Catching a Dream: Life in the USA through the Eyes of a Russian Woman Who Dreamed of Emigration from Childhood
Albina moved to New York from Astrakhan, following her dream. In the USA, she is happy and tries to help everyone who has just moved and does not yet know how to live in a big city. The story of her life in the USA was told by the publication Lenta.Ru.
“I have been planning a move since I was 14. Then I started to study English intensively and eventually I was able to enter the Faculty of Foreign Languages. For me, the USA has always been a place where stars are born, famous actors, talented performers - all this can be described in one word: Hollywood, - says Albina. - I am a musical person, all my childhood I sang, danced, played in performances and set myself the goal of getting to the casting of America's Got Talent. But this is the positive part of my dream. As a child, I faced discrimination because of my nationality (my parents are from Kazakhstan) and dreamed of going to live where everyone is equal. "
“For the first time I went to the USA under the Work and Travel program. We arrived in Maryland, where there was work waiting for us at an amusement park, but the park was closed and we were told to wait for the opening. Three weeks have passed, nothing has changed. My friends and I decided that we would not wait any longer and left for New York. At that moment, my aunt lived there, with whom we stayed. Therefore, we can say that we did not work on the WaT program. We ourselves found work in New York, ”the girl continues her story.
Upon returning to her homeland, the girl tried to return to the United States, but she did not immediately succeed.
“Then I came back, graduated from the university, tried to get a tourist visa, but I was refused. I had a bad visa history and other unfavorable factors, which I corrected for four years, ”says Albina. - Obtaining a visa is very difficult: first of all, you need to prepare well, then try to "catch" a place for an interview in Russia, otherwise you will have to go to neighboring countries. Now, due to the coronavirus, the US Embassy in Russia has suspended the issuance of tourist visas, so it is impossible to get into the country at all. "
“Having received a visa, I immediately began to plan the move, bought tickets six months before departure, so that I knew for sure that I was leaving, there was no turning back. In Russia, I left everything: family, friends, real estate, quit a good job and flew on the wings of happiness to seek adventure, ”the girl says.
The girl says that since she was previously in the United States, she was not particularly surprised by anything.
“Since I have already been to the States, I was not particularly surprised by anything. I already had friends in New York with whom I kept in touch from Russia, and therefore I always knew what was happening there. But still, every time I come to Manhattan, the skyscrapers fascinate me, I look at all the buildings with my mouth open.
But you need to understand that the United States is not only Manhattan. Having moved here, you need to be prepared for various difficulties, says Albina. - I found my first job after about 10 days: I got a full-time job in a kindergarten, I also found a part-time job as a photographer in a restaurant. Getting to work in a kindergarten in the United States is much easier than in Russia. If you have acquaintances, or you are lucky to stumble upon an ad, and you have won over your employer, the job is yours. "
“Of course, some kind of minimal teaching experience is needed, but if you learn quickly and are not afraid of children, learning is much faster. Americans have a very different attitude to their children. They do not shake, as in Russia, so there are much fewer problems, - the girl recalls. - Probably, it was a little easier for me than arriving alone, since I know English, and I have friends here. I think it is very important to try to make friends with someone before immigration, or at least find someone who will answer the questions that inevitably arise when living in a new country. "
Albina says that life will be much easier if there is someone who can explain how and what to do here, and it is desirable that it be someone local, not an immigrant.
“Everything is different here, and it’s good when someone can help with everyday problems: explain where to pay for travel, how to get health insurance and get a driver’s license, which apartment is better to rent, where to find a job,” she says. - Unfortunately, the communities of the Russians who have moved are quite toxic, and you should not count on help there. When you go to social networks and read comments in Russian-speaking groups, you immediately get a bunch of negativity. Therefore, it is better not to write or read anything there, or try not to let it pass through yourself. I don't know what this is connected with, but often compatriots want to cash in on you, to use you. It is sad".
A special city
“New York is difficult to compare with the rest of the country: there are no one-story houses with flags in the courtyards, and the neighbors do not bring pie for housewarming. But here there are a lot of people of different nationalities: only Russian-speaking New Yorkers are about 600 thousand. Therefore, it is almost impossible to compose a generalized portrait of a city resident, - says Albina. - New York is a very good city to start life in the USA. There is always a lot of work here: those who are not afraid to work will not stay hungry here. "
The girl says that New Yorkers are very different, but one thing unites them - they almost always rush somewhere and drink coffee on the go.
“New Yorkers are always running somewhere and drinking coffee on the go. Not all, of course, but if you find yourself in downtown Manhattan in the morning, you can see crowds of people running with cups of coffee in their hands. Many of them are dressed according to the latest fashion trends. But there are also plenty of those who do not care what to wear, - says the girl. - In New York, transport is all right, there is a round-the-clock subway, there are many buses. Nevertheless, many people drive cars, preferring comfort. Driving licenses are obtained from the age of 16 ”.
“Studying in a driving school is optional. Even if someone taught you, you can safely go and pass on the right. And if you have moved, and you already have a driver's license of another country, in some states you can simply exchange them for American ones, ”says Albina. - There are many beauty salons in New York, but the best ones have Russian-speaking masters. American masters do everything very poorly; the Internet is full of photographic evidence. I myself did not go to such, there is no desire to check on myself. "
Holidays and signs
Americans are very fond of Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving. All holidays are celebrated in the United States quite brightly.
“I really like the way Christmas is celebrated here. Everything is beautifully decorated, everyone is running for gifts, buying Christmas trees. Fabulous atmosphere, ”says the girl.
“Residents of the United States are quite superstitious, they have many unusual signs for us. For example, they can break a bone to fulfill a wish. Whoever has a large part in his hands will have it come true. Many people play baseball, and everyone knows that you have to spit on the bat at random before playing. If an American finds one cent, it must be raised in order to attract good luck, ”says Albina.
But some of our signs coincide.
“There is no way to break the mirror - this is by seven years of misfortune. As well as sprinkling pepper - this is a quarrel with your best friend. Many are so afraid of the number 13 that some buildings don't even have a 13th floor mark. To be sure to protect themselves from witchcraft and the evil eye, superstitious Americans wear blue clothes or at least keep a blue amulet with them, ”the girl notes.
Many people say that prices are much higher than at home, but salaries are consistent.
“The food here is much more expensive than in Russia, but the salaries are rather big, so it feels like it’s about the same. All the same products are sold here, even buckwheat. True, you will have to go to a specialized Russian store for it. So all I miss is Mom’s cooking. In stores, by the way, there are a lot of ready-made food, I always see huge queues in these departments, because people usually do not have time for culinary delights. I try to cook at home myself, I have time. But sometimes I can buy or order something exotic, ”says Albina.
“But with housing there are great difficulties: in order to rent alone, you need to earn very good money. One-piece (room + hall) in a relatively decent area can be rented for about one and a half thousand dollars. You can, of course, at your own peril and risk find cheaper, - says the girl. - It is better, of course, to live with a friend, relative or partner. All difficulties are much easier to survive if you divide them in half. "
“Medicine is terribly expensive here, but everyone has probably heard about it. This, of course, is a huge minus of the United States. If you do not have insurance, then calling an ambulance can cost from $ 500. The cost of insurance per month depends on income: the more a person earns, the more expensive the insurance is. The poor have free insurance. Until recently, the presence of medical insurance was mandatory, and violators of this rule were fined, but now this is no longer there, '' says Albina. “Many people go to their homeland and undergo treatment or examination there, if possible. But if something is urgent, you have to leave a lot of money with the doctors. Especially with dentists: if there is no insurance, installing a crown on one tooth can cost two thousand dollars. Fun fact: Birth is always free for New Yorkers.
Albina does not think about returning to her homeland yet.
“Returning home is not even discussed. In this country, I see much more opportunities for myself than in my homeland, unfortunately. Although someone says that if a person has not achieved anything at home, then in another country he has nothing to do, by my own example I can prove the opposite, - says the girl. - In Russia, with the education of a translator, I could not find a job, in the end I became a secretary. Here I was taken without education and experience to the dental office. I was lucky: I responded to the ad on time and won over the employer. There were people with experience, but he said that he liked me as a person. "
“So sometimes it doesn't matter what kind of specialist you are, because you can learn everything, but it's always more pleasant to work with adequate people. At work, I do not do anything super complicated, for which I would need to study in college, - says Albina. - I'm just an assistant who helps the dentist. So anything is possible in New York. "
Despite this, the girl still misses her homeland and loved ones.
“I really miss my parents and friends. There are times when I want to walk around Moscow and go to my favorite places. But then I remember that I was there a year ago, and I am sure that nothing has changed there. And sometimes I miss the metro, clean and beautiful. I really hope that soon at least friends will be able to visit, ”says Albina.
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