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How the wives of programmers live in Silicon Valley

From the side, the life of a programmer’s wife at any level in Silicon Valley seems like a dream. But is it really?

Edition DOU collected stories of women who moved to the United States from Ukraine, whose husbands work in Silicon Valley.

Irina Rybenko, husband - Roman Rybenko, Senior QA Engineer in Roku

Photo: DOU

Moved to 2008 year

Her husband's work was associated with frequent business trips to the States, so the idea of ​​moving was born in our heads as planned. Having been once in Silicon Valley, I realized that this is the place of my dreams. We arrived with two suitcases and a two-year-old son. The news about the possible relocation of the husband’s employer was announced literally a couple of months before the direct start of the project in Palo Alto. We thought that the L1 visa does not guarantee emigration, so everything was in the “it’s temporary” mode. The first few years of life in the Valley, we perceived as an adventure that can end as unexpectedly as it began.

Three months after the move, we learned that soon there would be four of us, so the next couple of years I was not disturbed by the thought of work. Later, the husband's company sponsored Green CardThis gave me a boost to a new professional search for myself. In Ukraine, I graduated in finance and banking. For 6 years, I worked in the field of public relations. At the last work she was engaged in internal communications of a large holding. Asnova.

It was difficult for me to return to my profession in the USA. I know that many people omit or do not want to admit the existence of language difficulties: possession of idioms, everyday English (all my life I have been taught English exclusively for business communications) or a language for specific target audiences. Probably it was this that stopped me from returning to PR.

But my work still found me, and my previous experience helps me a lot. For over three years now I have been working as a company consultant. YouTube. The two teams that I lead are closely related to the use of local experience in assessing the content of channels, as well as user support (following the rules YouTube). I have grown to the position of operations manager from the very starting level, so I never stop repeating to everyone who doubts my abilities - dare, everything will work out! In addition, I am currently studying at Stanford on the annual course “Corporate Innovations”.

In social terms, I have not experienced any difficulties with adaptation. California is a very friendly state: freedom-loving, tolerant, democratic. I do not think that I would live as comfortably in any other place. Immediately after the move, I acquired friends and affairs for the soul.

As for the adaptation of children (Ivan 10 years, Alice 8 years), they do not think about it at all, since for them every new day in life is already an adaptation. Son learned English when he went to school in 5 years. I, as any young mom should be, was madly worried about how his relations with the staff and teachers would be formed. Now I remember and smile. It all came together. My daughter, although born in California, did not know English before 3, but now she barely speaks Russian (Ukrainian children learn during their summer holidays at their country house in Kiev).

Once we often joked about the situation: three Ukrainians in our family speak English (me, husband, son), but one American (daughter) does not know a word of English. I would call Bay Area "kids friendly”A place, if only because passersby smile at your children. In each small town there are parks, recreation areas, museums, libraries, sports clubs and children's entertainment. There is beautiful nature here: national parks, beaches, mountains - everything is within 1-3 hours of ride (yes, children are also interested!).

I find it difficult to talk about the disadvantages of living here, since my sympathy for Silicon Valley overshadows all its flaws. But in general, many parents complain about the quality of California education (schools). We live in the south of San José and are fairly satisfied with the schools in our district. It's no secret that the better the school, the more expensive the rent and property in the area. Cost of afterschool (prodlenka) is quite high (maybe up to $ 500 per week), also expensive kindergartens and private schools. An amendment to the geography of your exact place of residence can significantly reduce these costs (an extension of my children’s school, for example, about $ 200 / month). It is necessary to take and take children out of school independently, as there are practically no school buses (the exception is children with special needs or schools in areas remote from residential areas). Finally, the disadvantages include the fact that children want to swim in the ocean, but it is always cold.

Irina Ellis, husband - Roman Verchikov, programmer

Photo: DOU

Moved in September 2014 of the year

In Ukraine, I had two professions: one for the soul, the second for the wallet. Having received the degree of Candidate of Sciences, I worked as a deputy dean of the law faculty of Kharkov National Pedagogical University. But I wanted more creativity, because I worked in parallel on television, was the host of the morning program, 8 spent years broadcasting.

I never dreamed of leaving the Motherland, but, being easy to lift, I agreed with pleasure to move. I always loved to travel, because initially I took this idea as an opportunity to see something new. They did not prepare for relocate at all. The only thing that had to be done was to get rid of the “acquired good”. A lot of things went to the girlfriends, and the favorite collection of teddy bears went to the orphanage.

At first I had a L2 visa, on which you can work by requesting additional permission, and now I have Green Card. While waiting for a work permit, I tried myself as a model. I managed to walk along the runway and even play a movie in a small role. Having played enough, I got a job as a volunteer (and then a bet was given) at the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco. As soon as I received a work permit, I got a job Front desk to the hotel Hilton. Now I combine work in a hotel with work in a large leasing company Irvine CompanyI dreamed of getting there from the first day in the USA. From the fifth time, still took!

I graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages, so I was sure that there would be no problems with English at all. As it turned out, I was a little optimistic. British English from textbooks and the knowledge of how to distinguish metaphor from hyperbole was not enough. But practice in Hilton It really helped, and now I feel much more confident. In the USA, at first I was surprised that the people smiled and greeted on the street, it seemed feigned and strange, but now I myself am doing so. It was unusual not to be able to maintain a conversation with the locals on an equal footing, for a while I felt like an alien in both cultural and linguistic terms.

I have never regretted moving, even though I missed friends and live broadcasts. Here we managed to find friends in different spheres of life. Quite a wide circle of contacts appeared in the Ukrainian diaspora, because thanks to the television experience I had the honor to conduct large-scale Ukrainian events in three states (California, Washington, Oregon). On each of them, new acquaintances are sure to appear. It remains now to find the time to maintain good relations with all these people.

I am a big hater of the cold, because the best that is here is the weather. If we are talking about the merit of not state, but state, I can give two examples. Somehow, returning home from work, I noticed that my phone had stopped serving me. Without thinking twice, I went to Cupertino and bought a new one. What would I do in this situation in Ukraine (even with a degree and two jobs)? I would find my old push-button covered in dust, or write a post on Facebook: “Guys, borrow a phone until I buy a new one.” And then I just went and bought a phone, like bread in a supermarket, without making a huge event out of it. The second story is also associated with the purchase. With the purchase of a car. In Ukraine, I could not afford it, but here I bought a convertible I had dreamed of all my life, without taking a penny from my husband.

Tanya Lutsaevskaya, husband - Andrey Sergienko, Software Engineer in Airbnb

Photo: DOU

Moved in December 2014 of the year

I graduated from Kharkov Aerospace University with a degree in Applied Linguistics. She worked as a marketing analyst, business analyst, scrum master in IT companies. Since my visa does not entitle me to work, I decided to devote time to training and retrain in Data analyst. Now I strengthen knowledge on Python, SQLand also took a course Data analyst on

We wanted to move it to Silicon Valley. Therefore, the husband turned to the company where he worked at that time, and he was offered several vacancies for relocate. The only difficulty for me as a workaholic is to change over to the new regime and spend a lot of time at home due to the inability to work. I had no problems with the language, since I studied English from 7 years. The pronunciation was at first lame, but now it has improved significantly, and the communication barrier was quickly overcome thanks to small talks.

Before the move, I opened a list of contacts on Skype, and it turned out that a lot of my former employees moved to the Valley, now we communicate here. Found friends from Belarus and maintain friendly relations with my husband’s colleagues from Airbnb.

A pleasant surprise for me here was the abundance of restaurants, good food and wine. Many have the impression that Americans do not understand food, but this is not so, after all, the States are not in vain on the 3 place among the countries with gourmet restaurants. In the Napa Valley a large number of family wineries with very beautiful views and delicious wine. You can arrange a tour of the cheese farms. Or buy freshly caught seafood from a boat from fishermen in Half moon baywhere in the nearest cafe you will cook them.

Unpleasantly surprised by the tangible number of non-professional drivers. I'm not talking about aggressive driving, but rather about respect for each other on the road. Here I met a lot of randomness and unpredictability. With medicine faced a couple of times. All insurance, professional, friendly, new equipment. Although in Kharkov we had a wonderful family doctor. But the dentist was unhappy, although for a long time they were chosen by rating, reviews and recommendations from friends.

The main advantage of life in the Valley is more job prospects, the opportunity to open up more professionally and personally. Regarding other aspects - I like the weather and nature very much. It affects the number of beautiful places where you can go on a weekend. People sometimes ask me if I miss the snow, but in fact, just a few hours away, there is Lake Tahoe, where you can ski or snowboard in winter. A separate topic can be devoted to US national parks - Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia and many others.

In the USA, my outlook broadened considerably. I appreciate that here you can meet people who change history in the field of technology. On the streets are not uncommon self-driving cars, before our eyes was built a new campus Apple Park. Once we went to Universal Studio in Los Angeles, where that day, as it turned out, a closed conference from Teslaon which Ilon Musk represented Tesla Powerwall. When you live and are interested in this, you enjoy the possibilities of being part of something new.

Yulia Sinitsa, husband - Ruslan Kiyanchuk, Software Engineer at Symantec

Photo: DOU

Moved in December 2014 of the year

I graduated from Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics with a degree in Technical Information Protection Systems. In 2011-2014 was engaged in scientific work, the research topic was “Biometric authentication by keyboard handwriting”. Developed and improved algorithms, went to contests of scientific works and conferences, planned to enter graduate school.

I took the idea of ​​moving to the USA very easily. I lived in Kharkov for the whole year and had not had time to settle there. In addition, I had just finished my studies, and in fact it didn’t matter where to start - in Kharkov or elsewhere. Husband for a year went on business trips to the States. After my graduation, we decided to go there together to look around, because I had never been abroad before. After that, it was finally decided that there would be a relocation. We moved on L1 / L2 visas, but I didn’t know the language, so there was a special sense about my visa that allows me to work. Now we have Green Card.

The biggest problem for me at first was English (I learned German at school and university). I went to ESL courses, went to classes every day, took maximum lessons and sat at school from morning till evening. Through 5 months, she volunteered at the San Jose Technical Innovation Museum, then got a job at this museum for part time and at the same time I was looking for a job in IT. Through 3 of the month of searching, I received an offer, and now I - Software Engineer in a startup UnifyID in San Francisco (by the way, my colleagues were delighted with the level of mathematical training in ordinary Ukrainian universities). Following the hiring process in our startup, I understand that I was very lucky to find a job in the specialty that I received in Ukraine, because my competitors here are graduates of the universities of Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, who have a couple of internships in famous IT companies.

Socialization turned out to be the most difficult for me in adaptation. I was very shy by nature, besides, I was hampered by the language barrier. Now my social circle is very diverse. We have many friends from Ukraine, we gather for various reasons, and we celebrate Independence Day of Ukraine, and go to various Ukrainian events. Americans have taught us to be proud that we are Ukrainians. We were patriots before the move, but after, it seems, we began to love our homeland even more. When we started the dog, the circle of acquaintances widened by the guys from the dog parks, we know all our neighbors and thanks to the constant small talks always up to date with events in our area. I began to go to the gym often and found many friends there. Well, colleagues, of course, I have great guys, we walk together on happy hour and in the hall, in the winter we plan to go skiing in the whole office.

The main difference between me when I first arrived, and now is absolute indifference to everyday life: I don't care if I eat buckwheat or rice, cottage cheese or of cottage cheese, I began to do a manicure here myself. We learned not to focus on minor issues. Instead, more time, effort and energy remains on hobbies, outdoor activities and learning something new. The medicine here is super, if there is insurance, especially dentistry, professional doctors do everything quickly and efficiently.

I like to go to downtown dinner in the evening or to have cocktails with friends, go hiking to parks or to beaches on weekends. I like working in the city, even though I get to the office for about an hour, to go to lunch with my colleagues in new places of interest. To be at various technical meetings, start-up parties and hackathons. Work up to the night with the guys on complex tasks that no one else has ever solved. To be in the heart of the IT industry, communicate with people who go down in history, and try to make the world better.

Lyudmila Mogilenko, husband - Nikolay Mogilenko, Senior Cloud Platform Engineer in Adobe Systems

Photo: DOU

Moved to 2017 year

I have two higher educations: the first is commercial activity, the second is accounting and auditing. She worked mainly in the second specialty as an accountant. Before the move, I was on maternity leave for two years, we have twins - a boy and a girl, they are 2,5 years old.

I accepted the idea of ​​moving positively. In our case, this was more intrigue than trial. Changing the situation all benefited. The first thing we did when preparing for departure was distributing and selling unnecessary things. We passed examinations from doctors, treated our teeth, bought the necessary medicines. Husband moved to 3 a month earlier, to rent an apartment, to arrange it a little. Then he took me with the children. I have a L2 visa and I can get a work permit. Now I am engaged in children, and I devote my free time to self-development.

From the undoubted advantages of life in Bay area I will note the microclimate, the presence of the ocean and natural diversity: 30 minutes away - and you are in a completely different tale. And, of course, the weather is beautiful for almost a year, so there is no need for three layers of clothing.

The main difficulty for me is the language barrier. With a multitude of nationalities and accents, it is not always possible to understand the interlocutor from the first time. It took some time to pick up products and grocery stores. Unusually excessive attention of strangers to me. But over time, you begin to get used to the standard American courtesy, and you also get used to planning: everything must be done in advance, otherwise it is much more expensive or even impossible. AT Bay area high prices for everything, especially for housing and kindergartens. Despite the fact that there are many Russian speakers, children have a lack of communication. At the same time there are awesome playgrounds, each with its own theme and slides. Children are delighted with contact with nature, especially with animals. Squirrels, geese and even deer are commonplace.

Alexandra Khrapachevskaya, husband - Roman Morozov, Senior Software Engineer in GlobalLogic


Moved in September 2015 of the year

I love to learn and I believe that a person should do what he likes in life, therefore my way of searching for myself consisted of several education and various courses. I graduated from the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, specialty "Civil Law". Having worked as a lawyer for a while, I realized that it was not at all mine. Was an assistant manager in large companies, then graduated from the school of marketing BeFirst and worked in digital agencies.

In 2013, our first trip with the husband to the USA, to New York happened; it was his working trip for three months. When we returned home, we realized that we want to move, which means we need to look for decent offers and prepare in every way. I have completed an annual course on Frontend-development. In parallel, began to get involved in confectionery, finished Kiev International Culinary Academy - basic pastry course. We went to relocation for more than two years. The proposals that were, we were not completely satisfied, therefore, having waited, at last, suitable, they understood - now or never. Of course, there were doubts, because Roman's career in Kiev was already at a fairly high level.

The first year after moving to the Valley, I settled our way of life, met people and tried to understand what and how it worked here. I got into food photography. Now I am gradually developing the idea of ​​opening my own confectionery business in California. I would like to have a small cozy candy store with mousse cakes and pastries, delicious coffee, pasta, eclairs, but for this you have to work a lot, since the dream is quite expensive.

I have a L2 visa for which I can work. I taught English regularly with 6 for years, but I didn’t use it much after school, so I had to remember the grammar and restore the vocabulary. Went to speaking club to the library (I can not say that it is very useful for my level), I worked with a teacher on Skype (I liked it, knowledge comes back pretty quickly), went to mitapy.

For me, no difficulty in getting used to the new situation arose. Here is a great Russian community, people are friendly and try to help you. Thanks to groups in social networks, friends and acquaintances have appeared. Here, the majority come under the same conditions - in pairs, maybe that's why it is easier to meet and make new contacts. Our social circle is mostly Russian. As a rule, husbands are programmers, and wives either study or develop their business areas. Few people are sitting at home, I think. I really like that in such a small Bay area so many talented and smart people. At first it was a bit unusual to live in the Valley itself - constantly by car, even though I had been driving for a long time in Kiev, but even for bread there, because there are long distances. Now visiting 40 minutes for the freeway seems completely normal.

Most of all in the USA I like the attitude of people towards each other, the attitude of the state towards people and people towards their country, observance of traffic rules and culture in general. If you want to achieve something, then you have all the chances for this, you just have to work.

Katerina Tverdokhleb, husband - Yaroslav Tverdokhleb, Software Engineer on Facebook

Photo: DOU

Moved to 2014 year

Before moving to the States, I studied in the master's program at the Faculty of Economics of the KNU. Shevchenko. I did not have a goal to leave Ukraine, I even made career plans. But our relationship with Yaroslav then seemed more important, so when he got an offer from Facebook, the decision to relocate was logical and easy enough. We packed a couple of suitcases and bags in a few days - that's all. Preparations for the wedding took much more time.

For about two years I had a H4 visa, according to which you can neither work, nor even train for free on positions that potentially bring income to the company. After receiving Green Card I worked part-time as a marketer in a consulting company, recently signed an offer for an analyst position (Research Analyst) with a company IHS Markitproviding information analysis services worldwide. Finding a good job without an American experience is a big deal, it takes months even from the locals, so I had to be patient.

I knew English well enough before the move, for which many thanks to my parents and teachers. However, it turned out that there is still a huge number of usual phrases and turns for Americans, without which a relaxed conversation would cease to be so easy. Especially had to learn to lead small talks. Since I couldn’t work, I was looking for different opportunities to improve my speaking and expand my social circle. I went to English for an adult school, but only lasted me for a month - studying with no native speakers, in addition to her mistakes, began to pick up new ones. A real solution to my problems was the daily group sports in the circle of Americans. Here sport is closely connected with socialization - everyone communicates, shares plans throughout the entire workout.

Surprise for me was the huge distances and focus on the car. I love to drive a car, but even more I like urban walks and architecture, which is very lacking here. The amount of sugar in many foods and the size of servings in a cafe also became a shock. We were surprised by the general washing machines, carpet in most apartments for rent, the fact that all the buildings are wooden (as a result - sound insulation is not very). I had to get used to the new units of measurement: gallons, miles, Fahrenheit.

Moving on a visa without the right to work is a test of self-sufficiency, on how comfortable and interesting it is for you to spend time with yourself. Few people find pleasure in such a dependent situation. During one of my visits to Ukraine, I almost stayed there: I found an interesting job with an amazing team, spent a lot of time with my closest friends. Just at that time came the news of the imminent receipt Green Card, and we decided to give life in the States another chance.

I knew before my departure that there would be a big time difference with the house (10 hours) and the absence of close friends and social circle, but it turned out to be completely unprepared for this. The best we can give each other is our time, but if you move for 6000 miles, you will inevitably miss weddings, births of children and family holidays.

Over time, I acquired a lot of friends. The first friends were from Ukrainian expats, mostly all programmers and their spouses, then the guys from other countries whom I met when I studied at Berkeley for the certification program, and the Americans with whom I played sports. It was not difficult to socialize, especially when the feeling of awkwardness passed, the fear of saying something wrong or that you would be misunderstood. It was more difficult to find close friends, but over time they appeared.

In California, the nature is delightful and the temperature is above zero all year round (although sometimes I miss the showers and snow). There are amazingly open people here, no one is looking for flaws in others, an atmosphere of friendliness and acceptance of people with different views and life experience prevails. I like the innovativeness of Silicon Valley, because most of the new products, ideas, research originate here. I even joke sometimes that everything here is on the “needle of innovation”.

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