Adjusting to America Stories

Working as an Electrical Engineer


When I first started working as an electrical engineer as a trainee, I was supervising the construction of some electrical switchgears. The partner I was working with refused to continue with the project because of his baby’s birth. Despite my lack of experience, my boss decided to send me to Houston to supervise the assembly of some electrical rooms for marine platforms. Unfortunately three days before my trip, I had a minor motorcycle accident making walking difficult. I knew this was a good opportunity for me, and I decided to continue with my trip and with the project.

In Houston, the partners I was working with were very cold, so I had to deal with my slow and painful walking and try to understand how to help the electricians and supervisors in order to get the work well done. However, most of our contractor’s workers were kind, so I quickly understood the current stages of the project and what to do in order to finish on time for the final release. I also was starting to recover from my accident, and I felt completely confident in what I was doing.

Once I requested to remove a broken cover near some energized equipment in order to install a new one. I knew it was risky, but carefully the lady that was helping me took off the cover. At that moment, her supervisor arrived and noticed what we did. Without asking, he started complaining to her and also blaming her for the electrical damage to the equipment. Long story short, the contractor’s company decided to fire her. Her husband who helped me a lot and also taught me many things regarding electrical installations also left the company. I had no time to say “I’m sorry” or at least “thanks for all your kind help” when I was notified that both of them were out of the company.

Beyond the technical learning, what I learned during those five months and from that difficult experience was that many people will turn their backs on you, but with humility and energy, many others will help you. I also learned that is important to follow the procedures. It does not matter if someone gets hurt or not or if the equipment is damaged or not because “rules are rules”. Lastly, people are awesome; Everybody has something to teach and something to learn.


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Living in the Countryside


My name is Christina. This is my first time here. I have been here for one month with my kids. Everything is different here than in my country.

There, I could go out to visit my friends and family when I wanted to, but here I have to stay behind closed doors in the house. As I came here with a fiancé visa, I have to get married as soon as I can so, so we, my fiancé and I, are planning to get married next month. So, can you imagine how difficult it is to prepare a party and to go out to get what I need if I don’t drive here? I have to wait until my fiancé gets home to see if he can give me the money and if he can take me there. Every place I go here is because somebody else takes me because I don’t know the area here. I am also living in the countryside and can’t go out often. I don’t know where to find what I need. I’m also missing my family and friends badly. Now I know how much they mean to me.

However, I think if I can learn more English things will be different for me. Once I get my papers, I can get a job and a drivers license and express completely what I want to say in different circumstances, too. My advice to someone in the same situation is to study English and try to make new friends. I found an English class in Williamsport every Monday and Wednesday, and when I go to church on Sunday I try to meet new people and talk to them.

Learning Trades & English


My name is Eduardo. I was born in Venezuela. I play the traditional music of my state, and I participate in Christian programs called Segro. I have a program of family values and community.
I came here for business opportunities. I was a chef in my country. About two years ago, the economy in my country got really bad, so I learned other trades to make more money. I took gas engineering classes while working as a cook because of the financial crisis in my country. I also studied and worked in plumbing, masonry, and repairing boats. I studied gas because the university was close to my house.
My problem here is I’m not able to communicate and express myself. I need a job and to learn more English. To learn English, I am taking classes, listening to lots of music and TV in English. I also try to have most of my conversations in English. I am learning and understanding more and have learned to ask questions when I need help saying things in English. I would advise people that come here and need to learn English to listen to music and TV in English, take class, and try to communicate only in English. Sometimes translators help, too.


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Credit Card Fraud


It was the first day that Ella arrived in the U.S. After more than a twenty-hour trip on the flight, she met her friend and they enjoyed a dinner together. After the dinner, they went to the hotel they booked in advance online to get rest.

Everything went well until she received a message showing that someone was using her credit card to make a payment. It was weird because her credit card was with her. That is not the worst. In the next ten minutes, she received five messages, and it turned out that someone stole more than $2000 from her credit card. She was shocked, so she called 911 immediately. But the thing is, 911 can only conduct an investigation to find the suspect. They can’t get her money back. Because the credit card that had the problem is from a Chinese bank, Ella called the Chinese bank, and the representative of the bank told her to find an ATM nearby and do something to show where she is. Ella quickly did what the representative had told her. After that, she called the bank again, but the representative told her all she could do was to wait and the bank couldn’t guarantee anything. By now Ella has still not gotten any good news from the bank, and she fears that she may eventually need to pay for all her loss.

Usually, we don’t need to worry too much about credit card fraud because U.S. banks take responsibility when our money from a credit card gets stolen. Unlike U.S. banks, Chinese banks rarely take responsibility when their clients’ money gets stolen, though. In China, we need to use a password when we use our credit card to make a purchase. However, when we use our Chinese credit card in the U.S., the password becomes useless. In addition, Chinese credit cards don’t carry the chip that prevents copying. In short, it seems pretty easy for criminals to copy our Chinese credit cards, and it may end up that we pay for all our loss.

What I can tell you is that when you first come to the U.S. from China if you are ineligible to get a credit card from a U.S. bank and you have to use one from a Chinese bank, set a daily consumption limit. Some people may not like it because it will create inconvenience when you need to make a big payment, but believe me, it will save you from a huge loss once you become the victim of credit card fraud or forgery. And if you don’t want any trouble, I would say, use cash and get a debit or credit card from a U.S. bank as soon as possible.


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Learning English with TV, Movies, Play Station, & Class


My name is Juliet. I am from the Phillipines. I like to sing and play video games. When I came to America, I had a challenge learning English.

In the Philippines, my parents were paid by the work they did each day. I was able to go to elementary school for five years, but I was not able to finish grade six because I had to go to work to help my family with expenses. Then, I met my husband. After two years, he went to the U.S. for his job.

To learn English, I watched a lot of English shows and movies. But, what is helping me more is talking to American friends I met online while playing online games. On my Play Station, we go into a chat room and talk in English. I am also enrolled in an English class so I can learn more English–especially grammar and writing so I can get a job someday.

I advise other people who are learning English to focus in school, watch movies or tv shows, and if you have American online friends to talk to them. These are going to help you learn more English.



My name is Maricela. I am from Mexico. My story talks about the way some Americans treat Latinos.

I moved with my family, my husband, Mauro, and my children, Mauro Jr. and Maricio. We came here without knowing how to speak English. We moved because we needed to follow Mauro’s job. We were happy and scared because it was a big change.

Before we came, we talked to many people about the move at that time and about the United States. We thanked God everything was fine because the place and the behavior of the people were nice. This made me think that racism was in the past.

Then, one day, I went to the supermarket with my family, and I had a problem with an American youth.  She insulted me saying, “You should be dead for being Latina.” Her attitude was very disrespectful with no regard for my two small children that were present. My reaction was to ignore it.

I was surprised at the attitude and disrespect that she showed me. However, I did not really feel bad, and neither did my family. I was so surprised at that attitude. I thought that only ignorant act like that. I thank God that since I arrived in the United States we surrounded ourselves with good people who have helped us and are friendly. We are happier in the United States.

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Making My Life Here


I came to the United States about a month ago. When I came here, everything changed for me because life here is very different from my country. For example, the food is different and nothing tastes the same. The culture is also different from my country, and it is a bit difficult because I left my family, friends and everything.

But, I live here, and now I will make my life here, learn the language, study, work, and continue with my life.  I advise other people to learn the language before they come to this country because this will be easier. Everything will be more comfortable and will go better. If anybody like me comes to this country without speaking English, I would tell him/her to do as I did and find a way to learn. It does not matter how. What matters is trying to.

My Story about My Driver’s License


Hello my name is Mauro and I am Mexican. I work at a petroleum company as an engineer and I would like to share my story about my driver’s license test.

It all started when I arrived in Williamsport in January. My boss told me that I needed to drive from my home to work every day. I thought that I didn’t have a problem because I have a driver’s license from Mexico. However, my boss told me that for PA I can drive for some months with my Mexican driver’s license and then it would be necessary to obtain a PA driver’s license.

I made the decision to get one. I went to the driver’s license center and they gave me the driver’s book. I studied for a week, took the test, and passed it with a good grade. However, when I took the test with the driver examiner, I had some problems with my vehicle because the parking space was small and I could not park my truck. For this situation, it was necessary to take the driver’s test on another occasion. When I took the driver’s test again, it was easier because I used another smaller vehicle and it was easy to park in that space.

So, I passed my driver’s test and obtained my PA driver’s license. From this, I learned that it is better to use a smaller car to take the driver’s test.
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My Story


I only have been in the USA for three weeks.

It is not easy to get used to it here where everything is totally different.

It is difficult to adjust to it, but I believe that when I enter the school and make friends, things will be easier.

But when I don’t speak English things are difficult for me.

I hope to attend English classes so that things will be easier. For this reason I decided to start taking English classes.
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Not Understanding English

Sang Ra

My name is Sang Ra. I come from Myanmar. My family lives in Myanmar. We are four siblings: two brothers and two sisters. I’m the older sister.
I came to the U.S.A. nine months ago. I am happy in America, but sometimes I’m worried and afraid because I don’t understand English speaking. One day, I went to the hospital. They asked me about being pregnant, but I did not understand anything. Also, when I go outside, I am so scared around my area because everything is new for me. Now, I am learning English in church and Bible study. For people in my situation, I would recommend reading in English and taking English classes.

View story in Kachin

Don’t Wait


My name is Wilder Cortez. I am from Guatemala. I worked as a P.E. (gym) teacher in my country before I came here. In 2007, I decided to come to this country. I quit the job that I had in Guatemala, and then I moved here.
I spoke some little words in English, but it was not enough to communicate with other people. After a couple years of living here, I decided to start to learn English. I bought a little book, and that is how I started. Months later, I saw that I had problems with the pronunciation, and I started to go to a school in New York, which is the state that I first came to. I quit school after about six months because I worked long days in my job and because I also was a leader of a young adult group in a church and I had to attend frequently. A couple of years later of not studying English and dedicating my life to just work and attending church, I met my wife who doesn’t speak Spanish. It was difficult to communicate with her. A couple of years later, we moved to Williamsport, and I found ESL. It was another chance to continue studying. I signed up in the ESL school.
Practicing speaking with my wife and studying at school, I see that I’m getting better in the English language. I have learned with all this that I don’t have to waste time. I can use it to learn something that’s very important in the everyday life. I also learned don’t wait to be in need to decide to learn something. Speaking the English language, I feel more comfortable in this country.


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Fire Alarm


My name is Zinat. I lived in Egypt. I am 63 years old. Some day, I was cooking, but the smoke started the alarm. The fireman came to me. The fireman stopped the alarm, but I couldn’t speak with him. I learned I want to learn English. Learning English is important.