HAVING COME HERE, I AM NO LONGER THERE

We would like to share what some E2 students think about New York City and how their life was before coming to the city. Let’s see if there is something new to you or something you can relate.

Jose – I was born in Huelva, Andalucía, Spain, a coastal city near Portugal. I grew up in a small fishing village called Passages San Juan, in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain. You may know it as a Pasay Donibane in Euskera, the language from the Basque Country. I grew up with my aunt, my uncle and their son, my cousin Jose Angel. What more should I say? What else can I tell you?

When I was a child, I studied in elementary school. After that, I went to Technical School. When I finished studying, I started my professional career as a milling turner when I was 18––should I tell you how long? I can just say it was a long time. I am not 21. 

I was in the USA twice before I came to New York City. Before this, I first came to Miami, La Florida, in 2004. Then (there) I visited Hialeah. I visited Coral Gables. I went to South Beach in Miami Beach. In my second travel to the United States, I met Saint Charles, Missouri where I visited the Daniel Boone Farm. Finally, in September 2018, I came to New York looking for my American dream.

I came to the US because in Spain after the 2008 economic crisis my wife and I had a complicated personal situation, and we needed some change.

After arriving in America, I had three different impressions of America, but I am going to tell you about my New Yorker experience.  That is what I am, a New Yorker. My teacher is right.

My idea about New York City was very different from what New York City really is. I waited to see a cleaner and more modern city, but no. It has some things that I think in a city like New York should not exist. It is a dirty city, and for example, the train and their stations are very old, decrepit. It does not work well for a modern city, not like everybody hopes for New York City. 

But don’t ask me why it is a city that I love more every day. It is like a brother who is always doing stupid things, but only you can say that your brother is stupid. If somebody says your brother is stupid, you always defend him. New York City is the same. It is a horrible city, but it is the best horrible city in the world, my world. 

I have lived in New York with my wife since I arrived in the city. My family and friends are all of them in Spain. I miss a lot of them, especially my father and some close friends. When I arrived in the United States, I spoke with them all day by WhatsApp, and once a week, we held a video conference by WhatsApp, Skype or Zoom. 

I have a family group in WhatsApp, and some group with some friends from different ages of my life and, we “speak” regularly, writing and recording messages and sending memes, pictures, and videos. When we need to speak about serious thoughts, we speak by video conference. Es todo. Or, like the American cartoon pig, “That’s all, folks.”

Olga – I was born in the sunny European country of Moldova, in the small town of Lipcani, which borders Romania and Ukraine. I grew up in a wonderful and happy family. My mother was a strict, but a very loving and caring women. My father is a police captain, the kindest person on earth, and my younger, beautiful, and smart sister. 

In 1990, I went to first grade and finished 11th grade in 2001, those were happy school years. After school, I went to Ukraine to the city of Chernivtsi, went to a college of electrical engineering. After college, I entered university (“Nonconventional energy sources”). After my undergraduate studies, I completed a master’s degree and successfully graduated. At the same time, I studied at the magistracy and worked at a big energy company. 

I arrived in the USA in October 2016. An army friend of my husband invited us to visit him in NY. My first impression of NY was not particularly good; too many ugly buildings, too many small apartments, too many rats; too much garbage and litter, too many very rude and disrespectful people. I was shocked.

On the first day I went to the ocean, to the sun, sand and waves––it was wonderful! New York autumn is amazing! When I visited Manhattan, everything changed, really the heart of New York! I love sunsets and sunrises in this city. I love the noise of the city.

I have been in neighboring states, and I liked most things very much. I have seen many beautiful things and places. I like people who do what they want to do, no matter how they dress, live, relax, work. But there is something that I cannot and do not want to understand, especially on trains, when girls, pregnant women, parents with small children, either looking at the phone, or listening to something, and pretend not to notice other people. Many people in New York City are very rude, very loud, very toxic. No excuses––no. 

I live in Brooklyn with my husband. Some of my acquaintances and friends with whom I grew up are in America, but in other states. Of course we call up each other or correspond with one another in other ways. My best school friends are also abroad. Life has scattered us all around the world. It is difficult to be without relatives, your children, and parents. But I always hope for the best, and God willing, we will all be reunited.

Every day, several times a day, we talk on the phone, video chat . . . still this is not enough. I really want to hug my children, warm them with my body, inhale their scent, and hear their sonorous laughter every minute. Talking about this has made me sad.

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