Moving to the US: Challenges and Opportunities

Five years ago, my life changed completely. Born in 1970 in Moscow, Russia, I could never imagine that more than forty years later, I would become a mother of three beautiful children living in the United States. In 2016, my husband and I decided to move to Cleveland, Ohio. Such a change seemed very challenging and almost unreal because I had to leave a part of my family, my eldest daughter, and mother, in Russia. So, five years ago, my husband, two of our children, and I made a final decision to change our lives once and for all and move to the US.

At first, I could not believe that this was happening, as the stress from moving to a country with a completely different language and culture was very difficult to handle. My wildest fear was the fact that I did not know the language well enough to feel confident when communicating with local residents. Of course, I tried to learn English when living in Moscow, but learning a language somewhere abroad and speaking this language every single day are two different things. When we moved here, I realized that my English was not enough to talk to people, and I needed more practice and a better vocabulary. My inability to speak properly made me feel very self-conscious and shy, so I barely talked to somebody during the first few months after the move.

However, I soon realized that I came to this country to provide a better future for my family and myself, so I started to think of ways to work and improve my English while working and talking to native speakers. Before I moved to Cleveland, I knew that the town had a community of Russian-speaking people who, just like my family and me, moved to this country with limited English skills and knowledge. So, I decided to try myself as a social worker specializing in communication with Russian-speaking people. I found this job very inspiring because I was proud of myself for helping my compatriots with adapting to a new environment. Social work was a new experience for me because back at home, I dedicated much time to looking after kids and never worked in a sphere related to my college degree. From time to time, I used to help my father at the notary office, but I never fully dedicated myself to any job except that of a mother. Right now, I understand that my children do not need as much care as before because my youngest child is eight years old.

Although I still cannot believe that my kids grow up so fast, I understand that it is time for me to spend more time learning something new for myself. For this reason, I decided to take up medicine and try myself as a radiology technician. Spending much time thinking about the things I might like doing as my job and provide for my family, I realized that helping people and working with them was something I enjoyed doing here in Cleveland. Thus, I am currently studying at a community college, and I hope to become a professional someday. At first, I was afraid that I would have no time to study, work, and raise my children. However, for a couple of years now, I manage to combine all my responsibilities, and I feel quite proud of myself for doing so much while living in a foreign country.

It is hard for me to say whether life for me is better here or back in Moscow, as I feel like a completely different person in the US. However, the one thing I know for sure is that I miss my family that stays in Russia now. My eldest daughter and my mom left in Moscow, and I have not seen them ever since I moved to Cleveland. During my stay here in the US, my elder daughter became a mother herself. It is hard for me to express how happy I am for my girl and how glad I am that I am now a grandmother. However, I feel miserable because I cannot see my grandson, and all my whole family back in Russia cannot come to the US because of everything that is going on between Russia and the US. For this reason, I often feel regret about leaving a part of my family behind, but at the time, there was no other option. When I talk to my family online, we sometimes speak about the political situation that takes place between our two countries, and we realize that a lot of information we hear about Russia or the US on the news is simply not true. However, everyone believes that they are right, and as a result, my family is separated by distance, and my mother and daughter cannot come to visit me here in Cleveland and see how I live.

Being a Russian-born woman in the US is sometimes very hard. When people hear that I come from Russia, they immediately make assumptions about me based on what they hear on the news about my country and my president. For this reason, I often feel like I am not welcomed in a new country where I have to start everything from scratch. It is hard for me to find the right words to describe how difficult it is to be a mother of three children and try to study and work in a foreign country with elementary language skills. However, it took me some time to realize that I was a fighter who wanted what was best for herself and her beloved family. Right now, my age and the place where I live cannot stop me from fighting for a better future.

Sometimes I do not have enough strength to find something positive and continue to work and study. I feel weak, and I want to give up, but then I remind myself of everything I have already achieved, and I tell myself that there is no going back from here. Despite the problems, challenges, and distance that separates me from my mother, daughter, and grandson, I feel very optimistic about my future here in the US. Here I have the support of my husband and my children, who believe in me and my abilities to overcome all the struggles. As long as I have a family by my side, I feel like I can do everything I can think of. For this reason, I try to look ahead and create a beautiful life for myself and my family because they are my rock.