Saturday, March 1, 2008

Postcards from the green [card] I

Tiene 20 años, estudia actuaría, le gusta cocinar y tiene una paciencia infinita con los niños [o eso parece]. Se llama Juan Miguel Calvert y desde hace poco más de un mes se ha convertido en nuestro inquilino. Vino a tramitar su green card y su idea, por ahora, es contemplar la idea de en algún momento mudarse al gabacho. Su experiencia me parece prototípica de los asuntos que estamos intentando discutir en este blog y por eso le he pedido, y él amable, entusiasta y desinteresadamente ha accedido, que comparta su experiencia con PSN. Lo ha escrito en inglés y ésta es la primera entrega. Sigan leyendo y sabrán por qué.
Mil gracias a Juan Miguel por sus palabras, y por las risas que nos hemos echado editando su texto.

My experience so far
Juan Miguel Calvert

Let me tell you about myself so you may better understand what I’m about to relate to you. I was born in Mexico City July of 1987 to a Mexican mother and an American father (He is truly more Mexican than American). Ever since I have always lived there, same house and family and I must say not too bad at all.

About four months ago my parents and I decided that it would be convenient for me to have my American green card so that if I would decide to work in the U.S. in the future I would be able to. So I packed up my things and decided to temporarily drop out from the university [Actuary at Universidad Anáhuac], took a plane on January 15 and arrived in Houston. Once in the airport trouble wasn’t willing to wait for me to get settled in. Immigration decided to stop me for about five hours and question me (I know; it was fuuunnnn!!!). Once I was released, I left to find where to stay. A small hostel was the best I could do (not a nice place, believe me). I was tired and hungry so I decided to have a snack and go to bed.

In the next days and after dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy, I met with who was going to be my [green card] sponsor. [He's a] tall blond man [in his] mid fifties. [He's real] nice man. We went to lunch a couple of times where he told me about his endless adventures that went from marriages gone wrong to the Vietnam war. At first he was hesitant about becoming my sponsor, but after a couple of lunches together and meeting with the attorneys that are working on my case, he took a leap of faith and took me under his wing.

That same week I went to church like I usually do in Mexico, with no expectations of finding anything new or different, but was I wrong. Here is what happens when you go to church in Mexico: the mass starts on time but people like to get there five to ten minutes late, communion is dispensed through a couple of semi-organized lines and, well, the rest is just the father directing the service.

Over here it was a bit different. First off the father came pretty much with what could only be described as an entourage of little girls, boys, young men and more senior. But I thought, well, it's a big church, that must be why. After that we had a moment that came straight out of a musical. Everybody was singing along with what I call The Sarah Brightman of Catholic Singing: nice voice but, come on, this is church not The Phantom of the Opera, relax. That was a bit of a culture shock.

After a bit more than a week in Houston I moved to Austin, where I’m staying with some friends of my brother. They are the family of Antonio (yeah, this blog's creator). Well, they are pretty great I have to say. They have welcomed me with open arms (well, or that’s what I’ve seen). I’ve been here for a bit more than a month and it has been fun. Their two kids are great to be with. After the first few weeks of not doing much I got a push [from Valentina] in the right direction, and I started to look for volunteering opportunities, and after a couple of set backs I managed to become a tutor in a Public High School.

Now let me tell you about a thing that I have become acquainted to since I’ve been here, both in Houston and Austin: Public transportation sucks. What a nightmare. [It is] slow, expensive [in Houston], smelly and the company... Damn!!! Really, never use it, you are better off walking.

I would also like to tell you a little bit about Austin. Well, it's nice and weird, a lot of laid back kind of folks. Nice atmosphere, good weather, decent-looking girls and apparently it has a great night life which I cannot fully enjoy because public transportation ends way too early. Over all I think I started out slow, but I think I’m gaining speed and I’ll be all right.

To be continued...

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