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Immigration America, here we come!

Updated on October 2, 2011

The Reality, Packing the 40 ft Container

The USA Embassy in London showing the Eagle
The USA Embassy in London showing the Eagle
Loading a 40 ft Container
Loading a 40 ft Container
The American Embassy in Grosvenor Square
The American Embassy in Grosvenor Square
Containers on board Ship bound for the USA
Containers on board Ship bound for the USA

Leaving Home


We lived a very comfortable life in England. The house was big by English standards and we enjoyed 10 acres of unspoiled land on the North Downs between London and Brighton in the county of Surrey. The fields were original downland used for grazing sheep for centuries. All year long the grassland was dotted with wild flowers and pungent herbs. In the dampness of Autumn morning we would collect baskets of pale pink tender mushrooms hiding in the lush green grass. Elderberries big as grapes and plump blackberries festooned the hedgerows waiting to be made into jams and wine. Ponies grazed peacefully in the meadow and poultry scratched at the ground looking for treats.
One day my husband said “You've lived 27 years in this village, do you want to die here?” I was very taken aback. I loved my life surrounded by happy animals and good friends and my youngest son, still at home was happy in the small local school. My husband had just learned to fly and the local air strip was grass which quickly became unusable in rainy weather and we are talking about England here! “Let's move to California.” he said casually as if asking whether we should have Spaghetti and meatballs for supper. “Come on, think about it !” Well, I did and 3 months later we had sold our lovely “Little House” . We rehomed the animals , packed up a forty foot container in readiness for our move to California.

We had visited Lake Tahoe several times and really couldn't fault it. The furniture would take at least a month to arrive so we had time to search for a new home. After filling in an incredible number of forms and visits to the US Embassy in London, the INS was satisfied and I was granted a green card. ( It is actually pink).
The first snag we hit was getting our 10 year old son into school in Incline Village Nevada as the condo was in Kings Beach California. Proof of residence was required and we were still house hunting. Assurances from Ed our friendly realtor helped. My Doctor in the UK was surprised with a request for proof of immunizations for our son but Faxed it through to us in time for him to start at the local primary school, he settled in quickly and still has many of these original friends, 18 years later.
My husband's parents had just retired and bought a condo at Lake Tahoe. They suggested we move there first and they would live on their boat in San Diego until we found a house. In the interim we persisted with our house hunting and found a large enough house that we could afford that would accommodate the 40 ft container load of furniture arriving any day. We completed the sale in time and he furniture duly arrived. The family still live in the house 18 years on although the trees have grown up and we no longer enjoy a view of the lake.


A car was an immediate necessity and we discovered a big snag, no credit history. not even a credit card. I discovered that Victoria's Secrets was happy to hand out a credit card and thus began my credit history in the USA. This leg up enabled us to buy a car and there we were, on a roll!
Driving on the wrong side of the road was a scary experience and the only practice I had before taking the exam was to drive down the mountain, I got the hang of it and gaily set off round Carson City with my examiner nervously hanging onto her seat. Sadly I went too fast through a school zone and failed my first test. By the time I took the second test I had the wrong side business wired and I passed with no problems.
We both found work in the village and that was a very grounding experience. Sadly, home sickness overcame us and we sorely missed the menagerie we had left behind. We adopted a smily Samoyed called Rosie who was now on her fourth set of parents and we soon discovered why. She was a typical Adios Hound, any crack in the front door was big enough for her to squeeze through and she was off! We set up an aquarium courtesy of the thrift shop and kept the fish for nearly fifteen years until raccoons broke in through the cat flap and polished them off. When Rosie went to the doggy heaven in the sky we acquired Otis by intercepting her basket on the way to Pet Network. She rules over us still. The same family who gave us Otis gave us a kitten, a polydactyl who we have just lost to cancer. The animals provided a cushion from reality as we settled down.
. I still live in the original house we bought on arrival. It is now shared with my older son and his wife, My son was able to receive the treasured Green Card because of our relationship. His wife, then girlfriend obtained her Green Card in the lottery, which was very fortunate. They have a six year old son, and a two year old daughter who are both Americans by birth. My younger son is an American because he has an American father, but holds dual citizenship as he was born in the UK.

Life in the USA has been rich and rewarding and very full. A fresh look at history and a whole new backdrop of wild life and countryside. We often talk about moving back to Europe, but I don't think we shall be leaving any time soon!

Settling into the USA.

Our Destination Airport
Our Destination Airport
Our final Destination, Lake Tahoe..........All photos courtesy Flickr.
Our final Destination, Lake Tahoe..........All photos courtesy Flickr.

Miley Cyrus Sums it up

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    • profile image

      francisid 

      7 years ago

      while reading your article,i was only thinking---hey,she's very lucky!

      you're indeed very blessed...you'll rarely meet a happy anecdote from most immigrants.but here you are--missing home but loving your new-found soil.i'm happy for you!

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello again,

      My son and my precious granddaughter live in Washington D.C., five hour flight from LA, just as far as Europe is, so for me there is no difference

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Petra, I read your terrible story this morning. I am so glad it has partly worked out for you. My problem now is that two sons live in the USA and two grandchildren, It would break my heart (Know that feeling?) I miss Europe too. What does one do? I hope you work it out. USA is in a bad way. So sad!

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I am glad to hear your move to America has been less stressful than mine and big part of it was that you knew the language and had family around.

      Funny you mention about moving back to Europe; there is nothing I would like better than that and my husband and I are making real plans to do just that; as far as I am concern, the sooner, the better

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Nell, hello again.. It is very nice and very different over here, but don't knock Marlow it is a great place to be!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, Gypsy thought I would come by and see where you were living now. You are so lucky, I would love to move over there. Being in a small town like I am gets very claustrophobic! I enjoyed the read. cheers Nell

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for the welcome Micky. I enjoy being in the USA very much.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Welcome to our melting pots!

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for dropping by, James. We are all putting the pieces together to learn about each others lives. Welcome to my world.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this intimate portrait of the Big Move. It's a good story and I enjoyed reading it to get to know you better.

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for the kind words, Linda. It is difficult as the family gets scattered. I have enjoyed all my adventures though, I bet you have too!

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 

      8 years ago

      Hi Gypsy Willow. This was a terrific article. It sounds like you have sacrificed quite a bit to be here, but the USA is definitely better because of it! It is hard to be away from home. My family is in CA, and I live in Georgia. I feel the 'miss' daily. We tumbling, tumbleweeds do pay the price for our sense of adventure, don't we? Glad you're here.

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks, Joy. Hope your life is going well and blessings to your family too.

    • Joy At Home profile image

      Joilene Rasmussen 

      8 years ago from United States

      This was a bittersweet but mostly joyful read, Gypsy. Thanks for sharing your life with us, and many blessings to you and yours.

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for the comment, Judy. It's newbies like you that make living here so good.

    • profile image

      Judy 

      8 years ago

      Glad you're still there and watching over the newbies like me.

      Loved, "All year long the grassland was dotted with wild flowers and pungent herbs. In the dampness of Autumn morning we would collect baskets of pale pink tender mushrooms hiding in the lush green grass. Elderberries big as grapes and plump blackberries festooned the hedgerows waiting to be made into jams and wine. Ponies grazed peacefully in the meadow and poultry scratched at the ground looking for treats."

      Beautiful.

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Zollstock. Life in Europe is so different and I miss my friends. I used to go back four times a year when my parents were alive so the "miss" was very mild. This year I've only been back once and I "miss" it more. Facebook helps to keep in touch. It will be a life long problem because if I return I will "miss" the life and friends here. What should one do?? Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Zollstock 

      8 years ago

      What a journey. I expected you to go on about the actual immigration paperwork more, based on your title, but was pleasantly surprised by the seeming inevitability and low stress of your account. I don't think homesickness ever leaves us entirely. There are aspects of life in the US I can embrace, and then there is so much of Europe I miss. Maybe I will uproot my American husband and my bicultural kids one day and put them through culture shock for a while. Or for life. :) Hope you are happy with your home-away-from-home.

    • Gypsy Willow profile imageAUTHOR

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hi Randy, I blessed her too, and I still show my appreciation by buying her products! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 

      8 years ago from Near the Ocean

      God Bless Victoria... Secret. I enjoyed this story Gypsy and feel I know you better.

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