Posted: June 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm
By Danielle McNally, Rachel Charlip and Jimmy Schmedicker
Belarus native Alexey Sudilovski came to America to see the world, and to explore new opportunities. However, his promising journey was full of unexpected difficulties.
In 2008, Sudilovski signed an eight-month contract with Carnival Cruise lines to work as an assistant waiter on a ship that sailed around the United States. After three months of hard labor, Sudilovski made a plan to get out of the contract.
“I just really wanted to get off the ship because it was kind of prison for me,” said Sudilovski.
Sudilovski told his mother to write a letter to the company saying there was an emergency at home. The cruise line bought him a ticket to fly to Belarus, and released him at a port in New Orleans.
The then 20 year-old immigrant’s visa only allowed him to travel on seas in America, not to fly to other states. However, after arriving at the airport, Sudilovski traded in his ticket to Belarus for a ticket to Wyoming to see his sister.
“I was kind of afraid,” Sudilovski said. “But there was no turning back, and I just did it.”
Sudilovski’s sister worked in Wyoming as an engineer after graduating from Denver University. She had already been in America for nine years, and her success influenced Sudilovski’s decision to come to America.
According to the 2010 American Community Survey more than 4.8 million European immigrants reside in the United States, which makes up 12% of the country’s 40 million immigrants. Among European immigrants, 44% were born in Eastern Europe.
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Belarusian described how much he loved his life in Belarus, where he attended a University, had friends, and parents who provided his housing and living expenses.
“I was all by myself here,” said Sudilovski. “Nobody gave me money, I had to take care of myself.”
Although his parents pushed him to try out America to gain some life experience, he questions the judgment he had as a young man.
“Sometimes I just don’t known why I came here,” said Sudilovski.
His overwhelming thirst for experiences and adventures brought him on his long and difficult journey to finding success in the U.S.
“I gained a lot over here,” Sudilovski said. “Its a big life experience.”
He explained that life is different in Belarus, and that people have different mentalities.
“I started as an immigrant, with no papers,” said Sudilovski. “I started as an illegal alien.”
Sudilovski and his friend experienced many hardships in New York and Atlantic City.
He explained how hard it is to find a job under the table, as an illegal immigrant. He was broke, depressed, and at the end of his road.
“We were going on three days looking for food, money, and jobs,” said Sudilovski. “But we made it.”
Sudilovski described that depression was attacking him, making him feel lonely, stressed, and pushing him down.
“You just need to fight it,” said Sudilovski. “To get over it.”
Today Sudilovski has a green card, and plans on attending West Virginia University in the fall.
The student decided on WVU after his friend from Boston, Denis suggested he come there to study. It was also a cheaper alternative to more expensive schools in Boston and New York.
Sudilovski said he wanted to leave when first arriving in Morgantown. “I was here all by myself,” said Sudilovski. “I needed to start all over again.” He described feeling lonely, and said it was tough the first couple of days.
However now he is adjusting to the Morgantown atmosphere, and described it as another step in his journey. “I came here to study,” said Sudilovski. “That is my main goal.”
He explained that his experiences in New York prepared him to find and keep a job in a city like Morgantown.
“Its hard to fulfill the American dream,” Sudilovski said.
Overall Sudilovski said that although he misses his friends and family in Belarus, his life has changed in a good way since coming to America, and he has no regrets.
“I grew up,” said Sudilovski.