Moving to th̶e̶ ̶U̶S̶ ̶New York

Posted by Wxcafé on Mon 04 February 2019

So, uh, yeah. Even though it might not have been evident if you extrapolated my sleep cycle from my twitter activity, I’ve always lived in France, I was born there and I grew up there. About a month and a half ago I took the plane to get to my next place of living: NYC.

Why the fuck move to the US?

So that’s the obvious question. Why, why, would anyone move from a civilized country, with healthcare and free university and all the amenities that society has given us and that allows us to leave less people dying in the streets and more people living happily (don’t worry though, the liberal government in France is well on the way of tearing apart those social protections like most of the rest of Europe). Why leave friends, family, and familiarity to go live in a quasi-fascist country, where the two political parties are slightly different brands of the same right-wing soup and where history starts 250 years ago (because the colonizers massacred most of those that actually had a history there)?

Well, uh, that’s a good fucking question. It’s one I’m not actually sure I’ve got a satisfactory answer to, actually. There are, however, a few points that made me want to move to the US:

  • New York. That city is… Different. I wouldn’t know how to put it, but in the few months that I’ve spent there over the years, I always wanted to live here. The atmosphere there is special, and it feels magical to me. I feel at home there.
  • Opportunity. I know this is a cliché. I know. Still, it seems like the US is where things happen, and where tech in particular is.
  • Being where things are. I don’t know if I can express this clearly, but living in France and yet having so many friends in the US, it seemed to me like I was excluded from the world. I’m not saying the world outside of the US doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. I’m saying, at least to me, it feels like there’s always where you live and the US. Most people don’t keep tabs on Spanish or Finnish politics, at least not closely. But most everyone (at least in Europe) keeps a close eye on US politics, because obviously it influences and impacts every other country. I think living like that would be fine, and I wouldn’t pay it any mind, if I didn’t know people in the US closely. But I do, and it felt awful to me.
  • I’m fucking dumb. Or rather, I was fucking dumb (I might still be, but that’s not proven definitively. That I was is proven, on the other hand) when I made that decision. In my defense, though, I was 15 and completely oblivious to everything that made the US awful. I only saw the few points I listed before, and I thought that this sounded great! Why not move to this place!

… I’ve matured a little bit since then. - Privilege. This is obvious. I’m a cis white guy who works in tech. Yes, I’m queer, but it’s not apparent. Yes, I have convictions, but once again it’s not apparent. I don’t face any kind of discrimination, never did, and most likely never will. All the “no healthcare, free university, …” points are moot in my case. I’ve already graduated, and even if I wanted to do get a postgraduate degree I just could, because I work in tech, and in that industry salaries are incredibly high compared to the actual work done (and even more so compared to the benefit to society provided…). Point here being, I don’t actually have to worry too much for my safety. Of course, I have convictions, so I will be (and am) fighting the authoritative regime that’s in place, but still: I have the possibility to ignore it.

Okay, that wasn’t very convincing, but alright. But how the fuck did you move there?

So, yeah. That’s why. Now, what about how? Becoming a US citizen is a painful and complicated process, that is also usually pretty expensive. It generally involves getting a work visa to the US, then a green card (or “permanent resident card”), which allows one to become a legal permanent resident of the US. Then, after five years, one can ask to begin the naturalization process, which after a test of English and of general knowledge of US politics and history, allows you to get in a room, declare your allegiance to the flag, and sing The Star Spangled Banner, after which you’re a US citizen.

I’m currently at the “has a green card” step, and I got there by… having a father who’s a US citizen. I already talked about how I’m privileged in the previous part, but uh. Yeah. Obviously, immigration for me isn’t the same as immigration for a lot of people, and all the immigration workers have been generally well-meaning and helpful, which is far from the norm in US immigration services.

So, yeah, that’s how I moved. Took a place mid-December, stayed with family for a few weeks until I found a place, then moved, and now I live in my apartment in central Brooklyn.

Alright, and what are you gonna do now?

Well… pretty much the same as before. I’m still working at Gandi, only I’m working remote now. A few of the orgs I was volunteering with in France, I can still help from here, or when I go back there from time to time, but there is also plenty to do here, so I’m starting to organize with local orgs (like DSA, for example), and I’m trying to help where I can. And of course I’m still going to write stuff on here, maybe a bit more regularly now that moving from a continent to another is mostly done. Mastodon is still up, twitter is mostly still up, and I’m still fiddling with computers! Only, now I’m doing it in the US, and we can get a drink sometime if you live there too.