'Gathered and flew away': Belarusian told how she built life in America from scratch
We love the success stories of women - those that inspire. Our current heroine, Maria Batishcheva, emigrated to Wisconsin 7 years ago. Maria told us how to build life in America from scratch, why run 2000 kilometers a year and what Americans know about Belarus.
Her story tells the edition TYT.by
Her story began rather trivially - in June 2009, she arrived in America on a student program and two months later decided that she wanted to stay here for good. Despite the fact that at that time she had no friends here, and the level of English left much to be desired, she understood that America opens up a large number of opportunities for a person and is worth a try.
“I made the decision to stay for a simple reason: there is a lot of work here. Before leaving Belarus, I graduated from BSUIR and, unfortunately, did not see any particular prospects, ”says Maria.
Of course, the first time after the move was difficult. First, I got a job as a cleaner at the hotel, then at McDonalds. To pay for an apartment, one had to work on 14 hours of 6 days a week, while receiving minimum 7 − 8 dollars per hour. Now I remember this and I can hardly imagine how I did it then.
After some time, she received a student visa and entered the college at the Faculty of Architecture; it was not difficult to pass the exams. In Belarus, I studied the 4 course at a technical university, so tests in physics and mathematics were elementary for me, and in English I managed to get the necessary minimum. In addition, after entering, I reclassified some disciplines passed in Belarus.
One of the main differences in America that struck me in college is its attitude to education. It is very expensive here, so there are no applicants “just like that”. Each student clearly understands why he needs this knowledge. Therefore, there is no such thing as cheating. During the exam, the teacher can calmly leave the classroom so as not to interfere with the students, and no one will think to spy on the answers.
During my studies, I managed to get a job as a waitress, from where I was soon transferred to the position of bartender. It was a great success, since the work schedule fit the schedule, and the salary was enough to pay for the apartment and training. However, the first year I studied only a few subjects of choice, for more, physically, there was not enough time.
When applying for a job, I did not have the opportunity to face additional difficulties due to the fact that I am not a local. There are times when this, on the contrary, can help. For example, the owner of the bar where I worked is Greek, and if an American and an emigrant came to get a job, he would rather hire another. Because newcomers need more money and, accordingly, they are ready to work harder. They have no parents or friends here to help. Americans look a little spoiled by their background. Most Americans are open and curious about newcomers, and I should also note that I don't feel any restrictions because of my gender.
The first two years I was a little in the way of the language barrier. Sometimes you want to say something, but you are afraid to formulate it incorrectly. Of course, over time, this complex disappeared. Now, even if I say something wrong, I can play a trick on this myself. Some foreigners manage to live in America for life, so plainly and not learning English. They live in communities in which they speak their own language. In addition, there are a lot of visitors here, so everyone is calm about non-ideal knowledge of the language.
I managed to find work after college without any problems. Especially in the case of my specialty, it does not matter if you speak with or without an accent, the main thing is to be good at understanding your business. I sent my resume in response to several vacancies and after some time I received an invitation for an interview. It was successful, and after I was accepted to this position, a few more companies called to which I also sent a resume.
Now I work in a construction company that specializes in large commercial buildings: stadiums, hospitals, colleges, etc. In the US, there is such a thing as working as a team - this is the most effective work. The team is trying in every way to rally to increase the efficiency and income of the entire company. Employers also motivate employees individually. For example, in my company for a good job with a bonus, you can get a ticket to the ocean for the whole family.
In addition to work, I seriously enjoy jogging. This summer, she took 4-place in competitions on 50 km over rough terrain, and recently won the 21 km in her age group.
The hobby began with the fact that after the move I began to gain weight. American dietary stereotypes have proven to be true, at least in Wisconsin, which is considered one of the "fattest" states. Locals eat a lot of fast food and fatty foods. Moreover, it is not customary to cook at home, as a last resort they manage with a dinner of semi-finished products. My husband, if he bakes something, then he brags to friends: they say, look, I did it myself.
Proper nutrition is more expensive than fast food, and at first I couldn’t afford to eat right, so I started running in the evenings to somehow reduce the damage to my figure.
Gradually, evening jogging became a habit, and once a friend invited me to take part in a charity run - such events are not uncommon for America. To participate, you must make a certain amount, which then goes to various charitable purposes. Gradually, I became involved, became more likely to participate in the races. Last year I ran my first marathon. Now I am preparing for 80 kilometers and I train 5 days a week.
The audience at such races largely depends on the distance. On 5 km, for example, there are many adolescents, and at distances longer than a marathon mostly people 40 − 50 years, because such distances require daily training, which many do not immediately come to. Otherwise, you can meet people of any gender and nationality.
Last year in Miami, representatives from 32 countries participated, I was the only one from Belarus and ran with our flag on the number.
If we talk about Wisconsin as a whole, then one of the main distinguishing features of the state is the friendliness of its inhabitants. Even the Americans themselves notice this. Local very friendly and open. If you are talking to a stranger on the street, in five minutes he can calmly talk with you even on the most personal topics. It is difficult to get used to this, given the Belarusian mentality. As well as the fact that it is not customary to express negative things in the face. Even if people do not tolerate each other’s spirit, they will still smile and pretend that everything is all right. Of course, this seems like hypocrisy to us, but this is a feature of their culture that needs to be accepted.
Also, the locals are very open to communication with foreigners. They are interested in other languages and cultures, often there are Polish, German and other national festivals. There are a lot of Americans in my environment, and they sometimes ask if I can cook some traditional dish. I usually scare them by saying that I’ll make beef tongue now. Questions immediately stop.
More Americans rarely use the word emigrant, they have a negative color and is associated, rather, with Mexicans who illegally crossed the border and do not pay taxes.
But when you first tell someone that you are from Belarus, most often the interlocutor has no idea where it is. My husband had never heard of this country before our acquaintance. More or less know only those who are actively interested in sports. At school, only American history and geography are studied here, so the average American has much more knowledge in these areas than the Belarusian.
Summing up, I can say that the main advantage of America is that here everyone has the opportunity to achieve their goals, earn honestly and live in prosperity. I came to this country all alone, I started from scratch, I was disaccustomed, I got a job and now I have more than many of my peers, even by American standards. So there was no thought of going back. I like this country with its freedom, diversity and a huge number of opportunities.
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