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Learning to love the Lone Star State

Massachusetts woman embraces new life in Texas

Created date

December 19th, 2014
picture of a resident

When Rosian Zerner moved to Springs in North Dallas, Tex., from her home in Newton, Mass., she experienced a degree of culture shock.

“Everything is different here—the food, language, politics, religion,” says Rosian, who moved in December 2013. “But I’m learning to say ‘y’all’ and enjoy black-eyed peas and catfish.”

Adapting to new cultures is nothing new for Rosian, who’s originally from Lithuania. She and her family lived in Italy for six years before they immigrated to the United States in 1951.

“I’ve traveled to 64 countries; speak several languages; and love to paint, sculpt, do pottery and enameling, and write poetry,” says Rosian. “I’ve had a great many adventures in my life, and I’m ready for more.”

‘Jump right in’

Still, leaving Massachusetts behind to settle closer to her son and his family in Dallas was challenging.

“I left everything familiar behind,” says Rosian. “At first it was scary. I kept wondering, ‘How was I going to reinvent myself?’”

The unsettled feeling didn’t last long. Rosian chose Highland Springs for its friendly staff and residents and the abundance of activities, two factors that eased her transition to Texas life. 

Once she arrived, Rosian found she was in good company. On average, 40% of new residents move from outside Texas to Highland Springs each year—most to live near family.

“I found myself part of a community at Highland Springs,” says Rosian. “There are so many interpersonal connections just waiting to be made. You have to jump right in.”

Part of Rosian’s “jump right in” strategy included organizing a quarterly dinner for her neighbors.

“I thought it would be fun for those of us who live on the third floor of Crestview Terrace [residence building] to get together regularly for dinner,” says Rosian. “It gives us a chance to connect on a more meaningful level.”

Calling all Libras

Rosian was also determined to have a great birthday party, one she could share with other residents at the North Dallas community who have fall birthdays.

“I sent out a flyer inviting all Libras to a communal birthday party in the Hillcrest Living Room on Columbus Day,” says Rosian, whose own birthday is Oct. 23.

At the party, residents sang “Happy Birthday”; talked about famous Libras, including President Eisenhower (Oct. 14) and Judge Judy (Oct. 21); and exchanged small gifts.

Sharing her birthday celebration and memories with others at Highland Springs was especially meaningful for Rosian as she settled into her new life.

“Birthdays are landmarks for reflection and an opportunity to take stock of the year before,” she says. “It’s also a chance to figure out what to do with the future. That’s part of why I organized the Libra party.”

Learning the blues

Rosian’s plans for the future are full as she continues to embrace life at Highland Springs.

“I’m taking blues harmonica lessons,” she says. “It’s always something I wanted to try. When I was a child living in Italy, I loved to listen to spirituals and jazz on Radio Free America.”

Rosian comes from a musical background. Her mother was a pianist and the konzertmeister of the Lithuanian Opera in Kaunas.

“The challenge was finding someone to teach me the harmonica,” says Rosian. “But then I met Ellen Vanderslice, a Highland Springs resident with a musical background. She put me in touch with another resident who specializes in country, western, and blues harmonica. I felt like it was a case of ask and receive. Everything is falling into place beautifully.”