I was born and raised in the Philippines. I was accustomed to the culture and the food, but I didn't know that in the 12th year of my life, I would have to move to America. The big move was generally a huge step for me because I was scared that no one would understand me, that I might offend anyone, or that they might offend my family and I. Also, I would look and sound different, in a place I have never been to before. This wasn't just a vacation or a mission trip. This was actually moving and living somewhere I'm not used to.
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It was a 23 hour plane ride from Asia to North America. In the plane ride, I had to be separated from my parents because the seating arrangement was skewed. I sat next to two Taiwanese ladies who obsessed with their nails, while I pondered about what the rest of my life was going to be like. The plane landed in Taiwan from the Philippines and we boarded onto another plane (with Hello Kitty printed on it). This was the long process. The airports were very strict and we struggled to find our way around barely anyone around us spoke English or knew about our situation. Anyway, we finally arrived to the plane going to America. I could not sleep during the plane ride, so I watched the Da Vinci Code on the way, and I thoroughly enjoyed airplane food.
We arrived at LAX, possibly one of the bussiest places I've ever been to, filled with people of different colors. It was very interesting to be around such a diverse environment, where I was the foreigner rather than being a local. My grandparents, who live in Los Angeles, California, picked us up from the airport and they took us to their house. It was a small, quaint house with a lamp post in front of it. Looking back now, I thought it was huge because the houses in the Philippines were much smaller and plainer in size. I remember our first trip out into the public was to Costco. My grandparents bought boxes of food and a flat screen television, and I was amazed at how much food people buy for their families. See, back home, we bought them in singular packaging, not in wholesale stocks. Also, back home, we shopped for televisions in shopping malls, not in a grocery store. Everything was weird to me in the beginning, but after staying in LA for a couple of months, my mother got a job as a nurse in the Medical College of Georgia, which meant that my family had to move the other side of the country. We tried our hardest to live with our grandparents in California, but I guess it wasn't God's will for us to stay.
In Georgia (where I live now), I had to start going back to school. The school system in America is much different compared to the Philippines. We didn't (and still don't) have middle school. Elementary school was from first to sixth grade, then you move on to four years of high school, and then college welcomes you at 16 years old. So, in American terms, I would be in the 7th grade at that time. I was worried that they would hold me back a year, but I managed to get into 7th grade, attend it for four months, and graduate with honors.
The apartment we lived in was a very scary area. My parents secluded my little brother and I in the house because they were scared that something bad might happen to us. Although, after living there for almost a year and getting to know other Filipinos in the area, we were able to move to the friendlier side of Augusta. I started 8th grade in another new school, graduated with honors, and then moved to our current house now. I plowed through highschool and I am now a senior, graduating in May of 2012.
I've learned many things just from moving around and traveling the whole United States (and in my terms, the whole world). I've learned that change is good and that learning from it is beautiful. I've learned that home is not where you are, but instead it is who you are, and who you are with. My eyes have been opened to a whole different culture and I've learned to blend the two together in order to mature and move on from it.
In terms of travelling, I am planning on visiting the Philippines again in 2013. I do not plan on living there, but my parent's hearts are set on moving back there when they get older. I plan on buying them a house there and repaying them for the sacrifices that they have done in order for my little brother and I to live a better life. I hope that someday, when I have children, I can travel with them around the world and I hope that they can learn what I learned through this experience.
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