Blogger Alisa Ellie shares her story of moving to the United States, the main pitfalls she encountered, and what the American dream is.
How I was going to my American dream
When I was a teenager, I often wondered where the spirit of adventurism in adults disappears and why it is so important for them to quickly find a place that can be called home, build their family nest and cling to this perch tightly. I was taught the standard nonsense: study to find a high-paying job; work to buy an expensive car and apartment. Not enough brains and education - get married! There, for two, figure it out. Children must be young, 30 - old-born. Completed all the points on the list? Now live for yourself and conquer countries. Thank you, I don't even want to. I'm tired.
Escape to America
You can shoot a blockbuster of Hollywood proportions about my last year in Ukraine! The business that I inherited from my parents was forced to sell me on very unfavorable terms. And I ran. Away from everything that was dear to me from childhood - to a foreign and, as it seemed to me, inhospitable country, where no one was waiting for me and where no one needed me. The instinct for self-preservation can give the most effective kick in the ass, do not hesitate.
And when she reached her destination, she was slightly dazed. No, don't think, I traveled before and saw beautiful countries and places, but everything that I saw, getting off the plane, plunged me into the wildest delight. As they say - made for people. America is contrasting, you should not deceive yourself, but it creates conditions for life, not for existence.
The first month was the worst. The question constantly hung in my head: What do you mean? You mean - is it clean in the park and you can walk on the lawns? I mean, strangers greet me smiling? I mean, pay for washing and drying, which are at best in the basement of the house, and at worst 3 blocks away? In the sense - are you welcome in any government agency? In the sense? In the sense? In the sense?
It seems to me that this unspoken question still hangs over me, but over time it transforms into another one: How did I go without all this before?
Somewhere in my heart, I still naively believed that everything would change and I would return. Six months on a tourist visa and return tickets made my return nowhere more real. But again, not about me. In the last month before the expiration of the visa, the stars converged in the most unfavorable way for me. I realized that I could not go back, this is a death sentence for me, but even if I could, I could not imagine my future life in Ukraine, knowing that somewhere, in some distant country, you are more than a living being ... You are human.
New Attributes of the American Dream
I don’t know if you ever wondered at what point you can assume that the American dream came true? How to define these boundaries achievable? Maybe at the moment when the doors of the airport open and let you out into the unknown without clear instructions and advice? Or maybe a year later, when everything seems to be clear, but still you look at everything with eyes wide open in surprise?
A house, a Labrador dog, two children and a dandy husband are long-burnt attributes of the American dream. Their ashes are laced with new desires and hopes.
My American Dream is at a destination, not in boons. Consider come true. And then what? How to get around quickly to pass for a local? I have this syndrome of a disabled tourist when you feel deaf, dumb, without arms and legs.
Prepare for everything is impossible in advance. American mentality knocks down. I can not say for sure what it is connected with, either luck or deserved, but it is easy for me here. Or maybe I know firsthand what it means to be really difficult, and all other obstacles fade away.
Until now, I can’t get used to the new world, in which people smile at me most of the day, and sometimes they are interested in: How are you doing? No need to answer, just accept the fact that the world does not care.
I can say with confidence that if someone is waiting for you here, it means you have caught luck by the tail. You will be surprised how quickly your friends who once were seen on Facebook with your new geo-position pop up in your memory. This once distant person will become closer nowhere in a matter of days. Now do not be afraid, you are in safe hands, an excursion into American life is provided.
Without paper you are not a man
I will say from my own experience that first of all financial issues need to be settled. It is strange, but true, the same post-Soviet philosophy operates here: without a piece of paper you are not a person. And in your case - without a card in an American bank and at least a minimum credit history. And if the credit history takes time, then Bank of America will give you a card today. And with her and a credit card and saving account. Take everything and distribute your hard earned money and brought to America on the accounts. Cash is not useful. People here do not see hundred dollar bills for years. At first, it scares, but you get used to comfort quickly.
In a couple of months (and fabulous sums for paying for housing through AirBnb) you will uncontrollably want to rent a regular apartment with such an attractive annual lease agreement. This new piece of paper will take you from the status of a person to the status of a half-shell (before the demigod you still need to get an SSN) and will open up new opportunities.
For example, when applying for an ID or driver's license, a lease may be one of two required points (for the state of California, in other states the number of points may vary), proving your legal presence in the country.
And here BOOM! On the way to a new cherished piece of paper, credit history will be a key point. Now I will tell you a wild (for a Russian) secret: it only seems to you that it is YOU who is choosing an apartment. No matter how much cash in cash you would shake in the face of the landlord shouting “I take it NOW!”, But not having:
- documents on the legal status in the country (tourist visa will fit);
- perfect credit history;
- a dozen completed applications, one for each desired apartment - be ready for the points about having a car and previous experience of living in rented apartments in America, which you naturally do not have and this is not in your favor. Just get over it;
- personal interview with landlord;
- spent weeks (you're lucky), or even months (standard search term),
you do not get the coveted housing.
Overcoming all these standard steps was my adaptation process. I gradually regained the ability to hear, the handle and leg branches, and I became almost as good as new. In this case, disability is cured by accumulated experience and knowledge. A little - and you will hit the rear, but in a month you will feel at ease. But to return the gift of speech is a task with an asterisk.
Everyone has a language barrier!
The biggest difficulty that I and my husband have encountered is the language barrier. Now you will think that my knowledge of English is limited to the school curriculum and that explains it all. And figushki!
I have been learning English since I was 8. Among my teachers there were those who went through the school of life in England and America, and native speakers. Best in class and university. (Not for the sake of bragging, but for the sake of understanding.) My first work experience was for a foreign company, in which, among many duties of an office manager, I had one, the most attractive at that time - a translator and company representative at conferences and exhibitions. But fear is the enemy of any emigrant. I could not even connect two words in the first month.
And while I was Mekala, Bekala was wrong, the brain suggested ways out of this situation. I must say that I am one of those bore that they read at every opportunity, a bookworm and a person dependent on the world of modern fiction. Therefore, the most successful solution for me was to read books in the original (forgive me, Russian literature, you have remained in the school past). But I was not limited to this.
I started a book blog, in which at first I tried to write in two languages, but then I rejected this tedious idea and immersed myself in learning English in this way thoroughly. My blog has a nice bonus. Besides the fact that the fear disappeared and I began to speak with confidence, I was noticed as a blogger and periodically began to send me books for reviews and reviews.
But the most important thing in my emigration is that I did not for a moment feel lonely. You have no idea how many people, acquaintances, slightly familiar and completely unfamiliar, are ready to respond to your call for help. Even if he is not in pure English, but interspersed with a Russian accent and obscene language. And if your guardian angel never met you at the airport and did not hold the handle through all the difficulties of adaptation, it does not matter. Every second in this country was in your place. After going through all this and more, the desire to help fills these people. And, despite the fact that you slightly smacks of fear in the face of uncertainty and you have lost your English-Russian dictionary somewhere between Kiev and Amsterdam, the sign language will not embarrass them! Just remember that the day is not far off when a slightly confused émigré will meet you with dazed eyes and characteristic gestures.