Mom in my childhood always told me that you need to grow up a person whom you will respect. What strives for more is normal, that you need always follow to your heart. Whatever the way to a dream or a goal is complicated. At the end of the road, you are always waiting, the very important thing that you fought for so hard and do what you wanted all this time. That the complexities and obstacles make us only harden, like steel, make us stronger.
I was born in 1991 in Irkutsk in a family of medical students. My childhood was on hungry and troubled years. Sometimes, we eat the only potato, my father had to work as a taxi driver in the evenings.
At 12 years I told my parents that I wanted to be a journalist: at that time I imagined a profession in a strange way – that I would go around the world wearing a hat with fields and tell about animals for the morning Sunday broadcasts of federal channels.
I got the first job as a journalist when I was 16 years old since then there has been no pause, no big money. I did not want to go anywhere, went to where my eyes looked, and still couldn’t think of a better way to travel around the world.
At that time, my mother has a close friend who moved with her husband to Michigan: he got a job there.
When I was 18, they invited me to visit, I agreed, I liked it. I defended my diploma for a very non-trivial topic for ordinary Siberian journalism – McLuhan’s methods of studying media – and again received an offer to come for a year to Michigan to learn English.
It was 2013, the last more or less pleasant Russian year: we didn’t eat the potato anymore, I managed to open the media club in Irkutsk with a strong team and work as a freelancer in Petersburg. At home, nothing could hold me, so I decide to go there.
The documents were easy to gather: we found a language school in the center of Ann Arbor, a student town 40 minutes from Detroit. They sent a request to the consulate, my mother’s friends husband documented that he would take care of me in every way, we paid for the study, I made a selfie against the white wall in Subway and uploaded it as a passport photo to the website of the US Embassy.
To be honest, I didn’t have any special hopes, I thought that I would simply spend another year in search of the path that I should pass.
In the consulate, the conversation was short, and I was given an annual visa. I came into the plane and, quite emotionally dumbfounded, got out in JFK.
In September, English courses began, on which I made a sad conclusion: English I knew much worse than I thought. The students were mostly Koreans, Saudis, and Guineans.
I was the only one who came from Russia, I could not join the school team, and the Koreans dissolved the rumor that instead of water there was vodka in my thermos. In principle, what was expected, because when you say that you are from Siberia, the first thing that foreigners imagine is common stereotypes, about bears playing on the balalaika, vodka and eternal snow.
In November, I decided to enter the community college (in theory, this is an American version of the technical school, but better) for the specialty of Liberal Arts with an emphasis on anthropology.
It should be noted that I did not find any friends by that time, and I was not happy, not at all in the US. Before the trip, I thought that everything here is like in American teenage films. That at once you will find yourself a bunch of friends, that you won’t feel lonely. Because you are 18 and you are young, full of energy and all that. But! The reality crept up not noticeable and my expectations didn’t coincide with the reality
I lived in a library and a laboratory where we measured the fake skulls of australopithecines with cranial compasses, and I knew for sure that in May I would pass the session and go home.
Ann Arbor is a very beautiful little town, but I did not like it for long: it seemed to me a stranger, and people in it were snobs.
Here I want to explain something: the city by American standards is quite old, but it began to develop in the middle of the nineteenth century when the University of Michigan moved here (formerly it was based in Detroit).
The university became huge, he had strong, world-famous schools (for example, neurophysiology), he became one of the universities of the public Ivy League, settled in a large and beautiful campus and in general became a very powerful educational and civic center.
I’ve been in many big and small cities in the US, but Ann Arbor is exceptional and unique. First, it is very green. Even the name of the city was formed due to the abundance of woodlands and parks. Ann – the names of the wives of both founders of the city, Arbor – the crowns of trees. Ann Arbor is a sanatorium with the option of bar life. And the philosophy of the residents here is also “green”: everyone skates on the benches, many vegan places, do not separate rubbish and do not send paper and plastic for processing – a bad tone.
Infrastructure is also debugged: on all major streets there is either a bicycle path or a sign “Divide the lane with a bicycle”, supermarkets can hand over bottles for cents, ramps for people with disabilities are the norm, and not an exception, in any public toilet there is toilet paper.
Problems with public transport: without a car, you can cope only if you rent an apartment and work in the center. Many, who live there, rent cars for a couple of hours in order to go to a large supermarket or to the laundry (that’s eight dollars per hour).
At the same time rent in the center is very expensive, almost like in New York, and already in 20 minutes’ drive home prices are falling, so it’s cheaper to buy an old car and live in the suburbs.
As I said, I hadn’t any friendship with the city for a long time. And then I suddenly became overgrown with acquaintances, the city seemed hospitable, and I happened to him, I’m sorry for the cliché, a real affair which doesn’t stop.
I thought that all this talk about love for the city was foolish, but now I understand that if I live here all my life, I will be perfectly happy, this is the best place on earth.
With Detroit and the city of Ypsilanti, adjacent to Ann Arbor, I also have mutual love.
Ipsi is, unlike Ann Arbor, something like a quiet little town surrounded by ghetto-districts. I even have fun: to turn on Lamar and ride along its streets, looking at houses and people. I love him for his cinematography. I’m constantly asked how I’m not scared, but I’m a Russian child from the 90’s. The main rule of my childhood is not to play with syringes from the entrance. After that, probably, Ypsilanti does not frighten.
And in twenty minutes by car from our places begin the suburbs of Detroit, which look much livelier than Detroit itself.
But Detroit has an amazing and inconspicuous at first glance, it’s alive. If New York is a ment grinder and hysterical, then Detroit is like a whale. Breathe slowly, but the power is huge. And to love him, you need to know where to go: behind the black door there will be a techno party from a DJ with a world name, and in an old garage – a Mexican cafe with divine tacos for a dollar.
My story looks almost standard. After a year of living in Michigan, I decided to use my location and get an education in the Business Administration and at the same time, I met a person (just from Ypsilanti), for whom I eventually got married.
By this time, I not only began to speak fluently enough in English to joke on it and therefore feel comfortable in the language environment but also somehow learned the Spanish language, ceased to be afraid to get met with people, finally understood a particular mentality.
I learned to count the distance in miles, and the temperature in Fahrenheit was more or less determined, what is my plan for the future. Now we are waiting for an interview for the Green Card, all the documents have already been collected.
So, now I’m writing, helping friends and writing a blog for girls. Work on the specialty can be started only when I return from Russia.
Plans and dreams of a career I almost coincide: I would gladly teach Russian and foreign literature and in parallel engaged in journalism and event management. All this is really feasible, although it involves a lot of work, I’m not afraid of work, because I have a destination.
I have a few dreams, and they can all be fulfilled: a dog, my Russian library from Irkutsk in my own home and the moment when I will go through border control as a resident of the country, not a tourist. It’s the most important.
Michigan is my home, which I chose myself, and it’s very cool.
The house which you created for yourself is the best gift in life. And I will create it, but not like as a lost teenage girl who does not know what to do and how to live, but as a woman, who knows what and how, as a woman who believes in herself.