Immigrants:your first few days in USA/Can.

I have a question to all Dopers immigrats .
What was your first bad and worst impression of USA or Canada?
I came here some 14 years ago and my first really nice impression was that all the people in supermarkets were really nice , happy and always smiling…I thought to my self ,well this must be paradise as they told me back were I came from.Few years later working hard as never before for 4$ an hour I was not very happy and smiling. :frowning:
My worst ,was the wooden telephone and hydro poles right in the middle of a big city.It looked like I stepped back in tme .But I have got use to them over the years.

how about you guys? :smiley:

What about Dopers who are immigrants to countries other than the USA or Canada?

I emigrated from Canada. I had never been further into the States than Buffalo and Rochester, both of which are some of the most butt-ugly places I’ve ever seen. They have filth and urban decay and crime and ghettos. I’ve come to learn the full import of this only in retrospect, but there is a distinct anti-American slant to the news reportage in Canada, and they seem to delight in showing you the awfulness of the American way of life. All I heard about from the time I was old enough to pay attention was how bad it was in the US, with the crime and drugs and poverty etc. I had a bad impression of it early on because of this.

But, you know, my wife is from here. I remember clearly, standing in the front yard of her parents’ home, early on a Sunday morning in December, with the overwhelming feeling that this is where I belonged. When I came here to stay, I have to admit that I was afraid of getting mugged, and I thought from what I’d seen on the news that it was an armed camp. It’s now six years later, and I haven’t been mugged and I haven’t seen a single weapon. The people, as it turns out, are just as nice or just as awful as anywhere else. The majority of the folks I’ve met have been quite nice. Some of them, I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. But it was the same where I came from, only minus the magnolias.

As a place to be, America is pretty darned nice, if you ask me. Some of the best things in my life have happened to me since I came here. I wouldn’t go back to Canada for anything.

I didn’t really have first impressions of the country. I visited the country once before I emigrated, and got to see a few parts of the midwest and southwest. Had impressions of those. Like, it’s too bloody cold to live in Indiana in the winter. But when I emigrated, I had impressions of Oregon where I moved to. The US will always be too big for me to sum up based on the parts I’ve seen. They’re so different from region to region. And then, I came over initially to live in a college town, so it wasn’t even that much like the rest of Oregon. Eugene’s a lot like some places I’ve been in Australia, culturally.

There was some amount of dissonance because the countries have quite a bit in common (the majority speak English, have democratic systems of government that use a federal/state model, but there are a lot of ideological differences - like the lack of a visible left wing in US politics, and the percentage of people who consider themselves religious rather than secular between the two countries. The minor differences (like what foods are available here versus there) were harder to adjust to than the major differences, and I had occasional tantrums that you could get Sara Lee products here, but not Sara Lee chocolate bavarian (for example.) That was what made me homesick, the little stuff.

And in spite of my left-leaning, secular bent, I like it here and consider it my home, especially now I’m not iin Eugene. The part of the country I’m in now (New England) feels entirely different and fits much better with me than Eugene did.

I was really young, so I don’t remember a lot, but here’s the two biggest things:

I was four years old when I came over. The first thing I remember is I didn’t cry a bit on the airplane, instead ran all over the place and chatted with complete strangers, in Hindi. The thing that struck me and still does is how nice everyone all the pretty white people were. Almost everyone of them chatted to this strange little girl who couldnt’ speak a word of Hindi.

Then the other thing I remember, only faintly, is how much people smiled. I don’t think smiling is really a big part of Indian culture, at least not to strangers. Americans are more inclined to smile unless they’re rude anyway.

So altogether both good impressions.

Remind me to tell you guys sometime about my poor kindergarden teacher who was faced with the task of teaching me English. :slight_smile:

:smack: Ugh that should be

how nice all the pretty white people were

and couldn’t speak a word of English

My mother’s reaction was (in English, because she taught it at the university level in Cebu City before getting married) “What the fuck is this white shit all over the ground?” It was Iowa, right after a blizzard, in December, and never had seen snow accumulate.

I immigrated from the US to Canada: Specifically from my home town of Antioch, California to Prince George, British Columbia. My Aunt thought we were totally out of control. She really did think we were going to where they lived in igloos, hunted seal and wore mukluks all the time. Close, but no igloo. We immigrated on December 24 during a record snowfall year. My first impression was, “We really are moving to the North Pole.” I was still with my folks of course, and for the most part thought it a great adventure. I had learned to ski at a young age and had spent time skiing at places like Lake Tahoe, Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley, so snow was not something I was unaccustomed to. But seeing so much of it, and right where we were supposed to live was indeed a little unnerving.

Our first Christmas, the next day, was spent in a motel - “The Ranch Motel” with a lamp we decorated like a Christmas tree. Appropriately enough, my first Christmas gifts in Canada were a birch strip toboggan, a hockey stick, puck and a pair of skates. It was pretty cool. We met a French Canadian couple in that motel whom we have stayed friends with ever since all these years later.

Good memories.

Although I have lived in Canada for most of my life, I remain a US citizen and vote as a citizen living abroad. My dad was in the Navy, so I was raised very patriotic. I was registered for the selective service for the normal duration (another amusing story for another time). I wouldn’t mind moving back someday to where it is warmer, but that’s the only driver. It could be Bermuda for that matter. But my life and family is here, so here I happily remain.

I migrated to the US about 5 years ago from Australia: no real surprises, because I’d been visiting the US once or twice a year for the previous 6 years, and travelled around a fair bit.

The worst thing for me was the trouble you have when you lack a credit history. I had a credit card from Australia, and tens of thousands of dollars in ready cash available, but had difficulty in opening a bank account, renting an apartment, and insuring a car without a US credit history. Fortunately, this condition does not last long: I now get credit card offers, mortgage offers, etc., in every mail.

(I’ve also been a migrant twice before in my life: at the age of 2 I migrated from Australia to England, and at the age of 9 back from England to Australia. I don’t remember anthing of the first experience, and the second experience was no big deal, except that the trip was by ship, so it took about 4 weeks.)


My KG teacher was named Mrs. Cook. I remember she was a large fat woman (great to hug) and one of the sweetest women I ever met.

The first day I was really excited to go to school. I ran in, and the teacher met with my mom seperately. I remember she had this giant easel up, and on the easel was… a picture with some grass and trees, and a house maybe.

So I started telling her EVERYTHING about this picture in Hindi. “The grass is green, the treese are tall…” rattling on and on and on. For about 20 minutes, with my mom translating periodically. And Mrs. Cook loved it. She loved me. :slight_smile:

She was probably the best teacher I ever had. Instilled in me a love for the English language, and now I speak both languages equally fluently (I think). I hadn’t gone to preschool, so it was all up to her on the language front.

But oh we had some fun misunderstandings.

Preach it, brother!

I, too, came from Australia, and the credit system in this country nearly drove me fucking nuts. In Australia, if you have no credit history you are generally treated fairly neutrally. There’s no problem renting a place, or opening a bank account, or naything. Here, you’re treated like some sort of scumbag who’s been convicted of identity theft.

I couldn’t even start utility services (telephone, electricity, gas) without giving an outrageous deposit. I was only able to get a credit card because Bank of America had a setup whereby all university students were guaranteed acceptance, no matter what their credit history. I switched to B of A after being here for a few months. I initially signed up with my university’s credit union. I tried to get a debit (not a credit) card from them, and they wouldn’t even give me one of those without a credit history. I said “WTF? A debit card only allows me to use money that i’ve already deposited in my account. Why would that require a credit history?” They wouldn’t budge, so i told them to fuck themselves and closed the acocunt.

Now that i’ve been here for a few years, i’m being subjected to the flip side of America’s credit system. Once you’ve shown that you know how to use a credit card, they fall all over themselves to throw new ones at you, or up the credit limit on your existing ones. Hell, the credit limit on my own B of A visa card has been bumped a few times, and i’ve never even received a notice informing me about the change. It just happened.

Hey, i emigrated from England to Australia by ship, too. It was the Fairstar (via the Panama Canal, Tahiti, New Zealand, then Sydney) in 1973. The Sydney Opera House was just being completed as we arrived, although i don’t remember too much of the journey as i was four at the time.

I had similar problems with banking and credit when I immigrated to Ireland. They wanted things like bank statements for the previous three years and all sorts of ridiculous other things. Finally I just had my boss (who’d been doing her business banking with the same bank for donkeys years) phone them up and “ask” them to open an account for me. Which they did, right away.

I think it might have been because you guys were immigrants that you had so much trouble with credit. I’m a citizen and just got my first apartment last month and my first credit card two or three weeks later and I had no problems at all with anything. Granted, I already had a tiny amount of credit from buying a bed in an installment plan but it was incredibly small, to the point where I can’t imagine it either helping or hindering me.

Cute story, Elenia.