What does US Customs want?

My son and I went to Russia for the summer and just recently came back

… Anticipating nostalgia already, I left behind St. Petersburg’s white nights, hasty packing, taxi to Pulkovo, a familiar for me thought, “It seems we are late for the plane,” transfer in Paris, movies on the plane where you almost can’t hear anything … airplane food in dense foil, customs declaration stating that I do not bring to America  drugs, a lot of money, or bacteria …

So, we landed at the new Atlanta International Terminal, and after we passed the border, on the way to the exit door I approached a customs officer with a naive question “to whom shall I give the customs declaration”. The officer, without any hesitation called me out of the crowd for “Nothing to Declare”, gave a special voucher and sent me (with two huge suitcases and a child) back to the customs clearance. I was cursing at myself for my stupidity and extra questions having such an obvious Russian accent… So, we came to the customs and an officer, a big, serious, guy with squared shoulders, looked at me straight in the eyes and accusingly asked if I had brought any food from Russia.  I certainly had. In my suitcase were smoked fish in a vacuum packet, which my husband loves so much, and caviar; Bordeaux and pate from the Paris Duty Free.  I felt very reluctant to give it all to customs; however I didn’t want any problems.  I stood and thought about the best way to handle the situation with a minimum loss. The officer patiently repeated his question whether I am bringing any food from Russia. «What do you mean? “, I asked, buying time by playing stupid as though I did not realize what Americans consider to be a food (and secretly hoping that fish and caviar is not)  «I have wine and pate from France Duty Free»-I finally squeezed the answer out of myself. Continue reading

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Every end is a new beginning

Each day thousands of people move to the United States.  They move to stay.  They move to change their lives, habits, language, friends and culture. No matter where you come from – an exciting, flamboyant city, a cozy town or little village on the edge of the earth, from better or worse – and no matter what your intentions are, your life will be changed forever and you’ll never get it back.

Who are they, American immigrants?  Continue reading

This Blog is About

People meet, fall in love and marry.  Of course, it’s not that simple, but if we pretend that life is a movie, that we keep the remote in our hands and can forward from the beginning, it looks like that.  As teenagers we hoped to meet a friend, a soul mate and a great love (of course).  We could dream about how that person would look, what kind of personality he/she would have, probably even about his profession.  But usually we do not have a thought of the nationality of our future spouse. It all comes later.  It all comes after you meet, fall in love and say “I Do” with an accent.

To marry a foreigner can be very exciting and interesting. You always find something new with which to be surprised or irritated.  Every day, day after day… How to deal with and enjoy different languages; culture; attitude to family, friends; different points of view on raising kids, planning vacations; cooking; sad and funny misunderstandings; communication with in-laws ?

This blog is for anyone who dated or married a foreigner, who lives in a foreign country with an accent, raises bilingual kids, trying to adjust and understand.

I am a Russian who married an American man.  We met at a Halloween party in the US 12 years ago, and after two years got married in San Francisco. We later moved to Russia and lived there for almost eight years. We worked, rented a tiny apartment in Moscow and raised our two kids (my daughter from first marriage and a son).  After almost 8 years, my husband got tired of Moscow, and he asked me and the kids to move back to America. He simply got tired of being a foreigner.  He wanted to have a normal job, speak his language, be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family and he wanted to exchange our extremely small apartment in Moscow for a two-story house. And he especially wanted to forget all about Moscow’s long, cold winters.  Well, I knew he had a right to wish all of this.  He was patient enough all these years and it came my turn to pay him back. My husband and I and our two kids, moved from huge and exciting Moscow to the quiet and sunny suburbs of Atlanta. It became my turn to be a foreigner.  What to do? In an international marriage one of the two will live abroad.

Here, in this blog, I share about my first and second year immigrant experiences, pitfalls and plateaus of cultural shock, and my hopes. I still try to find my way through Southern living with no driving skills and a strong attachment to my homeland.  Since childhood I liked to write essays and poetry but only in Russian.  When we moved to the US, along with homesickness, I got some free time to do what I always wanted to do.  I joined the Atlanta Writers Club and trying to write in English, but still with a Russian accent.

I never had a blog before. I apologize in advance for any possible mistakes I make in my writing.  It is not due to carelessness or absence of respect, it is simply because I learned English quite late in life, and, probably, I will always speak, write and live with an accent.

Thank you for reading,                                                                       

Yulia