Moving away from her mother, brothers and home in Uzbekistan at 18 to come study in the United States was a tough decision for Kira, but one she does not regret. Now close to a decade later, she shares with us how she is able to juggle a full time job as a web analytics manager and a masters at Columbia University while expecting her first baby. Comfortable with life as a foreigner in the melting pot known as NYC, Kira also tells us why she really loves having a big belly and how little things like people giving up their seat on the subway go quite a long way.
Places you have lived in: Uzbekistan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and now I am back in New York.
Places you would like to live? San Francisco
What do you do? Working with numbers as an analytics manager for an online ad network
It seems like women in NYC are always doing a million different things, what are you currently juggling and what has been hard to maintain lately?
Well, I’ve been working and taking classes to finish my masters degree for the last 2 years. I consider that juggling, because you need to give up most of the weekend time and two nights a week after work. Also, my husband was preparing for NYC marathon last year so I needed to make sure I give him some love by running with him a couple of times a week.
Last semester was specifically hard because I am pregnant with our first child (only 5 weeks to go) and wanted to maintain a moderate, as opposed to strenuous lifestyle. The resolution put school on hold to free up some time on the weekend. Now I only work, but it still feels like juggling at this point. I am also trying to stay healthy and physically active during my pregnancy; I would probably be dragging myself like an old lady by this point if I didn’t exercise.
Would you agree that you work in a male dominated field? How does this affect the way you act and are perceived at work?
Yes, statistics and math are male dominated fields, but once people see that you actually know what you’re doing, gender does not make that much of a difference. I actually find funny the fact that sometimes people judge you based on your gender. When my husband and I were signing our mortgage, the lawyer proposed I help by making paper piles. I didn’t argue [smiles].
How difficult was it for you to come to the US and achieve what you have? How hard was it for you to leave your family, friends and home and come to a new place?
Giving up everything was somewhat hard. The hardest was to leave my mom and my brothers. I was 18 when I immigrated here to live with my dad and he had no idea what to do with me. All I knew was that I had to learn English if I ever wanted to be anything in this country. In the beginning, all things were new and I was happy to be free and far from my mom’s radar. We weren’t such big friends at that time – I wanted to be more independent and she wanted me to remain her little daughter. That, perhaps, made it easier for me to start a life on my own here. Now, as I get older I realize that being friends with mom is one of the important things, because very often moms think and act very similarly to the way we do, even if we don’t always realize it and they sure have more experience. If you need good advice on some private, serious matter, ask your mom as if the issue was someone else’s; the advice will be good and unbiased because someone else is involved.
What are some of most daring or exciting things you have done since moving to NYC?
I don’t think I’ve done anything super daring or exciting… or actually, yes – the most exciting thing I did was when I got a job as a model for a night gown exhibition booth during Fashion Show Week in the Javits Center 3 months after I came to America. It was 5 days of fun – they paid $100/ day cash. At the time it was a lot of money for me. To get the job, dresses had to fit and yay! they did. All I had to do was to change outfits with lightning speed and try on as many dresses as possible before customers leave the booth. The more they see, like, and order, the more money the exhibitor makes. I was trying so hard that I was invited to model for the same designer the following year.
Do you feel that people treat you differently because you have an accent?
Are you saying I have an accent? [Laughs] Well, I won’t know how it is to be treated ‘differently’. I didn’t have many negative experiences in New York. The biggest eye opener was when an Asian guy in a grocery couldn’t understand me not because of my accent, but because he clearly didn’t know what the word I said meant.
Anyways, I am not a big talker and it has nothing to do with the language I am using. I have the same trouble giving speeches in Russian as in English. Obviously, I know a lot more idioms and my conversation style is different when I speak in Russian, but other than that I just deal with it. I am a foreigner in this country, even with a US passport and so are millions of other people and that’s totally OK with me. I would also add here that NY is international by definition.