Let me start off by saying I am grateful for family.
Now that I have officially left home for the first time, successfully traveled internationally on my own for the first time – switched flights successfully and gone through a three-hour long immigration – and basically just experienced a bunch of other first times – I feel a bit weird.
As if there is a rope tied around my waist, but its connecting me to nothing anymore.
I’m definitely not experiencing the full effects of moving abroad yet because I had family a few hours from where my college is, and they were kind enough to take care of me for a few days before international student orientation.
I’ve never met these relatives before, but I feel so at home. Day 3 is going good so far and I didn’t have to deal with too much jet lag. There was definitely exhaustion after the 48 hours of no sleep while I was traveling, but I made up for some of that with 11 hours of sleep at night, all according to US timings. That was a win.
And while I am recording my first few days’ experience here, can I just say my favorite part is the TREES? I did not expect that. I’m in a cute town in New Jersey, and all I stared at on the drive from JFK Airport to New Jersey was the greenery. Also let me put it out there that the spaced-out roads and open space reminded me of Islamabad and the greenery was somewhat like Lahore. The traffic was like a more civilized version of what I endured on roads in Karachi for the past couple of years.
Other noteworthy things include:
- JFK airport staff is surprisingly unhelpful even if they see you are close to tears because you haven’t slept in 36 hours, just came out of a three hour immigration line where you were fighting to stay awake, and can’t find your luggage and are terrified you will have no clothes for college and collapse in exhaustion. They are quite unhelpful and tell you to wait for someone from your airline to attend to you. Even if you have to wait the whole damn night (I’m assuming.)
- JFK TSA (if that’s who they were) folk are nice to you if you look half-asleep and like a weakling who can’t shove your baggage onto the security ramp.
- It helps to have both origin times and destination times on you for at least a few hours after you land. I kept referring to my phone for US timings and to my watch for Pakistan timings and to be honest, that was all that kept me busy during immigration. Just thinking about how my parents were up at 3am back home, waiting to hear from me after immigration was done.
- Jersey sweet corn is actually sweet.
- All the houses and motels along the highway look like something out of a storybook or a movie, with small, raised front porches and triangular roofs from my kindergarten drawing pages.
- I saw one of these houses and imagined a shirtless man with a paunch and rolls under his neck, staring angrily at traffic and THEN I SAW HIM TWO HOUSES DOWN. Movie depictions are real, so far. Amen.
- The Point Pleasant beach and boardwalk is so picturesque. It would probably be wild if you were on a hallucinogenic drug or something and roamed among the arcade games and small kiosks set up.
- Martell’s has great fried calamari finger food. I would go back there if only it served in a quieter environment where I could dig in, with a propped-up book and a view of the beach. I would probably still go back there despite the noise – God bless finger food.
- Outdoor outlet malls are so pretty?! I don’t know the name or exact location of the one I visited but it was pretty and that’s all that’s important.
- Sheep under your window can be quite loud if you live in a quiet neighborhood with little or no traffic.
- THE DISCOUNTS ARE INSANE?? Remind me to grab all the discount and awards cards. Bargains are bloody thrilling. My winter boots went down from 55 bucks to $20 or something. (?!)
That should be about a good run-down of my first three days. Maybe I’ll keep updating here, just to document my transition into this new life with college and culture shocks and crazy-ass discounts.
Oh and if anyone decides to read this and lives in the US, hit me with any advice you might have for an international kid in the US!