Seven things that can surprise you in the US
I know hundreds of people who dream of leaving their home country. At the same time, I myself never dreamed of moving somewhere for permanent residence from my beloved Petersburg. But now I have been living in California for a little over two years.
During this time, I made a conclusion for myself - immigration is not for everyone. To live happily in a new country, it seems to me, you need to be aware of why and why you moved - for example, it was very, very bad at home. Or, to have such a disposition of character and attitude towards life, which makes it possible to accept everything that happens with ease.
In any case, before moving you need to clearly realize that there are no ideal countries and cities. Everywhere there are pros and cons. In addition, American realities may surprise an unprepared immigrant.
Therefore, I want to share some of my observations concerning those aspects of life in California that are significantly different from what we are used to. Often, when I tell my friends about them, I hear “horror! how do you live there? " We live well, I answer.
Almost every American film shows us public laundry. Yes, they exist in reality! And although 2016 has been in the yard for a year, and the dishwasher has long ceased to be a luxury, it is not always possible to rent an apartment with a washing machine in the USA.
You can endlessly resent this, or you can simply accept such a local peculiarity. I would roughly say that only 30% of apartments for rent in Silicon Valley have washing machines, and most of them are apartments with two bedrooms or more. Moreover, apartments with a washing machine usually cost more - on average $ 200.
In two years of our life, we have changed two residential complexes. They both shared washing machines. For us, the presence of a washing machine in the apartment has always been more desirable than an obligatory moment. It doesn't bother us to go downstairs or two and wash there. And even with two children for me, the absence of a washing machine in the apartment is not a problem. On the contrary, for children, each trip to the laundry is another adventure.
Yes, in the USA there are quite big tips. These I met only in Israel. There is not just a rule to leave 10%, there is a tip gradation, which often looks like this: 15% -18% -20% -22%. Agree, if 15 and 18 are still valid for superservice, then 22% seem to be completely inhuman.
Moreover, you must bear in mind that tips are left not only in restaurants, but also to hairdressers, taxi drivers, cosmetologists, window cleaners, and so on. Simply put, almost everyone who provides you with services.
Conveniently, in many places, such as taxis or cafes, tips are taken directly from a bank card and you do not need to think about cash at all.
"Hello! How are you?"
The exchange of meaningless phrases with the first comers, called here small talk, is not just an integral part of local life, it is a culture of behavior in society. And yes, it must be observed.
I know firsthand that this adaptation moment is very difficult for many. Those who have lived in the house all their lives and did not know what even its neighbors looked like now have to chat with everyone about everything in the world. And the most difficult thing is to learn how to start such conversations yourself.
Entire books have been written about how to conduct small talk. But in my opinion, everything is much simpler - smile, ask how you are in return and wish you a good day. And then no one will think that you are some kind of beech.
Taxes always keep in mind
Imagine the situation that you came to the store, tried on $ 20 sandals and decided to buy them. And suddenly, at the checkout, you are not required to $ 20, but $ 22. While carried, they have risen in price?
In fact, in the US, the prices of goods are not including sales tax tax. You will add it to the total amount of the check. For example, the tax in California is 9.25%. Having bought something, you will see a separate line on the check: CA 9.25% Sales Tax. In general, taxes differ not only from state to state, but also from county to county in-state.
There may also be other taxes that are not included in the price, but which will have to be paid when purchasing a service or product. Such surprises often come up when booking hotels. They write the price for a room at $ 100, and you start booking - and it turns out that you still need to pay state tax, plus the city tax, plus the tax of some resort - and now the room costs $ 150 and more.
There is no decree in the USA
The most that a mother can count on is local parental leave, which, in the best possible scenario, can be extended up to 6 months, of which at best 3 will be paid.
The time you can take after the birth of a child varies greatly from state to state. For example, in California, in addition to federal decree, state leave is granted. And in states like Colorado and Wisconsin, there is no state decree.
Also, the length of parental leave depends on what the employers offer - yours and your husband's. Yes, men here can also go on maternity leave. For example, in the company where my husband works, there is a 6-week vacation with 60% salary compensation. Google is more generous in this regard and pays the full 3 month vacation. Microsoft gives women 20 paid weeks and men 12.
For the most part, local mothers work, firstly, until the last minute, and, secondly, they return to the office immediately after their children have completed their 3 month. Nannies and grandmothers to help them.
No car anywhere
The USA is not only megalopolises. Much of the country is what is known as 1-story America: small towns linked by thousands of miles of highways. In such small towns, in my opinion, there is a big hole in the organization of public transport.
A simple example from Silicon Valley. I live in Foster City, I work in San Carlos. From home door to door work exactly 12 minutes by car. If suddenly I decide to cover this distance by public transport, I will need a little more than an hour and a half, of which almost half the time will have to be on foot. My husband has a similar situation. Therefore, without a car, we can not, and we have their 2.
And yes, there are no shops in residential buildings here, so you won't be able to run out for bread or milk right in your slippers. To purchase groceries, you will need a car again. Fortunately, it is a pleasure to rent a license here and drive on local roads.
Everyone is addicted to organic foods.
So you come to the store and see: there are tomatoes on one shelf and tomatoes on the next shelf, but with the signature “organic”. There is minced meat, and there is also organic mince. There are eggs, and next to them are organic eggs. And all products labeled "organic" are, of course, more expensive. What's the catch, you ask?
Well, that's how business is doing here. In fact, organic from non-organic differs only in the fact that in the first case, synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not used to grow vegetables or fruits.
What to buy, everyone chooses for himself. For example, we always buy organic chicken, minced meat and eggs. The remaining organic products, in my opinion, do not differ from inorganic products. What then is the point to pay?
Moreover, there is a list of products that are not affected by various unhealthy fertilizers, and accordingly their organic form is just a marketing ploy. Here is a list of products that you can safely buy non-organic and not overpay: avocados, grapefruit, eggplant, champignons, kiwi, mango, onions, corn, papaya, pineapple and asparagus.
By the way, the controversy is about Is organic food really that helpful? are ongoing, and there is no definitive answer yet.
Perhaps some of you in this post will not find anything critical for a happy life in the United States. And to someone, the lack of a washing machine or public transport will seem incompatible with a comfortable life. One day, a friend of mine told me that she would never want to live in the United States because of the terrible quality of local produce. And I personally like everything.
In general, I like the USA. And in all the other 24 countries where I was, I liked everywhere. Throughout my life, I adhere to the principle “it's good where we are!” - and not vice versa.
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