Personal experience: five stages through which most immigrants to the USA pass
Due to the financial crisis in Kazakhstan and simply the desire to find a better life, some Kazakhstani families, especially young ones, are thinking about emigration or temporary residence abroad. But many, making a decision, do not always imagine what awaits them in a new country, writes Assel Sapar in his blog for Pandaland.
I would like to share my experience, which may be useful to someone. My husband and I have never thought about moving anywhere, especially so far from our homeland - to the United States. I have never been among those who dreamed of Hollywood or New York, and even more so those who aspired to leave on programs like Work and Travel. On the contrary, I even lived very well in my native Kazakhstan, with a bunch of friends and family and an interesting life. My husband also had a good job and friends. But circumstances developed in such a way that he was transferred to the United States for work, and we, who were just about to get married, moved here for an indefinite period.
I read a long time ago that any immigrant encounters 5 phases when moving. During these 4,5 years of living in America, I went through almost everything.
1) Euphoric phase - when you like almost everything
Food is tastier, shops are better, people are kinder. You lead and feel like a tourist. In the very first weeks of my stay, I visited the Hollywood Avenue of Stars, Disneyland, San Diego and many other places I was delighted with. Since we live not far from the ocean; here you can always eat fresh lobsters, squid and oysters, which we could not get in our native Almaty.
I was delighted with everything! I considered this trip, first of all, as an opportunity to learn English and Spanish, live abroad, enroll in an MBA, as I always wanted, and have a baby here in good conditions. From the very first day I started doing all this - I signed up for English language courses, where I met people from all over the world and studied diligently from morning to evening, then took TOEFL courses, and studied Spanish in parallel. After I successfully passed all the tests in 1,5 years, I entered the MBA. I liked everything very much.
At this stage, you realize that this is not a vacation, which will soon end, and you will return home, you need to adapt to everyday life, everyday life. You understand (especially in America, where everything is different) that you do not know many things that are elementary for the local population. For example, all the bills in America come by mail from each company separately, and I didn’t know how to pay them, I didn’t know how to fill the car myself (there are no tankers in the USA), send letters, find a doctor who is included in my insurance, travel freeways and don't drive your turn, etc.
All this mood did not add. The study began, and I am complex about the language. Almost all of my classmates were Americans, for whom English was native, when I could go into a single article for several hours and stay in the library until evening, doing tasks. The eternal sun and seafood by that time were fed up and terribly wanted to fall and herring under a fur coat, not to mention beeshe (the use of horse meat in the US is prohibited). Also at this stage I wanted to communicate with any Russian-speaking people who met on the way, regardless of who they are, just to feel their native in a foreign land.
After awareness of all the problems in the previous stage, there is a feeling of anger and irritation, directed outward. It seemed to me that I could not do anything as it should. Even with good English I had discomfort when communicating. It was terribly annoying that there were a lot of friends in Kazakhstan, and I could choose who I like, and here I had to communicate with those who are, on bezrybe, as they say ... The most strange thing for me was not to celebrate the New Year and March 8. The fact is that Christmas is celebrated here, and March 8 is not a holiday at all. All this drove into a terrible depression, and there was a desire to return home.
Almost everything irritated the Americans - how tasteless they dress, their constant relaxation and unwillingness to bother with anything, the inability to simply set a normal table for guests, etc. I could not understand the psychology of these people with a completely foreign culture.
Now I understand that it was just a homesick and family, and everything that didn’t coincide with that was annoying.
Having managed to overcome the previous two stages, I moved on to the stage of neutrality. At this stage, I was able to calmly read a finance textbook without thinking about a transfer, make an appointment with any doctor I need, pay all bills, go wherever I need to without looking at the navigator, and especially - make almost all purchases online, without spending time in 3 different stores.
I signed up for sailing and enjoyed it a lot. In addition to just acquaintances, there were several friends with whom I was really interested. I was especially pleased that I knew where to get a good herring for salad, in which pizzeria to take ready dough for baursaks, and how to cook a delicious besh without horse meat. At the same time, I was very fond of the previously unknown Mexican guacamole, Japanese sashimi with yuzo sauce and Brazilian kashini.
My husband and I began to understand the California wine, and we had a circle of regular acquaintances. I had to say goodbye to 8 in March, but holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas appeared in our lives. I began to adequately assess all the advantages and disadvantages of living in the United States and Kazakhstan.
At the same stage, I finally got pregnant and gave birth to my beloved son.
In the comfort stage, a person feels equally comfortable both in the “old” and in the “new” culture. Not all reach this stage, and often it takes several years. I think that I am not yet at the comfort stage, but already close to it.
With the advent of my son, the question of daily employment has disappeared by itself. All classes had to be canceled, and all the time and strength he began to occupy. But I am really happy to spend time with my little miracle. We constantly go to swimming, to the local Gymboree, library and various entertainment places for children. In California, it is summer all year round and there is no need to stay at home, and we are constantly going somewhere with other mothers or together. On weekends we spend time family or with friends.
In America, people are very open-minded and it is very easy to meet other mothers. I have made some good American friends whose children are the same age as my son. Also, my Russian-speaking friends are all with children. At this stage, I plan to send my son to kindergarten in September, when he turns two and take up his life - sports and some interesting business.
Whether or not to return to Kazakhstan is an open question for us: there are family and best friends, there is comfort and a safe future for the child.
I still miss my Homeland, especially my beloved homeland Almaty and the people living there, but California also became my second home, where I feel warm and comfortable. I recently told my husband that I would never be completely happy, because being in one of these places, I will always miss another.
One thing I know for sure. I will never regret the experience of living abroad acquired over the years, I have matured very much and looked at different things in a new way. My outlook broadened several times, and I began to appreciate family and parents more.
PS: For myself, I formed a type of personality that should try to come to live or move to the USA, if there is a desire. This is a person open to everything new, law-abiding, planning everything in advance, making new friends easily, an individualist, not too attached to the Motherland and relatives, with a profession that is useful everywhere (for example, a programmer) and who wants to live abroad. It seems to me that such people will be able to move especially easily.
The main thing is to think in advance about the documents and not go "at random" like many. The USA is not the country to which I would advise you to go, having sold everything in your homeland - and come what may. This country loves hard work and responsibility, and a person with a permanent job and insurance has more chances for a good life here than someone who came with money and without a clear plan.
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