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Five myths about emigration

It is probably difficult to find a European country in which the attitude towards emigration would be so negative as in Russia.

For many decades (with the exception of a short break in the 90-s), Russian propaganda inspires to its citizens the idea that any person who left the country is automatically a traitor to the homeland.

However, the problem is not exhausted by the “Kremlin TV”. For me personally, it turned out to be an unpleasant surprise that even among the Russian opposition, the attitude towards the “left” is often very negative.

Of course, the negative manifests itself differently in this case. People who claim to be in opposition are not inclined to repeat accusatory cliches about "betrayal", but they are subject to other myths. People who have not spent a single day in their lives in emigration talk about the fact that emigrants are “unhappy people” without self-identification, always restless, lonely, strangers, dreaming of returning and unable to fit into a new life, even despite outward success. and - either yearning for Russia, or, on the contrary, living only with hatred for it. Such posts, as a rule, end with arguments that the problems are the same everywhere, there is one homeland, and people are obliged to love only it, especially since "a Russian person still cannot live without Russia."

All those who have lived abroad for at least a few years understand that such arguments often have nothing to do with reality.

For example, most of my American friends have lived in the United States for 20-25 years, they are well-off financially, have every opportunity to return home, but in practice, they cannot even bring themselves to visit Russia once every few years.

These people sincerely love their new homeland, communicate perfectly in English (often even among themselves), do not completely break away from Russian culture, but in order to maintain cultural ties they do not consider it necessary to live in Russia. Moreover, even those who sincerely scold America and admire the Kremlin’s policy, for some reason prefer to demonstrate their “patriotism” on the streets of New York, and absolutely do not want to return to their beloved country.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

Thus, I want to encourage those of my friends who are afraid to leave, not knowing how to survive the separation from their homeland. Practice shows that a Russian person is able to live abroad just like any Italian, Irish or French. There are many successful examples of this, but there are not so many examples of people returning back from emigration.

However, it will be no less a mistake to consider that emigration is an easy way to success or to escape from problems. Moreover, emigration carries in itself so many problems and deprivations, which are very difficult to imagine for a person who has never left his country. Based on my own little personal experience and the experience of my friends, I will try to debunk only some of the myths about emigration — both positive and negative.

1. Depression, Nostalgia and Disappointment. Of course, this phenomenon exists, and it affects not only those whose departure was forced, but also people who had long been preparing for emigration. It is almost impossible to avoid this phenomenon, and among my acquaintances of emigrants there are only a few people who would not admit that in the first years the relationship with the former country was very strong. For very objective reasons.

It is important to understand that emigration is always stress, and stress is unusually strong. When the first euphoria of the move takes place, it begins to be felt especially strongly. In ordinary life, most of us have a lot of defensive reactions. For us it is significant that our relatives think about us, and the opinion of random people is much less significant. That is why it is more difficult for an accidental person to offend us: we have formed psychological mechanisms of protection from outside interference, there is support, the ground under our feet, there is protection, friends, close circle, a place in society, and therefore the first comer cannot often knock us off track.

However, in emigration the situation changes dramatically. Here a person comes to a foreign country: alone, without friends, without support, without the slightest support, without a foundation as such. Local people are perceived as an abstract single mass, they have not yet been divided into the near and far circle, from among them there are no separate individuals. Add to this the fact that in a situation of stress, defensive reactions are lost, and adaptation mechanisms decrease sharply. The opinion of every person, even a complete stranger, at the beginning of emigration is still very significant, because all people are perceived as representatives of their country. Accordingly, inadequate reaction from individuals is perceived as hostility from the country as a whole.

As a result, a rather small list of failures is enough to make a person feel “alien”, unnecessary, abandoned and even deceived. Longing for the past connects at such moments with longing for the soil under your feet and “the house in which the walls help”, which only increases the nostalgia. And the more people had illusions before emigration, the more this stress turned out to be.

Hoping for an easy life in a new country is, to put it mildly, naive. Having decided to move, you need to be prepared for the fact that at first it will be really very hard and painful. However, it is important to remember that this period necessarily passes, and the main thing is that it is not connected with the cultural features of the Russian-speaking emigrants. Similar sensations are experienced by people coming from all over the world.

2. Escape from difficulties. Those people who are looking for emigration "easy way" to leave, really, should not. Difficulties will be everywhere, and often when moving them much more than when living in their own country. To promise "easy" emigration is naive and irresponsible. Many disadvantages in each country. Both in the USA and in Europe, often simply intolerable bureaucracy is found, medical errors are also possible, and a high standard of living does not fall on you from the sky. The choice of a country in this sense is similar to the choice of a life partner: everyone has shortcomings, but you choose one whose flaws are tolerable for you.

However, those who seek to get away from very specific problems, for example, dictatorship, censorship, police lawlessness, raider attacks on enterprises, racketeering, extortion, criminal cases for expressing one’s opinion, and so on, I can console - in the United States there is nothing like that. at least for the moment.

3. Success and happiness. It is important to understand that in a number of countries hard work is not in itself a guarantee of success, and you will have to make your way through the road. In émigré groups, I often find arguments about the fact that there is a phenomenon of “eternal losers” who complain about the country that accepted them, about their difficulties in it, but are afraid of change in panic, and therefore refuse any suggestions to change their lives for the better, even from the most profitable and very specific. Such people really exist, and I myself came across those who consciously went to wash the floors, complained loudly about their heavy share, and immediately reproached those who tried to cheer him up because they did not want to follow his example, and dared to wish for something else.

However, this is not so simple. The fear of change in this case may be due not to the syndrome of the “chronic loser”, which is most often blamed for such people, but as a consequence of the things I wrote about above. For a person who has lost a little less than everything (especially it’s about forced emigrants), the first need may not be external success at all, but the restoration of psychologically necessary pillars: whatever team, friends, the appearance of the “inner circle”, restoration of a comfort zone, from which it is then very difficult to come out again. Such a period may be temporary, and at this time, perhaps you should not put too much pressure on the person, forcing him to change something. However, it is important to be close at the moment when a person becomes really ready to change his life.

It is also important to remember that everyone is looking for a different emigration. External success, indeed, is not always an indicator of happiness. A person is happy when he finds in a new country what he really needed to get. It can be freedom, a sense of security, confidence in the future, the possibility of self-expression, the opportunity to be close to your loved one (if we are talking about, say, LGBT marriages), enjoying outer beauty, legality and much more. It is this that most often gives a person the happiness that he never experienced in his former homeland - the happiness for which immigrants are willing to endure many difficulties and not return home, even if they have not disappeared from such an opportunity.

Фото: Depositphotos

Фото: Depositphotos

4. Identity crisis. Here, too, much depends on what country and under what circumstances a particular emigrant came. Most often, the process of changing the identification occurs smoothly and smoothly, even imperceptibly for the person himself. Few of my acquaintances could clearly name that time line from which the problems of the new country began to worry him more than the old, and the habitual "we" came to replace the expression "we".

The former country is forgotten, new ones come to the place of old favorite places, nostalgia disappears, and even a foreign language becomes, if not native, then familiar and understandable.

Otherwise, the situation develops when the former country clearly behaves with hostility towards the new one. Thus, she herself puts her former citizens before a moral choice, which in other conditions would not have arisen in principle. As a result, combining 2 identification is very difficult, if not to say impossible. The choice in this case becomes a compelling requirement of conscience, and it is more conscious, painful, but then faster and deeper than in the first case.

For example, many of my friends who emigrated to Ukraine prefer to consider themselves “Russian Ukrainians”, and not at all “Russian oppositionists”. In the US, the situation with this is somewhat simpler, and I know several wonderful people who identify themselves primarily as exiles from Russia. However, such people eventually face the dilemma of choosing priorities, and most often the new homeland becomes a priority for them, which is, in general, quite logical and decent in relation to the country that sheltered them.

However, one way or another, one should not believe in the myths that for the Russian people "there is no other motherland except Russia." On the contrary, some of my Russian-speaking friends admit that the very concept of patriotism appeared among them only here in the USA.

The fact is that in the ordinary life of a person who is not embraced by modern Russian “hurray-patriotism”, the category of “country” may in principle not be as such. Often the term itself is perceived by the philistines as some kind of abstraction. A person lives in his country all his life. He does not know how it is possible otherwise, and he has never seen otherwise.

In emigration, the choice of the country becomes conscious, the relationship with it is alive and tangible, even if they are not perfect. The paradox is that the more difficulties a person overcome at the beginning of emigration, the more effort he put into his new homeland, the stronger his love for her may be. Often, the first person in the life to take an oath is in emigration - taking citizenship. The first sacrifices for the sake of a new country, the first documentary relations with it, the first victories and the first commitments - all this is a fertile ground for love: not a superficial enthusiastic love or habitual attachment to the territory, but a deeper feeling.

5. Hatred of Russia. As I have already said, this is one of the most widespread Kremlin myths, which also penetrated into opposition ranks. In fact, many Russian-speaking immigrants, even among political refugees, have long been rather indifferent to Russia. Some years combined the love of America and Russia, and many gradually moved away from Russian affairs, and naturally lost interest in their former homeland. The situation radically changed after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and specifically for the United States - after Russia's intervention in the American elections.

However, those people who began to speak out sharply against such interference, regard Russia in general not as an object of love or hate, but primarily as an external threat from which they are trying to defend their new homeland. Themselves who have survived the traumatic experience of facing this type of evil, they see for themselves the most important goal in protecting their family, children and their future from external aggression.

Simply put, it is unlikely that someone in the West would remember Russia if it did not constantly remind of itself, moreover, in the most unattractive way.

But one should not be surprised that the protection of the new homeland becomes more important for such emigrants than the welfare of the former - in the end, the people themselves chose the country for themselves, and even vowed to protect it with arms. The manifestation of such an attitude is especially vividly illustrated by the example of Russian emigrants in Ukraine. Of course, there are quite a few who continue to love Russia, “despite the policy”. However, this does not give anyone the right to condemn those who have made a different choice.

In a word, summing up, we can say that, in my opinion, as well as the opinion of many of my acquaintances of emigrants (and especially those who served in the American army), emigration is not a story of escape or separation, it is a love story - even if it is heavy, but suffered. Not everyone is ready to decide on such love and endure to the end all the difficulties that he will encounter on the way, but practice shows that to become a worthy and full-fledged citizen of another country, who love her and do not want anything else for themselves, is quite real.

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