Jessica: Hello friends! I'm here with Avanti's very own Anastasia today. If you've ever been in the studio since last October, you've most likely been greeted by her smiling face. I am so excited to talk to you today about piercing, about life and about adventure, really. So first, before we really dive into any of my many questions, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Anastasia: Alright. Hey, Jess! I'm Anastasia. I moved to the US from Ukraine about five years ago and I've been living in Portland almost a year now and I've been a part of Avanti family for a little over half a year now, I think.
Anastasia: Yup. All right. Sorry. I'm a little awkward.
Jessica: No, you're fine. No, you're totally fine. Yeah, it has been almost half a year. It's crazy how fast time flies.
Anastasia: I know. I always felt like that new person over there but then all of a sudden, I just got that sweet notification from Homebase said, "Yey, you've been working here for that many months." And I'm like, "Already? What? Wow!"
Jessica: My year comes up in July and I'm like, that's been what like three months and that's insane.
Anastasia: Yeah, no, definitely.
Jessica: So obviously, you're no stranger to adventure. You moved here from Ukraine. You actually moved to California right from the Ukraine?
Jessica: What was that like for you? Because that's a huge change to go from one country to another country and then from one state to the other, so could you tell me a little bit about what that was like, Was it scary? it? Was it exciting? Was it a little bit of both?
Anastasia talks about the emotions behind leaving Ukraine
Anastasia: It was definitely both. Scary probably was the winner at first because it wasn't a well planned move, so it was kind of a little random things so it was happening really fast and there was no time to actually sit down and analyze everything that's been happening, so it was definitely scary. I moved to the US. I didn't turn 18 yet, so I just moved here and then I turned 18 so it was like a lot and I didn't speak English so that was definitely a challenge because I thought I did but then, I was learning the different English and I knew the words but I couldn't really talk and also it's just the emotional barrier when you move here and then you talk to the native speakers, you're just like, Oh, I'm gonna, I don't want to sound stupid. So you're just like afraid to say anything basically so for good. I want to say half a year out, all I could do is nod yes and no and that was pretty much my conversation with people so that was definitely the hardest part about moving. And then I went to college and I was I started taking the English as a second language classes and slowly it started getting easier once I started like living by myself and then going to college, I got a job and everything so I was slowly getting it and it was definitely exciting because I learned how to be independent, definitely after I moved and that was also a challenge and I don't think that would have happened the same way by state back in Ukraine because it was really quick, all of a sudden, here I am in college, all of a sudden, here I am renting a room with another person, and then all of a sudden, I have a job and I have to speak English at my job and I'm like, Oh, my God, this is happening and then, it's just all of those things, learning how to manage your finance, all of that and all of those adult things started happening to me. So that was definitely it was both - it was scary because I don't think I was ready to grow up yet but at the same time, it was definitely exciting because I was like, Oh my god, I'm an adult now.
Anastasia: We moved to Oregon, Portland almost a year ago. That was definitely also a challenge because when I lived in LA, it sort of started turning into routine. My everyday life was kind of like same. I was going to work, and then I was going to school, and then that was pretty much it and it was kind of hard to, when you're getting used to the circumstances you're in, you're just like, okay, whether I like it or not, I'm just gonna stay here because it's comfortable. It's my comfort zone right here but then it was a time for a change and it was a very, very random and a quick decision to move to a different state and we didn't really have much time to get ready so it was all very chaotic, very chaotic and we've been in Portland only for three days and that was all we knew about Portland. Literally, we just took a trip here for three days, just to see the city and just to kind of get the feeling of it and whether or not we want to move and we always wanted to see it just because we've heard it was beautiful. In the first day I remember we came here, we came on from the airport, and I was like, I love it. I want to be here. It's definitely what I wanted, because the city definitely is more like my hometown and it reminds me a lot of Ukraine and where I grew up, it's also same kind of thing. It's also very green and a lot of hills and especially when I went to Downtown Portland, I was almost crying because that just looks so similar like I can and yeah, after those three days, we were like, okay, we want to move here. It was just like kind of like a thing where you come over and then you feel like you belong here. I don't know whether or not it was true, but it was definitely that feeling that we were like, okay, yes, that's the place we want to be in and in three months, since then, we just packed everything and we're like, we're going. That was a challenge because we had no one in here so that was like the first time in L.A, at least. I had my aunt living very close by. I had some friends throughout the years and everything so it was kind of a little easier versus we're coming here. We know nobody, we know nothing. So we're like, okay. But yeah, it's been a year and I think we made a right choice because every day, we're so excited to be here and you don't get tired of what you see in the window every day because it's always beautiful and the weather is awesome and we love rain and everything so it's just things worked out great. It was definitely a challenge but it was worth it hundred percent and you overcome some challenges and here you are and we love our place, we love our apartment, we love where we live, we love the weather, everything so it was definitely worth it even though it was kind of a challenge.
Jessica: That's awesome. Well, I'm glad you moved here. That is so crazy adventure and I know it took five years but it still sounds like a whirlwind even though it was broken up into five years.
Anastasia: Oh yeah!
Jessica: What was the change like culture shock because I got to study in Italy for a little bit and even though it wasn't nearly as long, I definitely experienced something. Being in a country where I didn't speak any Italian and I never knew what anyone was saying to me. I could definitely relate to that. I hated talking. I was just like -
Jessica: Like, I don't know, like, Oh, yeah. I would always say, prego, thank you.
Jessica: That's only thing I'm gonna say, and then when I found a place that looked like Oregon, it feel like a bomb because you get homesick and a lot of it is that the culture can be very isolating going from a way of interacting with people that's familiar to a way that's very unfamiliar and you start to really value body language, when you understand what it is.
Anastasia: Oh, yeah.
Jessica: What was that like going from the Ukraine, which is very, very different. I'm assuming from The United States to California, which has a culture of its own, what was that like?
Anastasia talks about the cultural differences in all the places she's lived
Anastasia: It was definitely different. Luckily, before I moved, I did have a trip to LA so during summer for once so I kind of saw it, but it was mostly just to visit my family and it was my first time figuring out what US is because I never left my country and usually, it's more common that people would go to Europe for the first time or something like that, because it was so much closer, but versus me, I'm all the way around the ocean and I remember the first time we're driving from airport and I saw the palm tree for the first time in my life and I was like, they are huge. For some reason, that's the first memory I have from the US that it was the palm trees and then definitely, the first day I came over here, it was a cultural shock because my aunt took me to right from the airport, she took me to the grocery store, because we needed to like stop by and get something for dinner and I remember walking in and just thinking that everyone is looking at me, which wasn't true, but that's how I felt because everyone was smiling at me and I was like, What's wrong with me? So then I started feeling a little awkward and I'm walking around following my aunt and also after the flight so I'm like, Oh my god, what's happening? And it's just every person would say hi to my end, and then looked at me and say hi or nod to me and I'm like, how does she know all these people? Who are they? She knows every person in the store and so then, we left the store and I asked her and I was like, is something wrong with me? Why is everyone staring at me? Do I have something or what? And she's like No, I'm like, Why is everyone laughing when they're looking at me or something? She's like, no one's doing that, they're just smiling because that's how it is and I'm like, Oh, okay, so then they started noticing that and that was definitely one of the first things I couldn't, well, I mean, I could. It took me a while to get used to it, but still, definitely just the fact that you can be walking on the street and just stranger could come up and be like, Hey, I really like your T-shirt or you have a nice makeup or something like that. That was kind of scarying me at first because I'm definitely not used to that because it was the biggest difference between US and Ukraine because in Ukraine, that won't happen as often unless you know the person, you won't really come up to them, that's a pretty rare thing versus here, it was definitely very common and people are being super, super nice, and everyone's smiling. That was the first thing that I told my mom when I was on the call with her after I moved, I was like, everyone's smiling here. I don't know if I can keep up with that because I felt I always looked grumpy because I didn't smile enough.
Jessica: Oh that's so cool!
Anastasia: That was definitely a cultural difference and then just in general, I mean, it's very different. People are very different. It's different perspectives on life and everything. It was something to get used to because, the way people think is different, the way people see things, all of that is just so different and it was definitely fun learning in, but it was a struggle especially with language that was a thing because like you said, the body language was my everything. I think I could explain everything with my hands. I remember being super, super scared when I had to go in to 711 for the first time by myself and buying something and saying something. I was like, please don't talk to me, please don't talk to me cause I am so scared. And then, it was also like, I'll say something wrong, and then I'll feel kind of like embarrassed a little but everyone was telling me like, don't be scared to talk because people will still understand you and if they don't, they'll just ask you to repeat and that's fine and for some reason, I just assumed that it'll be kind of annoying for people to like and try to understand me like, I didn't want to. Just like that was a barrier that I had and so I remember, I went to that 711 and I want a coke and I'm like, how do they say coke in English because in Ukrainian- in Russian, it's Coca-Cola and so I'm like, how do I asked for that because I didn't know that was short version of coke and I was like, could I get cola? And I remember the lady was just looking at me and she was just like, what? And I got so scared. I wanted to run away. I'm so embarrassed. I said something stupid, I say and then she was like, do you mean coke? And I was like, I guess.
Jessica: Yeah, give it to me.
Anastasia: No, that was definitely, I've been into few situations like that and right now, it's very funny to remember that. At the moment, it was definitely scary but yeah, definitely I could tell the difference also from moving from California to Oregon and everything. That was a complete different thing because after like, I don't know, four years of living in LA I thought, okay, I kind of understand what it is that you asked and everything and what kind of people there lived and I was like traveling a little bit not crazy. I haven't seen a whole lot of yes, but I've seen some so it's like, okay. I started getting it and then we came to Oregon and I was like, Oh, that's completely different. I guess I don't know everything about US yet because I mean, I don't see a dramatic difference, but from what I've seen, it's just here. What I like more is the feeling of the community like, you're living and especially right now with everything and the whole apocalypse happening. It's definitely something we've noticed that, even we have the nicest neighbors. Everyone's always asking if you need anything, if you have everything you need. Everyone's trying to help each other and that's really awesome to see because I feel in LA, everyone moves there with set goals. Usually it's you want to be an actress, you want to be a model, you want to be a singer, you want to be all of that and you're just moving towards them versus here and that's pretty much everyone I met in LA versus here. I feel like you're just living and you're just enjoying your life and you do what you want to do kind of a thing. In LA, we just had the feeling that we alway needed to do something, we needed to run somewhere like work, work work, like all of that and we moved here and we're like, wait a second, how about we start join our lives and just do what we want to do, and be where we want to be and not being in rush in where or anything like that and just relax. That's the kind of vibe we got from Portland and also, I just feel whatever you want to do here is normal because keep [inaudible 18:49] weird and all of that. That's what I love the most about it because you can be you and I think that's like because definitely, in LA that was not always the case but in here, it was definitely like, be yourself, enjoy yourself and that's what we wanted to do so that was also a big difference that we've noticed.
Jessica: That's very interesting. I know that there's a lot of hubbub in Oregon because people are moving here and I'm like, well, I'm curious why. Oh, maybe I should ask somebody.
Jessica: So you said you've seen other parts of the US? Was it other parts in California, or have you explored other states?
Anastasia: Oh, let's see. I've definitely been in few places in California but then, I also got really lucky to visit Alaska. Before I moved here, we were just planning a trip when I was coming to visit LA and they just happened it will work out and it was perfect. So when we came to Alaska, which just yeah, I fell in love with it. It was definitely very different from what I expected it to look. It was completely different America and very beautiful. I'm definitely looking forward to going back there because one time was definitely not enough, and I don't think I was old enough to see everything I wanted to see there and everything. So I would definitely go back there and then also, I mean, Las Vegas, definitely been there a few times, Oh that was fun. Arizona, very hot out there.
Anastasia: I went there are a few times during summer because my grandma, she lives in Arizona and her birthdays in the end of June and it's always really hot out there but we would always come there for her birthday and I don't think I would be able to live there because I love everything there, except for the weather. It was a little too hot. Other than that, I think that's pretty much it, and then Oregon happens. So yeah, I haven't seen a whole lot of US. It's a plan. I definitely want to travel and see as much as I can because something I learned about the US wherever you go, is all different and you can travel a little bit and then you're in whole new world and I am definitely excited and looking forward to learn more about where we're at, because it's so so different.
Jessica and Anastasia discuss expression
Jessica: It's really cool. Look, you made me think was I think that obviously, we're in the body modification world and a lot of people modify themselves as a form of expression and also as a form of self-discovery, but it's almost like you've used travel before because you don't have very many modifications, but-
Anastasia: Oh yeah.
Jessica: -you have art for it and I think that traveling is a way of collecting different parts of yourself, and kind of momentum seizing, different times in your life, which was just very interesting. I hadn't really thought of that, but it's true, you went through and you visited different parts, and you were a different person, each place that you went, and you left leaving a part of yourself behind and taking a new part almost. Would you say that they're similar?
Anastasia: Definitely, I mean, just traveling in general, I think that's my biggest dream for the nearest future. When this is all over, I really do want to go and travel places as many as I can because that's something that I found about myself that I really love doing and it definitely can change you as a person that's what I believe in because I would compare myself right now and a year ago, living in LA, it's two different personalities and then while living in LA before, the more you see, the more you visit, it kind of also shapes you as a person and it definitely is very similar with body modification because I don't have many piercings, but I did have a few before I started working there and then as I started working, I got my favorite one. It's like, you go to some places when you travel and it leaves nothing for you. You're just like, okay, it's a cool place, nothing else, looking forward too somehow but then you go to some places and you're like, Oh my god, I want to stay here as much as I can. I did feel the same way with my piercings because I got a piercing that I was just got stabbed. Okay, and that was my navel piercing because it was a very impulsive thing that I decided to do just because it was cool, not because I really really like claiming about it or anything like that. I was just like, do you want to do it? Yes. Okay, cool. Let's do it, versus the one that I got on my ear. That one is definitely like, Oh, I thought the whole thing. I love that piercing that's been---I don't really consider anything before that a real thing. That was my first kind of introduction to the body modification world and I never thought of it as being in my thing. I always looked at everyone who had facial piercings or really cool ear piercings and I was like, Oh my god they looks so cool. I really want to look like that but it was mostly just like the look of it. So I thought you have to have certain style, you have to have certain look for the piercings you have but something I learned is that no, it's not about that, it's about what you feel like you want to look and what makes you feel comfortable because definitely, I've been through a lot of stages where I couldn't find my [inaudible 25:55] self and I would change my hair color all the times, or I would do crazy makeups or I would change my outfits and be like, different styles. So I was always kind of looking for what it is that works for me, and I always kind of felt like I was pretending to be someone else that I wasn't myself at the same time and it was just, I was trying to find it but then, once I got that piercing, it was a lot of thinking and then I was just like, you know what, it doesn't matter if you look at me and you can tell right away that I'm into body modification or not. I know it's not a lot of what I have right now, but it's so me that it's that one piercing that's worth all those hair changing colors and all of that that I've been trying to do because that was never me, because I was just trying it out but with this one like it's this snag the orbital one and it's originally going to be hoop in there right now it's still healing but I just love it. It's me, it's what I wanted and definitely that piercing has been tricky one to heal and to take care of but I'm really excited that that was my first one that I got at Avanti because I can relate now to everyone who comes in and experiences some issues with healing their piercings or anything like that. Because just getting your piercing and having healed perfectly fine and in few months, that's easy, versus me having to take care of it every once a month, really hardcore stuff, because it's definitely like a placement and everything but I'm thankful for that as well because that helps me actually relate to what people might feel with their piercings and with their stuff and also, there were a few times when I was just almost I'm done. I don't think I can take it anymore but then it was also I would stop myself and I'll think and I like, it means like, a lot to me right now.