You know that, besides tips about New York, I really like to share with you the truths about living abroad. I wrote several posts about this subject – and videos – and is something that always inspires me. We always have this idea that living abroad is always better and I think when it comes to New York this idea is even more romanticized. I am living here for three years now – and for the time being, we have no plans to return to Brazil. Yes, I am very happy living here – and no, that does not mean that my life is perfect and I don’t have problems. Living abroad solves, yes, some problems, but does not zero this equation. The problems are different. Today, I decided to talk about 7 very important things about living abroad, which have a lot to do with lifestyle and the process of adaptation here. These facts are based on my experience and may not apply to all people. But, anyway, I found it worth sharing ….
1. Language will always be a barrier – no matter how many English classes I take – my first language will always be Portuguese. And here I am not even talking about accent, which will always shows that I am a foreigner – in a city like New York, this is not a problem at all. I am talking about vocabulary. I consider myself fluent, but unfortunately, we are not prepared 100% for all the situations that life presents you. At the moment, I am doing a medical treatment and every time I have an appointment, my English is put to the test. There are words I do not understand – and what I am learning – are words that I must find to express myself. I confess: it’s frustrating. Especially when the doctor does not understand what you mean. And it does not matter if I ever become an American citizen – I’ll always be Brazilian. And I’m not saying that I feel smaller because of that, on the contrary, I’m very proud of my origins.
2. You need to reinvent yourself and start from scratch – I have many friends who came to live here for the same reason I did – the husband was hired or transferred here. We all had careers in Brazil: lawyer, journalist, chemical engineer, pharmaceutical. Contrary to what many people think, the job market here is fierce. Have you thought how many people are here trying to achieve their dreams? How many people, from every corner of the world, are here trying to be successful? And have you thought that it is not always just to get there and start your career? Professions such as lawyers and others in the health field require more training and testing so that you fit the job requirements here. Often, it is necessary to start from scratch. I know people who are working in completely different areas, others who have been studying and working for some time to fill the requirements. And did you know that not all work visa categories automatically give work permit to the spouse? Yes, the work visa, the most desired by 90% of the people, does not give work authorization to the spouse. Do not ask me why, this is the question that should pop into the heads of all women (yes, the vast majority of H1B visas are issued for men) who are here and are unable to work. For those who have career plans and ambition, it is very frustrating. That’s what we’re talking about formal jobs. You can not ignore the fact that there are thousands of people who come to the US to try. People who had “nice” jobs in their country of origin and come here to work as a waiter, cleaning or taking care of children. Nothing less dignified, because no job makes you better than the other, right? But you: Would you do any type of work?
3. Loss of identity – this has a lot to do with the previous topic. In your country, you had your career, your profession, your identity. I was Laura, from Meleiro, who studied at Unisul, daughter of Donato and Meri, who worked with social media, who had a blog about fashion and beauty. Here, your references are no longer good for anything. It is as if you have zeroled your life and needed to rebuild your identity. Now, I am Laura, Brazilian, who has lived here since 2014, a blogger who writes about New York, an app founder, married. Obviously that’s not all that sums up who I am, but a lot has changed. Everything I’ve lived until moving to New York has contributed a lot to the person I’ve become, but they are internal references. No one knows my city – in fact, few people know more than Rio or Sao Paulo when it comes to Brazil. My resume, which was interesting to the city where I lived, is not as good for a place like New York. Although I am living here – legally, in case anyone is wondering – I am not free to do what I want, because the immigration limits quite what a person can do here in bureaucratic terms.
4. Change your patterns – for everything, even for food. You have to keep up with the news, know what’s happening in the place where you live. Also keep in mind that habits are other. Speaking of New York, do not forget that space is a luxury item and the apartments are small, that having a car is not viable, that winter is very cold (and lasts for months), that you will need to do your laundry… And maybe you will not find that fruit from your country in the supermarket, but you will find strawberries and raspberry for a cheaper price. That you may not find that product that you love, but here are thousands of other things that do not exist in your country. Cut the umbilical cord. “Ah, but in my country it was not like that.” Exactly, but, remember: you’re no longer in your country. Deconstructing concepts and adapting to the new routine is much easier than struggling with things you will not be able to change.
5. Living the culture – last Sunday was Easter, and days before, when I said goodbye to someone I would not see until the following week, the person wished me a Happy Easter. I thanked and did the same, but then I was thinking about how life in New York changed my mind about some holidays Christmas is still special to me, but Easter always goes blank. I confess it was never my favorite date and maybe that’s why we never did anything special. On the other hand, we get excited for Halloween and make plans for Thanksgiving. I think it very good to incorporate new celebrations into our lives, it makes us feel more “included” in the place where we live.
6. The truth about “everything is cheap” – Brazilians are very excited to shop in New York because the prices of many products tend to be cheaper when compared to Brazil. But living here is not like Becky Bloom and Carrie Bradshaw lives. Speaking specifically about the Big Apple – and I always hit that key – it’s good to remember that life here is very expensive. Yes, it is cheap to buy clothes, makeup and electronics, but rent, grocery and health insurance are not cheap at all. Services, then, do not even talk. Forget maid and beauty salon every week – this has never been a problem for me, because I have never had this standard of living in Brazil, but I know it is a reality for many people. Not everyone can live alone – in a charming place in the West Village – no one has a view of the Empire State, you can not go out for a drink every day. In fact, you can not even be a crazy consumer, because it is very likely that you do not have enough space to store everything you buy.
I hope you enjoyed the post! Living abroad is a great, an enriching experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect…
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.