"Local Russians do not like immigrants from their homeland": the story of a journalist from Russia who moved to New York
Alexey Postnikov is a well-known journalist in Yekaterinburg who could often be seen at protest rallies. In February, 2018, Alexey moved to New York. Now, five days a week, he shoots and mounts stories for the TV channel RTVI, and on weekends he is engaged in his own projects. Alexey told the portal E1.ruhow he managed to survive in New York - without work, friends, money and connections.
“My savings should have been enough for eight months”
- Thoughts about moving appeared 10 years ago, but I seriously thought about emigration in 2014 year. It happened the day after the referendum in the Crimea. I woke up with the feeling that I had to leave, because in the near future nothing good would happen in Russia. At that time I was already devoting a lot of time to video production, so I began to think in which country I could quickly develop professionally. Chose between England, USA and Ireland.
For the first time in the US, I visited a few years ago. Then I lived in New York for three months. Exactly as much as he could afford. I was convinced that the United States is a land of opportunity, and New York is the capital of the world. It may sound naive, but it is. In addition, I do not know how to drive a car. Of all the American cities, New York is perhaps one of the few where you can live a full life without a car.
I love rock and roll and its offshoots, I often shoot video clips for music bands. Sometimes, if you like a song, I do it for free. In Yekaterinburg, it was difficult for me to find really interesting music, in New York it's the other way around. This is a cauldron of live music, hundreds of venues where someone plays every day. Every day here I recognize new bands whose music is catching me. And in 90% of cases they work at a high professional level.
In New York, I felt naturally from day one. Nervous just for the money. According to my calculations, the savings should have been enough for eight months. This is the time for which I had to find a job. Therefore, for the first six months I saved on everything and just tried to survive. In English, there is a word - hustling, which in this context can be translated as “spin-spin”. So I did.
I went to the States without any connections. In New York, I had no relatives or acquaintances. I knew several musicians, but these are not the people to whom I could come at night, because there is no place to sleep, and they will let you go. At the same time, I knew that when you go abroad, a lot depends on whether you can find accommodation. Therefore, I started looking for an apartment back in Russia.
“I ended up in a small room measuring two by two meters.”
To rent a room for a long time from another country is almost impossible. Usually, expatriates rent a room through Airbnb for a few days. There are also groups on Facebook, you can search for ads on the Craigslist site. Then the fun begins, because even if you find a home, you may not be able to rent it for a long time.
According to local laws, you must provide information about income (for the year). It is clear that a person who arrived in the States yesterday, a week or even a month ago cannot have such income. Also, the landlord must check your credit rating, but you cannot have a bank account and, therefore, a credit history. In this case, you need to look for guarantors who will take a round sum.
I was lucky: I wrote to an American who spoke Russian well, and we became friends. He had an apartment in which he rented rooms. We agreed that he would give me the area. So I found myself in a small room measuring two by two meters. I had the feeling that I was living in a big closet (let's call it the closet of rich people). But the rent was only 450 dollars per month.
Recently, my friends and I moved to another apartment, and there I occupied the largest room. By local standards, the room is inexpensive - only 690 dollars. It is much cheaper than usually asked. On average, the price for renting a room in New York starts from a thousand dollars. Much depends on the area (I live in Brooklyn, in Crown Heights).
"In Russia, I always faced with restrictions"
I have more jobs in the US than in Russia. Sometimes it becomes so much that I have to give up due to lack of time and effort. My main place of work - TV channel RTVI. I am an operator and video engineer on a five-day week. I also have my own video production. On weekends, I shoot music videos for bands that I like or something else.
In Russia, I was constantly confronted with restrictions while working on projects. Many things had to be done not for the sake of something, but in spite of it. In order to make truly worthwhile, cool work, it was necessary to overcome thousands of obstacles. Basically created artificially, out of the blue. For this you need to be a patient person, have a lot of time, effort and, of course, money. That is straight to kill.
I will give some examples.
Once in Yekaterinburg my friends and I made a short film. In one scene, the action took place in the cinema. We agreed to shoot with a well-known network of cinemas. They agreed to provide a platform, and then read the script. There was a drug transfer scene in it. It was a small episode, from which it was not even plainly clear that these were drugs. But they said: "No, no, we can not shoot this!".
Another example, when you suddenly stumble while doing something without a second thought, is to shoot an advertisement on the 1905 Square of the year. A policeman approached us and asked: "What are you doing here?" As a result, we spent a lot of time and effort to explain that we are not doing anything illegal, that this has nothing to do with politics (despite the fact that everything happens in front of the city administration building).
And such situations car. In the US, nothing like this. I often work in bars where musicians I shoot are performing. Of course, there are restrictions on shooting, but it is always known in advance. If suddenly you did not know about it, you will be politely explained.
In New York, you can always realize your creative intent - all roads are open. But nothing happens by itself, of course, you need to work a lot and hard. Recently, I realized that over the year in the United States I grew professionally more than in Russia in 5 – 6 years before.
A symbolic story: on an autumn night of 2016, I was sitting at home and surfing the Internet, stumbled upon a group of Sky-Pony, which I just fell in love with. And all night I watched their videos, listened to music and told myself that someday I would work with them - such a half-motivational motivational attitude. I recently finished editing their one and a half hour concert at the church, which I also shot. By the way, many churches here work as concert venues.
"Brighton Beach is similar to the reserve of the Soviet period"
Some local Russians do not like other Russians who are moving to New York. Somehow I subscribed to a Russian-speaking group in social networks. From time to time newcomers come to it, write that they are going to emigrate to New York, and ask them to advise something. Some such comments appear under the posts: “Why do you need to come?”, “Who are you?”, “And nobody is waiting for you here, by the way!”, “New York is not rubber!”.
I looked who leaves these comments. These are people who themselves moved to New York 10 – 15 years ago, somehow settled here and decided that they didn’t need other Russians. I'm not saying that everyone is like that. Here lives a lot of cool guys from Russia. But I also came across such a reaction from Russian emigrants.
Brighton Beach makes me feel bad. This area is similar to the reserve of the Soviet period. You can study how New York looked like in 2019, if the Soviet Union conquered the USA. This is one of the few areas in which traditional values are still strong.
Brighton is one of the most homophobic areas of New York. But Russian-speaking LGBT activists have been holding gay prides here for three years in a row in May. The case did not come down to direct violence, but aggressive shouts, gestures, and ridicule from the residents of Brighton — that is.
"Products in New York are cheaper than in Yekaterinburg"
Most of the money in New York is spent on rental housing. Otherwise, it is not such an expensive city. If you are faced with the task of surviving, you will always find a way to save money. The main thing is not to be too picky. The first time I was engaged in survival, all the time I was devoting myself to getting something for free.
I managed to find furniture on the Craigslist ad site of people who moved and were ready to give a wardrobe, shelves, a table, a lamp for free. On the same site you can get not only things, but also free food: canned food, pasta, oatmeal in bags.
The second main item of expenditure is public transport. In order to get from point A to point B, you have to pay 2,75 dollar. The first time I did not have work and had a lot of free time. Therefore, I walked on foot. Could get from Brooklyn to the middle of Manhattan to solve a business, and buy food for the saved 5,5 dollars.
In Russia, there is a stereotype that pensioners always know in which store the discounts are. I lived about the same - despite the fact that the prices of products in New York are slightly different from the prices in stores in Yekaterinburg.
For example, a gallon of milk (about 4 liters) can be bought for 3,5 dollars. That is, a liter is worth less than a dollar. Eggs are sold in dozens. You can buy them for 1 dollar or 99 cents. There are many shops where you can cheaply take fruits and vegetables. For example, three apples or two grapefruit for a dollar.
Meat is even cheaper than in Russia. For a pound of pork (450 grams) you will give about 2 – 3 dollars (depending on what part of the pork you want to buy). In the US, pork is of higher quality than chicken. The chicken has a strange taste here, so I don’t buy it.
"I get stuck in the American subway once a week"
Ground public transport in New York is unreliable. He does not go on schedule and stands in traffic jams. The same can be said about the metro. The only plus of the New York subway is that it works around the clock and throughout the city. For the rest, some cons.
Metro - unreliable and expensive mode of transport. You should always be prepared to be stuck underground for 20 – 30 minutes. You will have to stand until the wagons come again. Everybody in New York understands this, so if you are late for a meeting, you can say that “I stood under the ground for half an hour.” But the subway is still faster than by car.
In Yekaterinburg, public transport is often criticized, but, in my opinion, it works better than in New York. You can calculate the time on the road and not much to miss, if something extraordinary did not happen. For example, a pipe burst under the bridge at Belinsky, and all of Himmash stood up dead. It is possible, but still does not happen every day. I'm stuck in the New York subway steadily once a week.
A separate topic in New York - rats that live in the subway. There are many of them here, and some stories happen to them all the time. "The rat jumped on the homeless" - this is typical news about the subway in New York.
"Residents of New York consider Trump to be a fiend of hell"
Next to Central Park, in one of the most expensive parts of New York, where the millionaire houses are located, they want to make a homeless shelter. It will be located in the building of the former hotel. Of course, millionaires do not like this neighborhood very much. How to solve this problem? They simply cannot bring and deposit money to officials; in the USA this does not work that way.
Millionaires, like any other Americans, must organize a protest: collect signatures and take them to the mayor's office. They can also hire a lawyer and sue the city if there is a reason for this. They, in general, do just that. Interestingly, even now the residents of other areas are ashamed of them, they say that New York is also useful for everyone, not just for the rich, and in general, looking at the other side of the world.
Americans in the United States go to the marches in support of immigrants. The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers are in favor of Democrats, that is, against Donald Trump and his immigration policy. Recently, I also took part in one of them. Marsh gathered a lot of people, and it was very cool. Everything went quietly, without fights and conflicts. We walked across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, where a rally was held with speeches in the spirit of "USA is a country of immigrants."
In New York, many people believe that Donald Trump is such a fiend. I do not demonize him, but I do not support him either. In addition, I am against citizenship as such, because I believe that all people are citizens of the world. As John Lennon sang, imagine there no countries. But, unfortunately, this is impossible. It seems to me that, in practical terms, the United States is the closest to this idea, because with a US passport you can visit many countries without a visa. Therefore, in the future I think about getting citizenship, but for now I am going to apply for a green card.
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