Because I am Muslim, I wish I would have known more about American food before arriving. I can’t eat pork or gelatin and this is not a problem in my country because these foods are not used. In the United States, however, these foods are very common and in many cases they are ingredients used in processed foods. When I first arrived in the United States I ate everything, only to discover later, that many of the foods I ate were not permitted in my religion.
I wish I would have known how to drive a car before I came to the United States, especially Houston, TX. Where I am from, I did not drive or need a car. We had taxis and buses to take us anywhere we needed to go. When I arrived in the United States I quickly learned that having a car and being able to drive are very important.
I wish I would have known and understood the labor laws in the United States before I came. When I came to Houston I wanted to find a job so I could support myself. It is very difficult to find a job and there is a lot of paperwork. This is much different than other countries I have lived in.
Credit and Economic Conditions
Knowing about credit and the economic conditions in the United States would have helped me when I arrived. Because I didn’t have the right documents it was hard to get credit to buy a car or rent an apartment. I am from Slovakia, where economic conditions are not as good as the United States. There is a lot of opportunity here.
Safety and Security
I wish I would have known how much more safe and secure it is in the United States. When I lived in Honduras I was robbed three times. I was very scared to come to the United States because I thought it would be worse than my country. I have learned it is much, much better and more safe in the United States. I feel safe.
I wish I would have known that people in the United States put their own gasoline in their own cars. In Venezuela we pay the attendant to put gasoline in our cars so I did not know how. I had to ask someone to show me how to put gasoline the first time.
Talking Too Fast
I wish I would have known how fast Americans talk and how often they use slang. In my country of Columbia I studied English for three years before arriving in the United States. When I arrived I was surprised how difficult it was for me to understand what people speaking English were saying. They speak very fast and use a lot of slang words that I did not learn in English school.
I wish I would have known that I could go to school when I arrived in the United States. I did not know for the first four months and wasted a lot of time. I started to study as soon as I learned it was possible.