Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giving birth in US

I was blessed to have my first baby in the US. Obviously I have nothing compare it to - I never had a baby in Ukraine. Or anywhere else for that matter. But a few friends of mine were pregnant pretty much at the same time as myself. So we talked. It was very interesting to compare, especially the little things. For example, in Ukraine no pregnant woman is told not to eat deli lunch meats or brie cheese. Raw eggs and sushi - well that's obviously an easy way to get listeria, even in Ukraine. But not cold meats or brie (which I missed oh so much!). In Ukraine nursing mothers aren't allowed to eat raw fruit of vegetables - at least not in the first couple of days after delivery. Gas? Bad for mom or the breastfed baby? Who knows why. But in the hospital - just hours after delivery - they brought me a salad from fresh veggies. Oh and broccoli and green beans, what! But they must know better - it's a hospital. In Ukraine a newborn baby should sleep on a side (not to choke on his own spit up). In US it's a big no-no - only on the back to avoid the risk of SIDS.

Anyways, those are just a few things from the top of my head. The biggest difference in my opinion is the way women are treated. All of my pregnant girlfriends in Ukraine delivered healthy beautiful babies, some births were more complicated then others. One of my friends had a partial placenta previa and was told in the US she would have to get a C-section for sure. But she went to Ukraine to be with her family for the birth of her first baby and had a natural delivery of a healthy 10-pound baby boy (yikes!). Anyways, I have no doubts about professionalism and experience of Ukrainian OB's.

But... one of my friends was told never to come back to the hospital where she had her baby - because she was too loud (and maybe a bit obnoxious - although they didn't say that to her face). How weird is that? I mean, yes - a woman in labor may become a little less patient, a little more mean to the medical staff and a little more loud. But hey, she has a person coming out of her! That's a little uncomfortable, bear with her. Nurses in the delivery room should know better.

So I am especially grateful for having my boy here. Not only because of the high quality medical care, a quick birth without complications, a healthy baby that was well-taken care for. Those are the things I am most grateful for of course. But I'm also especially thankful for the way I was treated. All the nurses, and my doc were so encouraging and sweet, willing to answer all of my questions and help me with any concerns. My stay in the hospital was more like a mini-vacation - I was checked up on every hour, meals delivered to my room, unlimited drinks and snacks, TV and comfortable bed, oh and babysitting available 24/7 - I don't have this luxury anymore! The hospital took such great care of me and my baby - and I'll be forever grateful for that. Upon my arrival home I got a few phone calls - from a lactation consultant and from a nutritionist - just to check on me, just to see how I was doing and if I was struggling with this whole new motherhood/breastfeeding deal. The lactation consultant would even come over to see me at home free of charge - if that was necessary. It brought tears to my eyes.

I definitely don't take it for granted living here, in the US. And being able to welcome our baby here was one of the biggest gifts I have ever received.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fruit flies!

Ok, this has nothing to do with American or Ukrainian lifestyles, culture or economics. Simply what has to do with nature and the biological differences.

The only time I had a real issue with fruit flies while living in Ukraine is when someone left a napkin soaked in some sticky liquid in one of my cupboards. I don't know why. But it occurred after one of the many parties we had, and someone must have spilled something and had mistaken my cupboard for a trashcan. Anyways, for about a week after, my kitchen ceiling was covered (literally) with fruit flies. We used vacuum cleaner to clear the air. But the next day there were as many, if not more. I scrubbed and I cleaned every surface in my kitchen, using hard core cleaning liquids, chlorine and what not. It was obvious that something was rotten somewhere, otherwise they would be gone already. So one day I made it my goal to find the source of the problem - the cause of multiplying and happy life of my unwanted guests. So when I finally found that stupid napkin (oh it was disgusting), and disinfected the whole area, the fruit flies were gone. Forever.

I mean I would see an occasional one or two if we had a bowl of fruit somewhere - but not a ceiling covered with them.

Now that we live in Maryland... oh boy. I am told that fruit flies is just something people live with here in Delmarva once the fall season comes. There's no fruit, vegetables or any edible thing uncovered in our kitchen. I became a clean-freak and used up lots of bottles of all kinds of cleaning supplies. It's been about a month that we've had fruit flies. And nothing helps. And I'm told the only thing that will help us rid of them is cold weather. And I hate to give up summer and my favorite time of the year - golden fall with its gentle sun and fresh breeze. But I think I'm about ready for winter if this is the only thing that will help.

As much as I hated finding that yukky sticky napkin, I feel like it's better when you can locate the root of the problem and take care of that. Rather than have everyday battles with those fruit flies and know that they'll win anyway.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is a 'bed' really a bed?

One thing I found very curious in America is a fact that when someone says 'bed', what he really means is:

a) a bed frame (most likely just a metal carcass) or
b) a headboard or
c) a mattress or
d) a box spring.

When I was looking online for a bed to buy I was surprised to see how expensive they all were, only to be even more shocked when I saw in the description: 'mattress and box spring not included'. My question was - then was IS included? What are you actually supposed to sleep on if you're getting an empty 'bed'.

So buying a bed is like putting a puzzle together. First you get a mattress and a box spring for about $600+ (cuz that is the heart of the bed, lets face it). Then - if budget allows - the metal frame - $150+ (by this point your bed actually feels comfortable, but it still looks incomplete). But if you really want to have a luxurious sleeping arrangement - you spend another $400+ for a headboard. A just now your bed is complete.

This is just a warning for those of you Europeans who are planning to buy a bed in America.

If you were to buy a bed in Ukraine, and you'd see a price tag in the store - "??? hrn for a bed" - you'd know for sure that for this price you're getting the whole package. They will bring your new bed into your bedroom in one piece. End of story (oh, and there is no such thing as a 'bed frame' or a 'box spring').

But there is one thing I absolutely love about American beds. Their standard sizes: twin, full, queen and king. Getting sheets is never a problem. If you know you have a full bed, there's no need to write down measurements when going to look for new bedding. And I do like the whole fitted sheets thing. Genius.

But I do think that just a plain sheet to go under the comforter is... well, not so comfortable. I prefer the European style - duvets. It's more comfortable and more hygienic.

Oh, and what's the deal with the twin bed? How small and short should the twins be to fit in one bed like that?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Missing sidewalks and crossings...

Today I'm going to talk about something that may be the most frustrating to me about living in the US. I must say, my American friends normally take it very personally and even get offended. But it's the truth, and the truth needs to be vocalized...

When living in Boston, I absolutely loved that I could get nearly anywhere using public transportation - the T - as they call it. I loved having my Charlie weekly card with unlimited T passes on it, and being able to get off a few stops before my final destination - so I could enjoy a little walk if I had some time on my hands. I liked getting off on random T stations - the ones I've never been on - just to explore the area. And I was calmed by the feeling of knowing there is no way I can get totally lost - because there's always some T station somewhere nearby, and from there I know I'll find my way home. It was so great being able to run downstairs to the nearby convenience store (1 min away) if on a Sunday morning we realized we're out of cream for our coffee (some would even run out wearing their pj's, I wouldn't, but it's still kinda cool to know you can). Grocery store would be a little further - a 5 min walk. Post office, drugstore, the gym, Russian grocery store 'Berezka' with all of my favorite things - everything no further than 10 min away from home. Not only did it save us so much time to have all of those things so close, both Jamie and I just looooooved walking everywhere, especially on a nice day.

Now we live in a small town (well when I say 'small' I actually mean 'short', because the territory is actually not that small, it's just a "town"-type place, with no tall buildings or skyscrapers like in a large city). And I love it for the most part. First of all, because this is where my husband grew up. And I enjoy exploring his past, going to the places he went to when he was a little boy, eating in those diners where he went with his friends, getting to know his church family better. In fact, getting to know his past gives me an opportunity to get to know my husband better which is pretty amazing.

BUT. I don't drive. I mean, I do occasionally - if my driver's permit and Jamie are with me - but I don't have a driver's license. Not yet. And even if I did have it, I would barely use it, because we have one vehicle and Jamie takes it to work.

And I must say I'm not a fan of not being able to get anything done without a car. I have to be so thorough every time I get to go to the grocery store, making sure I don't forget anything at all. Because who knows when I'll have another chance to do some shopping. And it's fine when I'm just getting the things for home - I normally know what I need. But what if I have a sudden craving for an Almond Joy bar? Or what if I cut myself real bad and realize we're out of band aids? I find it ridiculous that in order for me to complete the most primitive daily tasks I need to ask someone to take me to the store. Honestly, it makes me feel like a vulnerable and helpless child in constant need of her parents' guidance, protection and care. And that's not a bad feeling. Just not for an adult who needs to be taking care of her own family now.

Oh, and I miss the long walks without a purpose... Here, in order to take a nice long walk (and I don't mean a walk around the neighborhood which in order for it to be a long one, you'll need to repeat 10 times) you actually need to drive somewhere first - to a local park for instance.

So as ridiculous as it sounds, without a car you can't even take a walk.

And what's up with the sidewalks or pedestrian crossings? Where are they? Are pedestrians not humans? And don't tell me people don't need them. I've seen some suicidal freaks trying to cross Route 13 in Salisbury. It's dangerous! But sometimes you need to cross the road. And unfortunately flying over is not an option yet. So why not do something for pedestrians? I'm sure a lot of accidents would be avoided.

Jamie and I were looking at apartments to rent. And one place was conveniently located just 1 mile away from his job. I was so excited! It meant Jamie could actually walk to work - good for health, good for our family budget, and I would get to have the car in case I needed to go anywhere during the day. So convenient! But when we saw what it was actually like we realized it is simply not doable. Between our potential new home and Jamie's office there were roads with busy traffic and a large field covered with brown grass. The field - although not in use - is most likely somebody's private property, it probably would be wrong to walk across it. Plus in a rainy/snowy weather you'd need some serious rubber boots to get through the dirt (and try not to get stuck in the mud). I was so disappointed when I saw this pitiful situation: 'But where are the sidewalks? It would be so convenient!' And then Jamie pointed to a teeny little sidewalk along the field - the only problem with it was that it started from nowhere and ended in about 40 feet... and even if you were on that sidewalk, there would be nowhere to go next because you wouldn't be able to cross the road safely. Sad.

I know, Americans will probably defend their lifestyle by saying 'You chose to live in a small town. Everyone knows a car is a necessity here. If you want to be able to walk everywhere, you should be living in a city'.
Well, I agree. But since what I'm doing here is comparing Ukraine and the US, let me just say - it IS different in Ukraine. No matter, whether it's a large city or a little village, there is always some sort of public transportation - a tram, a bus, a shuttle bus. And even if it doesn't go past your house, you can always walk to the bus stop which can't be further than 5-10 min away. But if it IS that 'far' to walk, most likely there is going to be a little grocery store (like American convenience stores) - with most of the everyday necessities sold there. And of course there would be a kindergarten and a school, a church, a drugstore and a barber shop - walking distance from pretty much any house. And this is same for every large city and a village in Ukraine. Oh, and you'll find sidewalks and pedestrian crossings all over the country. Of course a lot of it has to do with the fact that not everyone can afford a car in Ukraine. That's why the government tries to make it convenient for the 'walking nation'.

But I honestly think that there wouldn't be anything wrong with having pedestrian conveniences in a country 'on the wheels'. Those who like driving everywhere would still be able to do it, while those preferring to walk would have that opportunity, too. Equal rights, people!

Anyways, I'm not complaining here. Simply comparing and analyzing. And this whole 'no walking, just driving' experience may actually broaden my horizons and motivate me to get my driver's license sooner and start reading maps better.

Friday, February 11, 2011

'Baby boom' support groups

Well, first of all let me apologize for not being consistent in my posts. A lot has changed since my last one, and life has been very hectic. But life also gave me a few more things to write about. So, here goes...

This year has been a very blessed one when it comes to babies, a real baby boom, honestly. I guess I'm just at that age when all of my married friends are ready for cute, chubby, delicious additions. Anyone who had a baby, or have been around a young family in the first couple of weeks after the baby arrives, knows: it's a huge challenge and a lot of work. A lot of stress and sleepless nights. And that part is the same for both US and Ukraine. And any country on the earth. What's different is how people respond to these circumstances.

In Ukraine all the work falls on the young parents (which is totally legitimate - 'your baby - you deal with it'). The only other people whose routine is most likely effected are the new grandparents. They may come to help with the baby, give a couple pieces of advise, let the new mom sleep for a couple of hours... It's a huge advantage to have a Grandma around (and thank God for them!!!), but not everyone has a luxury to live in the same city (or even on the same continent - as in my case). And then what do you do? Well, you deal with it: exhaust, sleepless nights, husband at work all day (or night - depends) and on top of that - cooking, cleaning, trying to deal with a crying baby which you have no idea how to do. And sometimes postpartum depression adds to the list - and that does not help at all...

To my surprise in the US I noticed young families don't really need to deal with all of those things on their own. At least if you're a part of a certain community - for example a church. Doesn't matter if it's a big city or a small town - your church family will not let you down and will do whatever it takes to make this transition easier for you.

First, you have the baby shower (and you'll have one even if you don't go to church, as long as you have at least a few friends). People 'shower' you with baby gifts and necessities. I still can't comprehend this phenomenon. It makes me think of God's grace - every time I go to one of these parties - although I've only been to two of them - both for the same Mom-to-be :)))

There are online registries for those who can't make it to the 'shower' but would like to contribute and get something special for the baby.

What's next... Even before the baby comes, there's already a list of families willing to cook dinners for the new parents. It's such a brilliant idea! Whoever came up with it is a genius. So, basically there is one volunteer who decides to organize the dinner schedule. He or she asks the new parents about their food preferences (allergies are important), makes up a list of days (e.g. every other day - otherwise young families end up with more food than they can eat) and looks for people in church or among friends willing to cook meals. Most of the time there are enough people willing to do that, so each family on the list ends up cooking just one meal - and thanks to this simple system the new parents are provided with ready-cooked fresh meals for two-three weeks. What a huge help, I can't even imagine what relief it must be for the new parents to have someone do that for them!

And of course there's the simple everyday help that comes with close friends. When my sister-in-law had her baby, unfortunately her parents were not around. Her sister was - and that was a huge help and blessing. But what was even more surprising to me is that many of her friends would come over in the first couple of weeks to help with cleaning, organizing, just holding the baby - so the new Mom could simply take a shower (which would last longer than 3 minutes), etc. That to me is simply amazing.

Part of it is having good friends who are willing to stick around and do whatever helps. But I do believe that it's also a cultural thing. Ukrainians are very generous, kind and willing to help and sacrifice. But when it comes to babies, people tend to be more private, keeping their babies (and challenges they are facing) to themselves, not reaching out for help.

I really think we - Ukrainians - should reevaluate a few things, open up a bit, speak out - and there will be hundreds of people willing to help, support, encourage and pray with and for us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Expressing yourself

What I love about America is the people's freedom in mostly everything they do. Right now I'm thinking about the way people dress. Whatever is comfortable. Whatever looks good (in your personal opinion). Whatever fits; screams individuality; shines bright colors; attracts attention, etc.

I saw people wearing super-warm Uggs and flip-flops on the same day (summer or winter - it doesn't matter, you can see both types of footwear any time of the year). I saw professionally dressed women in pencil-skirts, wearing sneakers on their feet. I even saw a guy in a suit with his pants tucked in his socks! (it was raining - this way the bottom of his pants stayed semi-dry, I envied him, while dragging my jeans along the puddles).

But today I saw a guy who became the highlight of my curious observations. He was wearing real wooden clogs - the ones that people bring as a souvenir from Netherlands. He was actually wearing them. They looked soooo uncomfortable. But then again, I may be mistaken. And what was interesting is that it wasn't some teenager trying to express himself with a hundred tattoos and green mohawk. This one was an intelligent-looking 35-year-old balding man wearing casual clothes and with a stroller (baby in it). So I guess his thing is - patriotism...?

Love it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

being a stranger at home

Just got back from Ukraine. Three weeks at home were wonderful, but I couldn't help noticing how awkward it felt to be there after a year of life in the US. It's not that it was bad or anything. I just felt... out of place or something. I found myself being confused a lot more. And a lot more 'usual' things brought smile to my face now.

In fact Kiev is better than it has ever been. Everything is more modernized and simplified and clean... and yet. Well, you'll see what I mean in just a second.

Restrooms. Always a good place to start a story. I go into one in a shopping center. It's free - and that's already a big plus. No babushka by the entrance that takes your money and gives you a bill - 40 cm of toilet paper.
But. As I peek inside I see a sign on each stall door 'Toilet paper is by the entrance on your left'. Whoa! Thanks for the warning. I'm glad the sign was on the outside rather than on the inside of each stall. As I had my first chuckle and am on my way to wash my hands I see a sign by the soap: 'The soap is for hand use only' Hmm.... I wonder if people actually take showers in the sinks or do a bit of laundry here. And that was just the first day in Ukraine, and the first public restroom I went into. The other ones had babushkas in them of course. Although I was glad there was one in one of them who warned me and another young woman as we were going in: 'Girls, don't you worry when you see a man inside. It's just a plumber...' Hehe

Also, I forgot that every time you pay cash, the cashier asks you for an exact sum of money, or at least some odd amount so it's easier for her/him to give you change. For example I need to pay 7.32. I'm giving her 10 hrn. The question follows: 'Do you have 2.32 hrn?' Only because it's easier for her to give me 5 hrn instead of 2.68. They will never ever just give you your change.

I went to a cafe to meet a friend. The only place they had menus (and there were at least 20 copies) was right by the cashier. I asked her if I could take one and sit at the table while I decide and wait for my friend. She had such a confused and terrified look on her face: 'Only if you don't take it away with you!' I had to convince her that I'm not interested in framing it for my walls at home. This cafe was actually quite an adventure. First I shocked the cashier with my tactless question, and then I took somebody else's drink (they do the Starbuck's thing now, calling out your name when your order is ready). That's what I mean by feeling out of place. The last time I remember feeling so odd and embarrassed all the time was when I just moved to the US...

We went for the Independence Day celebration concert in Borispil - a small town in Ukraine. It was very sweet and homey. And it brought so much warmth to my heart to see how sincere and genuine Ukrainian people are. The mayor of the city (who I was sitting by without realizing it) was rewarding the simple people of Borispil with awards and special thanks: teachers and doctors, police officers and social workers, diligent students and neat homeowners with pretty green lawns and gardens. Many awards went to cleaners who keep the streets clean. And everybody was so grateful, tears in their eyes. And the mayor sincerely thanked everyone, giving them hugs and kisses. But what touched me the most was a veteran, an 80-year-old woman, who could hardly get up on her feet. But when she did, she recited a poem about the bread being a head to everything, and presented the mayor with a karavay - a Ukrainian traditional bread symbolizing a lot of good things (the list is too long, those interested can google it). The mayor was very touched, he asked his assistant to cut the karavay and serve it to all the guests. Honestly, I felt like we were all a big family. It was so sweet. I love Ukrainians and their big hearts and am so proud to be one of them.

What a trip! I can't wait to go back and experience more of these wonders.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Athletic and healthy

I always believed that Americans being an unhealthy (food related) and big (as in fat) nation is a stereotype. Now I'm convinced it really is a stereotype.

Of course, Boston is far from a typical American town. And yes, about 70% of locals are students or young professionals. And yes, Boston has a reputation of being a sporty city because of its famous annual Boston Marathon. And also Red Sox and Celtics, etc. But still - Boston is a rightful representative of the US nation. And it's far from the stereotype image engraved in most Ukrainians' (worlds'?) minds.

I've never seen this many joggers anywhere else in the world. It's amazing! No matter what the weather is, time of the day, holiday or weekday - there are crowds - literally - of joggers all over the city. A friend of mine from California was very surprised when we were showing him around: 'What happened? Where are they all running? What day is it today?' Yep, it's like that everyday. I see people with gym bags everywhere. Bikers, walkers, runners, canoers... you name it.

And people here are very fit. And attractive. And those who say that Ukrainian women are the most beautiful in the world - heh, come to Boston!
Before we moved to US, some people back in Ukraine told me things like: 'Oh, you're probably gonna gain weight, like everybody who goes to live to America' or 'It's those preservatives, antibiotics and growth hormones that they add into all their food that makes it so unhealthy - what are you gonna eat?!' Whether it's partly true - I don't know. But I must admit I was a little worried about my well-being (and by this pretty word I mean 'whether I'd get fat', because I've always been slightly overweight, and I just couldn't afford to gain more of that soft goodness). Another reason for my concern was the fact that I was raised mostly on my grandma's organic produce and, well, Ukrainian food, and didn't know how my body would respond to long-term commitment with American food. Also, I absolutely looooooove American sweets, especially chocolate chip cookies. Oh, actually I have a new favorite now - Whole Food's banana chocolate chip muffin - tastes like Heaven. So you see why I had reasons to be worried.

Well, it's been a little more than a year now, and all of my organs still function. Moreover, I lost some pounds and actually reached my 'ideal weight' as they call it. I work out at the gym regularly and have never felt better. Also, our eating habits got so much healthier! Jamie and I used to cook everything with lots of butter and mayonnaise, had barely any green, orange or yellow veggies on our menu, drank soda a lot more. Now we make sure we have plenty of color on our plates (most of the time we either roast or steam veggies), use mostly olive oil for cooking, try to drink more water and 100% juices, we also added tofu and quinoa (crazy healthy stuff) to our grocery list. Quite the change - at least for me (sigh... the joys of having a Dad who cooks amazingly delicious dishes, but also pretty unhealthy and fattening).
So, Ukrainian know-it-alls, we have a few things about healthy food and lifestyle to learn from Americans.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weirdos everywhere!

Okay, so Jamie says it's not a cultural thing. It's just... a thing. But honestly, Boston is the first place so far where I've seen anything like this.

People on the T (local subway) are really weird sometimes. Like 'psychopath' weird.

The guy with headphones in his ears, singing along OUT LOUD (like, really loud) - wouldn't be as bad if he wasn't also dancing to his music. Pretty good moves, actually. Some may say: oh, he is just free in expressing himself. Maybe. But so is the 'hissing guy', who hissed at me all the way to work? And the guy who was making obscene gestures to the people around him while waiting for the T. One of the things he did really offended another guy. In fact he came up to him and said 'What's your problem, man?!' I thought he would punch him in the face. The sad thing is - this strange guy seemed to not have control over his movements. I don't know if he was even aware of what he was doing.
Then there is this girl who does ALL of her makeup procedure on the T. She rushes in to find a seat available, so she can start her beauty session. And out come the foundation, the liners, the shades, the blush, tons of brushes, etc. etc. Her hands move vigorously as she applies a ton of foundation all over her head. Maybe it's only disturbing to me. I don't feel comfortable even putting some collorless lip balm on my lips as people are watching...

Also, this woman who clips her nails on the T. Ewwwwww..... Can you imagine? Pieces of her nails flying out into the crowd of people as she perfects her manicure...

But the weirdest of all the weird things is this. People around not only seem to be not bothered by it at all. They don't even notice it! (except for the guy who wanted to punch the other guy in the face)

So the question is: perhaps it really IS me who is the weird one - too concerned about what others may think, raised on the strict Soviet rules of public behavior? Or would all of those above mentioned things be a little out there for an average American, too?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Boston = a home for aliens

I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start from a very broad image, my biggest revelation since I moved to Boston.

God blessed me with a several amazing opportunities to travel through the US, as well as a few other countries. And everywhere I went, the question 'What is your name?' has always been followed by an 'Oh, so where are you from?' Either my strange name - Dasha - or my accent (which I do have no matter how hard I try to conceal it) give away my foreign self. But in Boston... so weird... I never know what's gonna follow the question 'What is your name?' No one seems to be surprised by my name, or accent, or appearance, or the color of my passport. They've heard names a lot harder to pronounce, and seen passports of all colors of a rainbow. The thing is - in Boston, MA everybody is from somewhere, mostly from abroad. Here I don't feel like an alien. I had this strange feeling - that I belong here - the moment we moved to the Bean town.

I remember as I first tried getting a coffee in Starbucks. I felt anxious placing my order, I repeated the phrase a few times in my head, perfecting it, making sure it was short and clear: 'A medium Latte with no sugar and a chocolate chip muffin, please'. Sounds so simple. So I thought... The guy taking my order didn't understand me. He asked me a question, that I in my turn did not understand either. It all went wrong. Apparently in Starbucks you're supposed to ask for a 'grande', instead of a 'medium'. I guess that caught him off guard. Although who doesn't understand the universal term 'medium'? Anyhow, I helplessly looked for Jamie - just what I really wanted to avoid doing on my difficult journey to independence. As he saw my eyes full of terror and confusion, he rushed to my rescue.
I got my latte after all. But my self dignity and confidence suffered badly. 'I can't speak English, Jamie! People don't understand me!' - I exclaimed in despair. 'It's not you!' - Jamie said. 'The guy can't speak English! He is Indian, his accent is much stronger than yours. I couldn't even understand him in the beginning, it took me a while to figure out what he was saying... People will be having trouble with understanding you - mostly because of their poor English. Don't judge them, they're foreigners.'

After this little incident, I'm not worried anymore about somebody not understanding me. They hear all kind of accents all the time and should be used to them by now. I'm sure mine isn't the worst they heard.

So yeah, Boston feels very natural and right. Any foreigner from anywhere in the world will feel at home here.