Ready to finally move into our apartment, I wanted to sit down and tell you of our experience in our first two weeks in the US. As you may have read in previous posts (here, here), in April we got the news that we were moving to Michigan for a great work opportunity for my man. Excitement is the right way to describe our first reaction, which included happiness, fear and sadness. But fast forward to the end of August, we’re standing at the airport in Amsterdam with 90 kg of our lives in the suitcases on our way to Detroit.
The flight was 11 hours in total, the longest I’d ever been on and as boring and terrible as I expected. I slept, watched movies, blogged, and made it though with a sore lower back that is still haunting me to this day. Note to self: more walking in the plane next time. Highlight of the flight was surely watching the glaciers of Greenland from the plane, a breathtaking view. Luckily we had no turbulence and landed smoothly.
We had arranged to stay at an AirBnb for the first two weeks. AirBnb is a bed&breakfast type of arrangement in which you get to stay in people’s homes for low fares. We reached our hosts easily calling an Uber. Now that’s a smart invention! You install the Uber app, request a ride, and if a driver accepts, they will drive you where you want. You pay with paypal, no cash needed and it is so much cheaper than taxis. The service is available internationally, but I had only heard of it in the US and our experience was great! You can check it out here.
Ann Arbor and University of Michigan
For the whole following week we were jet-lagged and woke up at 5-6 am every morning, napping in the afternoon and overall a bit out of phase. We nevertheless ventured out to discover town and the university. The city of Ann Arbor is hilly and green, oh and full of squirrels. EVERYWHERE! It is cut in half by the river Huron and centered around the University of Michigan. Founded in 1817, U of M is one of the top universities in the US and has three campuses in town, with beautiful old buildings, as well as a newer medical center.
We arrived a week before the start of fall semester so we fell in the middle of student introduction weeks. I was amazed by how the whole city was flooded by students in shorts and bikinis, bouncing from a fraternity house to another partying and playing beer pong. I thought I had been teleported in the series Greek (which we are now binge watching since Koen didn’t know what I was talking about).
Among my discoveries in the first few days is my never ending love for frozen yogurt (froyo) topped with fruit, chocolate chips, and anything else you can think of. Yum! Whereas one of the less positives is that we realized that without a car you don’t get anything done. Everything is on average 5-10 km away from the city, which makes life a bit harder.
Have you ever seen Extreme Couponing on TLC? Well, it’s all real! Coupons and discounts are a big deal in the US and for good reason. Food is a bit more expensive here than in Europe, and for food I mean fresh fruit, vegetables and basic ingredients that are as natural as possible. What is really cheap here is fast food and packaged foods, which we try to stay away from as much as possible. That said, prices change a lot from one supermarket to the next, with Wholefoods being the most expensive and having most luscious natural products. We are moving close to Trader Joe’s, which is supposed to be a good middle with great quality for affordable prices. We’ll keep you posted about that.
When it comes to other shopping, I’ve had easy access to many big “outlet-type” shops like Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Home Goods. I love these shops! You find high end expensive products priced down to much more affordable prices. They do not have a stable so if you see something you like/need, you have no certainty to find it again the next day. One of my greatest discoveries was to find my favorite Joico KPak Color Shampoo and Conditioner at Marshall’s marked down from $33 to $12. Jackpot! These shops have been super helpful to start gathering things for the new apartment.
The other shopping experience is entering Target or Walmart. These are HUGE shops that have everything you might need in one place. Groceries, clothes, accessories, beauty, pharmacy, electronics, home, kitchen, furniture. It is quite overwhelming. We were dropped off at Walmart by our host and didn’t even notice time passing when two hours later she picked us up. We went through maybe one quarter of the shop.
So shopping is a bit different that in Europe but promises to be a lot of fun. On main difference in the shopping experience in the US compared to Europe is that everything is located in big shopping areas outside of town and close to the big roads. There is no shopping-afternoon in the city center as I was used to. Here you take the car and drive 10-15 minutes to the closest shopping area, then move to the next. I am looking forward to getting a car to able to explore all the opportunities around.
Beauty and makeup shopping in the US is a topic I will reserve for a separate blog post, but I’ll just say that I haven’t been to Sephora yet, just because I’m afraid of how much money I could spend in there. The fear comes from a huge shopping cart I have ready on their online shop, ridiculous! Oh and you might get some sneak peaks of my purchases on instagram, because I can’t keep it all to myself, hehe.
So far we’ve seen the city of Ann Arbor, its hills and parks as well as the riverside. I’ve also found a pretty park with trails to run through and a froyo place close to our new apartment, which makes me very happy. I am still looking for a gym to sign up with and start lifting again because I miss it so much. Oh and a job, I’m still looking for a job. I have come over with a “spouse” visa which means am an attachment to my husband and cannot work until I receive permission to do so. That will take 3 (THREE!!) months in which I will focus on the blog and Youtube channel, so expect more content soon!
Today is moving day and I am absolutely excited to start furnishing and decorating our new apartment. There will be photos coming soon!
If you read so far, thank you and cheers for the patience! I hope you enjoy reading about our first experiences in the US and you can keep up with more daily updates on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).