I’d never been to America before. It was a vast, distant land that I didn’t think I’d have the chance to visit very soon, perhaps not until my thirties or even later. However, after weeks of planning and preparation here I am in Florida, the Sunshine State. For two whole months.
The journey here was the first big hurdle. Jet lag is defined as a sleep disorder which alters the internal body clock. Some people experience insomnia, others indigestion. I just sobbed for a while. Having religiously followed an eight-hour sleep routine for as long as I can remember, I suddenly found myself getting off the plane in Jacksonville at 17:30 while my brain was convinced it was actually 22:30. A combination of this disorientation, stress from travelling and heat that I had never experienced before all descended on me at once.
I could have slept standing up that night. When I woke up and remembered I was in America, I experienced another jolt, this time not of fear that I’d forgotten something or panic that Passport Control would send me back home, but of sheer excitement. Even as I nervously picked up the rental car and grappled in the door for a gear stick that wasn’t there, I was eager for the adventure to begin.
I have begun to slowly acclimatise myself to daily American life. I still can’t resist acting the tourist, taking photos of the British section of the supermarket (Jammy Dodgers and Ambrosia custard akimbo) and marvelling over the countless lizards that scoot across the pavement, or should I say sidewalk. I have seen the yellow school buses, driven past long lines of mailboxes at the end of driveways, and already been complimented on my accent, plain as I think it is.
The heat in Florida is something I’m still not used to, however. I had envisaged myself getting a glorious tan, but by 9am it’s already too hot to sit outside. Thank goodness for high-quality air conditioning, a world away from the lousy version back home that’s either non-existent or Baltic.
Caught up in the whirlwind of settling in, I haven’t yet had the chance to get out and truly explore what I’m sure is incredible native wildlife. Every time I see a bird I’m craning to see what it could be, despite not having the foggiest idea. All I know for sure are the circling vultures that I regularly spot driving, and I think that is a brilliant start. After all, when have I ever had the chance to see wild vultures in the sky before?! There have been huge swallowtail butterflies fluttering in front of the car, and of course the lizards that I’m becoming obsessed with. I’m so excited to see what I’ll discover over the next two months, and I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll make some unforgettable memories.