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Coming to America

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

The cultural shock, big city and language barrier.


October 13th, 2001 - Serbia -> NYC -> Detroit, Michigan


Together with my brother, father and I, as we passed the last security check point in Detroit, walking out with our bags, and there was mom. Beautiful long dark hair, smiled and tears in her eyes, slim body and defiantly dressed to impress. My brother was ahead of me couple steps and she recognized him and gave him a big hug. As I was walking behind him, she wasn't able to recognize me. The shock in her face was how much I have grown up in 5 years. Big family hug and off we went to our home in a limo ride. My mom is always with class, never disappoints, traits I take with me to this day.


Serbian music blasting, we are all giggling and trying to embrace the moment happening. Our ride home was about an hour long, just long highway and stretched out landscape. Everything seemed big and distant. As our arrival home, we had beautiful dinner and warm welcoming. Happy to finally feel my moms presence after 5 years of not seeing her.


It took me about six months to a year to actually adjust to new reality, environment. New everything. Total cultural shock. I was already attending 9th grade, meeting new friends and connecting with Serbian community. I joined folklore for couple years, but that didn't last long since the group separated and everyone went off to collage.


During my high school years (2002-2005) I was observing a lot. Language barrier was a challenge. Learning English in Serbia was way different from speaking it in America. I had to take bilingual classes after school. I was already 16 and was able to get my driving license. Started working at Wendy's (my first job) so that helped with communicating in English. In school, there was lots of bullying, being looked as a foreign, stranger, judgments based on what kind of clothes you wear, overall looks, money and what kind of job your parents had. The conflict between different European & Middle Eastern ethnicities was huge. None of that made sense to me... what war has done to individuals to this day it's effecting us individually. And here we are today after so many years this conflict is still a going on amongst the Balkan society...and other countries. There was times when I had to hide my identity, best to say I am an American in some situations, so people would leave me alone. However, my accent and profile can't lie.


As 2005 high school graduation was approaching, it was time to make decision on further education. This was strongly pushed by my parents to continue my education. I wanted to join the Marines, more so to be away from everything, however I cancelled my application. Decided to try Massage Therapy school, which lasted for 6 months, and changed my major to Business Finances. During my university, I was working in retail, and within short period of time in 2008, was able to open my own franchise store. I dropped out of the university and focused on the business. As opportunity called at one of the conferences in 2009 in LA, there I was able to move the business in Arizona the following year. That lasted for about 2 years, epic fail on my end.


Got burned out from the hustle, and decided to finish my schooling online and travel for couple of years. Moved back to Detroit in 2013, thinking I was "in love" in a relationship that was super toxic and completely unaware of unhealthy patters I was carrying and hurting myself. In the meantime, worked many part time jobs, as office admin, restaurants, bookkeeping, factory, I mean you name it. Completely delusional, chasing the American Dream and making money was the only thing that kept me some-what on my toes. Ended the relationship and completed my business degree in fall of 2014.


Winter of 2014 I decided to move to Chicago and try out the Windy City. Continuously moving and running from my own problems, thinking this shall save me. Knew this was just going to be a short stay and it really lasted for about a year, because I was continuously remembering my days in Arizona. Not necessary the job, but just the palms, the dessert, the culture, everything about it, living in state of paradise where sunshine is all year round. Chicago was great experience, met some amazing people, worked hard, partied harder, and left the city in Winter of 2015. When I left the city, my heart felt liberated. I was ready to start my life over from scratch, with 300 dollars in my pocket, and my Black Jetta, moving boxes and trust in the Universe. Drove across country, completely fearless to my final destination, knowing I'll be fine. I was hitting my 30's, so another huge transformation coming. They call it "welcome to adulthood", however I am almost 36 and I feel younger than ever.


Backing up a little bit in year of 2010.

After my move in Arizona, Spring of '10, some huge internal transformation was happening. Started noticing and becoming aware of who was with my surroundings, my unhealthy habits, emotional instability and trauma wanted to open up . It almost felt like, I was observing myself from above and re-evaluating on things I wanted to focus on changing. Wanted to get to know myself. I also knew in this period of time is when my spiritual awakening was happening. Started meeting people that were constantly looking out for themselves, taking care of their body, mind and spirit. Super optimistic, positive and courageous humans. Their calmness is what caught my attention. Some of them left huge imprint on my heart and gave me strength to dive deeper within regardless of how hard it might of seemed. Noticed the patters I was repeating over and over again and how really my life was a cycle and not much was shifting for better. I drew the picture super vividly, and was able to recognize and accept the parts of myself that were no longer serving me. I knew that taking the committed road to healing, had a lot more lessons to learn, but will be liberating.


This is getting good... and this shall continue...


Thank you my dear readers, breath deeply with pure love and open the heart to the unknown, the possibilities.



Much love,


Gasija

Journal 018




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