Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leaving Russia?

For the first 8 days of January, the whole country (practically) is off work and everyone goes to visit each other.

We did a lot of hosting since it’s hard to travel with a little one. Some of our guests were friends from church, while others were from different parts of our past-mine from summer camp, Andrei’s from university.

What was interesting was that everyone asked us the same questions: Don’t you want to move to the U.S.? What keeps you here?

While many Russians have a certain amount of national pride, it is very common for people to dream of moving abroad.

I would say that life outside Russia looks more attractive now than it did a few years ago-and that is even with our own apartment (not a rental), which greatly increases the chances of being able to make a living.  Without going into specifics, there are many ways that the standard of living here is less than ideal. Of course, St. Petersburg is an amazing city with a rich culture and history. 

It makes me mad when non-Russians make negative comments about Russia or her people. I guess it’s partly because it is “my” country in a way and I want to defend it against stereotypes. In general I would agree that there is a lot of corruption and that people are treated terribly. But corruption in a biblical sense can be found in any country. The other reason the criticism bothers me is that it adds to my own temptation, making me doubt my decision to live here. My heart has been happy here, despite a variety of trials and misadventures.

Andrei and I don’t feel “called” to go serve somewhere else. We try to guard our hearts and not do something for the wrong reasons. We believe that God holds our future, and wherever He leads will be best for our family.


  1. I've heard so many negative things about Russia, that it makes me somewhat worried that I will get there and not like it (Moscow, Feb 4, 2013). Part of me wants to hear everyone's negative stories so that I can brace myself and prepare myself to not be shocked, but part of me doesn't want to let those stories influence me. I WANT to LIKE Russia, and enjoy living there. So I can't decide if hearing all the negative things is a GOOD thing or a bad thing. =) What are your thoughts? When you moved there were you prepared or did things shock you? How could you have been better prepared? I welcome all the advice I can get! =)

    1. Hi Jen, I forget what your situation is exactly, but I'm assuming you got a 3 yr visa, and that's half the battle if you don't need to think about that kind of thing daily. It's harder if you're here long-term and have to deal with Immigration, taxes, etc.

      Meanwhile, the hard part about transitioning is just that it's really tiring. You have to take so much in and really simple things like going to the grocery store take a huge amount of energy. I guess I knew some things about the culture from my studies. I wouldn't say anything that happened to me personally was negative, just different. Plus I'm from a small town so it's an adjustment getting used to the longer commute time and having everything (and everyone) spread out over the big city.

      One interesting characteristic is that you'll see all the latest technology, but other things like elevators that haven't been updated in, well, a while.

      I don't have too many Moscow connections... just a friend from church who got married recently and moved there. Let me know if you want her number!

  2. Thanks, Elizabeth! I was trying to come on a 1 year teaching visa, but my job there fell through and I was unable to get a letter of invitation for that visa. So I ended up applying for a 3 mo business visa, and hopefully will be able to secure a letter of invitation while there this first 3 months and then be able to come back on a year long visa. Whatever God wants though, things seem to change all the time. =) I will be living with friends who are missionaries in Moscow and hopefully helping them while also trying to teach part time (if I can get that).
    Is your friend American or Russian? I am always looking to make new Russia connections (American or Russian), so if you have friends there that you can recommend (lol) I'd love to meet them!
    Thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it!

    1. As long as you have an organization willing to write you an invitation, it should be okay. I don't know if language schools are that reliable but in Moscow it seems like there are plenty of options. Anyway, as long as you're meant to be in Russia, God will find a way!

      My friend and her husband are Russian.

  3. jenmarie - How I envy you! I also feel offended when people say negative things about Russia - and in the adoption community, so many DO! It makes me think "no wonder Russia wants to eliminate adoptions!" I've also noticed these tend to be the people who see themselves as "heros" of some sort, and expect their children to be "grateful"....which ofetne works out rather badly with older children. But, I digress.... But there are also a lot of adoptive parents who love Russia and I am certainly one.

    I think one of the hardest things to get used to, and the most startling thing, really, is that - it's a different culture! Surprise! But, I now know what that means (better than I did before, anyway!) I was surprised at how brusque people are - how the checker at the grocery won't hesitate to treat you like an idiot for not bringing your own bag, or how the lady mopping the floor will not hesitate to hurl invective at you for walking on her wet floor (even when there is absolutely no other choice). People don't seem to mind "telling one another off" at all! BUT - if you just "go with it" and realize they are not really cross (or, perhaps they are, but it doesn't carry quite the same weight as it does here - where people wish you a saccharine "nice day" and say nasty things about you to the next person they see). When you follow the regulations (and if you've read Elizabeth's blog you know how important REGULATIONS are!) then people tend to appreciate it and treat you with respect. It all just takes getting used to, but I wish I had the opportunity to stay in Russia a while.....

    1. And then I complained about Russia in my next post...oops!

      Yes, Annie, I would agree with your observations. I often feel like I'm treated rudely at the grocery store, pushed aside because someone is cleaning the floor, stocking the shelves, etc. Don't they know that the "customer is always right"? Oh, wait... that is just my American mindset speaking.I suppose a good attitude, in any culture, is to try not to take it personally. I am still learning about that.

      Anyone that has jumped through the hoops of Russian bureaucracy, whether someone who lives here full-time, or someone who has gone through an adoption, IS a hero! But let us not let that go to our heads, as there are many who suffer even more.


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