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Twelve years ago I arrived to the Salt Lake City International Airport with broken luggage (it was duct taped all over to hold my precious possessions) in hand, and two hundred dollars in my wallet. I came to America with great expectations and hope for a better future. I had a very vague idea about my new-to-be homeland, mostly gained from American movies that I watched and books that I read.
I was a complete rookie without any knowledge of the English language or the country I was going to call my home.
Looking back at that girl in the airport with broken luggage and big hopes, I wish someone had told me then (in no particular order):
- How easy it is to get into debt.
- How difficult it is to get out of debt.
- How hard it is to learn English. But when you learn it, you feel unstoppable.
- Credit cards can be evil.
- Credit cards if used correctly can help you to travel.
- Credit score and credit reports.
- Be careful with student loans.
- Start saving for retirement as soon as you can.
- Get health insurance.
- Save money!
- Save some more!
- Beware of department store credit cards and high interest rates.
- Everything Apple.
- Broadway shows.
- The Superbowl, it’s commercials and half time show.
- A lot of people chew gum. All the time. Even on TV.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are available every day.
- Don’t start spending like crazy when you make some money.
- Don’t get into debt for a plain t-shirt and a pair of shoes.
- A car is a necessity not a luxury.
- You will never get rid of your accent.
- Racism is still a problem.
- Some folks still think that the Cold War never ended.
- People watch a lot of TV.
- Reality shows suck!
- Black Friday (WTF people?!)
- The Bill of Rights.
- The most complicated tax system in the world.
- Iced tea. Really?!
- Not everyone will know how to locate your country on a map.
- Not everyone will be able to find Russia on a map.
- The amazing Interstate Highway System.
- The biggest national debt in the world.
- Breakfast anytime.
- Drive-in movies! (I’ve been to one and that was enough.)
- Healthcare is outrageously expensive and not accessible to everyone.
- Health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, renters insurance.
- Junk food tastes good.
- Junk food makes you fat.
- Watch out for high fructose corn syrup!
- Don’t eat processed food.
- You will walk very little.
- You will drive a lot.
- Pet insurance and vet bills.