May 12, 2016

How Can I Adjust to American Life Before Moving to the U.S.A.?

Culture shock may be unavoidable. Homesickness may also be a reality. Getting used to your work or college environment, family life, socializing with new people, getting around and eating new foods will all be a part of this. Some of those things and more you will surely face after getting to the U.S., but some wonder what they can do to prepare for their move before even setting foot on the plane for the U.S. 

Household Chores 
Learning to do chores before leaving will be critical to helping you settle into the U.S. In the U.S., you will not have a maid or your mother to do your laundry or fix your bed. Start learning to do all the things your parents or your maid does for you.  Ideas of some things you can start to do on your own are: 
  • Laundry (Wash, Iron, Fold, Put away)
  • Wash and Put Away Dishes
  • Clean floors  - Sweep or Vacuum and Mop
  • Clean Bathroom (toilet, bathing area, wash basin, mirrors)
  • Dust and keep your room or living area clean and tidy
  • Fix Your Bed – Change and wash your sheets on a regular basis.
  • Go Grocery Shopping 
Cook Your Own Meals
Regardless of being a man or a woman, you will thank me for advising you to learn to cook your own food. Ask a family member, beg your family member to teach you to cook a few dishes and even let you cook it on your own. Once you get to the U.S., you will not have easy access to Indian food in your workplace, restaurants or college. If there is Indian food available, the taste will be different. Take it upon yourself in India to learn at least 5-10 of your favorite dishes. Offer to cook meals for your family! This will be a good training ground for helping you be independent and feed yourself in the U.S. 

Money Management
Find creative ways to learn how to budget money before leaving India. If you are working before going to the U.S., work out your budget and realize how much of your expenses go toward different living expenses (electricity, mobile and Internet bills, rent, petrol/gas, car payments, etc.). If you are a student or are not working, ask your parents to help you understand how they budget household funds. These real life financial lessons will help you in ways you will appreciate when you are living in the U.S. 

Try to understand the living expenses of the area you will be moving to in the U.S. and how you will budget your funds accordingly. If you happen to know people living in the area you will move to in the U.S., you can get tips or advice on money management from people who may have experience in understanding the value of a dollar in that city and how much everyday expenses cost. Also, before going to the U.S. Google how to use American checking or bank accounts. Bank account rules and regulations, how checks are used, and how money is transacted through banks in the U.S. can be different than in India depending on the banks one chooses. It also pays to learn a little about American money, coins and bills.


Time Management
If before leaving for the U.S., you begin to learn to take care of yourself while taking care of other daily tasks (like working or going to college), you will learn how to manage your time. Over the years of reading blogs of Indians (and other nationalities) who have moved to the U.S., one of the most important pieces of advice was that learning to juggle many tasks on one’s own and manage time successfully was a key to success in the U.S. As Americans view and approach time very differently, learning to coordinate and manage your own life, tasks and time before you go can help you tremendously while adjusting to all the new things you will face in the U.S.

Being On Time vs. Being Late
What it means to be on time, early and late is different in the US and India, both in personal and professional life. Since many reading this blog are moving to the US for work related purposes, learn about how Americans approach time- what it means to be on time, be late, be early and how to schedule half-hour and hour time slots in an American way. Americans will make an impression about you based on your timeliness over your tasks at times. Even if you deliver a perfect presentation or product or service, but start or deliver it late, your impression and effectiveness suffers as Americans build trust on strict time management.

These are only a few tips you can refer to when preparing to move to the U.S. The underlying message here is to try to learn any skill possible that will help you to lead an independent life. In the U.S., people pride themselves on being able to manage their own lives without a lot of people helping them. This is something critically important to understand before leaving India for the shores of America. Whatever you think you can learn to do on your own before you leave, though may be done slightly differently in the U.S., would definitely help you adjust to living an individual and independent life in the U.S. 


Author, Jennifer Kumar is a cross-cultural trainer and coach. She provides cross-cultural training to help you or your team prepare for onsite expat assignments in the U.S. Learn about the U.S. Culture Training Finishing School. Sign up today!

Related Posts:  
10 Ways to Make Life Easier in the U.S.A.  
How to be happy and successful in the U.S.A.
Marrying an NRI and Moving to the U.S.? Things to Think About 

Road Rules in the USA 

Updated: May 2016

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