Laundry and expensive electricity, hairdressers for dogs and rats in the subway, freedom, equality and unpredictable weather are all America. Irina Sidorkina, a former journalist, future writer, travels and talks about life in New York.
About two years ago, I spontaneously sent a questionnaire to participate in the Green Card Lottery for a company with my husband’s colleagues, writes Irina for Life hacker. I took a photo against the white door and forgot about it. In May, the answer came that I won. Next was a long process of preparation and relocation.
Over the years of 27 life in Russia, I have often heard that Americans are strange, crazy or stupid. Yes, just "fake" with their white-toothed smiles. However, eight months of life in New York is already a reason to cast doubt on one’s own “normality”. Behind the big difference in mentality is the same huge national identity. The main difference between Americans - the love of freedom and convenience, for which they can not be disrespected. I’ll tell you about the peculiarities of life in the USA, which surprise Russians, at least for me - for sure.
1. Alcohol culture
None of the parties will pass without gallons of alcohol immersed in plastic basins with ice. Beer in stores dismantled packs. Any event - a football match, a Super Bowl, or just a Friday night - begins and continues in the bar. However, Americans know their measure for sure.
2. The habit of walking around the house in shoes
No, this is not only in the series. Few keep home slippers for guests. Clean on the roads allows you not to take off your shoes in the apartment with the same clean (well, almost) conscience, although I will never understand this. They say that some Americans may regard your request to remove shoes as an encroachment on their freedom.
3. Freedom in everything
If you want to run in a bathing suit down the street, juggling with disco balls - always please, the city is waiting for you. No one will be surprised by a man in a parrot costume, rather they will be surprised by a woman in a dress, with perfect styling and makeup that goes to the subway.
Americans are people without complexes. Even the problem of excess weight could turn into a body-positive movement. Not to complicate what can be simplified - this is the whole essence of the American world outlook.
4. Need for cash
If you have several credit cards in your pocket, this does not mean that you can buy everything and everywhere. A lot of shops, snack bars, restaurants accept cash only. Here is a fact. What can I say - they still use bank checks here.
5. Loud talk
At the party you will be surrounded by a crowd and music. Want to talk - shout. Do not be afraid to appear uncultured: people do as they please. Recently, I almost frustrated my voice and swum in a cocktail with the head of my husband. Only one way out - get used to it.
6. Dog City
Lack of communication is a problem for all busy people. Many decide to fill it with a pet. But if you decide to start a dog, you will first need to buy an apartment (landlords do not usually want to see animals in their apartments), get a veterinary passport and get ready to spend money on a new furry friend. (And it's still easier than finding a true friend here.)
All parks have playgrounds with pet pools, hairdressers and dog nannies are popular.
Landromats, or self-service laundry, are found in almost every home and are quite easy to use. All you need is two free hours, washing powder and a couple of dollars in coins of 25 cents. We got a washing machine, and this made life easier: socks are not lost along the way, no need to exchange money, time is saved. But not electricity.
8. Expensive electricity
It is hot in New York in the summer and cold in the winter. Heat in homes is often provided by air conditioning with heating function. In the cold season, the electricity bill may exceed 300 dollars. This is one of the reasons why people do not install washing machines in apartments.
Still, the streets of evening New York are filled with lights. “Here electricity is reduced (or raised, if you will) to the level of a trained animal in a circus. Here he was forced to wriggle, jump over obstacles, wink, dance. Calm Edison's electricity was turned into a Durovian sea lion. It catches balls with its nose, juggles, dies, comes to life, does everything that is ordered to it. The electric parade never stops, ”I can’t find a better description than in the book of Ilf and Petrov“ One-story America ”.
9. Fast food universe
Everything should be fast, fat, sweet, harmful and accompanied by loud music. Italian pizza, bagels - the heritage of Jewish cuisine, Chinese noodles, American pancakes await around every corner. New York is one big restaurant created by immigrants, which makes it hard to choose but prepares you to discover. Where else can you find a Ukrainian diner with an American menu?
10. Metro - "the cave of the rat king"
Gifka called Rat Pizza says a lot about the biggest metro in the world, which works with 1836 of the year.
The price of a single trip - 2,75 dollar. Unlimited per month - 200 dollars.
Metro congestion is sometimes baffled. You can stand in traffic for 20 minutes. Or a branch may stop working due to weather conditions. Or it will change direction, and you will accidentally leave to explore new lands.
11. Serious attitude to emergencies
A snowstorm with wet snow and wind is considered a heavy snowfall. Usually these days cancel the movement of some metro lines and aircraft departures, close schools and universities. Having received a warning about bad weather, people are thoroughly purchased in advance in supermarkets. (Only Russians can swim to the waist in the snow to buy a sweet tea.)
In general, in any situation, if an accident occurred or someone became ill in the subway, the police, along with the ambulance, will appear in minutes.
12. Pride parades
Local residents are very proud of this event, social networks are filled with rainbow photos and social advertising every year. Even churches are raising flags of the rainbow.
13. Life insurance
Medicine in the USA is expensive. Free you will not even be taken by ambulance to the hospital. You have to put up with this, as you do with taxes. You want to live well - pay. Medical insurance is required, without it a one-time doctor visit will cost 1 000 – 3 000 dollars.
14. Winning equality
Women in America fought so vigorously for their rights that now no one gives them a place on the subway, and a lady can regard an offer from a man to pay lunch as an insult, so now almost no one offers. Russian girls have repeatedly complained to me about such a “strange” behavior of guys. Unfortunately or fortunately, we have to adapt to these rules.
15. Caring for the environment
A metropolis is always a stone jungle. Each resident solves this problem in his own way: someone is planting a roof for roofs, someone is a balcony or a yard. Everything looks very comfortable.
One should not forget about the sorting of garbage, which is not so simple.
And in no other city in the world where I was, I did not see so many wild animals in parks: squirrel, chipmunks, turtles, swans, ducks, raccoons. And if you go to distant areas, there is a chance to meet even wild deer and bears.
16. Unpredictable climate
Fifteen minutes ago, the sun was shining - and the rain fell. After watching movies in childhood, I was completely confident that people in the United States were unaware of winter. Why else would they wear outdoor shoes at home and wear light jackets in January? It turned out that for a long time the local population developed immunity to these conditions, therefore, in the cold season, children in T-shirts and shorts are the norm.
17. Paid parking
Everywhere. Maintaining a car is not as expensive as paying for parking and slowing down endlessly at every traffic light. Given the frequent inability of drivers to park in a different way than to crash into someone else’s bumper, it’s worth thinking about buying a car more than once or twice. At rush hour by car you will drive longer than you could take the subway. New York has long been a city for pedestrians.
18. Alternative modes of transport
New Amsterdam, as New York was called four centuries ago, is perfectly adapted for cycling. Use the City Bike city rental system and no traffic will stop you. Some extreme lovers manage to ride bicycles even in winter. I prefer summer walks, however, in the heat of their best to plan in the evening. Skateboarding is not less popular.
19. Mandatory tips
You are obliged to leave a tip to the service personnel. Sometimes you write this amount on a check, sometimes you give cash. The first trip to the salon was torture: I imagined a picture of how awkward I leave a tip in small bills, imperceptibly slipping them to the master. Everything turned out to be simpler: when paying for the service, the client chooses through the payment terminal how many percent of the amount he is ready to leave for tea.
Even before this incident, a man came to our house to connect the Internet. He sighed for a long time, called on the phone, left somewhere. After I warned him that I was in a hurry, the guy perked up and, smiling sweetly, said: “We have to wait an hour! I'll go sit in the car! " I've honestly waited for this long hour. No one would have guessed that this is one of the methods of begging for tips.
20. Concentrated multinational
Chinatown smoothly flows into Little Italy, the Korean quarter rests on the business Midtown, Hassidy Brooklyn peacefully borders with the Russian regions. The norm for the average New Yorker is to know the 2 – 3 language. A teacher at my university speaks four languages at once so that a multinational audience can process information faster.
All people in the world are the same, there is only a difference in the way of thinking, which is reflected in the level of life. Americans are still a bit crazy - in the best sense of the word. I wish you to come and make sure yourself.