Saturday, February 20, 2010

Texasination!!!


It has been about 18 days since I arrived to Houston but it felt like months; somehow now I feel I belong here, I was really terrified of the cultural shock , the reaction of people , the change of time zone, home sickness and the terrible conditions I might face. But thank god none of those happened till now.

I found that America or at least Houston has a really low percentage of Americans! Or people who speak English as it should be spoken…I can say that I speak English (with an American accent) better than 70% of people I have talked to! Where are the Americans? Is it a state of immigrants? It’s really hard to communicate with people who don’t know the language that they should speak…I found less trouble talking English in Turkey than in Houston!

I thought by living in Texas I would be living with cowboys, men wearing jeans and hats, rodeos everywhere and “eeeehaaa, folks”, but I didn’t see any cowboy or a horse or even a anyone wearing a hat…how disguising is the media!

And I was really surprised that people couldn’t direct me to a place I want to go even if it was 2 blocks away from them, people don’t know buses or their numbers or what bus should I take to get from point A to point B…A big thank you and a real gratitude for google maps whom without I wouldn’t be able to reach anywhere…few days ago I wanted to go to a very famous supermarket and I had to take two buses to reach there (The supermarket is for specialty foods and Mediterranean stuff) I wanted to buy a Hookah, Houmos, Zaatar, date molasses and some other stuff that we need…I told the bus driver to let me know when we reach point C (an intersection)…after few miles she told me that I should get down here…according to google maps I should walk for about 10 min. so we walked and walked and walked for about an hour and still we didn’t reach, we asked so many people but no one knew anything! At last I saw a big Chinese supermarket and I asked the owner and to my surprise he knew how could I get to my destination which was about 5 miles from where I am…the bus driver didn’t know the intersection! But finally we reached the supermarket (Phoenicia) and we got what we wanted.

I don’t know if I’m wrong or I’m having quick impressions but living in the states is not that different from any other place, I really didn’t suffer till now, of course every country had some fingerprint but it’s almost as living in Amman… but the difference is that you can do everything from your chair using the internet and mail, life is really easy if you have the money.

I found out that you MUST NOT believe the price written on the tag or in the ads…because there are always hidden fees.

Overall, I’m happy and relaxed till now except for one thing that is really bothering me which is work…because every dime I spend now is not being replaced by a penny…I really need to get a job…I love working, I discovered that I’m a man who can’t live without work, work is like air to me…the last days in Baghdad when I knew I’ll leave Iraq soon, I was waiting impatiently to have this rest but now I discovered that I was mistaken…I want to work anything, anything is interesting for me now…because the only job I had is a dentist so it wouldn’t hurt if I tried some other jobs.

And the thing that really made it easier for me is that we got a plan…we will work for about a year as dental assistants, I will work full time and maybe overtime and Sarah will work short time because if she worked full time too we wouldn’t be able to see Linda for more than 3 hours!! And in that case we wouldn’t be the ones who raises her, it would be the day care…after that year one of us would quit working and enter Kaplan preparation classes for the MBDE1 which is the second step in Qualification our degrees, and the one who will take the classes will tauter the other when we are in home and Linda is sleeping, then we will take part two and at that time we should have gotten our green card and we can take a loan and also one of us will enter the dental college for two years (which is a must for qualifying) and then the other one will enter the school…we took the first step, which is evaluation of our degree…we went to Houston Community college and we gave them our certified degrees and they told us it will take from one month to two months to finish processing, then we can enter the dental assistant courses.

I’d like to thank LJM for the nice welcoming gift that she sent to me…it was a DVD player with some DVDs, it was a real nice and helpful move from her. Thanx LJM

Today, early in the morning I went to search for the place where I can issue Wic for Linda, and I discovered the public library, I couldn’t believe my eyes…I only have to have a Texas ID to use the library (which needs social security number too)…there were books about anything, great interior design, so many computers with high speed internet and all for free! That’s sweet…I asked if I can get medical books (planning for qualification) and they said that even if we don’t have it we can get it for you, and I asked if I can take them home with me and they said yes!!! That’s really sweet.

Today, I went to the Galleria Mall in downtown…and there I saw people who I used to see in movies and series, it was a really nice day but most of the shops were really expensive, most of them are designers’ shops not like the Memorial mall that we visited few days ago… there were some shops with reasonable prices …people were elegant and clean, not like the people I meet in buses, damn it, can’t they wash!

Another thing that really shocked me which is the taxes! There is a tax on everything, I’m surprised that there is no tax on breathing, in Iraq there is nothing called Tax so this subject is really new to me, now I understood the phrase that I always read and hear in the media “tax payers” it really makes sense and so understandable.

I’m still waiting to find the best car I can get with my little budget, still waiting for the social security number and still waiting for the work permit.

During that time, I’m in the process of Texasination :D

44 comments:

Craig said...

I really admire your attitude! It usually takes me at least a month to get past the "this place sucks!" stage when I travel someplace new, and then for another month I'm on "this place is OK but I'd rather be someplace else!" :)

The military may be a good idea, but why Navy? Navy provides dental service (I assume you are planning on being dentists?) for Marines, and with your Language skills I bet they'd send you right back to Iraq with a Marine unit! Of course, maybe by then the US won't have troops in Iraq so it may be OK. How about Air Force though? I always heard the had the best living and working conditions too.

Anonymous said...

Salam

Nice to hear from you again. But I must admit I was shocked when I read you even considered joining the US military.
I mean this is the army who invaded your country; your homeland, and still do. You would actually join the US military at the risk of being deployed to fight your own people in Iraq??

I can understand your need for social integration and peace after coming from war-torn Iraq, but go easy brother. Your religion and allegiance are far more important.

- Just some advice.

Hannah said...

Hi, Dr. Mohammed. :) Warm greetings from Florida. Welcome to the States!

I don't know how familiar you and your lovely wife are with the credit system here, but I recommend Suze Orman's book, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, which is a great beginner's book for understanding and managing everyday financial matters Stateside. It should be readily available in your local library.

(I'm an immigrant myself. Reading your experiences so far in the "new country" makes me smile. The adjustment period is both frustrating and amazing, and it will only get more interesting. It's an adventure! Welcome again.

May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family as you build a new life in a new land.)

JG said...

Great to hear things are going so well for you, Mohammed. Best wishes.

Indigo said...

@Anonymous, 20 February 2010 11:57,

Yes, I am sure that Mohammed had not thought that through properly (the idea of joining the US military). It must look attractive, having everything taken care of - college, accommodation, financial security, etc - in exchange for enlisting to serve the US Constitution. But Mohammed probably would find himself sent to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. The US has learned nothing from its adventures in Iraq. Any non-American has to consider if he could kick down the door of a Muslim family's house, or shoot dead an entire family at a checkpoint, just because some white-skinned probably fundie Xian commanding officer ordered him to do this. And, speaking for myself, anyway, I would find the promiscuity, arrogance and ignorance about other cultures typical of your average American "boots on the ground" completely intolerable.

LJM said...

I understand having an interest in joining the Navy. My dentist did it that way when he went to dental school. He got his dental school paid for that way and paid it back with years of service. Then he got out and went into private practice. We are going to have most of our troops out of Iraq by the end of this summer. Then the rest will be leaving by one year later. Iraq will be pretty much US soldier free by the time Mohammed finishes all that training. Another little known fact about going in the US military as an immigrant, you get a fast track to American citizenship. You also get housing or a housing allowance while you serve in addition to your salary. It's possible to save money and if you go in after dental school, a way to get loans paid off for you. There is always the prospect of having to serve on a ship part of the time. Otherwise, the Navy always has insisted on having the best medical facilities of all the branches. They can be picky about who they take into their branch of service. They also have their bases mostly on the coast, so think location location location. People I have known who did their medical school payback time in the Navy have served in Florica, San Diego, CA and Hawaii. After all the years going through "the plan" the US should be long gone from Iraq and I'm hoping mostly from Afghanistan. I for one applaud your creative decision with this plan. There's always room to change your minds later as you progress along this path.

Meanwhile, good news about the library!!! Don't forget the DVD section especially for Linda. You will also be able to check out childrens books to read to her with your excellent English. Sorry about the lack of cowboys and hats. Everything changes, even Texas, which BTW has no state income tax, so they have to tax everything else. Just let us know when you have your donations button set up for you to get the money through paypal over here.

San Antonio Cicily said...

Congratulations and welcome to the United States! I used to live in Houston, if you have a chance you should go visit the beach and go down to Mexico!

JG said...

Doc,

Here's another Iraqi couple in the very same situation!

The same is probably happening all over the US.

Craig said...

lol@indigo

You never change, do you? I guess Dr M is not the only one whose attitude has improved because I don't even find your hate-filled anti-American ravings to be offensive anymore.

LJM said...

Another thought while you are waiting to work in the US, they use volunteers at the library. Maybe you could ask if they need help at that library near you. It might be a way to get to know more Americans and maybe even make some friends. When you look for a job, they always ask for references. A volunteer job even for a few hours a week would help you in that way. Same if there's a free health clinic in Houston that does dental care. If you could volunteer there doing something, you could get to know some people in the dental community in Houston.

Dr.Mohammed said...

Craig,
Well, this place sucks period took me 4 days and the second stage took about 8-10 days…the military is an idea if everything else didn’t work at all…yes sure I plan to become a dentist since they will pay everything (my college…salary during study…etc) and then I’ll have to serve but as I said as a dentist not a weapon carrier militant.

Anon.,
No need to be shocked…As I have always said in my blog that we shouldn’t blame the soldiers for what happened in Iraq or anywhere else…because they weren’t the one who made the decision, it was their government…army and the soldiers are normal people like me and you…some of them are good and some of them are bad….it’s true that some soldiers have done really terrible things but that was because they are terrible…I’m proud of the former Iraqi army but do you remember what some of them did when Iraq entered Kuwait? Does that mean all the Iraqis are like that? I’m planning to join the navy if everything else wasn’t successful and I ended up without a job and desperate…I’ll join the navy as a dentist not a soldier, that means my job will be treating American soldiers and I’ll do in US even if I didn’t join the navy and don’t forget that the navy will pay for my college and provide me with a good salary during my study…so I’ll not fight my own people!! And I’ll not fight anyone because I’m a man who doesn’t believe in weapons at the first place…I think you agree with me now.

Hannah,
Thank you…I’m not so familiar with that system but I heard some stuff since I got here…I’ll look into that book…thank you

JG
Thanx

Indigo,
As I told anon. this is just an idea that crossed my mind because when someone is new in a country…he thinks of the best and the worst and if the worst happened then that might be a way to evade being homeless or going back to Iraq when everybody knew that I had been in US because I had a connection with the media or as the rumors back in my country says (He worked with the Americans…a traitor) and that means I’ll be dead before I reach my home…and I wouldn’t carry a gun, not now not ever in my life…I’ll become a dentist and I’ll treat the soldiers and that’s it….and if the system is like the Iraq army system then I’ll join the army as an officer not a soldier with one star ranking...don’t worry Rachel, I’m a man of standards and those standards will not be changed.

LJM,
As I said before, I didn’t change…I have nothing against the soldiers they are normal people and they weren’t the ones who did the decision…if I can DVDs for kids in the library that would be great…coz Linda really loves those…she likes the Baby Einstein series I don’t know if it’s available here!

San Antonio Cicily,
The beach would be a nice idea…but should be after settling.

JG,
God, it seems like us talking loool…yes, it seems that this story is being repeated over and over again.

LJM,
What a good idea…that might be great…I’ll see if I can find a good luxurious clinic that I can be a volunteer at because that will give me such a good first impression when I start to work.Thanx

LJM said...

They should have kids DVDs and you should be able to get Baby Einstein. If they don't have it at the branch you go to, they'll get it for you.

LJM said...

Free dental clinics, probably aren't going to be luxurious. Maybe the Dental School at the University could use a volunteer to do something at their patient clinic. That would be a great place to get to know people.

B Will Derd said...

Another of those Iraqis who has informed of us their superiority and omniscient grasp of truth has fled to the land they claim to despise! (I know, you love America, it's their government elected by them that you hate). If the US military would take such an arrogant, petulant Arab supremacist coward after our recent experience with Ft Hood, they have truly lost all touch with reality. That you were allowed in the country when so many who would express gratefulness rather than entitlement continue to wait is a damn shame. I wouldn't trade one of those 'stinking' bus riders for 100 of you. I can PROMISE you that you would never be accepted into the military. And I hope you'll keep us posted on where you end up. I would love to contact your employer with some choice quotes from your writing. You may want to get to know Houston a little better before you decide you are ready to critique it and its residents.

LJM said...

The video you and your wife shot before you left Iraq should be worth the wait. I'm looking forward to seeing anything you shot with your video camera:)

Indigo said...

Ah, Will B Derd reminds me: Mohammed, I am afraid there are a lot like Will B Derd, and his type are probably over-represented in the state of Texas (that spawned Dubya). For him and those like him, it is not a matter of rejoicing that the US can do something positive for a tiny proportion of the people from the country that the American foreign and military policy has destroyed. Will B Derd does not see you as another human being, and for him there is no pleasure in the near-miracle that somehow, thanks to God, you and yours were not killed in a bomb blast or shot by insurgents or kidnapped and murdered. Will B Derd would love to kick you off the bottom rung of the ladder because you probably have more courage and resourcefulness in your little finger than he has in his entire body.

Will B Derd has also reminded me: Mohammed, in the West having employees keeping a blog makes employers nervous, and talking about work on your blog can lead to dismissal.

Will B Derd, remember this: what goes around, comes around.

Dr.Mohammed said...

Indigo,
such creatures deserve ignoring...in Iraq we have a saying that means "The dog will bark and bark and then it will stop".
and thank you for the advices.

LJM said...

Talking about work on a blog is not a good idea. Something to think about when Mohammed finds a job. Thats good advice, Indigo. Meanwhile, Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States. George W. Bush was a product of Andover, Yale and Harvard. He didn't come to Texas until later in life. We are in a serious economic downturn. Currently, Houston is doing better than many other US cities, but has not dodged the job loss scenario entirely. There will be people who are anti-immigrant legal or illegal. Hopefully, on the path Mohammed has chosen for his plan, he will not have to meet so many of them. BTW, that guy writing direct threats on a blog is really stupid. He can have an opinion and write his opinion. Making threats crosses the line. It's recorded. There are witnesses.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Rachel,

...in the West having employees keeping a blog makes employers nervous, and talking about work on your blog can lead to dismissal.

That would depend on what you write.

Mohammed,

Glad you found the library. For me, anyplace with books is a pleasure. ;)

programmer craig said...

Indigo, considering your obvious hatred for westerners, white people and Christians in general - and Americans in particular - it seems to me you are about the last person who should be criticizing somebody else for being ignorant, racist or hateful. I thought your screed about how white Christian Americans would commit so many atrocities without batting an eye was kind of interesting, since I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have to think twice about committing such atrocities on white Christian American families.

Anyway, I briefly considered correcting B Will Derd about Mohammed because I don't agree with his characterization at all but I decided like Dr M that some people are better ignored. I guess you just couldn't pass up the chance to accuse somebody else of doing the same thing you do though, right? :p

programmer craig said...

How did the discussion about blogging/work come up?

That would depend on what you write.

Lynette, I think it depends who you work for and what your profession is as well. For instance, most software development companies encourage and sometimes even require programmers to be active on the internet, as brain-storming with other programmers helps them do their job. Talking about stuff that's covered by a non-disclosure or things that could impact the company's reputation would be likely to get you fired, though! A little common sense goes a long way.

البرجوازي العراقي said...

اي شكد حلو تكساس ومابيها كاوبوي بس مكسيك منين متتلفت وبصراحة هي فد قضية تضحك العراقيين يضوجون من اللاتينو بكل الولايات الامريكة مع انهو انحنا شكلنا لاتينو وهسه بعد وين متروح تلكاهم يحجون اسباني وياك هم بعد ههههههههههه

تاليها لو تفلت من هيوستن وتروح لدلاس شوية اقل الاسبان بيها لو تضطر تتعلم شوية اسباني وهمه بس تحجي وياهم اسباني راسا يحبوك ويتخبلون عليك ههههه

بس ليش تسمي روحك اخر العراقيين بالعكس انت نموذج مثقف ممتاز بصراحة يعني ولتخليني اشعر يعني احنا المثقفين منقرضين لان هيجي ابطل من المدونة مالتي هم بعد

بصراحة من شفت صورك مع العائلة اجاني احساس كانما داشوف صورة لاحد اصدقائي او اقاربي يعني العائلة كلها شكلها كلش مالوف بالنسبة اللي

تحياتي الخالصة

البرجوازي العراقي
http://birjwazi.blogspot.com

Indigo said...

Lynnette, I think it would be difficult for someone who wasn't a Westerner to be able to judge accurately what an employer would find acceptable written on an employee blog.

Indigo said...

@programmer craig,

Dufus, I am a Western woman. I am a Brit and a communicant member of the Church of England.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Craig,

Good points.

Rachel,

As Craig pointed out, in many cases it is spelled out quite clearly within the company policy. And I really don't think that you have to be a Westerner to have common sense.

Mohammed,

In all the tips that people have given you, there is one that hasn't been mentioned. I was reminded when I was reading the paper last night.

One way to save a little money when you are on a budget, or even when you are not, is to use coupons. This article was geared toward Minnesota, but it applies generally to other areas of the country and gives some websites to check out. If you can find a store that has a sale on and then use a manufacturer's coupon you can save a decent amount of money. I absolutely love it when a sale and a coupon come together! lol!

LJM said...

It's pretty much a no brainer. A person with a blog gets a new job. Work is separate from the blog. Settling into a new country is topic enough for a blog. The particulars of a job aren't really necessary. Most of us know what it's like to get up, go to work, come home and realize a great deal goes on in between, but nobody else really wants to hear about it. That's what friends and family are for:)

Indigo said...

On-line quiz about American law.

Apparently, most high school graduates failed this exam, and only 50 per cent of those aged over 50 passed.

programmer craig said...

Dufus, I am a Western woman. I am a Brit and a communicant member of the Church of England.

Indogo, it was established quite some time ago that you have no credibility when you make claims about your background. I certainly don't want to review the evidence AGAIN. Personally, I think you are a Muslim Somali who immigrated to the UK as a refugee in the early 1990s when so many other Somalis were fleeing to the west. But that's just a wild guess on my part. You could be anyone. The one thing everyone who has been paying attention over the years knows about you, is that you aren't what you claim to be.

programmer craig said...

Apparently, most high school graduates failed this exam, and only 50 per cent of those aged over 50 passed.

So says the "brit" who once bragged that the UK is not a nuclear power and is completely ignorant of the circumstances of Britain's participation in World War II lol

What are the percentage of native born UK nationals who would get those two item incorrect, "Indigo"? 12 year old Americans know more about Britain that you do. And now you lecture us about the US as well? :o

San Antonio Cicily said...

to B derd... I don't think Dr. Mohammed thinks he is supperior to anyone, I think he came to the U.S. for a better life after Americans invaded his country for absolutely no reason and made Iraqis lives a living hell! He as well as any human being deserves to live in a safe place with safe drinking water, without fear of kidnappings bombs and death on a regular basis! If anything I respect him for the fact that he is educated enough to realize that not all Americans support what the U.S.has done in Iraq as well as to the Palestinians. I think the U.S. needs to get its nose out of the middle east. What has gone on in Afghanistan is rediculous! First they support the Taliban against the Soviets and arm them then they go after them 20 years later and now Pakistan has to deal with them! Its insane.As for the people on the bus I can tell you as an American that did not grow up in the U.S. some Americans can be pretty darn filthy and they are the ones that feel supperior! The ironic part is that most of them are very uneducated and the people they support in politics such as sarah Palin are just as pathetic and uneducated! My guess is that if I sat down and had a conversation with you I would be right on about your education! Good luck Mr. Nerd I mean Derd!

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Craig,

I believe Rachel was born in Tanzania.

Cicily,

He as well as any human being deserves to live in a safe place with safe drinking water, without fear of kidnappings bombs and death on a regular basis!

I agree with you on this.

I believe that B Will Derd was being a little harsh in his assessment of Mohammed, but I also believe that you are being a little harsh in your assessment of the United States. The Middle East and its politics are more complex then what you are thinking.

I am going to copy over here an excerpt that I used in an argument I was having with Bruno elsewhere, as I believe it illustrates my point.

This is an excerpt from “Ghost Wars” by Steve Coll; page 39-40.

For nearly two decades the KGB had secretly funded and nurtured communist leadership networks at Kabul University and in the Afghan army, training and indoctrinating some 3,275 military personnel on Soviet soil. Afghan president Mohammed Daoud played Moscow and Washington against each other during the 1970’s, accepting financial aid and construction projects from each in a precarious balancing act. In April 1978, Daoud fell off his beam. He arrested communist leaders in Kabul after they staged a noisy protest. Soviet-backed conspirators seeded within the Afghan army shot him dead days later in a reception room of his tattered palace. Triumphant Afghan leftists ripped down the green-striped national flag and unfurled red banners across a rural and deeply religious nation barely acquainted with industrial technology and modernism. Hundreds of Soviet military and political advisers were barracked in Afghan cities and towns to organize secret police networks, army and militia units, small factories, and coeducational schools. Advised by the KGB, Kabul’s Marxists launched a terror campaign against religious and social leaders who might have the standing to challenge communist rule. By 1979 about twelve thousand political prisoners had been jailed. Systematic executions began behind prison walls.

Too long, I'm going to have to breask this...

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

To continue my comment to Cicily...

No less than America’s modernizing capitalists, Russia’s retrenching communists underestimated the Iranian revolution. They failed initially to detect the virus of Islamist militancy spreading north and east from Tehran through informal underground networks.

In the early spring of 1979 religious activists inspired by Khomeini’s triumphant return carried their defiant gospel across Iran’s open desert borders with Afghanistan, particularly to Herat, an ancient crossroads on an open plain long bound to Iran by trade and politics. A Persian-accented desert town watered by the Hari Rud River, Herat’s traditional cultures and schools of Islam--which included prominent strains of mysticism--were not as severe toward women as in some rural areas of Afghanistan to the east. Yet it was a pious city. Its population included many followers of Shiism, Iran’s dominant Islamic sect. And as elsewhere, even non-Shias found themselves energized in early 1979 by Khomeini’s religious-political revival. Oblivious, Kabul’s communists and their Soviet advisers pressed secular reforms prescribed in Marxist texts. In addition to their literacy campaigns for girls they conscripted soldiers and seized lands previously controlled by tribal elders and Islamic scholars. They abolished Islamic lending systems, banned dowries for brides, legislated freedom of choice within marriages, and mandated universal education in Marxist dogma.

A charismatic Afghan army captain named Ismail Khan called for jihad against the communist usurpers that March and led his heavily armed Herat garrison into violent revolt. His followers hunted down and hacked to death more than a dozen Russian communist political advisers, as well as their wives and children. The rebels displayed Russian corpses on pikes along shaded city streets. Soviet-trained pilots flew bomber-jets out of Kabul in vengeful reply, pulverizing the town in remorseless waves of attack. By the time the raids were finished, on the eve of its first anniversary in power, the Afghan communist government had killed as many as twenty thousand of its own citizenry in Herat alone. Ismail Khan escaped and helped spread rebellion in the western countryside.

As Herat burned, KBG officers seethed. “Bearing in mind that we will be labeled as an aggressor, but in spite of that, under no circumstances can we lose Afghanistan,” Andropov told a crisis session of the Soviet Politburo meeting secretly behind Moscow’s Kremlin ramparts on March 17, 1979.


It was at this point that we first started discussing involvement in Afghanistan. I am not saying that we always acted appropriately, nor that we were trying to ride to the rescue of the people of Afghanistan at that time. However, to think that we are the only ones at fault for various events there is completely erroneous.

///RhusLancia said...

Dr. Mohammed! Welcome to the States! I like reading about your experiences here- you're very upbeat despite the challenges. Kudos, it will pay off.

I have a friend who became a dentist through the Navy. My impression was that it was pretty easy as far as commitment, deployment(s), benefits, etc. Throw in your experience to boot and it might be a good route.

On job advice: I'd like to 2nd what LJM said about voluneteering and references. Not all paying jobs come from an ad somewhere, you might find making connections, networking, and gaining references will really help. If you are still looking to improve your resume feel free to send it to me at gmail. I have a good bit of experience in shaping up resumes and have a bit of a network of family and close friends who pitch in.

On cars. Always get a CarFax or Autocheck. Either can give you like a month of unlimited checks for a fixed price that will tell you things the seller won't (or doesn't know). Another vote for Japanese cars in that price range. You might get more for your $$ if you go deeper into the field, like Mazda or Nissan instead of Honda and Toyota. Everybody wants Hondas and Toyotas for that price, so they go quick and sell high, in my opinion. Something like a 323 or Sentra would serve you well though. But it's all relative- a pampered Saturn would be better than a rallied Corolla for the money. And speaking of rallies, avoid ex-rental cars if possible unless you want to risk getting something that I rented in the past ( ;), and sorry Lynnette). Oh, and get something with A/C that works, esp. if you'll be in TX this summer.

Of course, if you want to have fun you can get an E30 Bimmer, but only do that if you can do your own work on it.

Good luck, your family looks great!

///RhusLancia said...

Oh! Two more things:

a) have you looked into translation jobs, contracting, or gigs? Not necessarily for the military, I mean private. Maybe even with an oil company? Maybe easy money...

ii) are you able to/going to vote in Iraq's election?

Kristen Kelley said...

As a native Houstonian, I find a few of your observations about the city to be disheartening, especially assumptions about cowboys and stating people can not speak English properly. However, I completely understand where you're coming from! Houston is a true melting pot with people from many different cultures and places. It is also the 4th largest city in the country, which can account for a lack of knowledge of how to get around. I spent nearly 25 years of my life there, and I still don't know the whole city! And taxes- while they may seem like a major bummer, at least Texas does not have a state income tax! (A tax on your wages from our job.) Vehicle taxes are also much lower than other states.

There are some simply amazing things to do though in Houston... it's Rodeo time, go see the bull riding and livestock shows! Make sure you see the Astros, Rockets, and Texans play. Discovery Green is a lovely area. The museums are incredible. The zoo is best to visit in March or April before it gets too hot. Sugar Land's Town Center is always fun on a Saturday night, and the Woodlands offers great live music all the time.

I hope you enjoy your time in Houston, and good luck with your future endeavors!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Texas from a Texan proud to have voted for George W. Bush 3 times, and very pleased with Pres. Bush's decision to remove Saddam.
Without the desire to serve,and sacrifice for the USA, you may want to avoid the armed services.The military benefits alone may not compensate you for the long family separations, and even going in harms way unless you feel a desire to serve.
BUSHTHELIBERATOR

palach said...

As others have suggested, you might look into translation work. Arabic speakers are rare in general. I work at a hospital and they use a company that provides speakers of every language to translate for patients and families. I'll try and get the name of the company when I go to work later (I work nights). It is all done by telephone, so I'm sure it doesn't matter where you live. However, I don't live in a large city. Your local hospitals might hire you directly. You might also offer your services to local dentists as a translator. It would be a great opportunity to network.

That will be your key to finding work. Most of the best job opportunities aren't advertised, they are found through friends and family. It goes something like:
Employer to employees: "We need a new employee to do ___. Does anyone here know someone they can recommend?"

Most of the time someone does (of course they would try and recommend someone that could actually do the job or they would look foolish). And the job is filled.

Volunteer work (as others have mentioned) is another great way to network. Also, taking a more lowly position in a company. For example, I work in a hospital. Many nursing students work here as Aides. When they finish school, everyone knows them and if they are good workers. They find jobs as nurses very quickly at the hospital. In the opposite direction, I have had nurses from other hospitals tell me they kept applying for two years before getting a job here. Those who already work at the hospital always have the fastest and best opportunity for any opening. In fact, we have a hiring freeze except to directly replace an employee that leaves a job that is considered 'necessary'. The ONLY people they have hired in the last few months are students who graduated who had been working here in lower positions.

Also, please be very careful about the U. S. Military. I understand it's an option you might have to take for many reasons....but all branches of the service are famous for 'lying' to people to get them to sign up. Such as promising you would only work as a dentist....many people 'sign up' for one job but have to work another. If you speak Arabic, there are lots of places they could send you. Even if U.S. troops are leaving Iraq, they still plan to leave American 'advisors' behind. And we have interests in lots of Arab countries, even if we don't have troops there. So just be very very careful if decide to use that option.

I usually don't comment on blogs and you've inspired two comments from me. I wish you the best!!!

LJM said...

To BUSHTHELIBERATOR

Having known so many people who have served in the military (myself a DOA civilian at one point in my career) the reasons for their being in the military were as varied as having been drafted to not being able to find a job, to wanting to fly jets and so on... I don't know anybody requiring a disclosure of why they joined the service for us to say to them, "thank you for your service." New Americans are often times our very best Anericans. Voting for Bush, senior or junior isn't a requirement for citizenship or to enlist in any branch of the military. Your point about willingness to be separated from family is your most salient point in regard to a military career in any branch of service.

andrew said...

I've been side-tracked by school and work so I haven't read your blog in quite some time. What a surprise to find out that you're here in my state just a few hours away from myself and Cicily!

A tip on finding a Hookah. You might try a hookah cafe (most of them are owned by people from the middle east), or a "specialty" shop like a Planet K. They tend to be pricey here in the states though.

You may be able to just take the test for the dental assisting certification given you're previous occupation. You'd have to contact the licensing board to see if you're allowed to challenge the criteria. This is the path most medics and nurses out of the military take to get their civilian licenses. I'll gladly send you some of the money you'll need to get those testing fees sorted out.

If you're ever in San Antonio just let me know!

Bruno said...

Dear Mohammed,

I agree with those saying you should be careful of getting involved with the US military. Your skills as an Arabic speaker are far more valuable than your skills as a dentist to the US army. You may just find yourself being one of the guys translating as some US soldiers beat a hooded Iraqi with rubber hoses.

Is there no way to get some form of civilian employment?

Dr.Mohammed said...

I noticed that I'm gonna gain lots of pounds if I didn't watch my diet...thank god I always watch my diet, here there are so many attractive things with lots of Calories.....

Andrew
I might come to San Antonio tomorrow...send me your email.

Sunshine said...

كل عام ولندا بالف خير .. الله يحفظها و يحرسها يارب
البلوك رائع جدا واتمنى تستمر بالكتابة

Michael Lawrie said...

Hey - just catching up on your blog after not reading it for several months. Welcome to the States and hope things are going well for you and your family!

Chris said...

Dr., I haven't been following your blog much these days but now I see you are in the US. Welcome! And I hope you have a better experience than many immigrants with all the angry and ignorant people here. There are many more, I trust, who are like me in sharing the joy of your escape from the terrors in Iraq. May America wake up and get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and somehow help them piece those countries together again. Peace to you and your family!