Valeriia for The Hello Series

Alisa's note: 

I am so happy to be the 'keeper' of yet another wonderful expat story. If you know me well you are familiar with my social media addiction. I accepted it. She is a good friend now. My addiction and I grab coffee together, we shop together - she never really leaves me. A few months ago she kind of got bored with me (I was stressed and no fun I guess) so she led me to the great world of the Instagram, where I discovered Valeriia. This universe is rather tiny so we instantly connected and realized we have a few friends in common even though we've never met! This kind, wonderful, talented, and hella smart lady is sharing her story with you today. Please show her a lot of love. 

Love,
Alisa 
James Schaffer @jmy.jam
Hey yo, let’s get to know each other! I was asked by wonderful wordly Alisa to share my little American story and I will gladly do this on this rainy Pennsylvania Sunday night (it sounds depressing but I have Ben & Jerry’s salted caramel blondie ice-cream, so I’m okay here, thanks for asking).

My name is Valeriia, or Valerie, or Lera, or LRK (coming from Lerka) – whichever one you can pronounce, I don’t care that much, Starbucks people prepared me for a lot in this life lol. I’m 23, coming from Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovska oblast in Ukraine. I came to the US when I was 21 for my Master’s degree in Law (LL.M.) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. It is a one-year Masters program for international lawyers (I graduated with Bachelors in Law from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute the same summer I came to the States). 

My first year here was a stressful kaleidoscope of unwanted events – law school was hard, my legal English sucked so I had a feeling I’m learning this language all over again. I didn’t have much friends, it was hard to link with local people of my age, and my first attempt to start dating a guy resulted in a “I thought you wanted to hook up” type of conversation. I felt like the world is against me, I missed Kiev and my wonderful creative friends the most. The end of my law school year decided that I’m not having enough “fun” so my body gave me anxiety and panic attacks, which was quite a surprise. Of course, body, thanks a lot, that was fun.

So graduation was a great accomplishment for me, I was proud of myself going through that hard year almost as much as going through 6 hours tattoo session on my ribs (that hurt about the same as law school lol). Then I started an internship at a law firm, and they hired me as a paralegal. It was a beginner’s dream job – huge law firm with offices in over 8 major cities in the US, with an office on the 30th floor with beautiful downtown view – as Biggie Smalls said, “it was all a dream”. Or Drake with his “started from the bottom now we here”, haha. So now I’m here – starting my legal career, meeting amazing local creative people. And I feel blessed to be a social person who got to meet couple “right” people in the city. My great friend RB, an event manager, whose clothes brand I modeled for, hooked me up with a lot of great DJs, photographers, designers, producers, etc etc. It’s great going out and randomly meeting cool people you know everywhere, I love Pittsburgh for that. 

Right now I’m working on my visa extension, modeling during my free time, painting, riding my bike, blogging on my IG (it’s @chillbaby_babychill if you’re interested) and still getting used to American mentality. As they taught us to think during FLEX (btw, I’m 2010 FLEX alumna, so hi to the FLEX fam) – “not bad, not good, just different”. America is a great country with a huge variety of crazy opportunities that you do not even expect to happen to you. It’s important to stay strong and positive to go through hard times, because good times are not that far – you gotta be prepared for all the blessings.


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

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