As a Russian voluntarily refused to work in the United States
The Russian moved to the States, got a good job, decided to buy a minivan and set off on a journey.
As part of a series of materials about compatriots who have moved abroad, "Lenta.ru" publishes Dmitry's story about life in the USA.
Moving to the USA in my case was relatively easy. Father moved to work, and after him the whole family. This, of course, does not mean that everything went easy for me, but at least there was no problem with the initial adaptation, and this is very important. I came to America in 20 years, so the first thing I did was looking for what I want to do.
Of course, I could stay in Russia, because I had an apartment and a circle of friends. But I thought that if I did not try, I would regret it all my life. Uncertainty is always interesting.
At first it was not difficult and not easy, but rather predictable. I understood that work will not be found by itself, efforts are needed. I had a higher education (manager), but I didn’t have experience in America, so I had to prove to employers that I was, and that was not easy.
Sometimes I wanted to give up and go to work with anyone, but in that case it would be difficult to justify the expediency of my move. It was not easy to choose a specialty, but I clearly understood that my interest was computers and everything related to them, and not management. I chose the profession of software tester and graduated from a small course on this specialization. There they helped me to make a high-quality resume and sent me to practice. It was a very important initial stage. Subsequently, I found work in a large company, spent several years there and seemed to find a long-awaited happiness.
Everything else, I was helped by the fact that I knew English well, I had no problems in communication. I think that without knowledge of the language I would have had a hard time.
If you list all the features that I managed to notice while living in another country, you would get a whole book. What impressed me most was the fact that the Americans, with all their desire to appear open to the world, are in fact very closed individualists. They highly value personal space and will not once again tell something about themselves. And the point is not that they are afraid of something, but simply they are so used to it.
Individualism, which is paramount, has an impact on all aspects of American life. If you do not take into account the major cities such as New York, Chicago or San Francisco, then America is mostly single-storey and represents a predominantly private sector. Consequently, with such a building, the ability to communicate and intersect with neighbors is much less.
So our man to find a common language with the local population (especially at first) is somewhat difficult. Everyone looks friendly and tries to show it in every way, but really making friends with someone is not an easy task. At least it seems harder than in Russia.
Features of medicine
American medicine is clearly not something that this country can be proud of. To make sure of this, it is enough just to come to the US without insurance and either call an ambulance, or break something and come to the hospital. You will be cured and helped without any problems, but when you get a bill for these services, which will be thousands of dollars, you will understand that everything is not so bright.
Once, when I first arrived in the country and I had no insurance yet, I went to the doctor with a strange rash all over my body. I was told that a doctor's appointment would cost 300 dollars, and prescribing 200, not counting the cost of medicines. I decided that throwing 500 dollars into the air due to a problem, which itself would pass in a couple of days, is stupid and inappropriate. I went to the nearest pharmacy and bought various ointments. Of course, I was saddened by this situation, but the rash eventually ended.
Health insurance is paid either by the employer or (in the case of work under a contract) the employee himself. I have always worked under a contract and bought myself insurance myself. The price for one person, depending on the coverage, is 300-400 dollars. Yes, every month you have to pay it, otherwise you will be fined. Buying insurance does not mean that visiting doctors becomes free: you still have to pay for each appointment, but much less.
If you don't have a job, the state will provide you with insurance - and doctor visits will be free. Such is the abyss - while you are working, you cannot refuse to pay for insurance, this is your responsibility.
Step to downshifting
At some point, I thought that if I earn money in order to live, then when will I live, if all my free time is occupied by work?
I began to travel a lot. America is a unique country in terms of nature and landscapes. Here is a good climate, suitable weather, many small interesting cities. I traveled on weekends, and every Sunday I was tormented by the thought that I would be back at the office tomorrow.
Having seen the clips of local bloggers about a free carefree life in minivans, I thought: why not? For what and whom do I try to live an exemplary and absolutely ordinary life of an office employee?
All that was left to do was quit. I informed the authorities, and, despite the indignation of the team, crossed the threshold of the office - I hope, for the last time. I bought a ten-year minivan, threw the rear seats out of it and made a bed there. After spending a couple of days on the simplest modifications, I realized that I could travel and live in it.
So began my tour of America in my own car.
Downshifter vs tourist
Reasonable control of money, lack of rent for real estate and stable remote work - this is the key to success in downshifting. One could add to this the absence of a companion, but this is not always true: there are many examples of people traveling in mobile homes with their wife and children, and they are fine.
If you are a downshifter, it is always necessary to realize precisely whether you need this or that thing. A tourist usually buys a lot of souvenirs on each trip, and a person living in permanent travel mode understands that all these things will have to be put somewhere, and they don’t bring any practical benefits.
The tourist goes to restaurants, and the traveler cooks food himself or alternates cooking and inexpensive eateries.
In new cities it is easy to stumble on the so-called "tourist traps" - places designed for maximum spending money. The truth is that most entertainment is free - parks, paths, architecture of the city.
The main difference between a tourist and a traveler is that the first one comes for a few days and has a clear plan for visiting specific places. Travelers live on trips, they have more time, and it’s enough for them to go somewhere, and what happens next is unknown. And that's great.
In America, not everywhere you can sleep, especially on the sides. This is both dangerous and not at all welcomed by the police. Fortunately, there are a large number of resources where you can find information on the places allowed for overnight. A lot of options - both free and for a relatively small payment. I slept at gas stations, in recreation areas, on waste grounds, in casino parking lots and for truckers.
During the trip, I saw a completely different America. The office is always in a hurry somewhere: drinking coffee on the fly, not getting enough sleep, working for wear, paying out a lifetime mortgage and buying everything on credit.
That America, in which I found myself, being a traveler, is completely different: without fuss and rat race, but with its own rhythm. A few years ago, I would say that there is a difference between the United States and Russia on many issues - food, restaurants, cafes, entertainment, and transport. But I was recently in Russia, and with each trip it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain these differences.
In restaurants, I do not see much difference. Many American dishes have long been in Russia, and often even better. Foods less tasty in America, probably due to various additives.
In the field of public services, the situation is, if not deplorable, then very bad. In the field of Internet services, there is actually a monopoly of two companies. Internet speed is not better, and sometimes worse in comparison with Russian realities. Telephone communication is expensive and also almost without alternatives. Companies love to “plant” on their contract and retain the client under various pretexts. In general, there is practically no choice, and that was what shocked me.
Americans prefer a private car to any public transport. Transportation is only in large cities, and in small ones there are only uncomfortable buses that run several times a day, and then - if you're lucky. Hope for such transport, of course, is impossible.
With housing, the situation strongly depends on the place to place, so I would not equate everything to one denominator. For example, in Silicon Valley housing is very expensive, and absolutely unjustified. Many are looking for roommates to share rent payments and allow themselves to live in the city.
Separately, I would like to mention that there are some things that in Russian life are considered the norm, and in the US they are perceived rather as an exception. These include, for example, a washing machine. Many people, especially residents of big cities, use public washing machines. It amuses me and gives a reason for sadness, but it seems to most for the majority.
Stereotypes and the future
As it turned out, there are a lot of stereotypes, and opinions are very polar. There are those who believe that only bears live in Russia, and there are those who seriously think about moving there. The United States is a country of immigrants, and it is pointless to try to bring the opinions of people living here to a common denominator. And the nation "Americans" - rather something mythical and geographical, rather than real.
At the moment, I have no plans to return to Russia. And this is not because I categorically dislike something in Russia, but because the world is too big to connect my life with any particular country.
The main plan for the future is to be true to yourself and to continue exploring this world. Everyone covers with romance those places that he wants to move to, but with the transition from the category of “tourist” to the category of “resident” a lot of things change. Do not idealize! Think about what you expect from life, and based on this, make a decision about moving.
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