5 Things I Learned After Moving To The U.S. From The Philippines

1. People are not treated equally.

From the outside looking in, the USA advertises itself as treating everyone “equally” and not discriminating by race, religion, or cultural background. Just like any product, it’s not always as advertised. This American ideal of equality is certainly an aspiration and not an observation of the truth, contrary to what is presented to people outside of the USA. My firsthand experience was when fellow Asian Americans at my community college called me a FOB for my accent. To which I had to ask, what is a FOB? “Fresh Off Boat,” they said, a somewhat derogatory term used for immigrant Asians. I thought to myself, what is wrong with being different? Shouldn’t you be impressed that I actually even speak your language? How many languages can you even speak? Aren’t your parents FOBs? Are you also bigoted toward them? With that said, it is not to say that there will not be another set of people who will be genuinely interested in you because of your heritage. Flipping other side of the coin, yellow fever exists. And it’s real, people. Obviously, these are two extremes being compared for comparison’s sake. There are, of course, people who won’t care what your ethnicity is or whether your skin is purple or green. Ultimately, I do not believe that absolute equality will ever exist. Humans are naturally inclined to differentiate and create judgment for themselves. I merely am criticizing the American motto “We are all equal” as… bullshit.

2. Opportunities are endless.

I truly believe in my heart of hearts that you can accomplish anything in this country. If you want to be rich, you can. If you want to climb the corporate ladder, you can. If you want to be an athlete, you can. If you want to be famous, you can. If you want to be a hippie, you can. If you want to create, you can. If you want to be a doctor you can, although you may have get shipped to the Caribbean for that. You can do it all, if your heart so desires, and the USA supports you on this. There are endless scholarship programs, Crossfit cults, tree-hugging vegans, startup funding venture capitalists, and any other cult groups to be a part of. I’ve met people who have started their startup and sold it for 500K, work for Google, are full time yoga instructors, sell real estate, started their own coffee shop, sell wedding dresses, and have acted in movies. People in the USA have made careers out of literally nothing, and that is beautiful. People get paid for being a YouTube celebrity, for crying out loud. As long as you are passionate about what you do and you can take that passion to connect to others who can identify with your mission, you can make a career out of it. Never in the history of mankind has it been easier to learn, create, and collaborate. Thank you internet. The USA is always looking for the next big thing. You can be it. But work damn hard. Do all you can, and then do some more. Work hard, work smart, and be consistent.

3. You are not a product of your upbringing.

Growing up in one country often means that there is a general culture to follow. Going against the status quo seems way too rebellious/disrespectful. Moving to Los Angeles, I’ve met people whose origins come from places I never knew existed. (Can you locate Kyrgyzstan, Burma, or Armenia on a map? Neither can I.) And each of these people have a different set of rules, cultures, traditions that they’re parents raised them with. Some align with how I was raised and others contradict. Who is to say what is right or wrong? Exposure to all these cultures has allowed me to question my beliefs and adopt others. This allows me to choose the values I believe in because it is what I stand for and not because I was by default raised with them. Choice is a beautiful thing. With choice there is freedom. And with freedom there is joy.

4. Network your way to success.

Applying to jobs has now been extremely convenient to do, which means that all other applicants also enjoy this benefit. Applicants who on paper may: have gone to a better university, have had more relevant work experience, and possibly even more certifications and professional designations (CPA, MBA, DDS, MD) sometimes even longer than their last name. (To be fair, my last name consists only of two letters.) However, nothing beats the age-old knowing the right people. Assuming that you’re competent and meet the minimum requirements of the job, nothing works better for getting a job than those connections with the decision makers. This will make your life easier.

5. College life is absolutely the best.

Going to UCLA has definitely been one of the best experiences of my entire life sans academics. Because frankly, being in a classroom with 200-400 other students is by no means a quality education. However, I found that it my fellow Bruins were my educators. I was surrounded by some of the smartest people I’ve ever been around. It seemed like everywhere I turned, most of my fellow students we top of their class. They were the kids in high school whose GPA’s above the highest grade in the scale of 4.0/presidents of the student organizations/varsity swimmers/who played an instrument in band. In contrast, I was this kid who cheated his way through high school and selected my community college classes 100% based on ease of the teacher’s grading as shown by ratemyprofessors.com. I was the kid found that the easiest way to get into a 4 year American university was to transfer via community college. Slowly but surely, I adapted to my environment. I felt my standards and expectations raising up to my classmates. Don’t get me wrong, by no means did I measure up to them still. And who can forget the “social life”. It was at UCLA that I learned to party till 4am and wake up at 7am to take a midterm. Americans love games and this was incorporated into drinking as well. Beer pong, flip cup, kings cup, hot seat, dare jenga, gaucho ball/rage cage, quarters, never have I ever, 10 fingers, power hour, power half hour, and who knows what other games are out there. No day was a wrong day to party. Work hard play hard was the motto. Parties = girls, because parties are fun and girls just want to have fun. Yes I just said that. You never know who you would meet that night and what could /could not happen. But beware, because unlike Vegas, what happens at a college party does gets posted on Facebook or circulates throughout your social circle. I learned the hard way, whoops. The events were endless. There always seemed to be a fraternity who wanted to recruit me, a Christian fellowship inviting me to their small groups, endless art exhibits, fundraisers for any cause you can imagine. There always seemed to be something to do and not enough time to do it all. It was chaos. It was fun. It was beautiful. TC mark

featured image – Shutterstock

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