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'A fake smile is the norm here': a Russian woman spoke about life in the USA



Maria Kirillova has been living in Chicago for more than seven years. During this time, she managed to get a divorce from her American spouse, obtain citizenship, find a decent job, buy an apartment and meet a new love.

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Maria Kirillova was born in a small town Kolchugino Vladimir region. For the first time, the girl came to the States under the program "Work and Travel" and met her future spouse in America. Two years later, after graduating from high school and leaving a well-paid job in Moscow, she moved to the United States. Family income did not allow to stay at home, so for some time I had to forget about the diploma, ambitions, past achievements and take up low-skilled work: ironing clothes, clean the hotel, sell ice cream in a cafe. Today, all this is in the past, many of the dreams of the girls come true. How she managed to get a high-paying job in another country, why she couldn’t find true friends in the USA and why she hired a financial consultant, Maria Kirillova told about this and many other things

About job searches

I graduated from the university with a degree in social anthropology. But the last two years before moving to the United States worked in Moscow at the airport. Once in America, I planned to link my career with aviation. But it took me two years to achieve what I wanted! The problem was that in this area, as in many others, they practically do not publish vacancies in the public domain. Staff are often looked for by acquaintance. Before I could get a job properly, I had to iron my laundry, put ice cream in a cafe, clean the hotel, i.e. engage in unskilled labor. 8 $ per hour was paid for this. Of course, it was very hard, but I pulled myself together and decided that I should fight to the end, although I will not hide - I also thought about returning to Russia.

The first time I lived in Hartford, about two hours from New York. There was a moment when I thought about moving there. There was an overlay with the documents: I ran out of a work permit, but the new one had not yet been issued. As a result, I was fired from the place where I was ironing linen, and finding work without documents was simply unrealistic. Only in big cities such as New York or Los Angeles, many migrants, so these things can turn a blind eye. My 7 girlfriend has worked illegally for years.

When all the problems were settled, I found the job I wanted. At first she worked at the check-in of passengers and planned to move up the career ladder in this particular direction, but three years ago she became a flight attendant.

About costs

I spend about 100 $ per week on food. For a three-room apartment I give 800 $. I have my own housing, I took a mortgage on 30 years under 4% per annum, because the expenses for renting and paying for a loan are almost the same. To this amount, you can safely add 200-300 $ - the cost of maintaining the territory, utilities, Internet. In order to feel normal in the States, 2000 $ is enough. Of course, you will not seek this money, but you will not starve either. Americans earn about this much: 15 $ per hour is the standard wage.

About roads

People in America use cars all the time. It was hard for me to get used to it. Fortunately, in Chicago in this sense it is much simpler: everyone is walking here, walking a lot. But as soon as you travel to some other city, you cannot do without a car, because there is nothing around - you need to get to work or even just to the store with a car. I still love it when there is an opportunity to just leave the house and buy what you need at the nearest store. This is one of the reasons why I live in Chicago.

There are practically no traffic jams here, especially when compared with Moscow. For us, traffic jam means that cars still continue to move: albeit slowly, but you are going. In America, in this sense, everything is thought out, plus very good roads. There is no rudeness, everyone misses each other, even if you, for example, forgot to change lanes. When I come to Russia and drive in a car with my friends, I understand that I could not drive here - this requires too much nerves and incredible endurance.

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About products and excess weight

The first time I missed our food, American foods taste very different, some kind of unreal. We cut a cucumber - it smells, chopping onions - and you have tears from it. Of course, you can buy products marked organic, but they will be very expensive.

For breakfast, locals usually eat scrambled eggs, toast or sandwiches. And during the day they prefer to eat in various places. Here it is cheap. The same dinner is easier to take away than cooking at home yourself. I have already adapted to this method of nutrition and practically do not cook. Even at airports, where I often eat by activity, food is available.

The way Americans look is very much dependent on the place in which they live. For example, in Chicago, for the most part, you will not find fat people. This is a very sporty city. But if you go to Texas or Louisiana, there is a completely different picture: it is immediately clear that the locals like to eat more than go in for sports. I travel a lot - naturally, such nuances are strongly striking.

About erudition

Americans can not boast a broad outlook, because their school education system was built with an eye on children to study only their own country. They do not care what happened and is happening in Russia, Australia, Africa or elsewhere. This trend is preserved in the media: if we are not talking about the United States, then what's the point of telling the public about it? Naturally, most of them have very vague ideas about other countries. For example, they constantly ask me the same question: “How do you live there, is it very cold in you?”.

Local travel a little outside the United States, because they sincerely believe that all the best is in America. Even if they end up somewhere, they are much more interested in walking around the bars, trying food, than visiting a museum or exhibition.

About friends

Fake smile - another distinctive feature of Americans. They will smile even if they don’t like you. They have so accepted. You are unlikely to meet in America boorish waiter. For such things he can complain. For a long time I could not understand how I like it better: to make me smile, but at the same time hide my true feelings, or be rude, but with a soul. Of course, at first our Russian approach was closer. But now I think that let me smile better, even if it is insincere.

As for friendship: it is not the same here as in Russia. Yes, they can call you a friend, but this will not prevent a person from going about his business when you need his help. I do not have close friends among Americans, although they are quite open and quickly go on contact. If something happens, I will call friends from Russia.


about Entertainment

Bars and restaurants close here very early. I remember that in Moscow at 10 hours of the evening you are only going to walk, at 12 you leave the house and return in the morning. In Chicago, such establishments cease to work at about one in the morning, perhaps, only in New York, they are open to the 4's. Even in small cities there are no discos, they are replaced by bars with music, where nobody dances especially. Naturally, at first it was hard for me to get used to such things. And, frankly, I am very glad that I lived in Moscow in my young years - I would be bored here.

For me, going to a restaurant or meeting at a bar with friends means putting on shoes, a dress, and tidying up. Here, people just come to eat, they would never even think of dressing up, so all my dresses are hanging in the closet and waiting in the wings.

About americans

It bothers me that gentlemanhood is not fully developed in American culture. If you go on a date in a restaurant or in a bar for a cocktail, it does not mean that your companion will pay for you, even if he was the initiator of your meeting. Locals will not care as they do, for example, our men. It is ridiculous: for example, you left the restaurant after the restaurant, you went to your car, and he went to his. It won't even occur to an American to escort you! I would still like to remain a woman in a relationship. My boyfriend from Canada, and his mentality, oddly enough, is very similar to the Russian one. He knows how to care and can easily talk to me about politics.

About medical care

Free medical care in this country is available only to migrants without documents, to people without a specific place of residence, or to those who receive a minimum wage and cannot afford to buy insurance.

As for other categories of citizens, insurance is usually provided by the company in which the person works. In this case, you yourself can choose the necessary type of insurance, of course, an expanded range of medical services will cost more. I, fortunately, I visit doctors infrequently, I fly my teeth in Russia, and when I had to do an operation on my eyes, again, I came for this to my homeland.

If you have a slight discomfort - sore throat, runny nose, you can not go to the pharmacy and buy yourself some potent drugs. The maximum that can be expected in such a situation is cough syrup or lozenges. For more serious things, a doctor's permission is required. The scheme is simple: sick - go to a specialist who will prescribe you the medicine. And it does not matter that the doctor simply looks at your throat and gives you a prescription, you will have to pay for this visit. But the clinics here are beautiful and everything works well, without queues.

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Pro pension system

If you retire, you want to live well, you must take care of it yourself. Every American every month deposits into the special account the amount that he will receive when he reaches retirement age. When a person works in a large firm, as, for example, in my case, the company also saves money to the employee’s account. After retirement, you decide how much you will receive per month, the state deducts taxes from this amount, using a progressive scale. By the way, you can initially pay taxes on the money you save. This is convenient for the category of citizens who understand that by old age they will accumulate an impressive amount of money.

In order to better understand all this, that year I hired a special person who deals with my pension contributions. His services cost 250 $ per year. He invests the money in my retirement account in various projects. I really hope that one day this person will make me a millionaire, then in retirement I will travel.

A similar specialist deals with my taxes. Each year, you can make a refund of taxes paid, depending on what happens in your life: buying an apartment, marriage, having a baby, etc. Of course, there is an option to try to understand this complex process yourself. I did it once, but I realized that it is better to pay to the person who will deal with this issue, moreover, in which case he is responsible for all the operations or mistakes made.

About Russia

I do not live in America because I do not want to live in Russia. When I left, I did not pursue a better life, because everything was fine in my country: good work, friends. Just the circumstances.

Now I see myself in Chicago, largely because I am doing a thing that I love. Maybe when I do not need to work so much, I will move somewhere, but this is the prospect of a distant future.

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