Moving across the world for a job, away from everyone I love, on day 1 of the Trump Presidency.
It’s been nine months since I got on a plane and started a new life in Fog City. The intention was to start writing about my experiences as soon as I arrived, but then America happened… and it’s only recently I began to process what it’s actually like to be a resident of the United States in 2017.
(Fun fact: my technical status here is ‘nonresident alien’. Yeah, aliens exist and I’m one of them.)
I was given the opportunity to move to San Francisco from Melbourne, to continue growing in a job I like along side people I respect. Taking this opportunity was a difficult decision, until it wasn’t. Being paid to move across the world and start a new adventure is never something I’ll pass up, even though this time it meant being apart from my family, friends, and partner of 6 years.
Nine months after stepping off the plane on an unusually rainy January day, my life now revolves around WhatsApp messages, Face Timing at awkward hours, pretending I understand the imperial system, and the obligatory postcard (just to remind loved ones that nostalgic forms of communication are expensive and overrated).
My experiences can’t yet be compiled into a cohesive story (although I still dream of writing the next great American novel), so I’m writing the way any 20-something in 2017 knows best: A Motherfucking Listicle.
So without further ado…
Some thoughts on what it’s been like to start a new life, away from everyone I love, on the other side of the world:
- Day one was somewhat challenging. I ended a 22 hour haul with two suitcases, some sentimental artwork and an address saved in my phone for an apartment I’d never seen, to live with people I’d never spoken to. But whatever, this is an adventure. I then took my not-quite-waterproof jacket and stood in the rain for two hours, protesting a President who believes women should be grabbed by their pussies. Obama was President yesterday. What a time to be here.
- Day ten was less of a challenge. I’d settled into work, found a yoga studio I liked and remembered my bus leaves from the opposite side of the street now. My living situation was pleasant though my bedroom looked out onto a beige wall (thanks to the magic of city living). Things were feeling positive; I’d redecorated my bedroom and pledged allegiance to a taqueria in an attempt to pass as a local.
- W9s? Healthcare? 401k? Welcome to the world of making decisions and signing forms and you don’t fully understand despite having had them explained on multiple occasions by various people. The bureaucracy monster is alive and well in this country, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be entirely screwed if I need to visit the emergency room. This theory is yet to be tested.
- My presence is still a bit novel and my accent is hilarious to some but confusing to most. I haven’t accidentally dropped the c-bomb in front of coworkers (yet) though this remains a legitimate and serious fear of mine. Along with earthquakes.
- The stereotype that Americans don’t understand sarcasm and irony is very real and it’s a reality I endure every day. No one told me here my sarcastic remarks would come with complimentary tumbleweeds :(
- My relationship with Walgreens (the quintessential American ‘drug store’) remains a love/hate one. I live across the road from one, they have almost everything I need all the time, but it once took me half an hour, blinded by fluorescent lighting to find some fucking cold and flu tablets, because all I could see was a wall of unfamiliar options and labels that made no sense to me, and oh my has it come to this? I need familiar marketing to be a good consumer? *cries in the corner*.
- I think I’ve made friends? I think. San Francisco has a reputation for being flaky and so far it has not disappointed.
- Long weekends can be really long.
- Somewhere around day one hundred and ninety four, life was particularly challenging. The magic had worn off and occasionally forgot why I moved here. Adventures like these are usually hardest when you’ve forgotten you’re adventuring. Who knew?
- Somewhere around day two hundred and ten, life was still challenging. But around day two hundred and eleven, it became slightly less so.
- Fun fact #2: The Fog has a name, and its name is Karl. Karl has a Twitter account and likes to fuck with people.
11. This city makes me intensely happy and intensely sad all at once. I’m sure there’s an aggressive sounding German word to describe this phenomenon.