American Practice Makes It Perfect

Moving to the US was an astounding experience for a Russian girl

"We have received those emails from a middle-aged person, a resident of the city of Arkhangelsk. His daughter has recently moved over to the States, and she has written a lot of letters to her father. The original texts of the letters have not been changed in this story. This is the naked truth about America, as a Russian girl saw it.

"What was the first impression of living abroad? The first contact: the beautiful American Delta Airlines plane. I was very pretty too, and I was so very confident of my English. An air hostess of immaculate beauty was greeting every passenger in a very polite way: "We are very glad to see you...blah-blah-blah." I was horrified to realize that I was not understanding anything. I was so ashamed to admit that I could hardly understand the air hostess saying that they are very happy to see us, they invite us to take our seats and make ourselves comfortable. All I could say   was "thank you." Luckily, there was one Russian-speaking air hostess on board the plane departing from Russia.

"Alright, here I am, living across the ocean. It took me a while to recover from numerous relatives attacking me with their questions. I have to say that life is absolutely different there. I was asking myself a lot of questions. For example, why do drivers look at me as if I am a psycho when I wait for cars to pass me by, but they just won't move? Why do prices differ so much in two supermarkets located nearby? It was not easy for me to find all the answers. The only thing that I could say in response to homeless people asking something from me was "No English." However, I experienced the biggest shame in a fast food restaurant, in all of them, to be more precise. First of all, there is a Mexican (a Chinese, a Korean) assistant, trying to do his or her best to understand what I am trying to say, doing the best I can too. Secondly, all dishes can be seen either on boards or on the counter, as they have it in Chinese restaurants. However, it was hell for me to understand what those dishes were, how they should be eaten and if they could be eaten at all. When I finally found courage to say just one word: "Chicken," the reply was: "Crispy or original?" Of course I knew that the assistant was not mean to me with those words, but I could not understand those words!

"Anyway, I feel like a real American woman now - I have been living in the States for five months already. I cross the streets without a hesitation, ignoring the cars. I do not go to supermarkets selling cheap food - they have unnatural genetically modified food there. Now I know the difference between "burritos" and "orange chiken." I do not pay any attention to homeless people now. By the way, they feed them here three times a day for free. Answers and skills come with time, of course, if you are not lazy, if you are smart and if you go somewhere else besides Russian stores. However, as soon as I learnt how to live there, other questions came up for me. Where is the bank where I pay my bills? How do I open an account in a bank? Why does a cellular communication provider need a deposit or a warrantor, making a vague hint about the absence of some credit history? This is a completely different story."

Natalia Gurevich
California, USA
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Author`s name Olga Savka