Aleksandra Rasstrigina became a United States citizen on October 6, 2022, and she’s ready to proclaim this from the mountaintops. It was a long journey and an extremely emotional day for Rasstrigina but entirely worth it for this nursing major who is originally from Moscow.
Rasstrigina first fell in love with the United States when she visited as a five-year-old, and she never gave up on her dream of becoming a citizen. When she was 16, she left Russia and traveled, by herself, to New Jersey to live with her aunt and uncle. She left behind her parents and siblings. It was heartbreaking for her because she loved Russia but saw an opportunity for a better life in America.
“The Russian laws are very strict and do not allow much freedom of thought. So, I decided to move to the United States for a better life,” she said.
Russia’s war with Ukraine is heartbreaking for Rasstrigina, who considers herself a Russian and a Ukrainian. Her grandfather is from Ukraine, and therefore she descends from both countries. “It’s so sad. I never thought that something like this could possibly happen. We were brothers and sisters. The way that the government of Russia is acting is just heartbreaking. I really hope it comes to an end soon,” she said.
“I do not support this government,” she said of Russia. “I can’t see myself ever living in Russia again, even though I love my country so much. I love both Russia and Ukraine, but it is the government that I do not support, and I can’t live in a country with such a government.”
Becoming a citizen was a five-year journey for Rasstrigina. It involved interviews, background checks, a U.S. knowledge test, and a hefty price tag of $1,000. Saving the money to apply was a stumbling block until her best friend, who is also a nurse, surprised her with a gift of $1,000.
Rasstrigina watched her older sister, with whom she now lives in Philadelphia, get her citizenship a few years ago and could not wait to get hers. The administrator at the immigration field office asked if she wanted to be granted her citizenship right then and there on the day she took the final test, which she passed. A citizen ceremony was scheduled for that same day. This was a welcomed surprise for Rasstrigina, who jumped at the chance.
“It was a very emotional moment. I was in a room filled with people from different countries all over the world. We were all nervous and excited, and I started crying because when I came here for the first time, I was so little, but I knew I wanted this,” she said of her citizenship. “It was a beautiful moment, and I’m very grateful.”
American citizenship is something taken for granted by many, but for Rasstrigina, it was a thrill she won’t forget any time soon. “After we all took the oath, we began congratulating each other and taking pictures of our certificates of citizenship. It was a very sweet, warm moment I will never forget.”
Recently Rasstrigina’s mother and three sisters have moved to the United States. Her father and brother are still in Russia.