5 Things to Plan For Before Arriving in the USA: Guide for New Immigrants

Your preparations and stress paid off! You got your US visa; you’ve booked your flight; and you are moving to the United States for real! This is it!

But wait just a minute!

Before you start packing, you need to plan for these 5 things right after you land in America! Save this article or print it out because I will provide some practical steps that you can follow. If you have any question, feel free to comment below or message me at cluelessintheus@gmail.com.

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Save Thousands of Dollars, Buy a Used Car!

Unless you live in huge cities such as New York, Atlanta, or Los Angeles, you will need a car to move around in the USA. But it doesn’t need to be brand new!

If you want to save thousands of dollars, buy a used car! Read on find how much I saved and how you, too, can save a lot of money!

Why You (Most) People Buy a Brand New Car

Let’s face it. People want the smell of a new car. You open up the door, sit down and the smell of success hits you. Buying a new car makes you feel like you’re a big time! That you’ve made it. And you can move around in style! Different brands have different reputations, too! A BMW or Mercedes Benz will turn people’s heads and will give you a reputation that you’re either a big shot, or on the way there.

With new cars, you should also have fewer headaches with maintenance problems. The conventional wisdom says that since the car just rolled off from the lot, if you maintain it properly, it should last for a long, long time!

Why It’s Better to Buy a Used Car

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Marrying a Filipina, Moving Back to the USA, & Becoming a Father: Interview with Kevin Sanders

I have crossed paths with Pastor Kevin Sanders in the Philippines before we moved to the United States in 2015. He was a missionary and worked with youth and students in Manila and in Pampanga. He has lived in the Philippines for a total of 11 years! He can also understand and speak Tagalog.

In this interview, Kuya Kevin and I talk about many things:

  • his experience as an American missionary in the Philippines;
  • how he met his wife in the Philippines, got married, and moved back to the US;
  • what he has learned after being married to a Filipina;
  • what it is like becoming a father, and raising a biracial kid; and
  • some nuances and corrections about perceptions on American family culture, as well as some challenges he has seen among families of overseas Filipinos.

Connect with Kevin online

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Fatherhood: Raising Kids in a Foreign Country, Fitness, and Dealing with Miscarriage

Almost a year ago, I sat down virtually with Pastor Melvin Guerrero, who moved to the USA a year before I did. We talked about the challenges of adjusting to a new life in the US, raising kids, fitness, and how they dealt with two miscarriages.

Watch our full conversation below on YouTube. If you prefer the audio version, continue scrolling down and listen via SoundCloud.com.

I have known Pastor Melvin Guerrero back in the Philippines because we both belong to the United Methodist Church. He moved to Jacksonville, FL in the USA in 2014 with his wife and kids. He also came on an R1 visa before becoming a permanent resident.

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Fatherhood & Raising Kids: Conversation with Pastor Caloy Dino

I planned to post a few interviews with fathers sometime in 2020. But, as with many things lately, life happened! My schedule had severely changed with the coming of our third son, the pandemic, and working from home. A number of personal projects needed to take a backseat. Oh, and I have many stories about managing family life with my wife Cha! Having three young boys is a handful! But those stories need to wait. Thankfully, I found some time recently and now I am posting the first in a series of posts about fatherhood with this interview with Pastor Caloy Diño.

Who is Kuya Caloy Dino?

Kuya Caloy Dino served with several Christian organizations in the Philippines: Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Global Filipino Movement, and at the Center for Community Transformation. Prior to entering full-time ministry, he was a marketing consultant and worked with some of the top companies in the Philippines. He is married and has three kids.

He and I worked together on projects several years ago for Christian radio station FEBC and with other initiatives and social media training for churches and Christian organizations in the Philippines. We also got together regularly with other like-minded folks, sharing stories and ideas on how to make the world a better place.

In this video, we talk about fatherhood and the challenges of raising kids, juggling time for work, ministry, and family. Enjoy!

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Moving to a New Apartment in Nashville

Originally published in July 2019.

I am no stranger to moving to a different house. While I was growing, my father, who was an itinerant preacher, moved from one church to another every 1-3 years.

The longest time we spent at a parsonage (a house assigned to a church’s pastor) was six years. By the time I turned twenty, we have stayed at about 10 houses.

In 2015, my wife and I reduced our belongings, packed the essentials, and moved from Manila, Philippines to Nashville, TN USA as I started a new job.

So I do know about moving and packing things.

We’re saying goodbye to this house in a couple of weeks!
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How to buy a car: Guide for Filipinos Who just Arrived in the USA

Public transportation is not very good in the United States. Only the big cities have excellent train and bus systems. In most cities, like Nashville where we live, you need a car to move around.

Here’s a quick guide to buy a car if you have just arrived in the USA.

Borrow or Rent a Car before you arrive.

If you have friends or relatives, borrow a car from them for 5-10 days right after your arrival. If you don’t have any friends or relatives, you can rent a car through RentalCars.com, Expedia.com, or Priceline.com

When we first arrived in August 2015, I rented a car for 5 days. That time frame was enough for me. It meant that I had to visit several dealerships and test drive some cars over this period. But it worked out and before I returned the car, I bought a 2012 Kia Forte.

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How to fill your car with gas

I did not know how to fill my car with gas when I first arrived in the United States. In the Philippines, you just pull up next to a gas filling station. You don’t even need to get out of your car, an employee will go to you. Just roll down your window, tell them how much gas you want and they’ll do it for you.

In the United States, that is not the case. Filling your car with gas is a do-it-yourself process.

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Do We apply for a Green Card or Go back to the Philippines?

We’ve been in the USA now for almost 3 years. I had been on a work visa and we recently renewed it. So we can stay here until the early parts of 2020 without any problems.

This also means that we can apply now for a Green Card or Permanent Resident status. The big question is should we?

This process can be complicated and we may need the help of a lawyer to apply for it. I asked some friends of mine about the process and did a bit of research. I also asked for quotation from some lawyers.

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