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Monday, April 9, 2018

Running Shoes Fiasco

I spent two hours trying to find running shoes Saturday night, armed with only "It's gonna be around $100" suggestion from my friend. Running shoes. It should be easy, right? A piece of cake.

But then there were rows and rows of shoes in my local WSS, all which looks the same with absolutely no way for me, a complete newbie in running-shoes-hunting, to discern which ones actually work for running and which ones for style only.

I ended up eyeing the boxes and choose the ones that say "running" to try on while comparing the prices online to make sure I did not over-paid. It was frustrating. It wasn't until the next day my friend told me: "I'd just buy it from a Nike store."

Wait, I can do that? I can effing do that??? It took a while for me to let it sink in. Whoa. I can go to a Nike store and buy a goddamn pair of shoes. No, I am not being sarcastic here. It absolutely did not cross my mind that the current me can do that.

I have been fortunate enough in life to never go hungry, but $100 can easily pay up my rent back in University for 2 months. When I left Indonesia, I made about $300 per month. Yes. PER MONTH. $100 Nike is out of the question.

And say I want to be brazen and get it, I still have to endure the storekeepers' gaze of "wtf is this bum doing in our prestigious store?". Yeah, I'll pass. And even if I get one, it's definitely not for daily use. Which again, what's the point?

This is what culture shock looks like. Just like a child, many things I do in the US I learned it from observing the people that took me along or reading it online. Many, like shoe shopping or bicycle hunting, I am completely lost.

Making doctor's appointment. Dealing with the insurance system. Trying to enroll in college. Surprisingly, getting my social security number and green card is easier than all the above. Anything with clear instruction is ok; anything using local common sense, not so much.

"This is not how it was in my country," is probably the woes of many first-generation immigrants, either in shock or in frustration, and on a better note, often in amazement too. I, for instance, am still trying to understand the love for running and outdoor activities. 

Or tipping. I am still at lost for it. Or social graces. Even though there are many times I screamed internally "Didn't your mum or society teach you any manners you dim-witted peasants??" Oh yes, I do have a haughty off-with-their-head princess side. Was born into the hierarchy, what can I say.

My point is, don't scold off a newcomer. First generation immigrants, people who just moved from a different part of the country, anyone who is new on the block. Be helpful instead of "How come you don't know this??"

Don't immediately get offended by things that we might do wrong, or for things we seemed to fumble with. Don't brand us as 'hopeless' or 'stupid' just because we are still learning how things work here. There is ignorance, and there is "I effing don't know what I am doing here" panic sobs.

I kid you not, the one fight that finally broke the camel's back and snowballed into my divorce was over my ex-husband refusal to call up the driving school for me. "You can talk to them directly!" Uhhh, no b*tch, if I can I won't ask for your help. 

Oh and yeah, being here where your degree and previous work experience means jacksh*t doesn't help. My favorite quote was "I already own 3 different houses and cars when I was your age, what do you have?" Obviously not decades of experience born and raised in the US, and definitely no mum and dad that helped with the down payment and/or getting me my first car.

Many of us new kids on the block are resetting our lives to zero by relocating here. We have to catch up with things that the locals already know for all of their lives. Do we need a break? Not really. It'll be helpful if you can be nice and less judgemental, though.

Again, this is not just us first-generation immigrants. Anyone who is a recent transplant will need this kind of welcoming arms, or at least no mouth. Trust me, it'll help all of us, including yourself. Be kind, love, we can do this.

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