Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My American life - Part one

Hi everyone,

I’ve mentioned in other entries that I spent a long period of time in the United States. I’ve received several questions about it; in addition, I was asked to write a whole entry on what I experienced over there. Not only did readers of my blog ask for me to do this, but also the author of a great Hungarian blog called “My life in America and Afterwards” (Élet Amerikában és utána). If you can speak Hungarian,  you should definitely visit it. So I decided to write the same entries in two languages: an original English version and a Hungarian version. So this is the second bilingual entry after “The Communist Army and the English Language  & “A kommunista hadsereg és az angol nyelv”. 

Part two is available here.

To summarize the time I spent in the U.S. is definitely difficult. I could write a whole series about it, but I will try the impossible with 8 pairs of superlative (or ordinal number + adjective) and noun. Even with this method, this entry is so long that I cut it into two parts.

1. The greatest challenge

What else could be the first phrase besides “the greatest challenge”? The word challenge can be found in the name of my blog which I explained in the first entry. Additionally, I explained why I spent some time in the United States. As I mentioned in my entry about my successful presentation, I had the great opportunity to participate in an international training course in the United States in 2013. I had nineteen classmates from all over the world in a course which lasted long months. I really enjoyed it and I felt like I was a schoolboy again. We had lectures from Monday to Friday, we had to take E-Learning exams, we had to write a final paper about our studies, and last but not least, we had to give a final presentation.

My native language is not English, but the lectures were given in English. I had nice classmates from all over the world and there were some native English speakers, so I had to keep up with the pace of the class. It was definitely hard at first, but it became easier day by day. It was a great thing that I could meet the requirements.

Besides having lectures in English, I had to live my everyday life in an English environment. I had difficulties in understanding informal speeches because of their pace and use of idioms.

My language skills developed a lot, but I didn't reach my destination. This was just one step in the learning process. I’ve been continuing to learn since returning from the United States. This trip did, however, give me a great push in my language learning.

2. The first nice impression

I arrived in the States in late March. Before the course started, I had one day to try to organize my life in ways such as searching a place to buy food. This was when I found a Trader Joe’s store. It became my favorite food store in DC. On my first day in the States, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought some stuff for myself. I tried to pay with my credit card, but I didn’t know how to do it. I couldn't figure out how it worked at first. It’s easy for Americans, but it is quite different from how we do it in Hungary. I got a little nervous, but the cashier stayed calm. No one in the line yelled at me such things as “Go away!”,  “Idiot!”, or “Pay with cash!”. Instead, everyone was waiting patiently for their turn. I took me about five minutes, but I learned how it worked. Anyway I often experienced patience and kindness.

I have something else to add: whenever I entered a store, the salesclerks greeted me at once with, “How are you?” I learned quickly that the correct reply is “Fine, and you?” The salesclerks were generally helpful and, when they couldn’t help me, they tried to find someone who could. 

3. The most frequent word: diversity

In the class of the course I mentioned before, there were twenty people from all over the world. We arrived from different cultures and religious backgrounds. I have to say that there weren't any problems due to the diversity of the class. Just the contrary! I guess everyone enjoyed it. I saw similar diversity everywhere in the United States. Different kinds of people lived and worked together. Color of skin, religion, and native language didn't matter. Everyone tolerated others’ beliefs and habits. They are American and this is the most important thing that connects everyone together. In addition, everyone has an origin that they are proud of. I think this diversity and tolerance is what makes the United States a strong and proud nation.

4. The nicest places

Of the 120 days I was in America, I spent 110 days in Washington DC (Americans call their capital simply “DC” which stands for District of Columbia). I traveled to Philadelphia, New York, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls. I saw gorgeous places where I took hundreds of photos. It’s hard to select the nicest ones, but I will give it a try.

For better quality  pictures - send me a message. :)

I’m going to continue this topic next Monday with the following topics: 5. The nicest memory, 6. The greatest critique, 7. The hardest thing (which I greatly struggled with), and  last but not least, 8. The most frequently asked question: “Would you return, if you had the possibility?”
Gardeniafly checked this entry again.  She is not searching new students anymore. But I can recommend someone else, or you can visit Italki. I’d like to ask her for her opinion.

Traveling to a country for vacation and actually living in a country are two very different experiences. When living in a country, you experience the country for what it really is; you experience it for both the good and the bad. I think Attila offers some great insights into what living in America is like for a foreigner and, as he said, he could probably tell many more stories than he's told here in his blog. When preparing to live in America, or any other foreign country for that matter, it's always good to do research beforehand and hear about others' experiences. If anyone has any questions about living in America, please feel free to contact me or Attila on the matter!

See you soon!


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