Interview: The life of Russians in the USA in Silicon Valley

The cradle of IT technologies, it is here that the offices of Google, Facebook, YouTube, Apple are concentrated – this is Silicon Valley in America. An ideal place for programmers. Anastasia and her husband, a programmer, moved from Russia to Silicon Valley. Anastasia shared her experience of living in this beautiful place: is life in Silicon Valley expensive, what are the salaries, how to find a job, school education and other useful and interesting information.

– Tell us about yourself.

– My name is Anastasia. I was born in Latvia, grew up in Russia, lived in Prague, now I live in Silicon Valley in California. I write books for children, articles for online magazines and run my blog on Instagram.

– Your history of moving to the USA.

— I have a very simple and fast story. My husband is a programmer, and Silicon Valley is the cradle of IT technologies. We moved because of my husband’s work.

— Was there any disappointment when you moved to America? It’s like they say: expectation is reality.

— Before that, we lived in Prague, and Prague is forever in my heart. For the first six months, I lacked architecture and people on the street, because in the USA everyone drives a car and walks only on certain streets in down towns. Therefore, just like that, it is difficult to meet people walking down the street. But Silicon Valley is a great place: there is a gorgeous climate, nature, mountains can be seen from the window, and the ocean is 30 minutes by car. It’s a different world.

– Your favorite place in Silicon Valley.

– A difficult question, probably, this is a Chinese restaurant Q-Q nudals, they make perfect q pasta, who understands what I mean. And another place is where I live.

– Tell us about Silicon Valley.

– Silicon Valley is offices, residential areas, parks. Well, to be honest, it’s a village. A beautiful village with offices: Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Apple, Facebook and a bunch of startups. It’s sunny in Silicon Valley almost all year round. There is no snow in California, there is a rainy season, for a total of about a couple of weeks: from December to February. Daytime temperature is mainly +18-20 °C. At night and in the morning it can be +4 °C. ⠀

— What do you recommend to see in Silicon Valley?

– In the valley itself, it’s hard to say. If you are interested in well-known companies, you can take excursions to the offices of Facebook, YouTube, Tesla, etc. There is much more to see in San Francisco, it takes 40 minutes to get there. California is a special state, incredibly beautiful and diverse nature: from deserts to forests and snowy mountains. This Lake Tahoe is about 3 hours from the valley, Sequoia Park is about 8 hours from the valley. But it’s worth it. This is my favorite park with giant sequoias. Death Valley is a desert with cosmic landscapes, 9 hours from the valley. Coastal towns of Santa Cruz, Monterey – 1.5 hours drive from the valley. Napa Valley is known for its wineries. Joshu Tree Park. The well-known Yosemite National Park. And that’s not all, you can list it for a long time.

— How much does living in Silicon Valley cost?

– Life is expensive. Prices in California are cosmic.

  • Prices for real estate, medicine, and education are 10 times more expensive than in Moscow. The prices for food are about the same as in Moscow.
  • Rental housing in Silicon Valley: two rooms and a kitchen + living room (unfurnished) – from $ 2800.
  • Utilities: in winter we pay $400 only for heating.
  • Mobile communication is about $ 50, unlimited calls.
  • The average check in a cafe: it all depends on the place, well, let’s say it’s OK to leave $ 60 for lunch for two, but you can also buy a burger for $ 10.
  • Food costs an average of $ 1,000 per month. This is for a family of 3-4 people.
  • For example, calling a plumber will cost you from $ 300.
  • To rent some kind of children’s center for 1.5 hours on a child’s birthday, it will cost from $ 400, and this is without food.

– Work in Silicon Valley.

– Current vacancies are everything related to IT. Salaries in Silicon Valley start at $4,000.

— How to find a job in Silicon Valley?

— The first option is by acquaintance, when someone recommends you. Or you are looking for vacancies on the Internet and offer yourself.

– Tell us about raising children in America. How is it different from the Russian one?

— I write a lot about it in my blog. What in my opinion is the most important thing is there is no aggression. They do not shout at children, it is forbidden to use physical punishment, for this they can take children and put them in prison.

– Tell us about kindergartens in America.

– Kindergarten, for example, Russian, costs $ 1600 per month. And this is kind of the norm for Silicon Valley.
As a rule, children are sent to kindergartens early, because there is no long maternity leave. There are state free children. gardens, but they are few and crowded. Accordingly, there are private kindergartens, and most of them.

– Tell us which schools are in the USA.

– Officially, school begins for children from the age of 5, this is a preparatory class — kindergaden.

There are two types of schools in the USA: public and private. Public schools in the USA are free. Private — paid. You can go to public school only at the place of residence. In private schools, it is easier to treat missed lessons, for this they do not expel as in state schools. And you can also not bother with certificates from a doctor. Our daughter goes to a fee-paying school. This is more than $ 1000 per month. By local standards, it’s inexpensive.

In the USA, there is a scoring system. Basically, schools do not write in separate notebooks, but write on ordinary pieces of paper in a ruler, regardless of the subject. This piece of paper is given up, checked and thrown out. In American schools, students are not called to the blackboard. If only with a project that you have prepared for at home. They don’t call grades in front of students here. Students’ academic performance is not discussed at parent meetings. Here it is normal practice to leave a student for the second year. This is not a disgrace, and not a stigma.

— What can you do with children in your free time in Silicon Valley?

— We have a swimming pool in the complex and we spend a lot of time there, as children love to swim, and so we go to playgrounds, there are many places for hiking around, our children can walk 8 km, and we often hike with them, you can ride with tents. Since the weather here is sunny almost all year round, we spend a lot of time outside.

– Tell us about the mentality and culture.

— We need to understand what Silicon Valley is. It’s like Moscow in Russia. A state within a state. In Silicon Valley, 70% of the population are newcomers, a lot of Chinese, Hindus. Silicon Valley is especially characterized by tolerance and acceptance of each other. Be careful in communicating with other people so as not to hurt their feelings. Respect someone else’s culture. In the valley, everyone brings their own traditions, and the task of the residents is to accept each other.

It is also worth noting that for Americans and foreigners, 30 years is still youth), when people just graduate from college, go to work, pay off their debts for their institute, walk and enjoy life. Few people start a family and even more so give birth at this age. After 35, you can think about a wedding and give birth closer to 40. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but for most.

– Your life hacks about life in Silicon Valley.

– Be friendly and welcoming. And you will be answered in the same way. Be open to the new. Respect other people’s views and culture. Be interested in another culture. Don’t be afraid to speak English, even if you know two words. Almost everyone around you is in the same situation. This is very encouraging, as the people are learning the language just like you.

— What gives you traveling?

— We travel a lot. As I wrote above, there is something to see in California. My family loves natural attractions most of all, so we rarely travel to cities. Traveling is always a close communication with the family. This is a new experience and inspiration.

– Your advice and wishes for those wishing to move to the USA for permanent residence.

  1. Be sure to count the budget. Calculate every penny.
  2. Look for a job in advance to go where you are expected.
  3. Every country, place, city has its own Internet portals of Russian emigrants, groups on Facebook, find them and communicate with people who live there. I can suggest Prague, this is Mamaguru’s website. And the USA has a lot of Facebook groups by state and city. In such groups, you can ask any questions, they will always answer and help.
  4. Moving is not a way to solve problems: family or financial. It should be understood that moving to another country is a kind of test of strength. There will be many moments when you need to stand up and be firm. Therefore, the family should support and help. And it’s better to think about finances 100 steps ahead.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and help yourself.

Instagram: @poliannaspring
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Olga Avrakh was talking

Photo by Anastasia


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