Life in USA – don’t let Big Bang Theory and F.R.I.E.N.D.S fool you!

Ok, how do I say this without sounding impolite? Everyone who has never been to US, ALWAYS dreams of coming here to either study or work. Now that wasn’t impolite, was it? Just a fact. It was my dream too, thanks to Bollywood and Kollywood movies. You know, it all seems exciting – the fun of staying away from home, independent life, beautiful US and all that…until you come here and wonder if all those movies you saw were taken on some parallel universe. So here I am, doing my part to break the myth of how life in USA really is. 

Myth #1 : “US is beautiful everywhere! Look to your left, there’s lush green scenery! To your right, wow, beautiful lakes! Big beautiful houses everywhere! Los Angeles, California, New York, we just HAVE to move there!”

Reality : BEEP! You are wrong. There are places in LA, CA and NY that would make you wonder how people can even live there. Forget about all those places, even those under livable conditions are not so amazing. They are good. But will never warranty a “Oh wow, what a beauty!” from you. Many a times, you would get to seeing only dry lands, a LOT of mountains and trees. And all those wonderful lush green meadows that you have seen in movies could mostly be seen when driving in the car. Yes, there are few breathtaking places that make you open your mouth in awe. But you won’t be living near those places. For sure. Well, unless you are wallowing in $$$. 

Myth #2 : “US is FUN! FUN is US! Wow, I can’t wait for people like Chandler,Joey to drop in on me all the time!”

Reality : Yeah, yeah every country has its own “fun”. But you have to understand F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Big Bang Theory are just TV shows. They are not real. In reality, if you come to US as a student, you will most likely stick to your course friends who will stay in the same apartment or with you in the same room. If you are lucky, you will find the most wonderful roommate in your friend, or if you are like me, you might find some weirdos that you can’t wait to get away from. But it will make for some interesting stories in the future. (Oooh, do I have stories for you!). And if you come here to work, you will only stick to your colleagues like glue. Dot.

Myth #3 : “Hell, yeah, I can stay out all night! Do anything I want. I can be as crazy as I want with no one to answer to!”

Reality : True in a way. You are free to do anything you want. But to be frank, you won’t be doing anything different from what you were already doing in India. The first few months of parties (birthdays, get-togethers etc) are the greatest, you get to celebrate them with your friends, pulling an all-nighter with cake/tea dust on your face and all that crap. But after the excitement washes off along with the cake, it’s life as usual, except that you have to clean up the party room yourself. Perhaps your friends will help…if they are good.

Myth #4: “I’m tired of eating the same idli,dosa,pongal in India. There are soooo many cuisines in US, Masterchef shows some amazing entrees, got to try them all in restaurants!”

Reality : Well….food costs money. If you come to US as a student, you will only eat home-cooked food that “you” cook, and save $$ for more important things. The closest you will get to eating out is at fast food joints, where food is cheap and still yummmmy. But a proper restaurant, you will never visit, at least not until you get a nice job. You have better chances of enjoying exotic, expensive food in India, than here. Case is different if you come here on work visa. You can afford the restaurants, but you still need a car to drive there or at least know a friend who can drive you there. Sooo, sambar sadham it is.

Myth #5 :”Vegas!Party!Party!NewYork!Niagara Falls!DisneyLand!”

Reality : Yes. All of these places are awesome. No myth at all here 🙂 But then again, when you are a student you got to save enough money to go there which might take a while. And if you have relatives in US, chances are you would prefer visiting them to going to these places. But when you do visit these places, it finally becomes clear to you on why everyone dreams about coming here. And people who come to US to work, will definitely visit all sightseeing places every holiday, you can bet on that!

Myth #6: “Weekdays are for work, weekends are for fun!

Reality : It does sound good. But its not completely true. Unspoken mantra here is “To have fun in US, you have to first get a license to drive”. And to get a driving license, you’ve got to take a written exam (for which you’ve got to “study”. yikes!), and then learn driving, either from friends or school, and then take the driving test – for which you got to rent a car. Not many friends would trust you with their cars you see. Then you’ve got to take the test and assuming you pass the first time, you are eligible to rent a car for the weekend. And then….you can have fun. Easy isn’t it? Not many students get the time to do this in the first few months. So “fun” in the weekends would most likely be going to grocery stores using the bus/train, or going to the mall that falls in the bus route. But yeah, if you have a friend with a car who has got a crush on you, then you can easily get to all places during the weekend 😉 

Myth #7 : “Loooooovee happens with a stranger. Nam thana nam thana nam thana nam.”

Reality : Well, “looooove” can happen anywhere. But if you come here with dreams of falling for a girl/guy you’ve never met earlier, you might be a little disappointed. First, there would be so many lovely ladies and equal number of handsome dudes, so yeah there is competition baby! Second, it would take time for you to get to know yourself, living independently and all that crap, so your attention will be focused on that for sometime. But if looooove does magically happen to you, you will enjoy it here 🙂 

Myth #8 : “Living alone is fun. I am the boss of me”.

Reality : True in a way. You get to live alone. With no one to look behind your shoulders shouting, “Get to bed now!” or “Eat healthy food, not junk food in the morning!” or “Don’t stay out late”. So you kinda enjoy this for sometime. Reality would strike soon enough and actually you will be more responsible here than in India living under the shelter of your parents. You’ve got to buy grocery, clean dishes, pay your bills, clean the house, earn a living – so all this falls on “you”. Students can’t wait to get to work after the first semester and they love to spend the money they first “earned”. And they spend it on useful stuff – mostly gifts for close ones and a little party perhaps. So yeah, living independently is responsibility central. But still is fun 😉

I can go on, but I got to stop at some point. And the point is here. Because you see, I’ve got to cook, then load the dishwasher, fold the laundry..and then have fun. Watching movies till lateee night 🙂 But don’t get me wrong, life in US isn’t bad, it is just not as “pretty” as it is portrayed in movies or shows. Everything has its pluses and minuses. See you in next post.

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Jibber jabber:

padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.

6 Comments

    • padhs2k
      July 19
      Reply

      Yep, lifelong pass to roller-coaster ride-free of cost! And welcome to my blog 🙂

  1. kv
    July 22
    Reply

    In Tamil Nadu one cliche is in existence.i.e.Ikkaraikku anakkarai pachai.The other side is always greener and also one more-let me stop with that “experience to be experinced”.you are lucky and blessed since you got the experince.In India the pretext of population any one can get away after making an accident even with out looking back whether alive or not.Easily enjoy using his/her contacts and be happy as usual eithr rich or poor. By accident if case is booked before the judgement comes your son/dau will be of 40 years old from the day of the case.
    One suggestion try to mail your writing to the Hindu-they are publishing this type of experiences as an eye opener or interesting to read and a few may get changed. One friend of mine used to say that if you have money life in India is ” life in heaven” and another friend told that” life in US is Heaven”
    Good continue to write after one year you will be awarded the booker prize-good.Like writer Ms.Aruntahi Roy – who had penned ” God of small things”.
    Good

  2. December 4
    Reply

    Hai….very interesting and informative. I also came to know how ‘ greener the grass is’, when my friends and sisters told me about US. I remembered the lines ‘mind is its own place, can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven’.

    If you have time, can you please write your observations of a typical american family life (of an American), starting from what they eat, who prepares it and how much time they take for these, etc. Also, the time they take for academics, career and entertainment.

    I ask this, because in India, whenever there is a festival, it is invariably the women who is loaded with food preparations and decorations, in the name of culture. I do not find much participation from the men in either this, child rearing or managing the house. The husband’s role may sometimes be taken up by the in-laws, but the cost the daughter-in-law has to pay is being subservient to them and be ‘grateful’ for their ‘help to her’. I do not understand how it is a help to the daughter-in-law, when the husband has happily delegated his job to his parents, and is watching cricket match or some special programme in the tv.

    I feel that the women are not able to concentrate on their career mainly because her time and efforts are getting sucked into these rituals. If it is culture, then shouldn’t the husband also take permission from his workplace and come for preparing vadais, appams and murukku? They come only to give the finishing touch (i.e, naivediyam) and eating !!

    • padhs2k
      December 5
      Reply

      Chintu,

      Thanks..and yeah, what you asked for, has been in my mind for sometime..will blog about US life soon 🙂

      Yes, a lot of expectations are always on the wife. And more so, when she is living with her in-laws or in a place close to her in-laws’ home. Now, I am not completely against joint families, but I believe that a man and his wife have more freedom to forsake some rituals when they are alone, rather than when they are with their families. Esp. when festivals arise..many couples buy sweets in shops instead of making them at home now, only because their husbands are supportive and in-laws’ interference is null. Both of those factors are equally important I think..

      And yes, I agree to what you said. Many women are sucked into these rituals by elders (parents, relatives, in-laws..) with the only reasoning that the current generation are required to do such rituals, because they(older generation) had done the same thing when they were married. I think first the couples should talk to each other and decide mutually whether they want to follow any such ritual and then if decide not to, they can bring it up to their elders. It is unfair that a lot are expected from only women..let it be mutual! If they want to eat it, they got to help make it, should be the rule, a woman should put up 🙂

  3. December 5
    Reply

    Hi Padma,
    It is interesting that many women are thinking similar things but the only aspect that is connecting us and making us maintain some sanity is the freedom of speech either directly to our husbands or to the other women, through such blogs. I really am feeling sorry for the women of the previous generation and generation before that. If at all they ventilate their woes, they were silenced by other women or their own natal family. They were forever striving to get the smallest acknowledgement, but still did not bear the grudge against us (their children), or any one else. How many times I have heard husbands saying- “unnaku enna theriyum, samaikaradhai thavira……”. But the same husbands cannot either prepare it by themselves or take outside food, in the wife’s absence. Also is cooking that easy a task to be undermined. It is an art, that has great cathartic effects in many (both men and women).
    Sorry for a lengthy write up. Anyway will eagerly wait for your topic on american life…..

Yes, go on, tell me what you think!