Star Spangled Banner

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It’s the 4th of July, the most patriotic and festive day in America of the year! The star spangled banner waves in every street, fireworks are coloring the nightly sky and parades are being held in every city or town in the United States. Here it’s Firemen Carnival again. Sirens every hour is making me aware of all the heroes of this country. The ones that fought and fight for freedom and democracy and the ones who are keeping us safe.

My boys in front of Lady Liberty

My boys in front of Lady Liberty

It’s almost four years ago that we took that giant step into the United States.

I remember that we left the Netherlands with ten suitcases. We almost missed the plane because three Italians, checking in their suitcases, didn’t understand a word of English when the flight attendant tried to explain that they needed to pay for the extra weight.

All five of us were very excited and at the same time we were crying our eyes out because we left so many loved ones. They were waiving until we entered the gate and than our big adventure started. My three boys went there for the first time and didn’t know what to expect at all. My husband worked there already and prepared the whole thing in the month before so he was a little wiser than we were. My thoughts? It wouldn’t be so different from the life we were living in The Netherlands. I mean, what would be so surprising in another western country? We didn’t go to Africa. And we would only go for a year. Right?

Boy, was I wrong….

When I think about our first year, I can’t help but giggling. About all the mistakes, surprises, wrong doings and stupid things I did. About everything and everybody that I didn’t understand and about all the people that didn’t get me.

Two of my boys on their first day of school

Two of my boys on their first day of school

The first thing I remember that went wrong was the registration of the boys in school.  I must have gone back to the lady in the office more than six times. For me it was a giant paper tiger against whom I was fighting. The immunization wasn’t sufficient, I didn’t know what an affidavit was, the questions were odd. After the third time I became so irritated that I almost wanted to pull that big lady out of here chair. But after the sixth time I decided to buy her some cupcakes because I felt like I needed to become friends with her. Same with the family doctor and the dentist. I needed them but I couldn’t get used to the waiting, the co-pays and the paperwork. In The Netherlands everything goes so smoothly at registration, is taking care of or being paid for compared to here in the USA.

Than came the first school day. My boys didn’t speak a word of English when they came here. The first few weeks were hard for them. They didn’t have friends, didn’t understand what they needed to do and were tired and confused when they came home. I felt sorry for them in the beginning but was also busy with myself and still….a lot of paperwork. This time it was custom clearance about our furniture somewhere at sea. Or the car, the bank, the house and so on.

But I was pleasantly surprised that my kids knew the pledge by heart after a week of school, my boys were invited to birthday parties after a month and were playing American football instead of field hockey.

They play American football now

They play American football now

I couldn’t believe my eyes when my oldest played Augustus Gloop in Charley and the Chocolate factory after one month of school. His accent was the best of course. And his singing even better.

Augustus Gloeb

Augustus Gloeb

What was I thinking? That it wouldn’t be a big difference?

Since then I learned a lot. Now after four years I know that:

  1. You can buy everything you like, all on credit.
  2. Some topics like religion, sex and politics are not the topics to start the evening with
  3. Americans don’t drink that much in public but do in private
  4. Freedom is the biggest thing here (unless you are a child, homosexual or an unwanted pregnant woman)
  5. You can do anything you like as long as you are inventive, creative and a hard worker
  6. The flag, the pledge and the national anthem are holy.
  7. Opportunities and winning are part of American culture.
  8. Everything around kids is about safety and liability. Rules are important and germs are killing
  9. Almost every kid here has an allergy: peanuts, latex, berries, ivy, insects, bandages….
  10. Kinder Uberraschungs eggs are forbidden. Toy Bushmaster guns are a Christmas present
  11. There is no place on earth so inspiring and energetic as NYC
  12. For everything there is a coupon, or a discount or an opportunity to buy more
  13. Healthy food is expensive, fast-food is cheap
  14. If you have money here life threats you great, even fabulous. If not, you’re doomed.
  15. Finding unbiased news is hard
  16. This country’s nature is the most beautiful and diverse on earth. 
  17. You can make American friends as a foreigner. Just give it some time
  18. Americans can’t drive a car. That is, they drive either to slow or to fast
  19. Everything is bigger in the USA
  20. Every summer it’s a feast to go back to the Netherlands to see our family and friends
  21. We are happy here
Happy ‘Dutch-American’ family

Happy ‘Dutch-American’ family

You see, after four years I am blending in.

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Ingeborg (43) is Dutch. She lives in New York since 2010. With her family, her husband Jim, her teenager sons Ties (15), Morris (12) and Doede (10) and a dog Apple. In The Netherlands she worked as a psychologist and lifecoach for 15 years but when she moved to the USA she found her passion in writing and painting.

Now she has her own blog and she writes for several magazines in The Netherlands. Recently she ended a 'Novel' writing course and she is planning to write one. Furthermore she paints in oil, mostly portraits and stillifes, enjoys yoga and loves to experience adventures with her loved ones.

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