Five years ago, I entered a foreign country for the first time. Of all the foreign countries I could have gone to for my first time outside the Philippines, it had to be the United States. Plus I wasn’t just visiting, I was uprooting myself and migrating.
When I arrived, it was at night and your father – who was then my fiancé, was wondering if I noticed the smoothness of the ride, referring to the better quality of the roads. I never would have noticed if he hadn’t pointed it out. I did find it odd that I wasn’t dying from heat on a summer night. I was even wearing the same sweater I wore during the flight.
Many yearn to move to the United States to live the American Dream. Many Filipinos still do without knowing how tough it really is to make it here. I graduated with honors and was a licensed Chemical Engineer in the Philippines but when I came here, I had to start from scratch. Before I joined the multi-national company types I’m accustomed to, at some point, I became a gelato girl. And after I got burned out from roles in supply chain for some global brands, I’ve become a marketing analyst. The job is fun and occasionally challenging but it is in no way, shape or form an application of my college degree.
Money is not easy to come by and it is certainly not easy to keep. I never had a credit card in the Philippines. I didn’t need one. I never owned a car. I didn’t need one. I never had debt and I was able to save a good amount of money even with a pretty lavish lifestyle. Yes, your father and I still have our share of travels and food excursions, but not without adding more to an ever-growing mountain of debt.
It has been a rough five years and up to now, there are still things I’m getting used to. However, if I didn’t take a leap of faith, if I didn’t choose to leave my life in the Philippines, your father and I wouldn’t have been able to get married like we did. We wouldn’t have been able to walk this path which is now leading us to you.
I used to think that living the American Dream meant achieving a life of comfort and financial stability. But then, I realized that the American Dream can be anything I want it to be. Thus, for me, hard as life can be, the American Dream is this gift of being with the one I love, so that he and I can start this family and continue to grow old together.
To me, a Happy 5th Anniversary in the United States!