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5 Mistakes I Made After Moving To A New Country

Wenting Ao March 7, 2019

When I first studied abroad in America, I encountered many awkward situations leading to a lot of funny situations because I was not familiar with American culture. Now, after I have been living here for several years, it is so funny when I look back at all of these mistakes.   

1. Asked for A Cup of Hot Water in An American Restaurant

Americans never drink hot water, but drinking hot water is such a common thing in China. So, it seemed natural for me to ask for hot water when I first went to an American restaurant. Then, the waitress gave me a confused look. I thought maybe the waitress did not understand what I said, so I tried rephrasing hot water in other ways such as boiled water or warm water, but the waitress still gave me a cup of cold water with no ice in it. At that time, I felt so weird and did not understand why it was so difficult to get a cup of hot water in such a developed country.

2. I Looked Up When People Asked Me, “What’s Up?”

“What’s up?” was definitely the most confusing question for me when I first started to live in America. When I first heard about the phrase, “what’s up,” I naturally looked up and stared at the sky and said, “there is nothing.” Now, whenever I think back on my behavior at the time, I laugh at how foolish I was.  

3. I Responded “You’re Welcome” When I Heard Someone Says “Sorry”

Honestly, I did not know how to respond to “sorry” when I first came here, and I had never learned how to answer sorry from my previous English textbooks. Therefore, when I first met someone who said it to me, I panicked a little and felt that I needed to say something back. After a few seconds of silence, I was quickly searching for appropriate English phrases in my head. Finally, I said “you’re welcome” back to the person who said “sorry” to me, and I read the person looked shocked. I felt so awkward I used hands to cover my face.  

4. I Sat in The Classroom 30 Minutes Before the Class Started

I still remember the first class I took in America, and I went to the class 30 minutes before the class started because I was so nervous about my first class at the university. However, I quickly realized no one showed up that early, and even the professor arrived only 20 minutes before class. Back in my home country, professors will use before-class-time to talk to students, but the professor did not talk at all. So after I awkwardly introduced myself, all I could do was watch the professor for the rest of the time until class started.   

5. I Answered “China” When The Uber Driver Asked Me “Where Are You Going?”

This funny memory actually happened after I had lived in America for almost a year! On that day, I was going to the airport to take a flight back to China. After I got into the Uber, the uber driver asked me as usual, “Where are you going?” I answered, “China” with excitement. I immediately felt the air freeze between us. After a few seconds of silence, the driver sighed and said to the other passenger, “Well, you will never know who are you going to meet each day.” I felt that I had said something wrong, so I added, “I mean I am going to the airport, but my flight is going to China.” The other passenger laughed a little bit and said, “Yeah, I felt so creepy when you said, ‘I’m are going to China!’” At that time, I really wanted to find a hole and bury myself for a little while.

Everyone will make mistakes after they move to a new environment. Although these situations will make you feel disappointed or awkward sometimes, everything has a process. I hope everyone will get through the transitional period faster and immerse themselves in their new country. Despite these mistakes, there is so much to learn from living somewhere new!