Alisa's Note: 
Hey everyone! Now, I know you came to wordly to read about my obnoxious opinions and maybe have a few laughs, but today I would like to show you something even more special. The Hello Series is something I wanted to do for a long time. Basically, I asked all the Ukrainian girls (my friends, not the whole diaspora) who currently live in the USA to write about their experiences and awkward situations in the States. Everyone was very excited and eager to share their stories, leading to them bailing on me at the end (no hurt feelings ladies! You are still welcome to submit your stories :)). One special lady, whose story you are about to read stuck around with me and I am so thankful. She submitted her story titled "Hello" and I was set on the name for this feature. So, without further ado, here is the story of my dear friend, the wonderful Anastasia Futrell.  

Oh! And may the holiday shopping stress not be with you. 


blogger, ukraine, usa, living abroad, expat, expat blog, wordly, alisa kaiser

It’s my favorite time of the year now – holiday season. Starting with Thanksgiving and all the way to Christmas everybody seems to be excited and happy. Holiday music is everywhere, people decorate their houses and buy presents, and the smell of pumpkin pies and Christmas trees is in the air. It’s also this time of the year when I become feeling nostalgic. I miss my family and friends in Ukraine; I miss the smell of snow and frost, olivye and mandarins on the table, and my favorite “Irony of Faith” movie on every channel 10 days in a row. 

When I think about my life, it feels like my reality has two sides – American and Ukrainian. And I’m somewhere in between floating and trying to find a balance. Nearly 2 years of experience abroad sometimes feels like a whole life where years of growth and maturity are squished into a smaller period . 

So I started my journey with beautiful New York City and its gigantic skyscrapers, cozy Brooklyn homes, the amazing Natural History Museum with Central Park right across from it, fabulous Broadway musicals and the super busy Time Square.  I was being told what to do and where to go; it was planned for me, so I was just following others like a baby. I loved it all; sometimes it was too much, but everything seemed to be great. After little adaptation, I finally started noticing things and asking questions: do people ever slow down or always rush?  Are all Americans so loud? Do I need to learn how to drive? Many other questions crossed my mind after I moved to a small city in Texas. That’s when my eyes opened, and I saw American reality as it is. But I was still in a “child stage” not knowing where things are, what to do and what to say. I was practically learning how to walk again by a well-known method of trial and error. I was constantly reminding myself that everything was for experience. After quite a few awkward / silly / embarrassing / cross-cultural situations I understood how to function here. I managed to stay optimistic, keep my mind open despite some conservatism around, enjoyed little things and appreciated every life lesson. 

I moved to my “teen stage” when I got my first job in the US, when I was able to develop some independence and make my own decisions. It was scary and exciting at the same time, but the fact that I was teaching immigrants from all over the world helped me to find some comfort.  We were all here learning about life from the beginning and trying to survive in a new environment. We were like a big support team laughing at our successes and crying over failures. 

As for now, I finally made it to my “adult stage” with a brand-new driving license in my wallet and more job responsibilities to fulfill. As a true Ukrainian girl, I let some of my old habits interfere a little with American reality. I cook mostly at home and try to eat healthy. I park my car far away, so I’ll be able to walk to the place for at least 5 minutes. I help local people understand where exactly my country is by saying “I’m from Eastern Europe, Ukraine”. I do what I can to become a part of this new country and not to lose myself at the same time. So far, it’s working well. In the worst-case scenario, an old Soviet movie or nice music with a glass of wine is the best therapy.

*The Hello Series features stories in their original form written by Ukrainian expats living in the USA*

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