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Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: So You're Afraid Of Moving To The United States?

By Tori Preston | Pajiba Advice | October 2, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | Pajiba Advice | October 2, 2018 |

afraidofamericans (1).png

If you’re a regular reader of this site, then you’re pretty well-versed in many of our general reservations about the country much of the staff calls home: The United States of America, of “Make It Great Again” fame. Our healthcare is prohibitively expensive! Our racism is social AND institutional! Our guns are big, and in the hands of people they shouldn’t be! Our president brags about grabbing pussies, thinks an alleged attempted rapist is “exemplary,” and worries that this is a “very scary time for young men in America.” This is the home of Kanye, and 30 Second To Mars, and Ann Coulter. But I mean, we’ve also got Michelle Obama, and Chris Evans, and a DuckTales reboot, and pussy hats! IT AIN’T ALL BAD, PEOPLE.

But is there enough good in America to convince one free-healthcare loving reader to move here? That’s this week’s stumper of a question.

[Reminder: you can stump us with your quandaries anytime! Just drop us a note at [email protected] and let us tell you how to live your life!]

Dear Overlords,

My partner’s an academic. They’re considering applying for jobs offered at some Ivy League places in the US starting next June. (There are options in other countries.) My reaction to this is an automatic “nope nope nope nope.” That octopus nope gif. That.

Briefly, your country scares me. A lot. We both come from countries where health care is socialised, guns are highly regulated, there are shitloads of protections for queer people and women (both me) and abortion and contraception are easily, cheaply available. Meanwhile your president is an incompetent nut job, your checks and balances are out of whack and everything seems to be on fire.

I know no country is perfect, and a few people have said it’ll be “OK” because we’d be in an Ivy League haven and would be protected from the shitshow. But a) if we’re living in the US we’ll be out shouting on the barricades with the rest of you, b) institutional health insurance for young academics is hardly awesome, and c) I can still get knocked up or beaten up anywhere. And Ivy Leagues are not a protection from being shot up on campus by some lunatic with an Uzi.

I think moving to the US would make our lives worse and I’d be scared and fucking angry a lot of the time. Though you guys do have IHOP. That looks pretty great. Would we be OK?

Socialist Nopetopus

Dear Nopetopus,

Um, where do you live, and can I go to there? Cuz it sounds pretty great actually. And honestly, I can appreciate your hesitance. I have lived here my whole life, and it scares me and makes me fucking angry a lot of the time as well. The short answer to your question is that if you’re going to feel that way, then no — it’s probably not worth it. Don’t sacrifice your sanity.

But the long answer is that honestly, you’d probably be fine. Ivy League schools — and most prestigious universities for that matter — take the safety of their students very seriously, at least from external dangers (how they protect students from each other is a whole other issue). It’s in their interest to do so, because they want to keep all the rich parents sending in fat donations! So in addition to their own security teams, they also work closely with local law enforcement to keep the peace. Sadly, you would probably be safer there than an elementary or high school.

It’s also important to remember that the country is a big one, and the cities with Ivy League schools range from fairly-to-vehemently liberal, so you’d probably fit right in. It’s not like you’re gonna wind up in Alabama or Florida or something, and you’ll probably meet a community of global academics like yourself. And as for marching on the front lines with the rest of us? It might make you appreciate just how passionate a good chunk of our citizens can be. In fact, that’s something that still gives me a certain amount of hope for what this country is capable of. Sure, we’re deeply divided — but we’re not giving up. We’re airing our shameful dirty laundry on the world stage, and facing it. I don’t know that we’ll ever live up to our potential as being a place of freedom and equality, but a lot of us are trying, and learning, and growing. There are scary people in any country, and plenty of socialist paradises have their fair share of discrimination, but I promise there are sane, good people here fighting to combat the assholes every day. If you find the news coming out of America to be a disheartening dumpster fire, then frankly you’ll fit right in here with the rest of us. And hey — maybe by 2020 we’ll have gotten Trump out of office (though no guarantees…)!

But the healthcare concern is legit, and all I can say is that IF your partner gets an offer from an American institution, carefully look at what their health insurance coverage is and see if it’s worth it to you. One overseas Overlord mentioned getting a year’s worth of free birth control before she came here for a program, so that may help as well. Take advantage of your system as much as you can before you leave!

Another Overlord talked about her experience living abroad, and then choosing to move back to the US. And she felt that there were economic opportunities here that she didn’t encounter elsewhere, making is a high risk but potentially high reward system. “Also, the food is very good in America, because you get such a cultural melting pot, you can have almost anything. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.”

She’s right — the food can be rather good here. NOT THAT I MAKE ALL MY DECISIONS BASED ON MY STOMACH.

I don’t know what your life is like now, so I can’t say for sure whether being here would make it worse. I can say that having an Ivy on your partner’s resume might make future career opportunities easier down the line. Is that worth a few years of time spent living in the United States? Is it worth the worry and fury? Is it worth letting me sublet your flat in your home country when you move out?

Only you can decide.

But fair warning — IHOP isn’t that special.

DAVID BOWIE & TRENT REZNOR I'm Afraid of Americans from D O M & N I C on Vimeo.

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Tori Preston is deputy editor of Pajiba. She rarely tweets here but she promises she reads all the submissions for the "Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything" column at [email protected]. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba

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