The good, the bad and the ugly

Well folks, it’s been a month.  I’ve been in the Land of Dreams for one month and four days now, and I’m still alive.  Barely, but I’m clinging on!  It’s been a while since I wrote anything, mostly down to the fact I am leaving for work at 7am, getting back eleven or twelve hours later and working for another four or five hours at home.  That’s weekdays.  Weekends are different, of course.  At weekends I get to stay in bed for an extra hour, then just do my fourteen hours work at home in my pyjamas. I also get to eat ice cream, so that’s a plus.

But, busyness of working life aside, I thought I should probably give you a run down on the past month.  So, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of my first month in the U S of A.

The good

  • It’s sunny here, and on a daily basis.  So, I get to wear my comfy flip-flops for a few months longer.
  • There’s Sweet Tea pretty much on tap everywhere.  And, what’s even better, is that it’s even free in some places.
  • They have Barnes and Noble.  And Wholefoods.
  • The people are great.  I mean, really.  Of the hundreds I’ve met so far, probably one or two have been grumpy.  The rest have been generous and kind and happy.  And, let’s face it, I could listen to them read the phonebook and I’d be happy.
  • There’s country music on the radio.  And I don’t mean the odd song when it’s a festival or the BBC do a pop-up.  There are country music channels to choose from and I can listen to Tim McGraw all day if I want.
  • I get to teach ‘electives’ at school, which means my creative side is satisfied.
  • The craft stores here.  I can find hundreds of different fabrics at decent prices, quilting books by the dozen, yarn in every shade, weight and style, and buttons to please even me.  And they do coupons.
  • Teacher discount.  Yep, that’s a real thing here.  And it’s a wonderful thing.
  • There are cowboys.  And football players.  This one point makes all other points redundant.

The bad

  • Everything is bigger – the cars (which makes parking a bundle of laughs), the roads (which makes driving a bundle of laughs, at times), bugs (especially when they’re scuttling along your bathroom floor at 5am on the first day of school), workloads (if you didn’t get that from the fourteen hour working day weekends, I’m repeating it here for good measure), and ice cream tubs.
  • Things are not simple.  Social Security numbers, for instance.  I applied, I waited, I applied again, I’m waiting again.  Everything needs a SSN too, so I’m waiting for a lot of things at the moment, like driving tests so I can get a license, so I can get insurance, so I can get a loan, so I can buy a car.  Like I said, nothing’s simple.
  • Again, the bugs are big.  This deserves a second mention.
  • Speaking of things being bigger here, it seems my waist measurement is one of those things. I refer back to the large ice cream tubs. The bags of tatertots are also on the large size, and the stress levels mean my five a day is now measured in chocolate terms. I have yet to have time to go to the gym, as I am not proficient enough to type a lesson plan while my feet run. Don’t judge me: right now, I need chocolate at the end of my long, overwhelming days, not a session on the rowing machine. But it’s okay. When things are a little more settled, I’ll be back to healthy old me; I’ll just enjoy my chocolate while I can.
  • Healthy food is not easy to find, or rather, it’s not easy and cheap to find.  I love Wholefoods, don’t get me wrong, but my purse doesn’t.  You have to spend a lot more time reading labels closely, to try to spot that one jar of almond butter that doesn’t have palm oil or sugar in it.  And then when you do find it, you pay more for it than you used to pay for your weekly shop.
  • The time difference is fun too.  On those days when you’ve had brain overload and are feeling so in the dark about the different ways of doing things here that you feel like a terrible teacher and want to cry to someone, you can’t call your Mum because while it’s still just dinnertime here, at home everyone is fast asleep.

The ugly

  • The bugs.  Yes, I know I’ve mentioned them already, but until you’ve had a spider crawl by your feet and dwarf your feet, you won’t truly understand.  If you still don’t, one word: cockroaches.

 

So that’s the good the bad and the ugly.  But that leaves out a fair few things.  Like the church I’ve found to go to, or the colleagues giving me rides to work when I have no car and introducing me to Jo-Ann’s and Sam’s Club and all the other wonderful places to spend money.  And there’s the people who have promised to take me to their home in the mountains or at the beach, or who have left chocolate on my desk when I have looked tired and who, everyday when I think about skipping my lunch to get that extra bit of marking done, have pulled me into their rooms to eat lunch and drink water and stay healthy.  And there’s the people who come to my classroom to tell me that I’m amazing, and doing an awesome job with everything I’m having to cope with, and telling me how much they admire me for being so brave.  And my class, my kids who write me notes thanking me for teaching them and make me drawings that I’ve already stuck on my wall and leave on Fridays telling me they’re going to find out about Sheffield and come back on Monday with a bunch of questions to ask.  Those things aren’t good or bad or ugly; they are my blessings, and I’m counting them every day and being thankful 🙂

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