5 Quirky Things About America

Hello and welcome back to “Stories from the West” series. I’m doing this project with Dixie and every month we are sharing 1 post about lives in our respective new countries; me in the US, Dixie in Sweden. This month’s topic is about the quirks we found about the adopted country. Enjoy and don’t forget to read Dixie’s post too! πŸ™‚

Festive Season all Year Long

Back in Indonesia, festive season happened twice a year; on Christmas and Idul Fitri. That’s when I would see decorations everywhere, in houses and public spaces; Green/Gold for Idul Fitri and Red/Green for Christmas. Here in The US, it seems like there are reasons to decorate/celebrate all year long, with different ones each month… like how we are decorating for Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, and of course Christmas in December. Well, they say the more the merrier!

The Measurement System

This is one of the hardest things that I need to adapt, seriously. I don’t understand why the US use miles instead of kilometers when it comes to measuring speed / distance, pounds instead of kilograms when measuring weight… and so on. Why can’t this country be “normal” like the rest of the world?! :)))))

We Talk Loud… Oops!

I don’t know why, but Americans tend to talk loud especially in public, for example when they are on the phone. I could easily hear whatever they are talking just because they talk so loud! I’m sure you know what I mean if you have met American tourists or if you have seen American movies… trust me it is what it is in real life, and sometimes I found myself starting to do the same thing especially when I’m talking with my classmates! O-ow!

A Different Approach on Advertising

In Indonesia and the UK, Advertising are primarily used for commercial goods, sometimes business goods. Here in The US, it’s common to see ads for lawyers, doctors, and the thing that I still find funny… prescription drugs. I’m not sure how it is in the East Coast but try to drive the freeway in California and you would see a ton of billboard ads for lawyers and doctors. Try to watch American TV network and you would see at least one ad for a prescription drug, followed by long disclaimer, of course.

Humongous Food Portion

I remember the first time I was here on vacation; I was shocked to see how big the food portion in the US is! This makes eating out relatively cheap because you can buy a portion and get enough to last you 2-3x meals. After almost 2 years in the US, I can say that I’m getting used to the food portion and just take home whatever I have left. As soon as I reach home, I would reportion the leftovers into smaller containers and store it in the fridge. At first I was not comfortable in saving food in the fridge because in Indonesia food can get bad easily due to its humidity… but it’s not the case here, your leftovers can still be good for the next 3-4 days or so, as long as it’s kept in the fridge. I still found it weird, but I guess I’m starting to get used to it now.

So those are the 5 things that I found quirky here in the US. It was hard for me to adapt to those quirks but as time goes by, it has became the new normal for me hahaha… anyway, let me know if there’s some quirks in your country, I’d love to hear it too! πŸ™‚

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Sunday

I woke up early, and we decided to get breakfast. We tried a brunch cafe not far from our house, only 10 minutes drive away. We were the first guests when we arrived at 7AM, right when they just opened. Not long after, another couple came in. Then another. And another. It was a full house by 7:30AM. Wow, it looks like the cafe is quite popular in the neighborhood. Why haven’t we been here before, I asked R. Let’s try the food first, he said.

I ordered a typical American breakfast menu – eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast. Only I asked for the toast to be changed to english muffins. It’s the closest I can get to crumpets here :)))) R ordered pesto bagel – it was really good, he said. I also had a cup of latte which was not bad at all, similar to what I usually make at home. But it’s Sunday, I want someone to make my coffee because I don’t wan’t to deal with the dishes :)))))

After breakfast we spent a bit of time at the beach, then went back home. I did some freelance work, R went on relaxing. He needed the rest&relaxation day after his long week.

I was too caught up with work when I realised it’s already past 4PM and we haven’t had lunch. I woke R up, we were both starving. Well, it’s the perfect time to use our Gyu-kaku points, I said. Let’s go! He said. There’s nothing better than eating good food with points, which brought down our bill to 50% less! πŸ˜€

Btw, tonight is the start of Ramadan. We will be fasting for a whole month starting tomorrow. So we went to Target to stock up on some pantry items. I haven’t finished my meal plan so I just stock up on some fruits, oatmeal and protein bars for our suhoor. We will be fasting for 15 hours this year, and this is going to be my second Ramadan in the US. I’m excited! I’m hoping for some miracles this month and I’m also looking forward to reflect and give back.

Now I’m relaxing at home. It’s been a long day. R is right beside me, watching Game of Thrones. I don’t follow the series, I just don’t get the hype. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to watch a couple of episodes… Anyway I let him have the TV every Sunday night, so here I am typing in my WordPress app while listening to Spotify with earphones on. All good, it’s been a good day, and I hope it will be a good Ramadan for us all πŸ™‚

Tentang 3 Hal

Tau nggak, akhir2 ini saya banyak banget ide buat blog terus semuanya mandek di draft nggak selesai2 karena pas lagi nulis adaaa aja gangguan. Jadi mari kita coba nulis post ini, dari HP, nggak pake mikir, supaya blog ini nggak sepi2 banget gitu πŸ˜‰

Anyway, mau cerita beberapa hal yang kejadian atau saya lagi pikirin akhir – akhir ini.

Tentang Pengemudi Taksi Online

Akhir- akhir ini saya lagi sering naik taksi online. Disini ada 2, namanya Uber dan Lyft. Saya lebih sering pakai Lyft soalnya ada app yang bisa kasih cash back. Hampir setiap perjalanan saya ngobrol sama supirnya. Kebanyakan mereka yang ngajak ngomong duluan. Maklum, orang Amerika emang terkenal suka (banget) small talks dan ngajak ngomong orang. Awalnya saya canggung, lama – lama kebiasa. Lucu deh, dalam sekitar 10-15 menit perjalanan, saya bisa tau jumlah anak si supir, dulu kerja dimana, dan cerita – cerita unik lainnya. Ada orang yang habis rugi gila – gilaan karena trading bitcoin, ada yang pensiunan tapi bosen di rumah aja, ada imigran yang baru datang dari Timur Tengah dan sedang berusaha settle disini. Kayaknya saya udah pernah cerita beberapa kali tentang pengalaman saya dengan supir taksi online ini, jadi saya mau update aja kalau sekarang saya makin jago small talks! Yay! Hahahaha. Dengan senang hati saya bisa nanggepin mereka ngobrol, itung – itung bikin perjalanan saya makin gak berasa.

Tentang Buku Bacaan

Kalau kamu temenan sama saya di Goodreads, mungkin kamu lihat kalau saya punya reading challenge yang sedang saya jalanin. Tahun ini saya menantang diri saya untuk baca 24 buku – kurang lebih 2 buku sebulan, gitu kan. Eh nggak disangka, di bulan April ini sekarang saya udah baca 18 buku! Kayaknya bakal jauh melewati target nih πŸ™‚ saya jadi sering baca gini soalnya rumah tetanggan sama perpustakaan kota, terus sekalian saya ingin belajar banyak soal budaya Amerika tempat saya tinggal sekarang. Makanya kalau lihat daftar buku yang saya baca, isinya kebanyakan buku Amerika yang setting nya di Amerika, plus buku – buku tentang Imigrasi / cerita Imigran disini.. beberapa buku favorit yang saya baca tahun ini adalah bukunya Michelle Obama – Becoming (aduh ini orang superrrrr inspiratif!!!), Jose Antonio Vargas – Dear America, dan kalo fiksi bukunya Rachel Joyce – The Music Shop. Buku pertama tentang hidupnya Michelle Obama dan sebenernya saya nggak suka baca biografi, tapi buku ini bagus banget! Saya suka gaya ceritanya dia dan belajar banyak dari hidupnya. Buku kedua tentang hidupnya Jose Antonio Vargas yang “terpaksa” jadi imigran gelap di Amerika. Masalah imigrasi memang cukup pelik disini, cerita Jose cuma 1 dari sekian banyak imigran gelap lainnya. Saya sempet baca beberapa buku soal imigran lainnya tapi dia juga sempet menyelipkan beberapa fakta soal kebijakan2 dan bikin saya makin aware sama isu imigrasi ini. Buku ketiga sih drama komedi ya.. tapi saya suka banget sama pemaparan tokoh2 nya dan juga karena ceritanya diselingi oleh musik2, sesuai judulnya. Kalau kamu, buku apa yang berkesan di tahun ini?

Tentang Jane The Virgin

Tanpa disadari saya udah berasa ngetik banyak juga nih (hore!) dan sebelum udahan saya mau cerita soal serial Jane The Virgin yang saya lagi tonton. Penting nggak penting, tapi baca terus yaa hehehe. Jadi saya kan udah ngikutin serial ini dari season 1. Ceritanya macem2, namanya juga telenovela. Penuh drama. Tapi inti nya Jane ini selalu terlibat cinta segitiga. Awalnya hidupnya baik2 aja, dia punya tunangan namanya Michael. Tiba2 dia nggak sengaja diinseminasi (panjang ceritanya) dan jadi hamil anaknya Rafael. Long story short, dia lahirin anaknya Rafael, nikah sama Michael, dan hidup bahagia sampai… Michael meninggal! Terus fast forward 4 tahun kemudian dia akhirnya berhasil menata hidupnya kembali, dan akhirnya menjalin hubungan sama Rafael, dan udah mau nikah. Tiba-tiba Michael hidup lagi!! Ternyata selama ini mereka semua “dikerjain” sama tokoh antagonis namanya Rose dan Michael nggak meninggal tapi cuma dibuat lupa ingatan dan selama ini juga menjalani hidup baru sebagai Jason di Montana yang hidupnya bedaaaa banget sama hidupnya Michael. Bayangin dong perasaan Jane pas tau?! Drama banget kan! Hahahaha. Saya punya pertanyaan iseng nih. Kalau jadi Jane, kamu bakal tetap sama Rafael atau Michael? Atau nggak 2-2 nya? πŸ˜›

Okelah sekian cerita random saya hari ini. Semoga post berikutnya nggak terlalu lama dan saya bisa kelarin drafts yang ampir bulukan hehe. Oh iya, selamat Paskah bagi yang merayakan dan selamat akhir pekan teman-teman! πŸ™‚

Kunjungan Mama (part 3)

Oke jangan bosen yaa baca cerita kunjungan Mama hehehe. Rasanya pengen cerita yang lengkap gitu, baru deh lanjut cerita2 yang lain. Anyway, di post ketiga ini saya mau ceritain soal road trip kami ke San Francisco.

Jadi, waktu tempuh perjalanan dari Los Angeles ke San Francisco kalau naik mobil itu sekitar 6,5 jam. Tadinya saya dan R sempet bingung, mau naik pesawat (mahal), naik bus (mikir repot di SF nya gak ada mobil karena kali ini kita bawa mama), atau bawa mobil aja dari LA. Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk bawa mobil supaya seru, dan dihitung2 juga biayanya sama aja kalau kita naik bus plus transportasi di SFnya.

Kami berangkat hari Minggu sore sekitar jam 6, itu juga mampir dulu makan malam dan sempet berhenti beberapa kali untuk beli kopi, isi bensin, jajan, dan sebagainya hehe. Perjalanan ke SF lumayan ngebosenin, karena malam hari kali ya, nggak ada pemandangan yang bisa dilihat dan sepanjang jalan kosongggg melompong. Soalnya kami pakai rute paling cepat, padahal sih sebenarnya ada rute yang lebih indah pemandangannya tapi lebih lama waktu tempuhnya, yaitu lewat Pacific Coast Highway (inget lagunya nggak?). Kami sampai di SF sekitar jam 3 pagi. Langsung istirahat karena jam 10 pagi nya langsung diajak saudara kami yang kebetulan tinggal di SF untuk jalan2 ke Monterey.

Monterey itu kota kecil di pinggir pantai yang jaraknya sekitar 2 jam dari SF. Monterey seru banget, kotanya cantik, banyak yang bisa dilihat, sayang karena kami perginya rame2 jadi agak susah berhenti2 sesuai keinginan, jadi saya mau banget balik lagi suatu hari apalagi kalau lagi panas πŸ™‚

Setelah seharian di Monterey bareng keluarga, kami menghabiskan waktu di kota SF nya selama 2 hari 1 malam. Hari pertama saya ajak mama ke Pier 39 dan Ghirardelli Square. Dari Ghirardelli Square kami naik SF tram lanjut ke Union Square. Tram ini cukup terkenal di SF, dan biasanya selalu antri. Tapi kalau kamu naik dari Ghirardelli Square, antriannya nggak separah itu kok! Harga sekali jalan $7, cukup mahal sih untuk ukuran transportasi umum, tapi boleh juga dicoba untuk atraksi wisata mumpung lagi di SF πŸ™‚

Hari terakhir sebelum pulang kami sempat ajak Mama lihat Golden Gate Bridge karena ya memang nggak lengkap ke SF tanpa lihat jembatan ini, ya nggak sihh… dan kali ini karena kami naik mobil sendiri, jadi bisa lihat jembatannya dari Marin Headlands yang letaknya diatas bukit, jadi pemandangannya lebih keren! Kalau memang kamu ke SF dan ada mobil sendiri, coba deh lihat Golden Gate Bridge nya dari Vista Point/Marin Headlands daripada dari visitors centernya. Musti bayar tol sih, tapi pemandangannya worth it kok!

Setelah itu, kami mampir juga ke Lands End. Ini sesuai namanya bener2 kayak di ujung dunia deh. Tapi pemandangannya juga bagus banget! Sayangnya lagi mendung ya (tapi di SF emang hampir selalu mendung kan… kalo mau cerah ya ke LA hehehehe :P), tapi pemandangannya, suasananya, bener2 menarik. Kalau nggak pakai mobil sendiri, transportasi umum kesana agak susah karena ya letaknya emang jauh dari mana2, jadi kalau kamu ke SF dan ada mobil sendiri, wajib banget ke Lands End!

Karena terlalu terpesona sama Lands End, kami akhirnya pulang jam 8 malam dari SF… padahal tadinya mau lihat pemandangan sambil pulang, batal lagi deh. Perjalanan pulang lebih parah dari berangkat karena kami udah capek banget dan memang jalanannya luruuuuus aja tanpa ada pemandangan apa2. Kami harus stop berkali – kali untuk istirahat dan akhirnya sampai dirumah jam 4 pagi πŸ˜€

Pengalaman yang cukup seru road trip bareng Mama ke San Francisco, walaupun kalau boleh pilih mungkin besok2 road tripnya siang2 aja jangan malam hari supaya nggak terlalu capek hehe. Kalau kamu, kapan terakhir kali road trip?

Kunjungan Mama (Part 2)

Seperti yang udah saya sempat ceritakan beberapa waktu lalu, kemarin ini saya kedatangan Mama dari Jakarta selama sebulan. Nggak sangka, sebulan tuh ternyata cepat banget berlalu. Tau2 Mama udah pulang lagi ke Jakarta, dan saya kembali ke aktivitas normal lagi….

Kemarin saya sempat tanya di Instagram, kira2 nulis blog tentang apa yaa.. terus ada beberapa jawaban yang bilang supaya nulis cerita selama Mama lagi disini. Kayaknya satu post bakal kepanjangan, jadi saya pisahkan postnya jadi beberapa bagian.

Kalau ditanya, ngapain aja selama Mama disini? jawabannya sih nggak ada yang terlalu spesial banget, seperti yang udah saya ceritain di post ini, minggu pertama giliran Mama ketemu orangtuanya R dengan bonus main salju, terus minggu kedua kami di rumah aja dan jalan2 sekitar daerah rumah saya, minggu ketiga kami ke San Francisco (cerita menyusul!) dan minggu keempat kami sempet ke Las Vegas sekalian mampir lagi ke rumah orangtua R untuk pamitan (cerita menyusul juga yaa). Yaampun, ga berasa kan sebulan itu?

Selama kami kebanyakan dirumah aja, waktu kami banyak dihabiskan dengan hal2 simpel seperti nemenin saya belanja groceries, masak bareng, jalan2 keliling area rumah bareng, sampai nonton TV bareng. Ini nih yang paling sering kami lakukan, apalagi kebetulan kami sama2 senang nonton TV series Amerika. Jadi, nonton apa aja kami kemarin?

The Passage – Ini drama sci-fi, ceritanya soal wabah virus yang menyebabkan manusia berubah jadi makhluk semacam vampir gitu. Mirip kayak The Walking Dead, tapi menariknya serial ini menceritakan awal virusnya berkembang, gimana manusia berusaha mencari obat buat virus tersebut, sampai muncul gadis “penyelamat” yang namanya Amy. Kami suka nonton ini, seru soalnya! Kalau kamu suka drama2 sci-fi Amerika, pasti suka juga deh.

Semua Serial Dokter2an – Hahaha dijadiin satu aja deh kategorinya. Habisnya, saya dan Mama suka banget nonton serial TV tentang dokter dan rumah sakit. Mulai Grey’s Anatomy, Good Doctor, New Amsterdam, sampai The Resident kami tonton semua. Dari ke-4 serial tersebut saya paling suka Good Doctor, dan paling biasa aja sama New Amsterdam. Tapi, R paling suka sama New Amsterdam jadi kadang2 dia suka ikut nonton juga bareng saya dan Mama kalau kebetulan New Amsterdam lagi tayang.

A Million Little Things – Serial drama yang lumayan bikin mikir. Ceritanya tentang persahabatan 4 orang cowok dewasa, saya udah pernah ceritain di post ini sih. Kebetulan waktu nulis post tersebut saya baru mulai nonton, tapi lama2 kecantol juga hahaha.. eh taunya pas Mama disini, ternyata dia suka juga, jadi kami nonton deh tiap episodenya sampai kemarin season finale. Tenang aja, no spoiler! πŸ˜›

The Gifted – Ini juga udah saya bahas di post terdahulu. Mama ternyata suka banget nonton ini, nggak sangka lho. Sayangnya serial ini udah tamat dan katanyaaa nggak bakal lanjut lagi 😦

Kalo diitung – itung, banyak juga ya serial TV yang kami tonton bersama. Tuh kan, pantesan waktu berasa cepat banget, ternyata banyak abis nonton TV hahaha… walau simpel tapi seneng banget, Mama juga seneng karena bisa lebih update daripada nunggu episode terbaru di TV Indonesia. Yah, itung2 quality time sama Mama πŸ™‚

Jadi begitulah part one dari cerita saya menghabiskan waktu bersama Mama sebulan kemarin. Makasih ya udah baca, more stories later!

My 2018

Today’s December 31st and here I am sitting down comfortably at the house. I don’t have any plans for tonight’s New Years Eve but I will be spending it with family πŸ™‚ I always miss my family in Indonesia more during the holiday season but I’m hopeful that we can be reunited soon!

I just decided that hope is my word for 2019. I am hopeful and holding on to hope. Things have not been as good as I wanted in 2018, but only today I got to be reminded of hope. There is really no reason for me not to be hopeful and keep my faith because all this time God has been so good to me and my family. Anyway, here are my 2018 in retrospect.

January – We had a car accident the second day I arrived in the US and we had to let go of our car 😦 so, we made our first big purchase as a family this month! There were also other firsts this month for me… I re-learned how to cook (I was able to cook during my UK days but it was pretty much a grad student survival cooking :P), learned to make my own latte and smoothies, and started to pay attention to skincare! I also went to Passion Pit concert which was great. Unfortunately, this was also the month where I lost my aunt due to her illness 😦 may she RIP.

February – This month was quite busy for us – we had our cousin visiting from Indonesia for their honeymoon, and at the same time we also had a mini staycation as a belated wedding gift from our family. This month was the month I started to get to know my neighbourhood better – I learned to navigate myself around and get used the public transportation system. February was the coldest month, but the family made it warmer.

March – I realised that I have started to gain weight since I moved here, so I started to exercise more regularly. I joined a local gym to take PoundFit classes and I loved it! However, I stopped going after a month because they change their class schedule and it does not fit mine :\ I should stop making excuses and go back to this routine next year. On the other hand, we went exploring Los Angeles whenever we got a chance, playing tourist in the big city. I went to museums, gardens, and the beach! I started to fall in love with the city ❀

April – This month started with a HAIM concert with R. I also became a member of the public library in my city and started to read regularly again. I started a Goodreads challenge – 12 books for 2018, knowing I might fail it like past years. But turns out I was wrong! Not only did I manage to finish it, but I also managed to read 22 books in total this year! YAY me! Perhaps I should write a “books of 2018” post sometime this week… hmmm.

May – One of my bridesmaids / best friend came to visit this month and we had so much fun together. I went to stay with her for a couple of nights and it was so refreshing to be able to get a girls getaway like the old days. Another thing that made this month special was Justin Timberlake’s concert! It was a dream come true since I have been a fan since his NSYNC days πŸ˜› We also started the month of Ramadan this month and it was my first time fasting in the US.

June – My brother and sister in law along with aunts and cousins from R’s side came to visit for Eid, making my first Eid here in the US so merry and warm. I missed my family in Indonesia but I am thankful for new experiences this month. With the days that got warmer and longer, we also spent a lot of time at the beach which I had no complaints about. I guess this is one of the perks of living in Southern California!

July – It’s R’s birthday month and went on a couple mini trips. First, we went to Las Vegas for a weekend with our family, then we went to San Francisco to meet my grad school friend who was visiting from New Zealand! It was so good to reunite with her after 8+ years πŸ™‚

August – Summer is officially here and I think I spent most of it at the beach… it’s really a privilege to live close to the beach! I also scored a last minute ticket to Sam Smith’s concert at Staples Centre for only $20. Woohoow! And…. followed by a Smashing Pumpkins’ concert the next day with R. I can say that summer was a blast and I have no complaints.

September – Fall was around the corner and this month I was disappointed for the first time. Despite the delayed good news, I managed to go to my first football game to watch Rams vs Cardinals. Football is a big thing here and although I still don’t understand the game, I enjoyed the atmosphere of watching a live game.

October – I became the coordinator of our friends’ wedding here. It was an Indonesian – American wedding because although both bride and groom are Indonesian, the wedding culture was a mix between both countries. Through this experience, I met new friends and also relive my love of coordinating and organizing things – something that I haven’t done since I am currently taking a break from the corporate world. Ooooh how I can’t wait to go back! πŸ˜‰ On the downside, I caught a pretty bad cold and it made me very homesick at the same time. It took me a week to recover, can you imagine?!

November – It’s our anniversary month and it’s our first! Yay! how time flies when you are having fun πŸ™‚ we went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park for our anniversary and we had a good time. I’ll surely post the story here sometime later in the new year. I also celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time with R and our cousins. It’s also the end of #ChristasFirstYear – a project I started on Instagram when I first arrived in the US. Unfortunately this month I also experienced several anxiety issues which I am currently dealing with.

December – My birthday month! Since I finished #ChristasFirstYear project, I took a little break from social media and also started to practice mindfulness more regularly. I found it helpful to tackle my anxiety issues and I started to have a better understanding and awareness of my feelings. I am yet to receive the good news that I have been waiting for, but I am patient and hopeful.

Thank you 2018, Hello 2019 πŸ™‚

So there goes my 2018. It has been an eventful year – full of firsts but it is also a challenging one. Adjusting to life in a new country, becoming a wife, dealing with uncertainty… but I am certain that with hardship comes ease and that I am so blessed. ❀

Happy New Year 2019 to you! May you have a blessed year ahead. Thanks for reading and see you in the new year πŸ™‚