Living in Uruguay: Julie Alonso

Julie Alonso came from Cuba one year ago and is happy in Uruguay, even though she misses absolutely everything because she loves her country, its people and its places. But she felt the need to give her children a different future, full of freedom and possibilities, and that made her migrate. In her words: “I like going to the market and being able to buy whatever I want.” Today, she is a QA Tester at Infocorp and, believe it or not she doesn’t like milanesas! In the future, she’d like to travel with her children so they can see Russia, a country that dazzled her.

Tell me, how and when did you come to Uruguay?

Approximately one year and a half ago. The opportunity arose because my husband came first. We had several friends in our industry, and they told us that there were good work opportunities here. He came first and it was challenging for me to stay by myself in Cuba for eight months with our children, who were 4 and 5 years old at the time.

Did you know anything about Uruguay before arriving?

I tried to do some research beforehand, especially about work and education. We really did it for our children because, unfortunately, we didn’t have as many growing possibilities in Cuba, and we want our children to grow up more freely. I liked knowing that people can walk on the streets with ease here, because I was afraid it would be a violent country. But I actually feel very comfortable, even though adaptation was hard for my children, especially school. Today, the Covid-19 pandemic is the great challenge, because my oldest kid is very allergic and asthmatic, and I’m worried he may catch it.

And how did you adapt to the weather in Uruguay? We know that some Caribbean people find it very cold.

We love the weather in Uruguay. I actually have to chase my children all day so they’ll wrap up. But I love the cold.

How was looking for a job in Uruguay like? How did you arrive at Infocorp?

When I arrived, I spent three months getting my children settled, and then I started looking for a job. I was recommended by a very old friend, we studied together and she’s like family to me, and everything was very fast, really. The process was great.

What is your job about?

I’m a QA Tester. What we do is give the customer what they want, with the quality required. I’m some sort of filter, and I really love my job.

Do you have any stories about your job?

Once, I was testing something in BISA (Banco de La Paz, Bolivia) and I accidentally clicked “Translate the page” during the delivery stage, and the whole page broke down. It was unbelievable, they all came to see me, and I felt like dying, because I had just arrived. But it was a learning experience, I haven’t translated the page again. Now I know better!

When you tell someone in Cuba about Uruguay, what do you bring up?

Usually, what I always bring up is that they are not so affectionate. Even though everyone is very kind, us Cubans are very tight and affectionate, and we always greet a lot. For example, on February 14 I brought a cake to share with my friends for Valentine’s, and I arrived congratulating everyone and they were like “And why are you congratulating me?” These’re different cultures, and we learn from it.

What would you recommend another foreigner thinking about living in Uruguay?

I’ve really been asked a lot. An important point is that you have to expect the job search to be difficult, although it wasn’t my case. I have many friends who haven’t been able to find a job, and they arrived at the same time as me. It obviously depends a lot on preparation. They should know that they’ll have to compromise, but you have to make it your goal.

And what do you miss the most about Cuba?

Well, I miss everything, even though I really wanted to leave the country. Even if we weren’t having a hard time, I wanted something else. I wanted to go to a market, for example, and buy anything I needed. Some people told me “You’ll see, you’ll even miss the air,” and I said I wouldn’t, but I really do. I miss my home, I miss my friends, I miss walking out and chatting with anyone, because I got along well with everybody, even the store clerk. I mean, I miss everything. But I’m glad with my decision. It’s about having the right attitude and not letting yourself down.

If you had to choose between traveling to the past or the future, where would you go, and why?

Well, I don’t know about the past, but in the future, I want to go to the United States and see my family, and if it’s not in the US, any other country where we can meet. In Cuba, I only have an aunt who is just going through the procedures to leave. Mi mother, my brother, his wife and his two daughters are in the US. I also dream about going to Russia with my children. I went there with my husband because it was one of the places you could go to from Cuba without a visa. I loved it. My eyes weren’t enough to see it all. When I went to Russia, there was no snow, it was summer, but we were caught in a storm and I hadn’t brought any winter clothes, because I didn’t have any -it’s never cold in Cuba- and because people told us “It’s summer there, it’s just like in here.” We arrived and it even hailed. But we bought a couple of things and we loved it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Yes. My personal goal has been growing professionally and intellectually, and now I feel I’m way better prepared. I learned a lot at Infocorp, and I especially love how close we are. And during the quarantine, we’ve grown even closer. I’ve talked with people I had never talked with before. I also love the bosses. I learn something new every day. So, despite the distance, I don’t regret having taken that step.

Q&A Ping Pong.

Q: A Uruguayan dish you like or dislike

A: I don’t like milanesa. I’ve tried it, and I think they need salt and have too much breading.

Q: A place in Uruguay you like

A: Casa Pueblo.

Q: A Uruguayan tradition you have adopted

A: Speaking with “ta”.

Q: A Uruguayan artist

A: Valeria Britos, I love her song “No te creas tan importante.”