Belarus and the United States are divided by an ocean and separated by about four thousand miles. Although not every American is familiar with the location of Belarus, Belarusians know about the United States from news, movies, and conversations with other people. We asked Belarusians of different professions what they know and think of the United States of America.
A CLINIC DOCTOR FROM MINSK
“I don’t know much about the United States. From time to time, I come across some news about America, but I don’t make a particular effort to look for the information. In social media, there is often news about Trump and his wife. The first things that pop into my mind when I think of the USA are fast food, Kennedy, the Statue of Liberty, and Hollywood. I would like to visit the Grand Canyon and Savannah. I think the nature there is beautiful.
I would also be interested to know more about the lives of Americans. As far as I know, the Belarusian and American healthcare systems are very different from each other. Although we have free healthcare in Belarus, we have to pay if we want a better quality of care. In America, the quality of medical care is higher, but going to the hospital when you are sick is more expensive: people in America have to be insured and pay high premiums. Would I like to go to the States? I wouldn’t mind getting an internship there, but not a permanent job.”
ORNITHOLOGIST AND EDITOR OF WILDLIFE.BY
“I don’t find the American architecture that interesting, but I would like to see the nature – the Mojave Desert or Rocky Mountains, for example. Belarusian natural scientists collaborate more with European than American scientists. In regards to Belarusian-American relations, I know that the USA has imposed sanctions against us. We don’t believe we have enough political and cultural contacts with the Americans.
We would have days of Swedish or Korean movies, but I don’t recall any days of American movies. However, personally I like American movie directors; my personal favorites are David Lynch and Paul Anderson.
I don’t think that Americans are very interested in Belarus. I regularly watch Euronews, and this is my main source of information about America. I don’t trust many posts in social media and don’t pay much attention to them.
I believe that the level of social security provided in the United States is lower than in Belarus when comparing people from similar income groups in both countries. At the same time, the living standards are higher in America, which is why many Belarusians move there”.
DIRECTOR OF TOUR OPERATOR ECO TOURIST
“We organize very few tours to the United States as not many Belarusian tourists are interested in travelling there. Only a few firms in Belarus actively sell tours to America. Most tourists prefer beach vacations and tours to Europe, and only those who are already well-travelled go for something more exotic such as theUSA.
Many Belarusians visit friends and relatives in America and, therefore, they don’t book their trips through tour operators. Some buy tours just to get visas. Most tourists are attracted by New York and Washington DC on the east coast and Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco on the west coast. I have never been to America. I would like to go, particularly to visit Niagara Falls and see with my own eyes what I have been watching on TV for many years”.
“I’ve been to America twice. The first time I travelled on a student visa through the Work and Travel Program. The second time I went as a tourist. I love New York, which is a place where so much is always happening: there are lots of people from different cultures – a whole world squeezed into one city. In New York, different areas contrast so much with each other; for example, Brooklyn is like a separate city. When I was in Central Park, which I had seen so many times in movies, I felt like I was in a movie myself.
Although I like touring America, I would not want to live there. People work way too much: they have long working hours and short vacation time. I think the social protection is higher than in Belarus, but lower than in European countries. With my degree from Europe,
I might be able to find a job in America. Someone with a Belarusian degree might also be successful in securing employment there, but they’d have to be an exceptional candidate. The employment market in New York has its ups and downs: only bright people can get through, and competition is extremely tough. In Belarus, we lack the freedom of thought, simplicity, and creativity. Too often here red tape gets in the way even when there is an easy solution to a problem.
Americans lack the sincerity of Belarusians: they smile often but not as candidly and warmly as Belarusians”.
“From my experience, I wouldn’t say that all IT professionals in Belarus are looking for employment in the States. There are definitely quite a few people, including myself, who wouldn’t mind to try working abroad, but it’s not very important to me. Sometimes Belarusian IT professionals get employed by American companies at Belarusian locations and then move to the location of their company’s main headquarters in America. Occasionally, I have clients from New York and London.
Although we live in different countries, it’s convenient that we use the same techniques and technologies, so there isn’t that much that I can learn from my foreign partners. Here, in Belarus, IT careers are among top paid professions, while in America there are other professions with high salaries and IT professionals do not stand out as much. I would like to go to America to see New York, Las Vegas, Silicon Valley, and visit the offices Apple and Google”
By Nadya Yushkewitch