When you or your spouse immigrated to a Western country what was strange?

My wife arrived in California after 6 months of waiting. I returned to my home town in January. We lived together in Singapore (five years), and got married in 2012. She is from Yangoon Burma.

I opened the door on the truck, but she went to the other side. It seems my Jeep has steering wheel on the wrong side.

She made breakfast. She washed, dried, and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I guess I have to explain that one.

She also did not understand why we have two washing machines. She had never seen a separate washer and dryer. In most of Asia you either own a combo, or you hang your clothing outside to dry.

She has never seen a vacuum cleaner.


She thought it was strange that I own a desktop computer. Computers became a mainstay in Myanmar (Burma) in about 2010 or so. Laptops, then smartphones, then tablets became something that could be found in ever the poorest of homes. But, desktops were only found at the office, and at internet cafes.

5 Answers

  • 2 years ago

    After living in Singapore for so many years, she should be somewhat more acculturated. On the other hand, Vietnamese refugees sponsored by a church discovered they did not know what canned goods were, did not know what a can opener was or how to use, and nearly asphyxiated (carbon monoxide poisoning) the entire family by having a hibachi in the living room they were using for cooking & heating.

    You have a very long haul teaching her to use common appliances, and a very great deal more. Other problems: Asians tend not to queue up, so she may push her way into checkout lines at the supermarket (that will get her a lot of nasty comments since that is extremely rude!). Bathroom habits. Food - what she will & won't eat, and not all Burmese products are going to be available in US. Expect to have issues for several years.

  • 2 years ago

    When moving to some other country many things are strange and just done different.

    In the old days the public telephone was a mystery until it was explained


    If you grow up using one side for the driver it takes while to learn the new side depending if you are driver or passenger.

    Yangon is not some rural village. That you are used to a particular shape of bus stop sign or the meaning of different colors on a bus are the little things needed to be learned. Seriously riding a pony in one place is a lot different than riding the dog. Does your local bus fleet park at night in a garage, or the barns.

    A bus is a bus. Sure it is a Pocono Pony is just like a Greyhound a bus.Greyhound racing is buses street racing?

    Why the combo washer dryer. Simple it takes less space. In most places on the planet Urban space is a premium price and every inch is used as best you can. My favorite in the other land was rental suitcases.

    When not being used they take up too much room in your home.When you know why it makes more sense to rent.than buy one you need to store when not using it.

    Finding large spaces with NO ONE walking was my first surprise. Walking to the bus or to buy a loaf of bread. Children WALKING to school without a helicopter parent hovering was a rare site.

    Do you expect a person from out of state to know the difference between the sheriff, state patrol and local police when pulled over for speeding. Uniforms in many styles. the newcomer learns them over time just like you did years ago.

    Things like a shopping trip to the local grocer stuff is just displayed different, different brand names and sizes. You get the feeling every time you go to that NEW to you place.

    For the newcomer EVERYTHING is the new place, the new road, the new park or whatever.Thousands of things similar others are just different,

    Driving on the left or right is different . A stop sign is a stop sign.May have some different pattern of letters but means the same.

    I have seen the signs in a park. DO NOT Walk on the grass. Also been in a park that installed a sign that said please walk on the grass.

    The big change is largeness of stuff. The fridge is not small and contents used in a day or two. Shopping for groceries many times a week for a small amount is just different than loading up once or twice a month and hauling it home to the in home pantry.

    The time flowers bloom is just different. the newcomers take time to adjust some flowers are new to them and some they know do not exist in your area.

    My spouse was first shocked by all one person in car passing by. Such a waste was the comment at the time. The concept of family and the duties expected is just different.

    Dealing with officials just different. The expectation of some extra payment some call a bribe.

    Tens of thousands of petty regulations you have learned over the years take a while for the newcomer.

    As the days turn into months and the months to years the strange new things are just less and less.

    California while not a country does have its things that are just not in other parts of the US.

    High school credit for a drivers license. A teen owning their own car and many other things you learned over a decade or two just different than the other place. One is not right and the other wrong JUST DIFFERENT.

    Takes time to learn often with just answering a WHY question.

    She has never seen a vacuum cleaner.SO WHAT. You do not need one to keep a house clean. It helps if you have carpets. The world survived centuries without vacuums in your house. Broom and mop cleans most places very well.

  • 2 years ago

    She will adjust quickly. Don't worry about it.

    Not spouse, but I have had numerous friends or acquaintances who moved to the USA long-term from both developed and developing nations. They all rapidly became accustomed to the issues like you describe.

    The ones from developing nations had the greatest difficulty accepting the reality they had to obey the traffic laws. It would usually take multiple traffic tickets for them to understand:

    1. Yes, the traffic laws are enforced.

    2. No, the police and the judge don't care that their father is a Sheikh.

    3. No, they can't bribe the police or the judge.

  • Edwena
    Lv 7
    2 years ago

    Driving a car means you having to know how to get back home. It is not like big city metros and buses. With that was learning how to read a map, and which street is the name on the street sign.

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  • You're discussing America, quit pretending you're some Cosmopolitan world traveler.

    There are a lot of "inventions" Americans accept as normal which aren't normal even in other developed nations. No different from the way East Coasters view space and things which take up space differently than Midwesterners or the way that Californians are obsessed with water in a a way someone from Michigan will never be.

    As for the dishwasher thing, My father does this, because he has an old crappy dishwasher, so you either wash the dishes before or after using it.

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