What I am (still) grateful for after 2 years in the US

The crisp morning air stung my cheeks as I laced up my running shoes, the golden glow of sunrise painting the San Francisco Bay in soft hues. Two years ago, this scene would have seemed unimaginable – an escape from the perpetual humidity, replaced by a playground of endless blue skies and breathtaking vistas. Today, as I set off for my daily jog along the scenic coastal trail, my heart still overflows with gratitude for the unexpected gifts this new land has bestowed. Here are what I am still grateful for after 2 years in the US.

Table of Contents

The blue sky and sunny weather in California.

The temperate climate in the San Francisco Bay Area is much appreciated. It makes living really easy. As someone who is from Southeast Asia, we appreciate the clear, blue sky a lot. In Southeast Asia, the sky is often cloudy so it is very rare that you see a blue sky, without any cloud.

If we want to experience snow, we can just drive to Lake Tahoe, Reno, or Yosemite, which is not that far away. On the other hand, summer in Los Angeles is super hot, similar to the weather in Southeast Asia.

Clean air

The air quality index is often below 40 almost every day. “Good” quality is between 0 – 50.

Even in a clean country like Singapore, almost every year, Singapore still suffers from the haze due to forest burning in Indonesia.

Easy access to jogging along the sea

Another cold winter run, Dec 11 #morningexercise #morningrunner #nature

And of course, jogging in a temperate climate is a lot more enjoyable than in a hot and humid weather.

Easy access to nature

For example, this park and natural preserve is less than 20 min from our place.

Majestic national parks

The US is a huge country with more than sixty national parks. In two years, we are lucky enough to have been to about 12 of them: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Pinnacles, Redwood, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Lassen Volcanic, and Grand Canyon.

You can read more about our adventures and tips for different national parks below:

Yellowstone National Park

Pacific NorthWest National Parks: Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Crater Lake and Lassen.

Joshua Tree National Park

Yosemite National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Zion National Park

Trouble-free road trips with plenty of scenic drives (touch wood)

Driving to Zion National Park Thanksgiving 2023

Flowers are (still) very nice

Stable US dollar strength against other currencies

US dollar is (still) holding up ok against other currencies. That is great news because that means our purchasing power is not impacted much when we travel outside of the US.

K-12 education in the US is very different from Asia

What we mean by this? Well, at least in California, the education seems to focus a lot on critical thinking, reasoning, and the fun of learning, which is good. Equal emphasis is placed on social studies, art vs STEM subjects (science, maths, physics, etc…)

Our daughter seems to enjoy social studies or English/Language/Art a lot more than STEM 😐

You can read more about the differences here: “We bake and join clay club” – one of the main differences between elementary schools in the US and Singapore.

Not everything is rosy

Of course, not everything is rosy, especially during the first 6 months after we moved here. One of the reasons why I have written more than 90 articles about “expats in the US” is because we had to learn a lot of new things like:

The cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area is prohibitively high. This issue and the high state income tax mean that disposable income left for everything else is limited.

As for the people, we have come across many nice people who have helped us along the way and also many aggressive/crazy individuals we need to deal with. It is a big country with more than three hundred and forty million people after all.

More cultural nuances and life situations to get used to, to learn, and to grow. For example, now, I understand a lot more about the working culture and style on the West Coast vs East Coast, at least when it comes to the advertising industry.

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