My name is Alesya and I’m a 28 year old girl from Ukraine currently living in New York City as an expat. I came to the United States over eight years ago as an exchange student under a work and travel program. The craziest thing was that I had no plans to stay in America long term but here the quote by Michael Chabon is relevant: “Man makes plans…and God laughs”.
I recently graduated from business school in NYC which has been one of my greatest achievements while living in the US. Getting this degree was a challenge for me because I was working in a restaurant at night and going to college during the day. But hey – I did it and the feeling is amazing!
I’m from central Ukraine, a city called Kremenchuk. It’s about four or five hours from Kiev. I liked my life in Ukraine – I was studying as a translator of English and German and traveling to the US was for the purpose of improving my English – however, when I got here I realized how much I was enjoying America. This pushed me to stay longer and see how I feel.
From Maryland to Miami to New York City
To be honest, the first year living in the USA was the hardest. I questioned if it was the right decision. But as time passed and with a determination not to give up, I yearned more and more for my American Dream to come true. Before moving to NYC, I lived in Ocean City (Maryland). Many students go there. Then I moved to Miami which was, frankly, not for me.
I only had one piece of luggage, so I was open to moving around. At that time, I had a friend who lived in New York and she invited me to live with her. The next thing I knew I was living in the Big Apple! I have been living in New York City as an expat for a little over seven years now. You have to stay here for at least 10 years to become a “real New Yorker”. I am almost there!
Living the Expat Dream in New York City
I have been lucky to live in good neighborhoods in New York. Brooklyn was my first, right near Prospect Park, and then I moved to Astoria in Queens. Right now, I am living on the Upper East Side close to Central Park. I’m very fortunate to be living in this area as the vibe is super chill and chic.
Being an expat in New York City is so much fun. I love walking Madison Avenue with its luxury stores, Park Avenue with its beautiful buildings and 5th Avenue near Central Park. I adore those streets. There are many great restaurants to choose from as well. NYC is a cool place to go exploring.
I love waking up early and walking in Central Park. I’m an active person so working out is part of my routine (barre classes). I work in Manhattan in a Victorian style restaurant. At the moment, I’m looking for a marketing job. This isn’t easy as competition is high but connections are key. I enjoy speakeasies like UES on the Upper East Side or Dear Irving in Gramercy.
Why New York City (and State) is Amazing
New York City is so diverse and that is the main reason why I cherish it. I have lived in the city for a long time but still there are new streets, architecture and places to see. The architecture differs depending on the neighborhood. Each area has its own unique vibe. You will never get bored in NYC – with tons of art galleries, museums and exhibitions to check out.
If I’m tired of the concrete jungle, I drive upstate where there is plenty of beautiful nature only an hour and a half away. You can go skiing, hike some epic trails or even visit the beach. My favorite beach is Long Beach which is private and charges an admission fee for entry. It’s totally worth the fee by the way. New York State is not only about skyscrapers and Manhattan.
NYC is the best place for immigrants to start as it’s a melting pot. There are many nationalities and you feel right at home. Work opportunities are plentiful as well, not to mention the convenient subway. I remember after being in Ocean City and Miami, I was so excited to come to NYC where I was able to find Ukrainian food. The same for medicine, etc.
Pros & Cons of Expat Life in New York City
The biggest challenge of being an expat in New York City is loneliness. There are so many people who are lonely and it can be tough to live in a large city without family. I’m grateful to my friends who always supported me during hard times. I think it’s important to have a good friend group here because they act like your family, when your family is far away.
Living in New York City as an expat has pushed me to do more in life. Observing this luxurious lifestyle, you want to be part of it and so you are willing to work harder to get it. I have met a lot of amazing people in this city with different cultural backgrounds which widened my outlook on life.
Tips for your Move to New York City
One of the most important things to know is that life in New York City as an expat is not easy. You have to be prepared to work extremely hard to get ahead. Before making the move over, I recommend looking for apartments well in advance as it can be quite challenging to find a decent one. They all require a good credit score and a background check, so keep that in mind.
If you are a foodie, you will love NYC. In New York, you can enjoy cuisine from all over the world. Do you feel like Chinese, Italian or French? No problem! In Ukraine, we don’t have this diversity in food. One of my recent favorites exploring the gastronomy of the city has been Korean BBQ.
Working in a restaurant is actually a good way to start, make money and meet people. This is how many immigrants to New York begin their journey and I think it’s a smart move. You can establish yourself while looking for bigger and brighter opportunities – and New York has those in abundance!