Twice a year, Russian native Julia Kazantsev travels back to her home country. She visits her family and catches up with friends. However, she is always grateful to return home to the United States. Julia and her husband moved to the states when she was 26-years-old for her husband’s medical career. They are living what many might call the American dream.
This, however, was not always the case. When asked about their experience leaving Russia, Julia said she was excited and looking forward to new opportunities. Her husband, who was already considered a medical professional in Russia, would have to go through nine more years of American education.
“We were living on the poverty line,” Julia said. “My friends told me to get food stamps, but I didn’t want that.”
Julia was not convinced that, that was the way she wanted to live. Despite the fact that she was raising her daughter and living in a foreign place, she got a job which paid $7 an hour. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to get by.
“If you want to do something, and you apply yourself, you can achieve that goal,” she said. “In Russia, you must have connections.”
After the long nine years, the Kanzantsev’s were well on their way. Julia is very grateful for her life. She is humbled by the hard work it took to get there.
She does admit that she misses her family and friends. Come to find out they might not be as different from Americans as we think.
“[Russia] used to be kind of scary,” Julia said when asked about the country’s biggest misconception. “Believe it or not, we are so similar to Americans. People are so mixed there, and so many people are mixed here. I am 50 percent Armenian.”
From there, she explained that Russia is rich in history. One thing she wished people knew about the country is how friendly the people are. According to her, more and more people are learning English. As in most countries, however, it is always encouraged to learn a few of the native words.
The United States is truly her home now. She knows how to appreciate the little things, like public education and asking a neighbor for a cup of sugar. This country has given her and her family to try new things they never thought possible, to dream big, and to not fear failure.
“I always knew of the world outside of Russia because of my dad. My dad would tell me stories. I personally knew more than than anyone else around me. I was so excited about everything! Whether it was difficult or simple, I was excited. I was lucky! That’s why we push our kids to travel.”