From Russia With Love This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I was born in Omsk, Russia, and moved to America when I was eight. I have had to deal with a lot of cultural differences between the countries.

One of the most challenging obstacles to overcome was language. English is a mandatory course in Russia from a young age. I had a private English tutor before I moved, but I only learned simple things like “Hello, how are you? I am good, thank you,” or “My name is Vlad. What is yours? I am glad to meet you.” These phrases didn’t help me much.

Another challenge was making friends. I left many friends and family in Russia and was not accustomed to Americans and their habits and ideas. For the first few months it was hard to get along with people – and the language barrier didn’t help.

Another big difference between the countries was food. In Russia, milk lasts about three days in the fridge; here it’s good for up to three weeks! Bread was also very different: back home it is sold at bakeries or supermarkets and is delicious, nutritious, and dense. Here, on the other hand, bread is mostly weak, light, and not fresh. In America, calamari is a delicacy in restaurants, but in Russia it is sold in kiosks on every street. However, it isn’t fried or sautéed; it’s dried.

I have visited Russia twice since we moved, and the older I get, the more differences I find. In my experience, kids in America are very uptight, hard to understand, and difficult to befriend if you haven’t known them your whole life. In Russia if you greet a random kid at a skate park and shake his hand, then you have just made a good acquaintance. Often, kids will come up and introduce ­themselves. Overall kids are friendlier in Russia, but I have found that the adults act like it’s a dog-eat-dog world. They are nasty and when pushed, they’ll push back twice as hard. In the U.S., adults are kind and sweet and treat young people with respect.

Despite the many differences between these two countries, there are some similarities. Music is a universal language; rap, rock, and jazz have become extremely big in Russia. Clothing brands such as Puma, Nike, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, and Adidas are worn everywhere and by everyone. Skateboarding is a popular hobby. American food brands such as Lays, Pringles, Sprite, Coca-Cola, and many others are sold all over. Basically, there’s a lot of American influence in Russia.

I miss my family back in Russia. I rarely see them. Only my grandmother and my aunt have visited. Hopefully my grandmother will be allowed to live with us in New York. The paperwork is almost complete and we will find out very soon.

I love America; I’ve become accustomed to its ways and can call myself a true American. I’m proud to be a­ legal citizen of the greatest country on earth. I have seen many cities, been to many states, and lived in two countries. That’s a lot more than many kids my age can say. Truly, I’d rather live here than in Russia. America is my home now.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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RussianPoetess said...
Feb. 21, 2011 at 12:03 am

sounds like my life story ;)

i was born in ukraine & came to l.a. at age 6, speak fluent in russian.

 
audeospero/idare2hope/ said...
Apr. 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm
i lived in Russia until I was two. Do you speak Russki? 
 
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