“Fascinating! Semmi, look at this! America is so free; one can throw glass on the streets.”
Prince Akeem….Coming to America….Eddie Murphy, no ?
Yeah, okay, I’m going to need you to leave, everyone else please proceed. I’m playing I need the hits!
Anyhow welcome back to your irregular dose of me, kudos for sticking it out thus far!!
Before I get into this particular chapter though, I did promise to delve a little deeper into how I could possibly find joy when I had no car and no money. Simple.
Family, friends that are family and just completely unadulterated love.
Yes it’s cliché, yes it sounds like the perfect happy ending, but it’s true. I had no car, yet on only a couple of occasions did I struggle to get around, I had no money but somehow I enjoyed ample nights out enjoying lunches, brunches, dinners and drinks with friends and family. When I needed them the most they were there for me. My high school friends, university friends and family helped finance my trip with nothing requested in return. I was happy because I felt everything when I had nothing.
There you have it, like it, love it, hate it, whatever, it’s the truth. That’s enough ‘feelings’ for one post, where were we…..
Unlike Prince Akeem, I have no royal acclimations, no riches, no personal personnel, no one to throw rose petals as I stride, bathe and brush my teeth for me or play percussion to wake me from my slumber. I have not come to America in search of a significant other, I’m here to enhance and progress my career.
Despite our dissimilarities, there are some things Prince Akeem and I have in common, we’re both African, we’re both in a foreign land and we’re both finding our place in the world away from the comfort blanket that is Mum and Dad (shout out to my parents while I’m here, you know who you are).
On August 22nd 2016, I dropped my “comfort blanket” in Heathrow airport at around 10:40am. I had imagined ‘the airport scene’ a million times before, my family and boyfriend by my side, tears streaming down my face, my dad losing all composure and masculinity, while my mum holds the family together with a brave face as she finally has no choice but to cut the cord and wave goodbye. All of which came to pass, I was devastated, happy, excited, anxious, nervous. I hugged my Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Boyfriend like I would never see them again, I dropped my blanket at security and to be honest I’ve never felt so lonely.
With fear in my heart and tears in my eyes I boarded the Virgin Atlantic VS115 to commence my 9-and-a-half-hour journey to Hartsfield-Jackson International, Atlanta, to start the first segment of my trip with my aunt, to ease me into the American lifestyle.
As planned, the 10 days I spent with my aunt were extremely productive, I got myself a stateside number and organized my finances with Bank of America, because obviously and naturally when in America, bank with America’s bank. I eventually emerged triumphant from my battle with jet lag and a few slight panic attacks in Walmart, Sprouts and Publix because apparently 3 different brands, flavours and derivatives of any single item isn’t enough, Americans need 10 to 15!
On September 1st 2016, I left Atlanta at 13:35am on a Southwest flight bound for Palm Beach International airport. My transport was waiting for me at baggage claim, a lovely gentleman by the name of Jean Pierre. Driving from the airport to the apartment, face glued to the window like a child that gets to ride shotgun for the first time. Sunshine, palm trees, clear highways and blue skies, I’m going to like it here. We finally arrived, Jean Pierre helped me carry my 2 and a half (overweight) suitcases up the stairs and handed me a key to my very own apartment.
Something I had imagined for almost 2 years was in fact playing out, my life, my new world, my new adventure had indeed begun.
Well now as I tap away on my keyboard putting words and punctuation together for your enjoyment, I have been in “The United States of Murica” for one month and one week. In two days’ time I would have been in my new home for a whole month, which also mean we need to change the filter on the air conditioning *note to self*.
But do you see what I’m getting at, anticipation, anxiety, fear, loneliness, joy, despair, denial, suspense, countdowns, packing, goodbyes, two flights, two states, two time zones, one blink and a month has passed.
This is home, I’m settled, I’m becoming accustomed, I’m getting my America on.
So as we steer away from past tense and move into present time, you want to know what that first month has entailed don’t you, well….
My roomates and fellow J1’s are AWESOME, Max gets on my nerves (love you), but he’s also my biggest fan for Le Intern Abroad so far, so he gets a special shout out. But all in all we get along, we leave work at work and spend our time by the pool, at the mall, out for dinner, bbqing and just generally chilling out, so of course shout out to my roomies and the rest of the J1 family!
As for work day one was full of paperwork and other exhausting formalities, but eventually I became an official employee of Troon at BallenIsles Country Club. I’ve just completed 3 intense weeks of training, from learning the Troon standards of service to health and safety, alcohol awareness, learning menus, tastings menus, learning wines, tasting wines, taking tests, restaurant roleplay the whole shebang.
We launched our new found knowledge for the first time working a cocktail event for Palm Beach County Council and I am now 4 days into shadowing the local workers in our restaurant, Bistro 105. The next challenge is to break free from my ‘shadow master’ and prove I’m capable of working effectively and efficiently alone, all for the grand prize of my uniform! Yup, you’re not misunderstood, I have to earn my uniform which as strange as it seemed at first, it creates a sense of pride and a dash of competitiveness in the whole thing so I’m going for it.
But it hasn’t been all work and no play I’ve tried new things like a drunk painting class, kayaking and a nature walk (first and last time. EVER). We’re already regulars at a downtown rooftop bar, I visited The Cheesecake Factory for the first of many times to come and spend endless days at the pool with my J1 family.
This is my new life and I love it, there are harder times to come, more fun to be had and new experiences to experience. But I’m finally here, dreams are now reality and I’m happy.
No journey is too great, when one finds what he seeks.”
– Prince Akeem