From Ukraine to Tennessee: Wordly
Hello! My name is Alisa Kaiser and I was born and raised in eastern Ukraine. I enjoy living my crazy life and right now am residing in the beautiful city of Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My big move happened on November 21, 2014 and I have no regrets. I did a couple of foreign exchange programs in the USA during high school and college and was happy to be back. This time, I was coming back to the crazy wonderful husband of mine.
2. How do you make a living?
Looking for a job in the United States proved to be a tough experience. While I was waiting for my work authorization, I tried to work online in order to stay sane and be helpful to the society. Not having a job for a long period of time made me feel a little useless, since I knew the country and did not really need time to explore. All I wanted is to jump into a work mode. My dreams did come true a few months later. Right now I am lucky to be working in the perfect environment: I manage a hostel in downtown Nashville. Being around travelers and expats - around people who have so many stories to tell - is the most amazing part.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I grew up in a small family and am very attached to my mom and my grandma. My mom (even though she will deny this) is a very protective: she asks me to send her a text/email every day just to make sure that I am alive! I complain a lot about this but let's be honest: it is precious to have someone care for you and love you that much. I am mildly annoyed but very grateful.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the USA?
My favorite thing about being an expat in the USA is the fact that I received this wonderful gift of seeing things from multiple perspectives. The fact that I come from a different culture helps me keep an open heart and mind, making my everyday experience enjoyable and unique.
5. What's the worst thing about being an expat in the USA?
I would have to say healthcare and lack of security that I feel because of that. I am glad to be young, full of life and energy. Most importantly, I am glad to have a best friend who is a nurse.
6. What do you miss most?
I miss being geographically close to my family. I used to live in Kiev, the magical capital of Ukraine, and was just a train ride away. I hate the fact that if I am feeling sad I can't just call them right away - have to think about the time difference.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I got lucky that my husband has great friends. Upon my arrival, I kind of inherited his friend circle and they have been very welcoming. This obviously wasn't enough for me and I struggled for some time - I wanted friends of my own (only child over here. Have to have my own). My wonderful hostel staff and management team were amazing from the very start as well. That's why getting a job was essential and it payed off. I am old enough to know that there is no sandpit for adults (unfortunately) and with every passing year making friends is becoming more and more complex. But I also believe that one can only attract positive energy by supplying this energy oneself.
8. What custom/habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Adding mint to everything. Mint ice cream? Mint chocolate? You take a mint if you want to freshen up your breath - please remove this from my chocolate. You can take sweet potatoes with you as well. I guess these are the things that are so particular to the country - one just has to grow up here.
9. What is the myth about your adopted country?
That people are always nice and friendly. And to be fair: most of the time people are! And it is so different (in a great way) from any other country I've been to. It makes me feel absolutely amazing when people smile while passing me by. If you see someone is having a rough day - I don't think you'll get a smile. This is not something that has to be assumed about this country - we are all people and have both good and bad days.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
I believe that the cost of living is higher in the USA if you want to live a comfortable life. Most people in Ukraine do not have cars and they are not required to have a medical insurance. If you are renting an apartment - you don't even know what a renters' insurance is. It is expensive for people with conscience in the USA. But, as cliche as this might sound, it is the land of opportunities.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
My biggest advice is simple: do it. Explore a new country, new foods, meet new people, and play new sports: being an expat is one of the most magical states on the feelings' scale. It is challenging at times but totally worth it.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started wordly in July 2015. The creation of a platform where I could just talk about my experiences and help other new expats or even just make people smile - sounded like a dream. So I went for it! I write about things that I have hard time understanding about my new surroundings, things that make me feel homesick or incredibly proud of myself and my country. My most important goal is to be helpful to others. If I can convince at least one person in this world to take a leap and start his/her expat adventure - my blog dreams would be fulfilled.
Alisa's blog, Wordly
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