Being Ukrainian in Ukraine is hard,
but being Ukrainian in America is much harder.
Statistic says that there are over 900,000 ukrainian americans in the United States. They reside all over the country: New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit.
There are lots of famous Ukrainians here too such as Milla Jovovich, Mila Kunis, known for her Ukrainian roots Paula Dobriansky and a hundred more, of whom you have already heard a lot. Yes, we have people to be proud of.
But honestly saying the real Ukrainians here live not the life their native brothers way back at home think. They move to another country where they have to start everything all over again. Their first years they live in bad apartments, doing odd jobs because they don’t know the language, don’t have american college education, which leads to lack of job opportunities for them.
They start their own small businesses (restaurants, stores, small construction groups) because they are not able to compete with the americans, but still have to provide a proper life for themselves.
For your information, to rent the reasonable apartment in the safe neighborhood you have to pay starting 1,000$ and more a month. And even if you have that money you will still have to prove that you have a good job where you are supposed to earn 50,000-100,000$ per year (regular Ukrainian immigrant gets around 35,000), show all your bank account balances, provide information about your family size (because the landlord has the right to reject your application if he thinks two people are too much to live in one bedroom apartment) and after all you still don’t have a chance of getting it if there is an american next to you with a more stable way of life.
The other thing is that we Ukrainians have its own definition. It’s either “Russians” or “Eastern Europeans”, sometimes “people from the former Soviet Union”, almost never “Ukrainians”. Maybe once out of ten times I was called with my real nationality.
Americans know who is Shevchenko or Klychko, though they have no idea where is Ukraine.
Being put in such condition doesn’t make any Ukrainian feel lower in rank. It’s opposite. They try harder. Almost all Ukrainian Americans have 2-3 jobs, which take most of their time, but somehow they manage to learn English (you know that after getting to a certain age it’s quite hard), to get into the college and finally get the job, which they dreamed of. And there is no difference at what age you immigrated. It’s just one path for young and old.
The first Ukrainian immigrated to U. S. in 1608. Since that time Ukrainians created their small community in a big country, learned how to help each other because everyone went through first rough years. There are many organizations that help our people to adapt to a new life (St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Ukrainian American Youth organization).
But after a few years of living different life eventually you start to forget what the life back in Ukraine is. You act different, look different, think different. And only your heart, hearing the sounds of folk native music, will jump inside, while you pass the music store reminding you who we really are UKRAINIAN americans.