What has changed in my life after moving from Kiev to Washington
After 2 years from the moment we moved from Kiev to Washington, we still have not learned how to measure the weather in Fahrenheit, but we easily switched to pounds and we believe that such a weight packaging is much more convenient. Especially for small families. Cash has completely disappeared from the house and ice, which we add to the water and too hot tea, is firmly "entrenched" - yes, there is such a sin. In the United States, our Jewish-Slavic faces are considered more exotic than the mixture of Pakistani and Korean, whose grandmother is half French and half daughter of a native of New Guinea.
I moved to an empty place - to an apartment with no furniture, dishes and food. By the time I moved to Washington, I had two friends. It was from them that I first learned about the rule: meetings and trips to visit are discussed in advance... Even if you are close friends, knocking on the door at night and asking for a cup of tea can only happen for a very good reason. If it is not there, they agree in advance and certainly not on the same day. The same situation is with any of the experts and analysts - their schedule is so tight that windows of 15 minutes may not be found not only today, but tomorrow, even if you ask very strongly.
Evening meetings with friends or brunches with friends are planned at the rate of 2-3 hours for everything and do not get offended if you have further plans. The same story with the cancellations of the entertainment program: only a rush at work or illness are good enough reasons to postpone the meeting from day to day.
We have no money at home - at least they do not lie in a special box, as it was done in Kiev. Occasionally, in their pockets, they "run through" from 5 to 20 dollars, which are accidentally worn after lunch with friends. First, it makes it easier to control your expenses: all transactions and their details can be viewed on the bank's website. Secondly, a pack of even the smallest bills causes confusion and often the question: are you a drug dealer?
We learned how to write checks to pay for an apartment and repay debts, to conduct electronic accounting. Cash is needed to go to a nightclub or a family restaurant, which, for personal reasons, does not accept cards. Once, in a small town near the largest American telescope in the Shenandoah mountains, we saw an old-fashioned credit book in which salespeople wrote down the names of visitors and the amount of their debt. There are up to 2 thousand inhabitants in the town, credit cards do not work due to the lack of the Internet - this is dictated by the specifics of the telescope's functioning. And credit books, please.
In markets in the most remote American wilderness - Ohio, Montana, Idaho and Tennessee - farmers without a shadow of a doubt took my credit card. Zipper - and ready: the mail immediately received a check with the amount and wishes of a good day from the employees of the Kervel cheese dairy, the O'Neill and Sons tomato farm or the Pervenets pickled vegetables company.
You can leave the house without a wallet, take an “Uber” or “Elevator” to anywhere in the city for groceries, pay there using an electronic wallet on your phone and return in the same way. The driver, the car and the groceries in the store are real, the money is invisible and electronic. Cashless payments in taxis or transport services is a completely ordinary story, in comparison with the native Kiev. The taxi driver will calculate according to the meter, the pricing of the cost of the trip depends on travel time, city traffic and mileage, but not on the mood of the driver.
We continue to transfer money in hryvnia and follow the course - this inner mathematics is the most difficult to erase from oneself. Therefore, buying an ikeevsky chair for $ 7, I am as happy as a child - my Kiev furniture cost me much more, but it looked about the same. This, however, does not prevent me from staring at the expensive bookshelves at Crate & Barrell for the second year already - they cost about $ 1300 without taxes. That's almost a month's payment for an inexpensive apartment in a Washington suburb or a down payment to buy a car. In a word, I know many ways to spend this amount and I am glad to have a choice. The shelves are still in the store.
Taxes and Salaries Is a completely different story. In the Ukrainian reality, we are used to negotiating with the employer about the monthly salary, here they discuss the annual salary - with and without taxes, the number of working hours per week, the cost of processing and their undesirability. By Ukrainian (and my personal) standards, a salary of $ 80 thousand a year is an absolutely huge amount, and after receiving it, you will feel like a real American rich man. But you won't receive it right away - every 2 weeks in equal amounts, without taxes.
Taxes are about 30%. The total remains about 56 thousand per year. We divide them into 12 months - about $ 4700 per month. This amount still seems impressive. We deduct the rent from it - from $ 2200 for a 1-room apartment in Washington, from $ 1800 - for the same, but in the suburbs. The money still remains. The golden rule of American grandmothers is to set aside 30% of the loot, that is, about $ 800. Pay utility bills - about $ 100, telephone - the same $ 100, Internet - about $ 90, don't forget about health insurance - from $ 150 to $ 400 per month, depending on the employer's social package. Buy groceries - about $ 120-150 per week, calculate the rest, remembering about buying clothes, going to wine with friends ... And become sad. Not all Americans are wealthy, the streets are not strewn with gold, money does not grow on trees - it is simply used to pay in stores. And believe me, they know the price of every dollar earned.
With a fast and busy life, here they are trying to make their life as simple as possible: most rented apartments will definitely have an old, but working dishwasher - my favorite house slave. Linen is not hung from house to house on clotheslines - dryers are used instead. Together with washing machines in rented apartments, they are just a rarity - you use a public laundry. Laundry is a serious process: if you leave the laundry, the laundry instantly “left” in an unknown direction.
Another story is tap water. It is offered in restaurants, drinks at home and from fountains located in parks, schools and offices. As for me, it smells of bleach no less, and perhaps even more than Ukrainian.
Another distinctive feature: Any drinks served with an incredible amount of ice. Even in winter. The sellers in the 7/11 store recognized me as a non-local almost immediately, before I could even open my mouth: I grabbed a glass of cola and did not add ice to it. Resident's mistake - the Americans won't do that.
In America, for the first time in 18 years, I ate sausages, a chicken cutlet and - for the first time in my life - bacon. All vegetarian, no animals were injured. Vegetarians here are also considered people to whom nothing human is alien. Even if it's a slice of soy turkey, ice cream without milk, or a veggie burger.
In Kiev “in the region”, that is, Podol, I had Greek, Serbian and Turkish restaurants, French cafes, “Italians”, “Georgians” and even “Cubans”. A couple of hipster coffee shops, a sex shop, a car wash and a favorite Life Market. There are “Spaniards”, “Chinese”, “Mexicans”, “Italians” and “Starbucks” on the corner. I don't have a car, the market is only on Sundays. In contrast to Ukrainian, local prices are higher than in expensive organic grocery stores. The local bazaars are a little like languid Italian, noisy Spanish and french in any weather.
American farmers and cheese makers with red faces, red hands, beards and caps with earflaps will certainly put sliced apples or cheese on the test, there is no feeling of a holiday. People are busy with business: some have come to shop, others have brought the goods. I go to the market for goat cheese, delicious and creamy like oysters. The only difference is that it is cheese. Also for pickles and turnips. They are sold by bearded Jewish men from New Jersey - their ancestors left Chernigov in the 18th century. In short, I have a discount, and we always chat for a long time.
Once they asked me why I like America the most. I answered honestly: behind diversity - variety of persons, mixing of races, cultures, the opportunity to bring a Senegalese husband to the United States and not run into family resistance. For all my friends with Japanese, Irish, German and God knows what other roots, for their accents and the fact that no one will look down on my mother talking to my friends using Google translate. For the fact that as part of one family we do Shabbat and celebrate Rosh Hashanah, buy Christmas gifts and light the lights in Hanukkiah, go to dinner parties with our Muslim friend - if you only knew how she cooks! - and cheerfully troll our friend Clive, a parishioner of the Church of England, for the decision to convert to Judaism - the faith of his wife and children.
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