Never in my mind growing up it crossed my mind moving to another country. However, after I fell back in love with my first big love, I ended living in Minnesota in the United States.
For me and this gringuito of mine ( (a sweeter way to say gringo with love), we had been on and off for years until we decided to make it work. To be
together we had to make a big move. Back in 2009, we decided that starting our life in the US would give us a better chance economically as we planned to visit our families back and forth.
Truth is, it was a scary decision, but my big adventurous heart was all IN. I truly invite you to read a little about our long
story! At the time Adam and I reconnected in 2009, I had an apartment I loved, I was studying photography in college, I had a job at Hewlett Packard and I had just started a very succesful photography business in Costa Rica. I knew that all this would need to be sorted out. It´s funny how none of this really worried me… at the end, the only thing I was concerned about was missing my family.
Before I moved in 2011, I visited Adam’s country and family in
2009 and then in the summer of 2010! We got engaged that year and I really enjoyed knowing more about Adam and where he was from. Culture
One of the big things I quickly learned was how different the cultures can really be. It is hard to tell even living close to the US culture in TV, magazines, music.
Is a great cultural shock to find yourself be a small part of a bigger city as well. My biggest advice would be to
find the things you have in common, instead of giving such importance to the differences.
I love the holiday spirit, any holiday is a party! I like how clean and respectful of each other people are and I enjoy the outdoor loving culture in the Midwest as well.
One of the things that is very important is that I can walk anywhere and the city we are living (Minneapolis) is very
safe. I love being able to walk and feel comfortable in my surroundings.
I didn’t think there would be a language barrier, but there was and there still is, little expressions here and there that I need to catch on, and even sometimes cultural references that are outside of what I know.
I like learning, though!
Laura at 4th of July celebrations
My family and I are very close, infinitely close! The first two years I missed them so much! Shortly after we got them all passports and the stuff they needed to come visit . I feel like if I hadn´t moved, we wouldn’t have ever traveled together, but now, we have been so many places together!
Also, we speak every other day, sometimes multiple times a day!
I have to admit didn’t know how to go about maintaining friendships alive from afar. Even with amazing technology or all the social networks, I think I went through a period of disconnection that caused me to lose many good friends. This has brought me sad times, but I have learned how to make the best efforts and keep in touch with my best, best friends!
Your best friends and your all time friends, will always make
feel like yourself, which is crucial when you are basically living a new life.
It wasn’t long until I discovered
, making new friends is tough!
Where does one even start to build a community? Being self employed makes it even harder because you don’t have coworkers. When I had a baby I tried to have mom friends and failed. I tried being social with people in real life and sometimes this would lead to a couple of attempts, but my best chance was building community around my creativity.
I have friends that like my similar interests and others completely different that teach a lot of things. I have found amazing buddies through the magic power of Social Media, and I love it! I also think that getting out of my comfort zone and assisting to events, networking and social parties has helped me a ton.
It’s still not easy to think, who would I call in the middle of the night? This kind of friendships take years to build! So if you find one or still have one, hold on them with your claws! 😀
Our first Apartment building in Minneapolis
This is a topic that hadn’t even crossed my mind! I can tell you, it is crucial that you
hang tight to your routines and find new ones that work for you.
Routines are good for your mental health, that I started adopting were all about exploring and taking photos, later I found all the museums that I could ride the bus too (until I had my own car) .
Mastering public transportation is key! I got lost two times back when you could still find payphones every other corner , but I wanted to dance when I finally navigated Minneapolis in bus.
I have written about
my experience with anxiety in my blog but it´s a topic I still want to discuss more in here. I am super OPEN about this subject so please reach out if you want to talk. I want to be able to use my experience to empower others instead of just being a tale of the sad times.
There is definitely a stressful factor to moving and undergoing such a big change in your life. I have learned that being an immigrant gives you an unspoken status of outsider and it is hard to shake that feeling. I truly learn to appreciate the struggle and I wonder how it is for all the immigrants that have moved countries in different and more stressful situations .
Working and business
Navigating the different system was one big change that took me a while to find. Thankfully I had a business mentor that pointed me to all the right resources and I found a wonderful networking group that I could ask all the questions.
Everything in business is different here, and I wanted to set it correctly since the start, from how to start a company to how to do taxes.
I started my wedding photography back in Costa Rica so I started over when I moved here. Before my photography business was strong to stand on its own, I reached out to other photographers to meet and assist them. I also got into a lot of research and I worked two full time jobs while I was ready to just do photography.
When I worked in a company I found the
cultural differences to be stronger and the language barrier to be more evident. A little mistake in my pronunciation would easily put me on the spot. Later, I embraced it and now I am proudly announcing to anyone I meet where I come from, instead of trying to pass as a local .
Of course this would be a HUGE difference coming from Costa Rica (tropical paradise) to Minnesota (tundra… erm paradise) but it was really fun to learn all about the seasons. Everyone, eeeveryone always ask me why would I move to Minnesota when you lived in the
happiest country in earth with the most perfect weather in the universe.
When I was weighting the decision of moving, I never considered the weather, because it seemed irrelevant, you know, compared to living with the love of your life . Later I learned it was far more important than I thought but I also know I could addapt as any other human being would. And I did. And truth is, it makes me feel kind of like a bad a$& when I go through these winter and come out alive!
I appreciate the seasons a lot and the change that comes with seasons, it is definitely something that took a time to tolerate, from all the clothes that you have to learn how to use, to getting used to different routines in each season.
Winter is particularly long in Minnesota, and with Winter, I learned about Winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder and seasonal anxiety. After my first two years, I was able to get prescribed Vitamin D and scheduled trips to Costa Rica on the harder months.
The good thing about the weather difference is that it has made me appreciate the
nice months and the outdoors. I now know how to be intentional about how and where I spent my time when it´s nice out.
There are always workarounds!
We had to do a LOT of paperwork. We were overwhelmed with the amount of options and details so we decided to hire a
immigration expert who helped us with the whole process of petition.
We got married in
Costa Rica, but we couldn’t be together until months LATER! We had to do a petition for green card based on marriage and it took 9 months . In this time Adam could come visit me but I couldn´t travel to the US. It was very nerve wrecking! PS: There are also other kinds of Visas like the Fiancé visa , who people do when they want to get married in the US.
By the time it was all done, I forgot to change my last name! So, I am staying an Alpizar.
What I miss about life in Costa Rica: My family, the warm culture, the food and the perfect weather of course
What I love about living in Minnesota: It has ignited my love of nature, with parks and woods all around. Plus is super safe
Biggest lesson I’ve learned moving far away: You will grieve over the smallest thing, but you will adapt and become incredibly stronger !