12 thoughts on my first year living in the United States

  1. I’m not out of place. I’m an immigrant and I look different. But so does everyone else.
  2. The immigration process was not horrible even during the current political climate. I was able to file all the paperwork myself, without paying any lawyers to do so, and everything went smoothly and as expected. The process times were reasonable and the service excellent. Seriously, I could track my case online like I would an Amazon package being delivered.
  3. I was told there would be seasons. All this talk about how the farther north you went you would find this thing called Summer and this other thing called Winter. Then I moved to San Francisco, and the weather changes less than it does in Guatemala.
  4. Speaking of weather. A lot of people assumes Guatemala is hot. Is it because it’s south of here? Is it because it’s the third world? I’m not sure, but like any other country, Guatemala does have places that are warmer, but most of the country is mountainous. Like where I lived, which was at 2 miles in elevation.
  5. Haircuts are ridiculously expensive.
  6. Appliances, computers, and anything material, really, is ridiculously cheap.
  7. It’s so easy to gain weight in this country. I have nobody to blame but myself, but it feels like everything edible is filled with sugar, carbs and unnecessary fat. Also, what’s up with people stocking up on “snacks”? Our pantry growing up was boring with the essentials like rice, flour, sugar, pasta, beans and spices. It never had snacks and the times I found a bag of chips on my lunchbox were rare and it meant my mom was rewarding me for some reason. And no, we were not poor.
  8. Vegetables and fruits are expensive, specially organic. Back home I never had to wonder if what I was eating was organic, I guess I knew it was. And it was cheap. Also available year round. I could get five avocados for USD $.25. Those were the days.
  9. Sending letters is one of those little pleasures I never knew my life was missing. A postal service that works is incredible and makes a country move forward.
  10. On the matter of the mail: Same Day Delivery. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a place where that was a possibility.
  11. Two words: National Parks. I never knew how many there actually were and how I could find them almost everywhere. This country has natural beauty and it’s great to be able to explore it so easily.
  12. And because I love nature and being outdoors: REI. This country has REI and I am forever grateful. What an amazing place where I can easily picture myself in the great outdoors and then get the stuff to make it extra wonderful. As long as I actually go out and use that stuff. Which I have. See number 11.
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First Four Months living in San Francisco

I have been away from Medium for a while but I am back with more stories about my travels and now my new city.

With Michael, my now husband, we traveled around Europe and lived on Airbnbs for a year. We are both web developers and we traveled as digital nomads, taking work with us wherever we went.

After getting married in February of 2017, I started the immigration process to come and live in the United States where we decided we would settle for the now. Both working in tech, coming to Silicon Valley seemed like the obvious choice. So in mid August we packed our bags once more, landed in San Francisco and crashed at some friends’ apartment.

First it was the job search. Michael already had some interviews lined up but I had only just gotten my green card so I was finally able to work in the country.

I polished my resumé and uploaded it to several job boards and started my search applying to as many places as I could. After a month and a half, I got an offer from an awesome company and now I work with an amazing group of people.

Last time I had a full time job I was living in Guatemala. It was 2013 and a combination of horrible traffic every day and wanting to follow my dreams led me to quit and start working as a freelancer. I started writing and editing, but then decided to learn how to code out of the desire to build my own app to teach creative writing. This turned into a change in career, meeting Michael and taking off to see the world.

Now life in San Francisco is yet another adventure. I now live in one of the most exciting cities living in one of the most exciting times in history, where technology is thriving.

We looked for apartments around the city. We first scouted out neighborhoods and we narrowed down to three: Cole Valley, Lower Pacific Heights and Noe Valley. We liked the walkability, closeness to downtown and the uniqueness of each main street in the neighborhoods. Cole Valley had its cute little corner stores and cafés, Lower Pacific Heights had long Divisadero Street and Noe had the quaint 24th street.

We finally found a beautiful apartment at a Victorian House built in 1904, in that very San Francisco style with bay windows and tall ceilings that I had only seen in family sitcoms from the 90s.

Cost of living in this city is definitely exorbitant compared to other places we’ve lived in, but we are surely enjoying our time in this city. We don’t own a car but drive a Vespa and use public transit, which might not be perfect, but has proven to be reliable.

Wine at Dolores Park

Ocean Beach

In four months we are quickly becoming San Franciscans. We take a bottle of wine to Dolores Park on lazy Sunday afternoons, we have joined the De Young Museum and we take hikes around the beautiful Presidio or Land’s End and visit the family of raccoons living in Golden Gate Park. We only go to Fisherman’s Wharf when our family is visiting, and have to take them to the touristic places, and we walk to the Mission to find the best latin food. We are no longer surprised by the steep hills, but we ride up and down with the Vespa and our exercise routine now consists of walking up to a bus station. We love the fog and no longer think of cloudy days as depressing. It’s part of the city and we have learned to embrace it.

San Francisco is a rich mixture of cultures, where I find myself feeling at home finding Guatemalan products (like hand made tortillas) and talking to fellow countrymen, or where I can get all I need to make Sushi by visiting Japan Town and hear so many different languages on my morning commute.

It is also at the epicenter of technology and seeing the buildings where my favorite apps and software are built makes my heart beat fast with excitement to be able to be part of it.

This city has now become our home and I am enjoying everything about it.

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