1. After 11 hours of being stuck in a plane, after filling out the last bureaucratic requirement needed to enter the U.S.A., all you want it to pass the customs and the border agents and breathe american air. Afterall, it’s the visa application, the visa interview, the health insurance, the plane ticket, the appartment rental, the university project… argh.. But when you get out of the plane, there’s a mix of relief and aprehension in you. And while you walk up to the agent that’s gonna stamp your visa (or not) the equilibrium shifts to aprehension quite a bit. And then, it all goes away for a bit, when after a brief interrogation (what will you do around here, how long, do you have a place to stay, etc) the officer closes your passport with a snap, hands it back to you, and smile whiles saying: “Welcome to the United States of America sir! Enjoy your stay!”. And might I add, quite enthusiastically.
2. You’re walking down the street in downtown Palo Alto. An asian/indian in his mid-twenties walks past you, happily yapping to his absurdely small white earpiece which is connected to his black iPhone, held firmly on his hand. Dressed in suits, or just with the suit jacket over a pair of light blue jeans, the white shirt unbuttoned in the first two cases. And then another walks by, and then another, then another, and yet another. You stop. You look around. And you easily you count 5 of these typical yuppies in a 10m radius.
3. It’s lunch time! Suspend the laptop, close the notebook, wash the hands. Go out of the office, out of the lab, out of the south wing of the James T. Clark Center. Get down the stairs, walk in the cafeteria. Get in line for a burrito, or for a burger, or for whatever they offer for 6$. Then, they start getting in. Dressed in their blue hospital coats, stethoscope hung by their necks, small ID card attached somewhere saying “Medical Student”. Ok.. where’s Dr. Meredith Gray? Or the guy from Scrubs?
4. 9 in the morning. I leave my appartment in East Palo Alto and cross the bridge to the civilized world. Turn right on Hamilton Av. From there on, I’m not in Palo Alto. I’m in Wisteria Lane. Jogging housewives run past greeting a happy “Good morning!”, while others just walk their dogs. Some tend their gardens, while others wash their cars. Some of the husbands pick up the mail, others leave in their SUVs for work. One thing in common (and nice): they all say “good morning” or at least smile at you as you walk past.
I’ve been here for less than a week and I’ve already noticed these 4. I’m sure that I’ve noticed way more but I just can’t remember. I had a picture of America before coming here, drawn by TV Series and movies. It matches reality. RMSD is less than 1 Angstrom. Amazing :D