Ukraine-Russia-Israel-America: how I survived three immigration - ForumDaily
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Ukraine-Russia-Israel-America: how I survived three immigration

Photo by Nata Potemkin

Photo by Nata Potemkin

In each country, their own brand of fears and their discrete pleasures. The first six months in Israel, I honestly worked in a barbershop. It is precisely because in my homeland I was scared qualitatively by the fact that “with my profession as a Russian-speaking radio host,” I will wash floors all my life. With fear, I finished the 4 course right away: manicure, pedicure, male and female haircut and cosmetology. Six months later, hell's hairdressing salon from 8 in the morning to 9 in the evening (during which I pretty much blew Hebrew, for the clientele was increasingly local) I was suddenly taken to the radio, and this affected me like a good dose of LSD.

The world around me had changed enormously: with the wave of a magic wand, people appeared around me who spoke the same language as me. These people were sane. The interiors were beautiful. The remote control is familiar. The headphones left a familiar mark in my hair. Another 4 years have passed - and what do you think they began to scare me about before leaving for America? Mopping the floors, of course.

Nata Potemkin. Photos from the personal archive

Nata Potemkin. Photos from the personal archive


Strictly speaking, in all three of my travels, I was incredibly lucky: no one ever drove me anywhere. He did not plant, did not initiate lawsuits, did not discriminate (he was even ashamed before leaving for Israel). I never had to ask for political asylum: there was no reason. I had no problems with the law: I honored the civil, family, and especially the criminal code.

All 3 times I left because I wanted to.

For the first time, I was impatient to leave Ukraine in order to smell professional realization in a competitive field - and I simply don’t know a tougher field than Moscow. So the first place of deployment was rightly chosen.

In 2012, the personal revolutionary situation with the mentality finally came to an end: the tops were still able, however, but the lower classes did not want to live as before. Israel with its specific mentality here, as they say, “asked for it myself”.

In 2016, the change of mentality bore fruit in the form of a marriage with an American citizen, after which nothing has changed so far, but I don’t even say that. A person who even renounces something after he changed the country three times is nonsense.

However, despite all the 3 enough "greenhouse" emigration, I fully imagine that the range of reasons that can squeeze a person from his homeland (both from old and new) can be, to put it mildly, broad. In the circle of my intercourse, I received political asylum, escaped from gloomy legal prospects, persecuted in a previous country for sexual orientation, limited physical abilities and nationality (by the way, there were not always Jewish, there were other cases). Dishwashers, taxi drivers, cleaners, nurses with two higher education (there are also with professors, I have a wide range).

No, conscience does not torment me because in the States I landed in the everyday sense of the world softly. If necessary, I can and tough. The teachers were good.

As a person of small stature, middle age, not very strong and of similar health, I still dare to say that multiple emigration is a project that is, in principle, within the control of a person. However, not everyone thinks so.

“We have relatives in Canada, visa-free entry, they would like to see us nearby, (why didn’t you leave?) ... but we were not ready to experience a second aliyah” (*repatriation, Hebrew) - Israeli acquaintances told me exactly six months before another turning point in emigration in my life.

By the way, if I thought that I would not survive the “second Aliyu,” then I probably would not even try. For some reason, I thought I would survive. And for some reason, some people thought not. It was a paragraph about the importance of mood.

Purpose of your visit

You know, those who get married 4 times - every time (I asked them) they are sure that it is forever. If we change our country of residence, then it is also customary to be sure that this is forever, otherwise why change?

For those who are not accidentally in the subject, a short list of why and why you can change the country more than once.


  1. Get a job offer.
  2. Including the temporary.
  3. The contract.
  4. Get married / marry.
  5. “I’m tired of everything, I want a change, but it doesn’t help to get a haircut.”
  6. Hot (Israeli case when moving to any other country)
  7. "I am a programmer" (Israeli case when moving to the States or Canada)
  8. Emigration back (when you lived 20 for years in a certain country and decided to return, it doesn’t matter why: in this case, you’ll see on your forehead “I’m still not a loser”).
  9. To escape, being a suspect in the case (no matter what).
  10. Slaughter a neighbor (taxi driver, clerk, accountant, wife) and fear retaliation. Fight at the bar.
  11. Want to start over from scratch.
  12. Do not get along with the cultural code and mentality of their second homeland.
  13. No longer want to hear the sirens and sounds of falling neighborly shells (a very Israeli case). And you are lucky, if only sounds. I was lucky.
  14. Hunger (not an Israeli case, but this is not a reason to exclude it).
  15. Expulsion from the country for any reason, including political.

In short, sometimes it's a whim. Sometimes it’s a thoughtful and useful decision. Sometimes this decision is forced. Sometimes the alternative is prison or death. And sometimes multiple emigration is a separate type of high, mixed with a feeling of freedom.

Well, are you running from Russia to Paris? Great, stay there. But some people are itching. Familiarization with the biographies of the great and famous from different eras gave the feeling that Marina Tsvetaeva, Vasily Kandinsky, Joseph Brodsky - geniuses who survived multiple emigration - did not suffer entirely from it. And Limonov, who skillfully rushed from New York to Paris, is alive, well and successfully published.

Banished for immoral

Hayter, who wanted to jump on your bones, will surely say about you: you are immoral. You change countries like gloves. This is because (say, I repeat, the hater) that you cannot get along with people or with the country. You are being driven everywhere. And from there they were kicked out, and from here (in this place you can arrange a little holiday for yourself by asking for evidence). The mentality of our person is such that the tendency to change places is rather a bad quality than a good one. You know, broke up. Trains - give to others.

Photo by Nata Potemkin

Photo by Nata Potemkin

In society, they do not like upstarts at all. For employers, a person prone to changing places is called midrange jumpers. In general, nowhere people like us are not particularly favored.

Personally, I am not interested in the moral background of emigration because the experience of changing three countries suggests that this background can be anything.

For me, this is nothing more than an attempt to live several lives at once. To cram a whole series of possible incarnations into one tangible line of fate. Or realities - into one real reality. This is undoubtedly difficult. This guarantees overload and emotional burnout. Negative experience. Psychological trauma. Like the army, the birth of the first child or an expedition to Antarctica. However, this is both a new wonderful experience (which no amount of money can buy) and impressions that you would not have received otherwise. Often this is a path to success that was excluded in the previous place.

Sometimes this is done as compensation, when one or another psychological trauma has torn off a piece of your life and you logically want compensation for losses. Then emigration, even if it is not particularly successful, is perceived by its main character as revenge.

Do you know the bearded anecdote about how a gamer gets behind the wheel for the first time and asks: “How many lives do I have?”.

How many of them you have - you can decide for yourself. I want to say: it warms.

Why are they afraid


  1. Again from scratch (all skills and all the experience got so expensive) will be reset.
  2. After the first emigration, I never recovered.
  3. I break my life (if you have such an idea, it means that during the first emigration you, to put it mildly, were unlucky).

The one who had the first emigration was easy and happy, as a rule, is sure that the second will be the same (and this confidence, of course, means absolutely nothing).

  1. Age.

“Up to thirty you exist on the energy of your young age, and it gives you the opportunity to create countless relationships, try, quit and try again, believe in yourself and so on. After 30, it's much more complicated, ”a psychotherapist told me. By the way, the profession is useful and in demand abroad. Always a lot of clientele.

Actually, I would like to say separately about age. For the last few years, the phrase has horrified me: “at my age - and I’m 27...”.

One of the most striking differences in the eyes of women: the age of a woman exists only in the former USSR. Only there are you in 30 full of trash, nowhere else. I think this fact requires a separate study of cultural studies, anthropologists, physicians, historians, psychologists and representatives of other related professions.

  1. Because you are a squeezed lemon.

Little party never killed nobody

Our ancestors lied to us: the move is not equal to two fires. Moving is equal to one vinskin. It is precisely because you will be allowed into another country with one suitcase and all your property must fit in it. I wonder how many repeated emigrants have, say, an album with children's photos?

Even if you don’t know how to perform the act of global disposal of material things and think that you can transport a container with your junk to another country, after you have already done this once, your enthusiasm will be greatly undermined.

“You can’t pick up bones,” my parents told me in the early 90s, when I was supposedly going to Moscow.

Bones are not a problem. What's the problem?

Russian people are used to constantly look around for tragedy.

If there is no tragedy, it is worth looking for a catch.

On special forums for emigrants there are often messages: what to do, I arrived in the country 2 years ago and, excuse me, I’m depressed. “You cannot help but be depressed,” the old-timers answer him, “everything is fine, you have just arrived in the country, your condition is due to factors that we all know firsthand.”

Weak man

And he is especially weak before the grand march through the authorities. This is something common to all countries. The difference lies in the essence of the authorities themselves. In Israel and the States they are at least different. The people who write sheets of text about the “creepy” Israeli bureaucracy are, in fact, right - but they most likely never received a residence permit in Russia. Then they would have something to compare with.

When discussing potential difficulties, for some reason the main thing is always forgotten: we take with us and our own problems, which we consider to be consequences of living in “that terrible country” from which we run (or fly away in a civilized way).

It is harmful to worry in general, but in this case it is also meaningless: a person who earns money earns money in any place, if he does not know how, he will not work if he does not learn. Escaped from a lawsuit in his next country miraculously acquires a similar. No magic, sheer karma. People who are inclined to deceive others will not lose this tendency when crossing the border; may even acquire additional skills.

And sometimes it costs go just to understand it.

If a person professionally washed floors on arrival in Israel for a couple of years, there are strong fears that upon arrival in the next country he will do the same, regardless of the experience gained and Hebrew learned.

For some reason, it is assumed that everything that you have achieved thereWhen moving to another permanent residence, it must be reset. This myth is easily broken about banal logic.

A person who has changed his country of residence even once is already a different person. And precisely for this reason, it is highly unlikely that exactly the same thing will happen to him as during the first move. It is not at all a fact that only good things will necessarily happen to him now. But it's definitely different.

Greenhouse or non-impersonal emigration in each subsequent case depends on its cause.

The problems are always the same. It:

— real estate (if you are not sheltered by relatives);

— legalization (if you are not in Israel and did not come under the law of return);

— job search (if you moved not because of a contract);

— building up your base of acquaintances and circle of friends from scratch again (if you are not a citizen of the world who has friends in any country);

- language (if you are not a polyglot).

After skimming the list, I understand that this is all the same as what I went through in the first and second cases. Nobody says it was pleasant. But it definitely wasn't fatal.

The mentality from country to country changed, to put it mildly, incrementally. In place of Israel with a powerful bureaucracy came the States with a powerful jurisprudence and a kind of (let's say softly) medicine.

Moscow did not believe in tears, Israel believed only in tears, moreover tears shed specifically over the bucket and rag, and New York does not believe in anything at all. But he believed that the emigrant did not necessarily wash the floors for the first couple of years.

Skills that had to pump

- Ability to accept help and, if necessary, ask for it. It's harder than it seems.

- Distrust of the first person you meet (and the second one too).

— The ability to stand up for yourself (in the psychological and legal sense, in Russia this meaning is a little different).

— The ability to be distracted from problems, not to get stuck in them, even when there are many of them.

- The ability to send wholesale to well-known letters, that is, large quantities of “well-wishers” at once.

— The ability to find a way out where there is none. Even where he is not there, he is there.

— Awareness of the need to wear a scarf and take immunomodulators (adequate medicine from all three countries is present only in Israel).

If we talk about the specifics of the two countries that I have not conquered (for no country can be “conquered”; this is an idiom like one move and two fires), then I had to deal with the popular Promised Land legend about two buckets of Israeli... uh... excrement , which supposedly every repatriate must eat, and on the very first day there will be people with a bucket and a spoon who want to feed them to you, so as not to deviate from tradition. And 4 years later - compare this legend with the legend of the American dream. After all, Israel was built by Jews for Jews. And America is by everyone and for everyone. So everything is logical.

Spreading trees

Israel is very much tied to national identity. America is the center of internationalism. If you want to stay in America, they may or may not help you, but your desire to stay will be met with understanding. They themselves remained, why shouldn’t they understand you.

If you, not being a Jew (this is the key), want to stay in Israel, the wave of auspiciousness will not be so obvious, to put it mildly. There will definitely be ... a lady who has decided that you want to crawl into Jews for nothing.

From what is not in Israel, there are huge spreading trees. It was they who, by the way, were hooked on the first day, not at all by the Empire State Building.

Photo by Nata Potemkin

Photo by Nata Potemkin

Speaking harshly, then help (any, even drinking coffee) in Israel is free only if the action takes place between very close friends. With them, I really was free. Perhaps it just coincided here that my close acquaintances are also excellent people. Here in the States, it is customary for people to help just like that, regardless of the degree of closeness. Moreover, from a social point of view, this is not at all justified.

In Israel, it is extremely difficult to live without documents and work without status. Let's face it, it's almost impossible at all. With the exception of Sudanese refugees and single Russian ladies, I personally did not see a single person living and working in Israel without status. They say they are. But they are very rare. They sit with the old men and wash the very floors, fearing deportation. No, this is where illegal immigrants are also afraid of it. But they are many times more. Yes, and the territory of America, if straightened, then Israel can be wrapped in it once two hundred, and still the place remains.

That is, in Israel, almost everyone has documents and work. They are extremely busy and don’t drink much, which is logical, because in this weather you can’t drink much. Everyone is somehow Jewish or almost Jewish. Social guarantees definitely exist for them. That is, in order to remain in Israel without a job, without a home and without money, you have to try hard and organize such an anti-social provocation that you still won’t be left without a home, because you will be in jail.

In Israel, if you owe a bank or have been tried, you can close the exit from the country. In America, no one can ever close anyone's exit from the country, get at least five hundred credits. But can close entry. Even without any credits.

In America, to stay homeless, you also need to try, but much less.

The scheme for receiving various social benefits is simpler. There is no bureaucracy at all compared to Israel (sic!). To live in Israel, you must be a Jew, the grandson of a Jew, the wife of a Jew or the husband of a Jewish woman, or the son of a Jewish woman. To live in America, you need to have a tourist entry visa and really want to live there.

At the same time, in Israel they teach you how to live, but in America they somehow don’t. At the same time, help in Israel may suddenly not be free, but here it’s somehow more humane. I'm trying to find the logic and I can't. As an option, Israel still has a tougher eastern mentality. More specific environment. Israel is a country of immigrants. America is a country of emigrants. There are periodic bombings inside Israel. America bombs mainly from the outside. In short, I don’t know why here a drug addict, heavily high, is carried from Brighton to a secluded safe place, and in Tel Aviv they all lie in Gan-ha-Hashmal, singly or in stacks. I have no answer.

In Israel, almost all social institutions are related to each other. The companies closely exchange information with the pension fund, pay social insurance, social insurance keeps in a fist all extracts from your accounts and know who you live with (goodbye, allowance for a single mother, if you are suspected of having slippers in your home).

A certificate of the state of a bank account is a mandatory document for submission to any practically instance except for the sickness fund. Here the state of your account is only interested in the bank itself, provided that it is true that you are not making suspicious transactions. With whom you sleep - nobody cares at all if he does not write off your content from taxes.

Institutions in the USA are separated by legislation and functions: the registry office is separate, the tax office is separate, the clinic is separate, the office is separate. They do not intersect and are not interested in each other. But here they do not pay new arrivals a basket. However, in Israel a non-citizen cannot open a bank account, but here it is possible.

Already being here, I wanted (such a whim, you know) to pay a loan in Israel. I once had a long time ago, a year and a half ago, I took a loan and in my account my payments were carefully withdrawn from my account each month. They went so neatly that the bank did not bother. The amount in the account was sufficient to give the loan in full and imagine, I wanted to give it back. No, you can not imagine how it was.

Every night. At three o'clock. Under cover of darkness (due to the time difference), I called my bank, but they did not answer the phone. On the Internet and in the application, the option “to pay off the loan” was missing as a fact. That is, it was possible to close your account, but not to repay the loan (we are talking, let me remind you, about the country of the victorious high-tech). It was impossible to reach them by phone; they read emails sluggishly. This lasted for about a month. Then I simply wrote to a woman I knew in Israel, gave her all the details, passwords, account code numbers and asked her to call my bank from an Israeli phone and say that she was me. It took less than one day; I, that is, she, paid off the loan in full. The Americans, no matter who I tell them, all laugh a lot. But it's not funny to me.

Sometimes I think that the Israelis are such tough guys because if they relax, they will be eaten. But then I correct myself, remembering that it is most difficult to devour the indifferent, and in the States there are definitely more of them.

And if in Israel, the Ukrainian ambassador came to my boss to complain and received a turn from the gate under the auspices of the fact that we are a free country and his subordinate can speak on TV what he wants, then in America he simply would not dare to come.

In any country in the world, any person can do anything good to you and anyone can do anything bad to you. The same person can do you anything good first, and then anything bad. Here, there are no differences.

"I survived it"

Nata Potemkin. Photos from the personal archive

Nata Potemkin. Photos from the personal archive

The second, third and so on emigration is always an additional experience. From English this word can also be translated as “experience”: “I experienced it.” And therefore, he won.

Another bearded joke asked not to confuse tourism with emigration. I think that multiple emigration is another way to experience the subject as tourism.

Some people have one child, some have five. But everyone needs to be raised from scratch, everyone. It's the same with countries. Here I am almost ready to make a pathetic generalization on the topic that the fear of emigration is the essence of the fear of life.

And, both in America and in Israel, it is absolutely the same - strangers happily talk to you on the street.

- What? — I take out my headphones when, at the exit of the subway, an unfamiliar long black guy addresses me with something.

— I just wanna say Hello.

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