I came to the U.S. with my mom and two older brothers, joining my dad who had already came to the U.S. seven years before us. Although it has been 20 years since arriving in the U.S., I still have some clear memories of my first days in the U.S.
The trip to the U.S. was the first time I traveled by airplane. At thirteen years old I was really fascinated by traveling across the time zones. The plane left the airport in China in the afternoon. After flying for over 12 hours, it still landed in the U.S. on the same day, even a few hours before the departure time. Even more memorable, I arrived in the U.S. on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1995). Every year when my family gets together for Christmas, we also celebrate our anniversary in the U.S. However, I was surprised to see how quiet it is on Christmas Eve and Christmas day in the U.S. All the stores where closed and there is hardly any people or cars outside. So glad that my dad had gotten me a Christmas teddy bear. Only later I learned that most people had done all the shopping and stays home for the actual celebration.
My first year in the U.S. was full of learning. Communication in English was hard at first. In addition to normal classes in school, I also had to take English as Second Language classes. I kept wondering why people called me "Man" because I couldn't tell the difference between "Man" and my name "Min".
As for transportation, riding the school bus was the first and fun experience as I used to walk to biking to school in China. It was so cool to see that when the stop sign on the side of the bus opens up, cars in both directions have to stop and let the kids walk safely. I also learned there are different crosswalks. At some cross roads, the cars just politely stop for me to cross. At others, there is a cross walk sign controlled by timer so I wait until it changes to walking symbol. However, at another kind of cross walk I waited for 30 minutes but still didn't get the walking symbol until I saw another pedestrian simply push a button on a pole. Then the walking symbol magically appears and all cars stops.
As I reflect on my first days experience in the U.S., my impression of the people are very polite, living in America is very orderly and full of opportunities. I am very thankful to be able to move here with my family.