#NewIntheCity: My First Day From the Airport to Ann Arbor, United States

I just moved, to my fourth land and am officially #newinthecity in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My friend Ali asked me “how do you like it?” I’ve responded by saying only once I have a car license will I say how I like it. But my first day from the airport to Ann Arbor was not without adventures. So I felt the inherent need to document these new feelings! I will go one by one, because so much seems happening so soon! 🙂

#Newinthecity: The First Feelings From The Airport to Ann Arbor, United States!

#NewIntheCity Ann Arbor Diaries Someplace Else My First Day From the Airport to Ann Arbor, United States

After Amsterdam, we say goodbye to European flights

The flight was full of International people, unlike a German flight. I already saw many many Asians and a few people of Indian origin too. I think I need to be careful here in the US, because they may be American, just that they look Indian to me. The Amsterdam airport had a separate section for Delta. We were asked questions (my husband said these were for legality) like, “are you carrying someone else’s stuff”, “did someone help you pack“. This is not norm in Europe or anywhere else in the world that I’ve traveled to except the forms that we fill. But anyhow. Why would someone say that they are doing something crazy?

Everyone and their mother was wearing a Birkenstock. They seemed like American tourists after their European summer holidays were over. I felt so un-special  :-).

I watched Woody Allen and Richard Linklater in the flight.

Before Delta lands at DTW

The airline staff made the regular announcements including, the temperature (only in Fahrenheit and English). I thought it’s been a while that I’ve been on an airport where they speak just one language in the aircraft :-). They also kept saying “do remember not to speak on your phone during the immigration”, “do…”. It seemed like teacher-speak with more dos than I could remember. There was no feeling of being courteous or the use of pleaseI figured this is how they mean business in this country perhaps. Or maybe it was my British English struggling inside me.

At the DTW Immigration line

It was a long queue till another immigration officer decided to show up. Meanwhile I checked the video that was playing which said, they are the first line of defense. I kept thinking that was a little much. Anyhow, the lady calls us. We both go together. After checking my husband’s finger tips, eyes and papers, the lady started writing with a pen and mentioned an August date. I looked at my husband and said (we speak in English to each other) that wasn’t it August 29th today? She barged into our little conversation and said, I know how to do my job. Then I noticed the date she had written was not 2015 but something for the future. But, without feeling the need to apologize, I just said, oh I thought you were writing today’s date, so I was confused. We never spoke to each other ever again. I decided once we were out, that my husband needs to support me and went on to complain. He simply said:

America is a different world before and after the immigration line. Who chats with an immigration officer? My rule is never to speak unless asked a question.

This just irritated me. What’s the harm in asking a question? And I wasn’t even talking to her. We proceeded to have our first American fight.

The rental car pick up at Hertz, Detroit Airport

While we gave back our rental car in Stuttgart, the guys would not accept the GPS. That needed to be separately handed out to the folk at some other office. We were rushing to be ready for our flights. Germany can always find ways to make things tougher. So, we followed the rules.

After reaching the DTW airport, Hertz had a shuttle bus (with two people and the driver) which we boarded to reach the renting section a 10 minute drive away. The bus driver even helped me with my luggage.  

At the Hertz counter, a lady helped my husband with the proceedings that took little over 15 minutes and we were sent out to pick up our white automatic car waiting for us in the parking lot. THAT simple.

The rental car ride from DTW airport onwards to Ann Arbor:

The moment we stepped out of our car parking lot, which seemed empty and without activity at 6pm, I saw road signals hanging from wires. The roads had big potholes and cracks for a large part till we entered the county of Ann Arbor. Michigan has more extreme weather than Germany. Germany pays 50% income tax, we rationalized. I also saw large highway billboards and wondered if they distract drivers. There was no way that these roads would support unlimited speeds (in miles or kilometers).

I declared that this looked like Gurgaon on a holiday. There was no road traffic and huge open spaces on either end of the freeway. I saw no Porsches. Cars didn’t shine much.

<Eventually I’ve seen more VW Beetles here than the whole of Ludwigsburg. In all colors. I love the yellows naturally. My husband thinks it’s a junk car.>

On poor road conditions, my mother has told me this:

this is how democracies function. No wonder the Indians find comfort in America.

My Ann Arbor Score Card Day 1

Maximum possible on this post: 25

a. Cultural mix at DTW flight/airport: 5/5
b. Road conditions outside Ann Arbor: 1, Road conditions inside Ann Arbor: 3, so average: 2/5
c. Immigration officer friendliness at DTW: 1/5
d. Airline staff friendliness Delta: 2/5
e. Hertz staff/ process: 5/5

Total Ann Arbor score for a first day experience: 15/25

Score card: On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 = best, 1= worst, my subjective observations

#NewIntheCity Ann Arbor Diaries 2 Someplace Else My First Day From the Airport to Ann Arbor, United States

Coming up next: First experience of eating out in Ann Arbor, First Supermarket visits in Ann Arbor, First time finding a rental in Ann Arbor- you get the picture :-)! 

  1. Dear Upasna,

    It gives a feeling that you are unhappy about USA.

    You didn’t mention the vastness in America. Everything is so big.
    Forget Ludwigsberg, even Frankfurt doesn’t give you that feeling of vastness.
    You found some resemblance of Gurgaon, but you forgot lack of traffic sense in Gurgaon.

    I hope you enjoy the free life and open culture at America (Compare it with Germany and Ludwigsberg. When you talk of one language in announcements: Remember that you couldn’t think of a Job in Marketing unless you have a high proficiency in German Language)

    Anyway, first look annoyance, generally lead to long lasting love.



    1. Baba, I don’t think I need more big after Delhi. I don’t think I agreed to come to the US because of its vastness 😀

      Because of its size and industry, Gurgaon handles a lot more people in a much greater intensity. If you took 4 hours to reach home, I am not sure what your driving attitude would be. I do think Gurgaon gets slack without people seeing the context.

      And, I do think openness gets defined as per how we see it too. I had no issues working in Munich which is a city, or in LB with my own company. I moved from a city to LB as my choice, it’s not a German problem. By all standards, Ludwigsburg is a village in comparison to any city, and I see no reason to bring down the German openness culture by blaming them for making us speak in their language. Pune in India, which is much larger in comparison had the same emphasis on language too (even though I was in the same country!)

  2. Hi Upasana… enjoyed reading about your first day in US. I have a guess why they ask those stupid questions at airport when headed to US… so later if they do find something on you, at the very least you can not claim it belongs to someone else or you lied to the officer or some legal finnagle like that 🙂

    1. thanks! and yes I am aware of the legalities, but also that most other countries don’t go through this mumbo jumbo 🙂

  3. Hey Upasna,

    I couldn’t help smile when I heard what the officer told you about knowing how to do the job. A similar thing happened to us in Paris and I was equally furious. We were waiting to get on the bus to Amsterdam (standing outside I December!) and the guy said ‘Hmmm I can’t seem to find your names’. So, we peeked into his sheet of numbers trying to look for our names… And then my husband said ‘Ahh, this is us!’ while pointing at some number. The guy drew his clipboard to his chest, friends and said ‘I know how to do my job’. And here we were thinking that our names may be tougher to spot and we were helping out. He let us in and then grumbled a bit about people wanting to teach him about his job! We blamed his attitude on winter 🙂

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