I’ve written about the less than stellar parts about uprooting myself and ZJ from Xi’an to New Jersey. It’s not as grim as I’ve mentioned, however I’m not yet so jaded that I can’t find any light at the end of this particular metaphorical tunnel.
My students in Xi’an loved to tell me that every coin has two sides, as many pros exist for all the cons so here’s six reasons why living in the US isn’t the nasty picture I painted in an earlier post:
1. My husband not only has met but lives with his in-laws (and he’s more acquainted with his youngest sister-in-law). Dinner is usually a family affair, although at least one family member may not be home, due to inconsistent work schedules. The weekends consist of two to three meals shared altogether, cooked by my mom or dad. ZJ has cooked a handful of times, and I’ve put together one or two meals. During weeknights, I may, with ZJ’s assistance, put together sides or be tasked with preparing the entire meal (I’m still a novice in the cooking arena). We’ve had a number of family outings, and in a couple of weeks, will add apple picking to that roster. My parents include us in their weekend plans or grocery shopping, and play 麻将 or another board game with us. My sister has invited us out with her boyfriend for one of their beach days and any errands, shopping or gym trips she may go on.
2. ZJ uses his English more regularly and with people other than me! He may not use his English as much with strangers, but he converses solely in English with his in-laws. He’s also played a couple of pick-up basketball games with high school and college-age guys at the municipal courts in town. The college-age guys and him talked a lot and ZJ said it was refreshing to expand his conversational practice base. He’s reading novels or the local paper regularly in addition to his online job searches (for the both of us!) entirely in English. And as if that all wasn’t enough, he uses a GRE vocab app on the iPad to become more erudite and verbose.
3. We get to explore my childhood home. Not only is it great to show ZJ my hometown, in all its boring glory, but I like when we go to and from a destination and he recalls street names, the area, a restaurant, or how to get to another locale from there. He’s also comfortable enough riding my dad’s bicycle to neighboring towns to keep himself occupied while I’m at work. And while it’s my childhood home, it’s been a good eight years since I’ve lived her on a permanent basis, so there’s a fair amount for us to explore that’s new or requires dusting off years of cobwebs to recall.
4. We can celebrate American and Jewish holidays easily. We’ll partake in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which I haven’t celebrated in four years. He’ll break fast (even though he’s not fasting) with us at a family friends’ on Yom Kippur and my parents will host Thanksgiving with both family and friends present. I can’t wait to see his reaction to our 20+ pound turkey. And although we celebrated Thanksgiving and Hanukkah twice or three times, including a homemade Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving dinner at Village Cafe, a Western-style place in Xi’an, we’ve never enjoyed a truly homemade Kluger Thanksgiving. I hosted Hanukkah parties at least twice, and even had ZJ’s help in making latkes, the Jewish name for potato pancakes, using my mother’s recipe. I made challah (also my mother’s recipe) more times than I can count while we lived in Xi’an; I even made it for 爸爸和妈妈张. I’m salivating just thinking about the bounty of foods in my foreseeable future 🙂
5. We learn how various processes work in the American system together. Although this could very well be a struggle, I never knew the process of applying for a social security card or a driver’s license if you’re not 17. I’ve never done my own taxes and bought a house or car. We haven’t gone through some of these processes yet, but we will, and we’ll learn how to accomplish these together. ZJ is not only supportive but proactive in wanting to gather information and research everything we’ll need to do to make a life for ourselves in the US.
Let’s look at this glass half full for a change, shall we? What are the pros of where you reside, or what are the reasons why your big move was advantageous for you and your significant other?