From Russia, with love: Girl abroad


People are strange when you're a stranger—at least according to The Doors—but it's especially true for some of us living and writing so far away from home. I know from my own personal experience that life abroad, while exciting and unpredictable, can be tough when it comes to interracial relationships, work, and bilingual girl talk. Aside from the hormone-fueled personal drama, that difficulty of communication was another reason for me to take up writing. But let me start from the beginning.

When I got an opportunity to start a blog of my own, I jumped on it gladly because it meant that, as a foreigner, I'd have all these cool exotic experiences to share with English speaking readers from all over the world. Unfortunately, at that moment I had to slap myself, because I haven't been out and about for so long, I have to rely on my friends now to tell me if the Earth is still round (last I heard, it was an oblate spheroid). However, that's not to say my life has been plain or unexciting. After all, I come from a place that was the target of the corniest stereotypes ever since the world was introduced to James Bond movies.

As you might have guessed, I'm talking about Russia, where I was born and raised, first in St. Petersburg, then Moscow. I started my life in Europe a few years ago as an escapee of a brutally slam-glam social order that can be a tad too suffocating—especially if you're in the center of it. And since I was born to my mother, a hedonistic glamour seeker and a compulsive socializer, I kind of was. To add insult to injury, my biological father happened to be a once-famous pop star that, up to this day, is not very accepting of his illegitimate daughters (there's more of us, but that's a different story).


Even though my mother and my father worked in the same music industry, somehow they managed to not collide with each other much on the minefield that is Russian show business scene, so, in a way, that was a small blessing. As a side note, show business in Russia is a terrifying thing. A little something they don't show you in James Bond movies is our drag queen comedians. Really, if you ever want to sleep again, don't google it.

It's with this baggage that I came to Europe a few years ago, looking for some stress-free living and unpenalized good weather. After hopping from one little island to another, eventually, I managed to land in Spain. The very part of it, actually, that hosts foreigners from all over the world: Tenerife, Canary Islands.

By the time I was done settling into my new home, I already knew that half of my neighbors didn't speak Spanish either. A kind of a good news/bad news situation, since I wasn't actually pressured into learning the language, and hence, didn't bother. Now, however, I'm a proud speaker of three different languages. They may not have a lot in common with each other, but could be useful should I decide to see the world.

Back in the day, when I traveled more, I was too young and stupid to soak in new experiences, write them down or immortalize them with my smartphone. (Instagram wasn't invented yet. Or was it?..) Now, as I am old and wise—or at least as old as I will ever be if somebody asks me, and that includes ten years from now—I would love to travel more and be some sort of a sexy adventurous chronologist of the world. You know, like Nowh Wyle in The Librarian. But as life keeps getting in the way, tying me down with the ordinary everydayish drama of a busy twenty-something, too often I had to set aside my travel plans and live vicariously through my friends, who, to my envy, are shameless in their escapades


 One of them happens to be Jen, my not very glamorous (swears like a sailor, chain-smokes: is hilarious) and all the cooler for it friend from Moscow, a well known socialite, who was last spotted with her friends, chasing the remnants of the holidays through Europe, hitchhiking or jetlegging it, until the ruble crashed again. The one person to have social rank awesome enough to be accepted anywhere and everywhere, Jen always gets the coolest international trips. It just so happens that she's the kind of girl who has the kind of friends who can afford to drag her around like a teacup poodle.

The rest of my friends (along with the 80% of all the people I know) tend to immigrate to Thailand to wait out the cold winters. I don't understand what is it about Southeast Asia or why everyone is so hung up on spending their holidays there, but according to a couple of movies I watched, you do not want to confuse Bangkok with Amsterdam, ever. However, as more and more of my friends travel there every year, I learned to respect the call of the wild. That's why meeting someone from dangerous and less known parts of the world is so exciting—and why accents are so sexy, and I should be glad to have one.

When I look into the mirror, personally, I don't see anything alien or exotic, but that's not to say nobody does. As being exotic is such a subjective and controversial phenomenon, looks can be deceiving. When I was studying in Malta, I met a tiny beauty queen with mocha skin and huge brown eyes that turned out to be from Japan. Her interest swayed toward music and jazz, and if she couldn't sing or play a note in her life, I can't see why she wouldn't be worshiped anyway for her mere silent presence, as graceful as an echo of a piano key. That just goes to show that people can be more intriguing than some of the most fascinating places in the world. Same goes for interracial relationships.

Having had the experience of mingling with the French, the Spanish, the German and the—uh, I want to say Lebanese—I came to the conclusion that personality tramps mentality, but some of the cultural traits will always leave you stupefied. Me, I never had any luck with German men. Although, since my half sister is also half German, I should probably find out how she's doing for herself. If you're wondering how I don't know that by now, the answer is because I didn't know I had a half sister until I was in my early twenties.

One time during my stay in Spain, I tried going out with a young man from Germany, who kept choosing his dog over women every time he had a shot at romance. He kept putting his pet's needs above everything else, without realizing why his relationship status didn't change from single. And yet, when the time came to decide who to celebrate New Year's Eve with, a real girl or his dog, he chose his dog once again. That's loyalty—and a good reason to date someone with allergies. That's also why you have to remember: interracial relationships, while having their moments, have their downfalls too.

One of my girlfriends, a Russian beauty with flowing blonde hair and an exciting job that involved lots of travel and flying, had her Hungarian boyfriend of 6 months break up with her because she spoke broken English. That might have been an excuse though, because I spoke to him, and he was no Hemingway either. As far as my own experience with dating European men goes... Well, let's just say, I haven't sampled the entire buffet yet. All I can tell you is that cross-continental dating is possible, and that the language barrier shouldn't stop you as long as you know how to use your smartphone as a translating device. What can I say? It's a good time to be alive. Just keep the clean water coming.