last review  at six months, 28 Weeks Later,   I’ve survived a local winter, for the most part without too much complaining,  and  managed to visit another set of waterfalls and some ice caves.

We celebrated Halloween and had a fabulous  first Christmas in the house.  I even managed to make a traditional English trifle, despite failing to get hold of custard powder anywhere in Marquette.   To top it all, my team won Super Bowl  with an historic comeback, and extra-time showdown.

We’ve added a new fur baby to the family in the form of a great dane puppy who I wrote about in Fantastic Beasts.  We are hoping he will be great company for our terrier when I eventually get a job.  One family member is about to graduate and leave home, as JT’s eldest daughter  is off to college.  Oh and I chopped my hair from waist length to very short.

One of the more recent changes is that JT has qualified as a CMA, has already landed a job at a place five minutes away from here and has been accepted onto his nursing college course in the Autumn.  In fact he did so well on his tests that he is going straight onto the RN course rather than the LN.  Needless to say I’m very proud.

When I arrived here last year we just missed the charity hockey game between the local fire and policemen, called Pigs n Heat.  So this year we were determined to attend for at least part of the evening, to support the fund for families who have lost their homes to fire.  We had a good time and there was a great turn out and I got to have one of my favorite  US snacks, Pretzels and cheese dip.   We followed it up with a bacon bloody mary at our favorite bar The Recovery Room.

Last year, when I got here, we celebrated with a cooking class at our local  Marquette food cooperative. So this year we decided to do the same  again and went along to Cooking from Ghana.

It was another lovely evening led by Gladys Ababio, who is a delightful and enthusiastic proponent of her native Ghanan cuisine.  She is a warm and authentic teacher, whose skill in the kitchen is matched by her stories of her family life before she arrived in America at the age of 16.

She demonstrated three traditional dishes, as they were demonstrated to her by her family:

Jollof Rice – considered the national dish of Ghana,

Peanut Soup (yes imagine my excitement at a new peanut recipe) and

Kelewe a spicy plantain dish, which we then all had a go at making before sitting down to a meal “en famille”.

As usual there was a mixed group of people at the Co-Op, who never-the-less always feel like my tribe, so it was a fun group to be part of, and the food was amazing.

As one of my laments as an expat, is how much I miss curries, I was in spicy food heaven. The peanut butter soup is delicious and surprisingly easy to make, so with the kind permission of the Co-Op, I am reproducing it here:

Peanut Soup

About 2 cups smooth peanut butter                 1 cup chopped onions

3 whole tomatoes                                                  All-season salt to taste

3-4 hot, fresh peppers such as habaneros       About  2 inc ginger sliced

1lb of meat, you choice of chicken, beef          Salt

or pork                                                                    I boullion cube, magi is traditional

 

Method

  1. Place the  onion,  whole tomatoes ginger, whole peppers and meat in a pot add a little seasoning salt and water to the pot.
  2. Stire well and allow it to cook, while the meat is steaming, scoop out the vegetables and place in a blender.
  3. Blend the vegetables and ginger and add back into the pot with the meat.
  4. Add peanut butter into the saucepan with the meat and let it boil (you will need to add quite a lot of water with the peanut butter as it will boil off and thicken)
  5. Add a little bit of water when it thickens.
  6. Peanut soup will be ready when the oil pools on top. Serve with rice.

IMG_1842

 

The Co-op has been a bit of a lifesaver for me, both as a place to find like-minded people and also as a tool in the battle against weight gain, which is another problem faced by expats in America and one I will be addressing in my next post, 50 Shades of Green!



A Year and Change  is the slightly odd sounding, 2015  film about a vending machine proprietor Owen. After falling off the roof at a New Year’s Eve house party, Owen decides that it’s time to make some wholesale changes in his life. Over the next year, he quits drinking, re-enters his estranged son’s life, reignites old friendships, and falls in love with Vera, a bank teller and fellow divorcee…all in an attempt to replace members of his family who he’d lost prematurely.


3 thoughts on “A Year and Change – looking back on my first year in the USA.

  1. I know EXACTLY how you feel! That’s why I decided to write a book so i keep the dark stuff off of my blog, but I’m really letting loose all my feelings of just how much of a struggle it is. I can’t imagine how tough it is for you not having a job, at least I have that as a distraction! I’m always here if you want to have a chat with someone that knows how you feel 🙂

      1. I agree. I had one of those days today where I was telling mum how I felt, she kinda understands because she’s ‘lost’ me but she doesn’t completely get why I sometimes get so sad!

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