On the move: Back to the USA
September 2, 2016
We chat to Lisa Johnson about how she settles back in USA, the challenges she faces in her relocating experiences and what her advices are for others.
Tell us about where did you live previously and how did you end up in Brooklyn?
I lived abroad after university, two years in Honduras and Guatemala and five years in Madrid, Spain. I moved to Brooklyn in 1994, I wanted to come back to the US for graduate school. In particular I wanted to live in Manhattan. A good friend of mine was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and offered me a place to stay while I got settled. I never left Brooklyn after that. But I did leave her apartment and find my own!
How would you describe your move?
I was young, unaccompanied and didn’t have a lot of stuff which makes a move much easier. It was hard to catch up with the culture in the US that had happened while I lived abroad. I also did not have anyone managing my move, so it wasn’t very organized.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Brooklyn?
I love so much about Brooklyn. I almost never need a car. I can walk, cab, zip car, or take public transportation. There are a great range of restaurants and bars. It is an international and diverse community. It’s easy to meet people, I met my (Chilean) husband in Brooklyn when I first moved here.
Brooklyn is about the size of Paris, and a lot of people don’t realize that. It is huge. But I love my neighbourhood the most. I have taken a few of my colleagues to my favourite “local” which is a bar/restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Diner. That is a favourite hangout.
What are some of the similarities of living in Brooklyn and Madrid?
I guess Madrid and Brooklyn have even more in common now than before. Madrid keeps evolving and becoming more international. I always loved the old Madrid. It is my favourite city in the world. What is similar between the two cities is the small neighbourhood communities where you know the people in the small businesses around you. You know your neighbours. You know the people that buy their coffee in the morning at the same time as you. Madrid and my neighbourhood in Brooklyn are both like that.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced moving to Brooklyn?
I have lived in two neighbourhoods that have gentrified quickly once we moved in. Getting used to balancing a respect and love for the historical community while getting excited about the new changes is always a challenge. Sometimes the changes are great and sometimes you wish for the good old days.
What do you miss most about Madrid?
I will always miss Madrid. We go there for our summer vacation every year. My husband was a Barcelona fan (he still is, he lived there before), but now he also loves Madrid. The city not the team. I miss the quality of life, the amazing food, the museums, the architecture, the bars and tapas!
Do you have any tips and advice for others moving to USA?
When I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn it was when it was an inexpensive, cool community of artists and creative types. It didn’t have a lot of what is considered “normal” infrastructure (ATMs, grocery stores, cabs). Now Williamsburg is very evolved and very expensive. Don’t be afraid to look further out in less developed parts of Brooklyn, because change is happening quickly. One coffee shop and one bar at a time.
How do you make social connections outside of work?
Well, now it is home and I have a family and lots of friends. But Brooklyn has always been an easy place to meet people. Each community in Brooklyn is like a small village where you run into your neighbours at the grocery store, on the subway and the local restaurants. It is a great place to live.