We arrived in the United States on April 18th and everything has been a whirlwind since – so much to do and so many people to see 🙂 I will say that while I was very enthusiastic to see my family again, the prospect of living in America (i.e. leaving Romania) wasn’t the most exciting for me. However, I am enjoying seeing my country through my husband’s eyes.
So here’s a quick rundown of the past month for us:
We ended up leaving Zarnesti at about one in the morning in order to make our 6am flight. Obviously, this was out of an abundance of caution because they tell you to get to the airport at least two hours early for international flights and it takes 2.5 hours to get to the airport in Bucharest. OTP airport is not like Hartsfield-Jackson though, and we were through security and customs in ten minutes tops.
The funniest moment of our whole trip happened at the Bucharest airport. We had our dog with us on a leash and harness (since he gets so excited with all the people and PULLS EVERYWHERE). At security, I walk up the metal detector and the security lady tells me the dog should be “free” and the leash and harness should go through the x-ray. Okay, lady, whatever you say…I took them off Louis and put them on the x-ray belt, and in the half second that took me, he had run through the x-ray machine to the security lady. That made all of the security people laugh and she picked him up and brought him back to me (to Louis’s chagrin). Sadly, it didn’t save me from getting a full body frisking, which happens to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I fly out from OTP. And let me tell you, they are very thorough.
We flew with TapPortugal which was surprisingly nice for a budget airfare option. I had expected it to be more like WizzAir, but the seats were comfy and they made some nice accommodations for us since we had the dog.
We landed in Boston and Claudiu had no problems going through with his K1 visa. After you land, they separate you into two lines, one for passport holders and one for visa holders. Before we separated for the lines, we agreed to wait for one another at the other side of the checkpoint. Well, since I had the dog, the border officer called someone else to escort me to the “special” side of the airport where they inspect animals and other weird objects (some guy brought a cake?). Once you go into the special part of the airport, you can’t go back. Like Gandalf said, you shall not pass. Anyway, the people at the Boston airport are the nicest people ever because I explained our situation with my fiance being separated and how I had no way to tell him where I was, one of the special inspection guys went to find Claudiu and brought him to me. I can’t tell you how happy I was. Poor Clau was just standing there, waiting on me like we agreed. This panic being passed, I was so happy that we were both there, together, in AMERICA! Everything is shiny! Everyone is friendly! People respect each other in line! While we waited on our ATL flight, we grabbed a burger.
My parents picked us up in Atlanta (I cried, of course) and then drove us to our new home, their basement. You guys. This basement is the nicest basement I’ve ever seen. We’ve got two bedrooms, bathroom, full kitchen, living, and dining area.
We have an amazing porch that looks out into almost full nature – we have spent so much time just chilling on this porch. We’ve seen deer, snakes, all kinds of birds, and Clau’s favorite, squirrels. It’s so great to be back with my family and we’ve started really settling in here. I got a job teaching for the next year at a local school, so we’re all set 🙂
We also got married! One of the agreements of the K1 visa is that you must marry within 90 days of arriving. So on April 26th, we had a civil ceremony with just us, my parents, and the officiant. We will have our real “wedding” in October in Asheville, North Carolina. We also filed for the second part of K1 process, the “adjustment of status”, which will allow Clau to work in the United States and travel internationally. Again, a ridiculous wait time on this part of the visa, but this is par for the course of #visalife. Legally immigrating to the United States is not fast, cheap, or fun.
We’ve done some fun day trips to places, my favorite being Amicalola Falls. We hiked up to the top of the waterfall (hike in this sense really just meant “climb 1,000 stairs until you die”), but the view was so worth it. We also found a neat ADA compliant trail for my Dad so he could also enjoy the waterfall view.
Being the daughter of a dad who has to use a wheelchair has made a fierce supporter for disability accommodations at state and federally funded locations. If you are paying taxes to support these sites, you should be able to enjoy them just like any other able-bodied person. If Romania wants to increase their tourism revenue, they should begin to implement more of these accommodations for disabled and elderly people. I know a lot of baby boomers with disposable income who would love to enjoy Romania, but can’t fathom all the stairs and tiny elevators that even the higher end hotels offer (here’s looking at you, Ambient Hotel in Brasov).
Claudiu has really enjoyed his time in the US so far. Like I said before, I really like seeing my country through his eyes. He loves how everyone cuts their grass and how far apart all the houses are. He’s also amazed at all the landscaping.
He can’t believe how helpful the retail workers are – or how considerate people are at the store (for example, in the US, when someone is looking at an aisle from far away and you need to walk between them and that aisle, you say “excuse me” – usually quietly, but still). Most of all, he is just amazed by how many squirrels we have 😀
One idea that he’s talked about a lot is the concept of the four way stop. In our small town, we don’t always have traffic lights. Instead, we have a four way stop. Whoever stops at the stop sign first gets to go first. Drivers notice when they stop and whose turn is next. They wait. Patiently (usually). Claudiu has talked about how amazing it is that people actually respect the idea of the four way stop. That in Romania, no one would respect this because most drivers have a “me first” attitude. I’m not saying American drivers don’t have a “me first” attitude because some of them totally do, but it made me realize that here people value the idea of taking turns and “first come, first serve”. Intrinsic societal values that were taught to us as children in school.
He loves barbecue and Chik-Fil-A.
I made him try moon pies 😀 I don’t know if these are a thing outside of Georgia, but growing up, I always got one of these at the store.
We are very happy to be together and to be married, but we miss our Romanian family and friends.
Thanks for reading this far 🙂 I am still keeping up with what’s going on Romania, and I will make some posts every now and then about us here in America and current events in Romania.