Jenya: I Discover America
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Los Angeles, etc.
My life in two sentences is “Born and raised in BY. Live and love it in LA”.
I grew up and graduated from a University in Belarus, where my family, my friends and my hear will always be. I first came to the USA as a summer exchange student in 2006 and after spending perhaps the most unforgettable summer of my life, I kept thinking of coming back and trying to find my place in this country not just as a visitor.
And so I did in 2007. I came to a beautiful California and started my adventure here. Working at bars, restaurants, eventually getting my first office job, going on, moving forward and enjoying every moment of my life here since.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
“I Discover America” was born rather spontaneously and hasn't been something I planned for a long time. One day, after about a year of living here and having to answer questions like “How is your country different from the states?” and “You didn't grow up eating peanut butter?” on a pretty much daily basis, I put together a list of things that I found foreign and different about USA.
My blog is a place where I observe and note things like that, it's not meant to define right or wrong, not to complain or diminish anything I come across. I'm sure anyone who ever moved to a different country could relate to that feeling of marveling at things, trying to understand, adjust and fit in.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Oh that's so cruel, you don't ask a mother who their favorite child is.
To be honest, I only blog when I feel like it. I tried to have a schedule of posting and stick to it, but sometimes I'd sit down and re-write one sentence dozens of times. Then I leave and come back whenever I feel like I've got something to say. That's why each and every single entry on my blog has been a spur of a moment piece, coming from my heart and my easily impressed brain, and is a favorite little “baby” of mine.
But if I had to pick just one, it would be this one, about my unconditional love for laundromats. The reason this might be my favorite is because it expresses me and my sense of humor, and if you can laugh with me reading this post, you'll get me and what I'm trying to say in every other one. Don't take life (and my blog) too seriously, that's the kind of attitude I have.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Los Angeles differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
To answer that I'd have to quote my entire blog, and then add some more.
In short, yes, of course, it was an adjustment, a shock, and times of withdrawal and mild depression/home sickness. Everything you can imagine changing has changed in my universe – time zone, climate, language, favorite food, currency, president. Finding myself and my place here is a work in progress, and I am having a blast doing it to this day.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Los Angeles? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I didn't really know what to expect, all I knew about LA and California was what I saw in movies. And that's not the most reliable source. I guess I was lucky enough to be 21 when I moved and had my eyes wide open, I was learning and discovering Los Angeles with open mind and took it as an adventure of a lifetime.
One thing that I had no idea about in LA is how demographically diverse it is. People of what seems to be all nations in the world find a place to call home here. There's Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, West Hollywood – one of the largest communities of Russian immigrants in the country. This helps anyone feel less like a foreigner and more like you are one of the millions, and a person next to you is very likely to have come here from somewhere else.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Absolutely, my whole blog is a collection of funny stories and anecdotes! Here's one of them.
Just a week after I came to the states for the first time in 2006 my friend and I passed by a restaurant and noticed a “No Public Restrooms” sign outside. We started wondering out loud how strange it is that restaurants would have rooms for rest and why do they need to announce to the world that such rooms are not public.
I mean, who else outside of the states refer to those rooms as Restrooms?
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Los Angeles?
- Be aware that public transportation system in LA is very poor and not reliable. Getting a driver's license and a car to at least take you from work to home is a primary necessity.
- Life by the beach is dreamy, but very few can afford it. A very common misconception about LA is you basically live near the water. Not true. If you have a limited budget for rent, you'll be lucky to live in a 40 minute drive distance from the ocean.
- According to many, Los Angeles is where dreams come true, especially for unfortunate people from the bordering Mexico and for those trying to make it big in Hollywood. That's why there's a never-ending flow of people coming to LA not only from other countries, but from other states and places in California. The result? Rent is high. Competition is strong.
It's all worth it in the end, 100%.
How is the expat community in Los Angeles? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
As I mentioned above, a large expat community is one of the advantages of LA for all newcomers. It's hard to feel out of place here, and chances of finding people that share the same background, nationality and culture as you are huge.
How would you summarize your expat life in Los Angeles in a single, catchy sentence?
A girl who doesn't stop discovering.