100+ Days of Living in Minneapolis
Finally, I passed the 100th days of living in Minneapolis (Minnesota, the USA). The USA is my second country as a temporary resident (some say it as an expat) after the Netherlands. In the beginning, it feels overwhelming to move from a small country like the Netherlands to a big country like the US (despite the fact that I was raised in a big city, Jakarta –Indonesia). In sudden, the public roads are wider; the cars are bigger, and the food serving is enormous.
Minneapolis offers impressive conveniences for its residents. The city often shows up on “Best Of” lists. It ranks in the top ten of America’s Greenest Cities, America’s Best Cities for Foodies, The Best Cities for Job Seekers and The Best Cities for Walkability and Public Transportation. I do not have disappointment for moving here, especially with mild winter this year. What is it like living in Minneapolis? Following is what I find about Minneapolis and the USA in general after 100+ days.
The Sunny Winter
Despite cold temperature and sometimes with the winds, the winter days in Minneapolis are mostly sunny. The winter in Minneapolis is less depressing compared to the Dutch winter that mostly gloomy. However, never underestimate a sunny day with a temperature of -29 degrees C (-20 degrees Fahrenheit). It was freezing!
Credit Score Matters
I have never realized how important it is to have debts in the US to be trusted as a reliable customer in financing housing rentals, phone bills, insurance premium, credit cards and other subscriptions. The companies in the US will look into your credit score before approving your subscription to their services. According to Wikipedia: a credit score is a number representing the creditworthiness of a person, the likelihood that person will pay his or her debts. The scores used by companies in the US to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to consumers.
As new residents in the US, of course, both Dutchie and I do not have a credit score. It costs us of extra fees when we subscribe to a mobile phone provider, simply because our credit score was so unreliable. Yeah, when you have no debts, you pose a risk as an unreliable consumer. For some companies, we had to show monthly salary print-outs and working contract in the US to proof that we can afford to pay the monthly fees for their services.
We were advised to start taking debts to build up a good credit score. Like, when buying a car, it’s better to pay on credit than cash. Oh jeez, should we ignore the interest of the debts for the sake of the credit score then? I find it as amusing advice.
Beware Wine Lovers!
Wine in the US is more expensive than in Europe. Californian wine sold cheaper in the Netherlands than in its home country. I assume it is something to do with high taxes just like in Indonesia. Additionally, no liquor/alcohol drink sales allowed on Sunday in Minnesota. We just have to drink less wine in the US.
Driving License in the US
Unfortunately, my Dutch driving license is not transferable to the US driving license. We are allowed to drive with our Dutch driving license for 60 days upon arrivals; then we have to obtain the local driving license.
Thankfully the driving license in the US is not as expensive as the Dutch. The Dutch driving license could cost you more than 300+ Euro (theory and practice). In Minneapolis, the first two theory exams are for free then after failing twice; the exam will cost 10 USD. Just make sure you pass it on the first exam, there are numerous mobile apps with quizzes to understand the Minnesota State traffic rules and regulation. Mind you; every state in the USA has its own traffic regulation.
The driving permit practice test in the US is allowed after you passed the theory exam, which usually take about a month later. The practice occurs in a driving range, not on the public road and highways like the Dutch. At least, you do not have to worry about hitting other cars during the exam!
Walking is Awesome
I love to walk. I walk to the shops, I walk during my lunch hour break, I walk my dog three to four times a day, and sometimes I walk just for walking. In the Netherlands, the Dutch love to walk too. It is common for the Dutch to spend their weekend to walk in the city forests or beach. Walking is something that I thought is not common for Americans in the US. I had the impression that the Americans do not walk as much as the Dutch.
I was wrong. People in Minneapolis like to walk. Not just walking, sometimes, they also greet and chat with strangers on the street. The city has greenway trail for the pedestrian and cyclists, and skywalk to walk around the downtown when the weather is too cold outside. There are city parks with lakes and ponds for the pleasure of pedestrians to enjoy nature in the city. No wonder if the city ranks five as walkable cities in the USA.
Thank you notes after service
We were surprised when the first time we received a thank you postcard after purchasing furniture in a local company. And it was hand-written! What? How come they are that nice? The second thank you card we received was from our (new) favorite restaurant, it was with standard printed note but signed with handwritten note by the waiter who helped our table. Then the third one, and so on.
It might be part of a marketing trick to make you coming back, but I would not mind and even appreciate the effort. It’s not like every day I receive handwritten postcards, so it is working. I will return to Mr. John’s table at our new favorite restaurant!
Living in Apartment
Residing in the apartments usually forms an individualistic living culture. Sometimes, we just do not know our neighbors. We experienced it when living in an apartment in the Netherlands. But it is not the case in Minneapolis.
We visited six different apartments before making the decision to rent an apartment, and all of them has a community area where the tenants are free to use to socialize and meet up. The community area usually has facilities such a pool table, television, and even a bar and kitchen. It is a brilliant concept. The apartment managements that we talked to, also promoting their social activities to show they provide the tenants with the opportunities to socialize. In the end, it will be up to the tenants to participate or not. For me, it has helped me in getting to know some of my neighbors and making new friends. Dante, my dog, has a (dog) buddy now 🙂
If you were new to Minneapolis and looking for the comfort of new friendship, I suggest considering an apartment with community area and management who cares to provide a regular social activity for their tenants. Dutchie’s father once told us; “It’s better to have good neighbors than far away relatives and best friends”. Do make friends with your neighbors; you never know when you are in urgent for salt and pepper 🙂
The US Presidential Election and Campaigns
I can’t help to discuss this. I like to get updates about locals’ news and of course, also politics news. It’s just me who get this or others as well: as it seems, the US Presidential candidates’ campaigns are taking over the news in the USA. Even the Panama Papers scandal that shocks the world is not heavily discussed.
The ironic part is, although I have been following the US news for three months now, I still don’t get clear pictures how the candidates are going to fulfill their promises when they become a president. The presidential candidates’ campaign in the US at this moment reminds me a lot of the Indonesian presidential campaign. Lots of discussions and predictions that confusing and tiring. I don’t think it will get lesser anytime soon, but I am curious who will be the next President!