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Meals in the canteen, free transport and an old mansion: how a Ukrainian woman lives and studies in the USA

Maria Ortynska moved to the United States after the start of the war in Ukraine to study. Maria told how she first rented a room in the States and lived with two neighbors, and then moved to an old house with a former stable and why she misses Ukrainian Internet providers, reports MC Today.

Photo: IStock

On February 24, Maria Ortynska, CEO of the Ipstyle patent law firm, was supposed to meet with colleagues in Kyiv.

They wanted to complete the five-year work planning, they were going to open an office abroad. But in the end, on the 24th, no one remembered the meeting: everyone was packing their bags and looking for safe places.

A month later, the company adapted to the new military realities and resumed work. Subsequently, Maria opened a small office in Europe, and she herself went to study in the USA for a year.

How Maria ended up in the USA

In February, Maria with her mother and pug Funtik went to Portugal to visit friends. Little by little, the work of her company in Ukraine resumed, and she worked remotely. In May, she received a call from an international organization where Maria was a member, inviting her to speak at an event in Washington. There she met a representative of the American School of Law, which is one of the top ten educational institutions for intellectual property in the United States.

“Just a month later - in April - I received an offer to complete a one-year master's program in this school in intellectual property. In addition to tuition, they offered a scholarship that covers 50% of the cost of the course. For registration, I sent a resume and two essays about my experience and plans,” said Maria.

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She also needed to collect documents for a student visa for three years, the school was engaged in it. Her financial department even checked Maria's account - there should have been money for living in the USA. Tuition per year costs $20, plus $000 for medical insurance.

Maria received a visa a few days before the start of her studies. “I read the visa notice while driving in Portugal. While standing at traffic lights, I bought a ticket to the USA. At first I wanted to take the pug Funtik with me. But then she took pity on the dog - he was 12 years old and he would not have survived the road. The dog stayed with his ex-husband, with whom we raised the dog, ”says Maria.

She flew to the US the next day. She was in the country eight hours before the first lecture. Now Maria is studying for a master's program, specializing in intellectual property. In a year, she will be able to learn everything about the mentality and business in the country, collect a bunch of useful contacts.

“If, for example, a Ukrainian restaurant chain, a clothing brand, military developers want to enter the American market, I will know how to protect their intellectual property in the States,” Maria says.

Living in a house next to the cemetery where the 14th President of the United States is buried

Maria had little time to look for an apartment. Back in Portugal, she stumbled upon an American site with ads and there she had previously agreed to rent a room in the United States for $1 a month.

“All rooms in the house were very dirty. And my neighbors watched cartoons at high volume from seven in the evening until late at night. In this room, I withstood seven days, ”recalls Maria.

She started looking for another place to live, but ran into a problem. Maria does not have a credit history, and in the USA this is very important when renting out a home.

“I had to be creative: I explained to the owner of the house that I liked that I am a lawyer from Ukraine and this is a very responsible status, which means I can be trusted. Such arguments worked, and I signed a lease for a year, ”she said.

“Now I live in a cozy town in the state of New Hampshire, there are only 40 thousand people here. There is no new construction here, mostly old premises on two floors. My house is 200 years old, I live in it myself. There is a kitchen, an office, a living room. And the garage is a former stable where horses used to live. Not far from the cemetery where the fourteenth US President Franklin Pierce is buried, ”says Maria.

Her house was not furnished, she had to buy something - for the first time in her life she assembled furniture herself. But most of the things Maria asked the neighbors. Now she has a sofa, bedside tables and dishes from old English sets.

“I found a chic oak table in the garbage - it stood with a sign “free of charge”. I took it and brought it home,” the girl says.

She says that the biggest surprise was with the light in the house.

“On the first day I was sitting in the kitchen and in the evening I decided to move into the room. I go there, and there is no switch at the entrance. Moreover, there is no light bulb on the ceiling, and so it is throughout the house. Maybe this design? I thought. But no - this is the story here in every house. So I had to buy a bunch more table lamps,” says Maria.

She pays $2,2 thousand per month for rent. In winter, $200-250 for heating will be added to this amount. Real estate prices in the nearby city of Manchester are slightly lower, she says. A room there also costs from $1, and a separate room costs from $2 to $6.

About training

There are twelve international students in her group, all the rest are Americans. There are people around the age of 40 who left their children with their grandmothers and came to study.

“Every day we have at least two classes for an hour and a half, plus another hour of work with teaching assistants. These are senior students who have passed this subject and answer our questions,” says Maria.

“For the most part, I go to classes not to listen, but to participate in discussions. We usually gather in a large auditorium of 70-100 students and discuss issues together. The teacher can come up to me and ask: “Maria, what do you think about this?” And if I don’t answer anything, at the end of the year I might have a bad grade,” she says.

To prepare for class, Maria reads 50 pages of text in English and takes notes. There are so-called days off: for the semester, she can warn the teacher twice that she has not prepared.

“I really like the principle of taking notes - it's not the end goal here, like we do. I take notes electronically and can then print them out for the exam. I have to constantly refine and reduce the abstract. So that in terms of the volume of records for the year they are the same as for the half year. So I repeat what I have learned and at the same time combine all the information into a system,” she says.

How much does life cost in the USA

During her studies, Maria mainly eats in the student canteen.

“At prices in the States, I was most surprised by mobile communications - $ 70 per month. My home Internet costs the same amount, this is one of the cheapest packages, ”the girl says.

Maria says that in the US it's hard to do without your car: public transport in the city is free, but it's inconvenient to go shopping.

“Taxi is not popular because everyone has their own cars. In my city, there is only one dispatch service where you can order a car by phone. Therefore, I usually come to the supermarket, take pictures of the goods, and arrange the delivery of the necessary things from home. A lot of people buy online here. Couriers leave all parcels at the door. I had books worth $1 and a vacuum cleaner all day long,” she says.

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She says that no one closes the door here, perhaps because guns are officially allowed.

“One young man helped me with the move, and he had a gun on his belt. When it was necessary to move furniture, he simply put it on the dash of an open car,” she recalls.

In New Hampshire, Maria pays no tax on her purchases. She says families can save substantial amounts this way if they spend $5 to $6 a day.

“Here they often pay by checks. At the bank, you can get a checkbook with forms, then enter the amounts for payment and the data of those who should receive them, ”says Maria.

Once she had to write a check at the bank to pay for her education. Maria said that it turned out to be convenient - there are branches around the city that resemble gas stations. You just come and withdraw money or do other banking operations.

“The only thing I regret in the States is that I didn’t have time to prepare and improve my English before. While studying, I come across a bunch of specific words, but in life there is not enough knowledge of slang, says Maria. – But there is a very good attitude towards foreigners here, everyone is ready to help and suggest. For those who are planning to move to the US, I advise you to start by communicating with the locals and not be lazy in learning the language.”

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