Petite Adventures is a space for me to share my life abroad – whether that’s navigating the expat life in Madrid or Leeds or exploring and experiencing a different place while travelling.
Every so often I like to hand the mic over to someone else who’s chosen a life abroad, to share their perspective, their experiences, their likes and dislikes of living in a different land. Today, I’m passing the mic over to Rano Salieva, a Russian currently calling New York home.
Tell me about yourself.
I was born in a small village in a traditionally nomadic country Uzbekistan. When the Soviet Union fell, my parents moved to Russia and from that moment we’ve been calling Moscow home. Like the majority of creative millennials I tried multiple jobs in the past, however, there are three professional fields that I am passionate about -brand storytelling, travel writing and photography. I am bilingual and I have two personalities: when I speak Russian I become more observant and creative, when I switch to English – I am more analytical and action-driven. Thus life is an endless self-discovery journey and a struggle to make peace between an artist and a businesswoman.
Tell me about your living abroad experience(s).
I moved to New York in 2012 in pursuit of a more professional experience. After two years in the best city on Earth, I realised it was not all that special and that happiness can be found within. Yet it was a transformational experience that taught me invaluable lessons on love, friendship, empathy, business building and life goals.
What attracted you to the idea of living abroad?
I think it was the idea of living in a limbo state. When you move abroad you leave your culture and community behind and it takes a while before you adapt to local culture. As a result, there is less social pressure, family expectations are all forgotten and the feeling of novelty is overwhelming. It creates a certain state of mind that praises risk taking, creativity, exploration and can do approach. Also, they say – if you can’t change yourself, change your environment. Even though I did not realise it at the time, I was subconsciously looking for ways to break out of the career path that I was stuck in, try new things, take some time off and figure myself out. Moving to a different place gives you a fresh perspective on who you are and where your life is heading to.
Why did you decide on that city/country?
Having been born in an Asian country and living in between East and West in Russia it was important for me to experience the Western World and the USA was as western as it could get. Plus I was drawn to New York’s reputation of the city of big dreams.
What is the best part of living there?
Diversity and people. New York is not a city, it is a universe that caters to wide range of people and subcultures. There are no two neighbourhoods alike and whether you are an artist, a businessman or a corporate professional you can always find like-minded people and a place that will feel just like home.
What is one thing you’d change?
Achievement culture. I don’t think I can change it but sometimes I wish New York people were less achievement driven. Everyone is trying so hard to do something grand and stand out from the crowd. It promotes unhealthy competition and judgmental attitude towards those who are not interested in climbing social ladders.
Best food and where can we find it?
There are too many places!! So I’ll just go with the neighbourhoods. Astoria for amazing Greek and Brazilian joints, Flushing for all things Asian and, of course, Williamsburg for coffee.
What do you wish you’d known before you moved abroad?
Weather in New York is no better than in Moscow. We tend to think that our weather is awful, but during many years of struggle, Russians developed amazing ways to cope with our weather drawbacks: our heating system is one of the best in the world and energy is extremely cheap. I had to stoke up on additional blankets and an extra heater in order to survive New York winters.
Is there anything you miss from home?
I am not going to be too original here by saying that I really missed my family and friends. At the end of the day, after all the crazy adventures, we need the comfort of our own homes in order to process the experiences. New York is an extremely individualistic and lonely city, and quiet dinners with family and their immense support and love were things that I missed most.
What is the one piece of advice you’d share with someone interested in moving/living abroad?
People think that moving abroad will make them happy. But a lot of the times it is the freedom of choice that we crave, not a particular place or city. We want to be able to point a place on the map, go there whenever we feel like it and stay there however long we want. A place can only make us happy for a short period of time while it still feels fresh and foreign. But after a while, even the most amazing city becomes familiar enough to stop noticing its beauty and we start dreaming of escape again.
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