post wp-admin edit 233441

My New Home (Part 1)

The 3 Phases of a Cross-Continental Relocation

On January 8, 2018, it will officially be 3 years since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Singapore. Notice something unusual here? Yes! I’ve finally learned how to write my dates the American way ! You won’t believe that it took me more than 2 years of scratching out, and re-writing dates on application forms to actually get this right. It is somewhat like reforming an old habit.

Until this time, I had spent my entire life in Singapore, with a few years in London for higher education. I was so accustomed to the “Asian Way”: deep deference toward authority and respect for culture and social norms & the importance of a community. Here I was now, in the land of freedom, a nation that values self-reliance, personal achievement and growth above all (side note: you have only to go to a bookstore in America to see that the Self-Help section will probably be biggest part of the store).


I was at once lost, overwhelmed & fearful. The excitement that I had experienced just a month earlier, at my wedding washed away the instant I landed at the airport. Here I was, in a land where I knew absolutely no-one & nothing of (to be honest, I didn’t really know even my husband, whom I had spoken to many times, but met over just a few days – that, however, is a story for another time!).

The first couple of months in a new country as anyone who has made an international move might tell you, are daunting. You have to spend a number of years establishing your currency, and many times, from the bottoms-up. And then, there are the smaller things that affect your quality of life on a daily basis. Such as driving. When I moved into my new home in San Jose, I quickly realized that America (with the exception of cities like New York or DC) is a car-obsessed nation. Seriously, people live in their cars ! There aren’t any pavements to walk on. Hang on a minute – scratch that line. I meant to say that there aren’t any sidewalks to walk on. So I spent about 6 months learning how to drive on the right side of the road (no pun intended). This was the first step toward my integration into life in America.


Why is everyone so obsessed with their morning coffee? What is hiking? Why don’t they call it trekking? Why are the dates written the wrong way? Why is everything in Fahrenheit? Why do things have to be SO DIFFERENT to the way I’m used to them ?!

It is a natural instinct to reject new ways and to hold onto your old ways for dear life. And so I persisted, until I realized that it was futile. This is my new home. I have to embrace where I live, and let go of the way I thought things should be. And that is the second step towards a successful transition: acceptance & adaptation. Slowly but surely, I began to appreciate things around me more. I began to value the independence that was suddenly thrust upon me – it encouraged me to learn so many new things, and become more self-reliant while I was at it.


As you begin to accept and assimilate new ways, you also begin to get calmer. There is no longer a tension within your mind about “which way of doing things is better”. You begin to realize that there is no such thing as “better”, “good” or “bad”. It just is. The sooner you realize this, the less painful the transition is.


This certainly isn’t meant to be a treatise or blueprint for how to adjust to a new country. This is just an account of my experiences of moving to the States. I realize now that every move is different from another. It is a complex and intensely personal experience for each individual; wholly dependent on their past experiences, perceptions and preconceived notions. One thing is for certain though: moving to a country adds another dimension to you, and it changes you in big or small ways ! And well, isn’t that meant to be a part of the cross-cultural experience!




I’m Veerangna, and I currently live in sunny California with my husband.  My parents are Indians living in Singapore, and that’s where my brother and I grew up.  After studying Law at King’s College London, I spent a few years working in law firms in Singapore before moving to San Jose.  For fun,I am learning to play the Piano, and have recently developed an interest in hiking.  My new appreciation for nature has helped me become a calmer person – I do believe in the healing power of Trees!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

TCG June 2022 Newsletter - join hands

The Commonwealth of Nations: An Epitome of Diversity and Inclusion

One may have heard of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Games, or come from one of the Commonwealth countries. However, very few realise the significance of the foundation of the Commonwealth and the impact it has on our modern world. I was born in one of the Commonwealth countries. After spending some growing-up years in the…

I Am Because You Are

Have you come across the African word “Ubuntu”, which translates to “I am because you are?” The African Journal of Social Work gives it a fuller definition: Ubuntu – A collection of values and practices that people of Africa or African origin view as making people authentic human beings.
man pointing at another man

Recipe for Managing Conflict

When was the last time you disagreed and argued with someone over something? Do you remember the unpleasant feeling and how draining it was? It is because, being social creatures, by nature, we loathe conflicts. Often, conflict starts with frustration. Frustration can happen when we least expect it, and it arises when things are not…
Suzhou gardens TCg March 2022 newsletter

Window Frames of Your Mind

Have you been to Shanghai and visited the famous classical gardens in Suzhou? If so, have you noted the different styles between the Chinese versus the English and French gardens? Besides the usual flowers and trees in every landscaped garden, the classical Chinese gardens feature rocks, ponds, pavilions, walkways joining different halls and towers in…
TCG 2022 February Newsletter - Tigger

What Tiggers Do Best

My very dear friend who grew up loving Winnie-the-Pooh once gave me a Tigger figurine, and it now sits on the shelf next to my work table. Since it is the year of Tiger, I thought to share with you this one and only one “Tigger” in the Hundred Acre Wood that has the audacity…
2022 January TCG newsletter tablet, books

My Diary, My Life Story

Each year, despite everything going electronic and online, I will still go out and get a diary/planner in Dec as part of my new year ritual. Last week, when I opened my new 2022 diary, I found a pleasant surprise, a lovely note inserted in its cover. Let me share the extract of the note…
Christmas bonsai plant

Que Sera, Sera

While “uncertainties” is not the favourite word for anyone, it is a fact of life. With so many festivals despite the chilly winter, perhaps our ancestors are trying to pass down some wisdom to us: to appreciate life as it gives and make the best of it as we can.