The Russians who won the green cards talked about how moving to the USA changed their lives.
US President Donald Trump is about to tighten current legislation for migrants - cancel the program "Visas for foreigners of different nationalities." Every year in the lottery, where a residence permit in the United States was played out, 50 thousands of people from different countries became winners. "Medusa»I talked to the Russians who won the green cards, about whether they feel they won after moving and living in the USA.
Cyril, 38 years
photographer, lived in San Francisco for three years
I grew up on American movies and music and always wanted to go to the States to experience that atmosphere. In 2008, an acquaintance living in America gave a link to the lottery and said try. I carefully read and filled out everything, and in March 2009 of the year I learned that I had won. I sent the necessary documents from Khabarovsk to Moscow and waited - there was no answer until autumn, and in October, when I came to ask the consular center, it turned out that I was scheduled for an interview on 1 September. The letter, apparently, was lost on the way. I thought that the chance was missed, but in March 2010, I received a call from the consulate in Moscow and asked if I still wanted to get a green card. I said I want to. In July, he was interviewed - and in September 2010 flew to San Francisco.
He left in depression, which arose due to personal circumstances. In the States, an immigrant depression has also been added to it - according to rumors, adults who have a change in everything in life suffer from it for one or two years. I was alone, without work, for many miles from someone and something familiar. The mentality of people turned out to be different, the elementary norms of communication — different, even how to use transport, had to be studied at random.
I could not find a job - but because of depression I was not very actively looking for it. I rented my apartment in Russia. At that time, this was enough to rent a room in San Francisco, sometimes selling his drawings and photos and reselling photo equipment. I shot weddings a couple of times.
For a long time he could not make acquaintances with anyone - he stopped talking to a couple of Russian acquaintances almost immediately. The reason was still the same depression, but with other Russians almost did not overlap, since we did not have common interests. The photo saved me. I just went and photographed everything, everything that was interesting.
I only began to feel normal in San Francisco after a year and a half. I made some friends, Americans and Brazilians. I went to free lectures, museums, galleries, I was engaged in self-development - as an artist and as a photographer. And then he left for Khabarovsk for family reasons - my mother needed an operation. I came to support her, I thought that for six months, maybe a year. The operation was unsuccessful. Mom was gone. I soon fell ill myself. The dollar began to cost not 30 rubles, as before, but 60. I still have the card, but I did not try to return to the States anymore.
Natalya Artemova, 41 year
the creator of soft toys, lives in Cincinnati for two years
My husband and I, and so were going to emigrate, decided on the country and figured out the options for which visa to leave - work or study. And then I caught the post of a girl who won the lottery in LJ. Knowing my ability to occasionally be at the right time in the right place, I decided that the lottery is also a good option.
I waited for the next October - and sent the first application for myself and my husband. The first two years did not work, and in the third year, checking the results of the lottery, I saw the cherished words: I was chosen to issue a visa. Then the most interesting thing began: about halfway between the news of the winnings and the expected date of the interview at the embassy, I got pregnant. We decided that if there is no force majeure, I will give birth in the United States already, which means we need to accelerate with the completion of cases in Russia. My life in those days was held under the motto "How to enslave the world, without getting up from the couch." The doctor prescribed bed rest for me, so I lay at home and collected information, prepared the documents, bought tickets and prepared for the move.
The charges turned out to be very fast: between the date of the interview at the embassy and the flight to the USA, it took us only two and a half weeks. The first three months in the United States we lived with relatives in Baltimore. My husband was looking for work, I enjoyed the last weeks of pregnancy and warm days. The first day of her husband on the new job coincided with the day of discharge from the hospital after the birth of the child. When the baby was one and a half months old, we moved from Baltimore to Cincinnati - there is the office of the company in which the husband works.
So in a short time we changed everything: the country of residence, the work of the husband, the composition of the family, the way of life. On the one hand, it seemed that everything was going well and simply. We had a certain amount of money, we had a place to live at first, and we could calmly search for suitable apartments and arrange the local documents. On the other hand, stress was present all the time. The first days after moving to Cincinnati, I perceive as a kind of dark spot. I was mentally ready to go for a walk only a week after the move. The baby and lack of experience handling the child aggravated the stress. As often as in those months, I never cried.
But gradually everything began to improve. We furnished the house, it became easier with the grown-up child, I went to college to study English - and it began to revive. My husband and I are both introverts, so the process of acquiring new friends offline is very slow, but acquaintances have begun to appear. Now my husband is working, I am sitting at home with my child, learning English and thinking about the work of my dreams. In Russia, I worked as an accountant, and the last few years before leaving, I had a small handicraft business - I made soft toys and various decorative things, sold them on the Internet and on markets. Now I am interested in the sphere art & craftsI would be glad to become a member of the team that prepares festivals, I plan to go and learn.
I am glad that in the USA everything is arranged for people - both globally and in trifles. For example, the medical staff here is always delicate. It is convenient to be a driver here: there are parking lots in main public places and volunteers who are ready to help with this parking. It is easy to get information about hours of work, travel, cost for different offices or events, and in general there is no feeling from any processes that you are going through the quest with an unpredictable result.
And I am amazed at the amount of heat that the surrounding people are pouring onto our child. Every time I am pleasantly surprised. In Russia, people are more closed to children, and here the child is smiling, talking to him, joking, and because of this he learns to interact with others. I do not regret for a second that we have moved. I am well aware that this is not an ideal country, but so far there have been no major disappointments, and I don’t want to part with rose-colored glasses - why?
Darina Rolnik, 25 years
programmer, five years living in Mountain View
I won the green card in 19 years with my mother. I then had a young man, we met for three years and after winning we began to decide what to do next. There were two options: either parting, and then he comes up with how to fly to me in the States, or get married quickly - and he leaves with me. I did not want to part, chose the second option. But the American authorities are not very good at couples who marry immediately after winning a green card. If caught on a fictitious marriage - they will be sent to a life ban, after that even the tourist visa in the USA does not seem to be issued. Therefore, during the interview, the husband and the wife must show how much they know each other, and provide evidence that they have everything for real.
Two months before going to the consulate, we urgently went on a honeymoon trip, took a lot of photos there, and my mother made us a beautiful photo album. We printed out from the mobile operator information about calls to each other over the past three years and tried to remember all the smallest details of everyday life. At the interview we were asked, it seems, all the possible questions: who is sleeping on which side of the bed, do I talk in a dream, how many moles does he have and how many fish do we have in the aquarium. But everything went fine, and we left for Mountain View.
This city was chosen by mom. When we decided who we would work in America, she found Mikhail Portnov’s school there - they give basic knowledge so that a person can diagnose computer equipment and software, and then, eventually, become a programmer. Before my departure, I studied at the university as a translator from English and Spanish and did not touch the IT sphere at all, but it was interesting and also guaranteed employment.
The first thing that struck me in California was the air. He was a lot! We arrived in Silicon Valley, went out for a walk in the morning - it was raining like a wall, and there were no cars or people in Mountain View. So much space for one person. Compared with Moscow, it was a miracle.
True, the savings quickly ran out - the simplest one-bedroom apartment here costs two thousand dollars a month. After completing the courses, I agreed to the very first job offer, but my husband was slow - I didn’t really look for a job, and, it seemed to me, didn’t support me at all. Now I understand that he must have been lonely - in a foreign country, without friends, his parents remained in Moscow. And then we just divorced. As far as I know, now everything is all right with him - he was waiting for a good offer and is now working in The Amazon.
I myself have been working in a third company for five years. It can be difficult - about 60% of tasks are incomprehensible at first. But I try to improve my knowledge of the profession in my free time, and in my working time I seek advice from my colleagues. With colleagues, we, by the way, are also friends and hang out together. Of course, I miss friends from Russia, but, fortunately, there is Skype and instagram.
I have a young man - he is Mexican with an admixture of Indian blood. It turned out that Mexicans are very similar to Russians - their transition from sadness to insane joy is very fast, they also like to get together in a big company, drink ten bottles of wine and talk all night long about high. I am engaged and intend to get married next year.
Natalia Slavina, 43 of the year
journalist living in New York for two years
I absolutely did not believe in success, because I had never won a single ruble in the lottery, and my husband wanted to go to America - his business was connected with America, he really liked New York. But at the second attempt I was lucky.
At the interview worried - we were denied to many people. There was a strong feeling of the exam, which we somehow pass with her husband and daughter. The most difficult for me was the question of who I expect to work in the United States. In Russia, I was a journalist in a good publication and indicated my qualifications in the documents, so I couldn’t say that I was applying for a job as a waitress. But where to work in the specialty of a person whose main tool is Russian? She pointed out three professions: journalist, teacher and social worker. Everything went well, at the consulate, when they gave the green card, they said that "the United States needs honest and free journalists."
We were in no hurry to move - the process took more than two years: we rented an apartment in the center of Moscow, we chose the district where we want to live in New York, the school for the eldest daughter. Another daughter was born on one of my business trips in New York. Finally, the four of us left in August 2015.
I did not have to look for work on the spot - in October I learned that I was expecting a child again. I remained a freelance columnist in the Russian edition, but my earnings were only enough for everyday expenses: gasoline, food, something to buy for children. If it were not for the husband, one would not pull the main expenses: here you can not eat, not dress, not go anywhere, but you still have to pay three and a half every month - four thousand dollars - so much does it cost to rent housing, electricity, heating and the internet.
We were leaving Moscow with pretty spoiled people: we already had 40, we had a certain social status. Let's just say we used to live well: in Moscow I had an apartment, a summer house, a car, the children had a nanny, and the housekeeper cleaned the apartment weekly. For two years in New York, I didn’t call a cleaning lady even once - I simply converted one hundred dollars in my mind, which she would need to pay, in rubles and was cleaned herself.
America in this sense is sobering quickly: it makes it clear that in order to stay within the middle class, you need to work well and tirelessly and without leave.
It seems to me that we did not assimilate. We thought that we would wait until the eldest daughter after school went to college, university, would be fixed. But it turned out she misses the young man who remained in Moscow. Yes, and we realized that for some money we can afford either a very good university for her in Russia, or a very average one in America, we did not count on the Ivy League. As a result, everything went wrong, as we had planned: the daughter went back to Russia and is now studying in one of Moscow universities.
Objectively, I understand that the infrastructure, the economy, the level of development of medicine, the roads are several times better here than in Russia. Here you feel protected: you know that if an accident happens with the participation of the governor and an ordinary person, the court will decide who is to blame, in fairness. The feeling that everything will be justly beautiful. But there is also my subjective feeling of everyday life, in which I do not know English enough to understand jokes or idioms. I do not understand people who speak quickly in a bus or pharmacy, and this makes me sick. I do not have enough communication - the fact that you can come to the office and talk with colleagues. Go for yoga. To go to my parents - I see them getting old, and I see it on Skype, and this makes me feel bad. Not enough evenings in the country near Moscow, the ringing of church bells.
The only person for whom moving to America turned out to be an absolute plus is our six-year-old daughter. I was very worried, giving her two years ago to an English-speaking kindergarten: there were no places in Russian, but she did not speak English at all then. But here there is a completely different attitude towards children: they are treated as equals, they are seen as an individual and given the right to choose, no one tells them “you should.” A very friendly atmosphere is created around them, a mini-cast of American society in which people initially treat each other favorably. Now the daughter is fluent in two languages and seems to be more free-thinking than we are.
I know people who are willing to suffer for the sake of children, but it seems that I am not one of them. My personal America turned out to be worse than my personal Russia. Now I am in Moscow - and I have a feeling that I have returned to my mother. I feel that I live here. And I live there.
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