Three Year Veteran

This week marks the three year anniversary of my arrival in Russia. In Moscow’s ever-shifting expat world, that makes me practically a veteran. I’ve definitely had various stages of shock and adjustment over the last three years. Finally feeling adjusted has taken WAY longer than I thought it would. I wouldn’t call my current attitude towards this city close to anything even remotely resembling bicultural nirvana, but I’ve happily gotten my sense of humor back, and have definitely moved a few paces beyond just trying to survive.

Talking to my former language partner on the phone a few days ago, he said that anyone who wants to last in Russia has to change, bend, accept, and adapt to the culture. They have to take in some of it for themselves.

After three years, I’ve definitely absorbed some of Russian culture. Here, to mark my entry to Moscow Expat veteran-hood, is my list of the good, the bad and the ugly of how I’ve changed since September 2007:

  1. I’m meaner
  2. I’m more assertive
  3. Sometimes I swear
  4. I’m more confident
  5. i know a lot more about business
  6. I now read the finance and business sections of the newspaper
  7. I am now intensely interested in and regularly engage in conversations about immigration, visa, and international tax laws and regulations
  8. I am 20 lbs lighter than I was when I moved here
  9. I’m married
  10. I speak way better Russian.
  11. I’m less idealistic
  12. I like McDonald’s way more than I used to
  13. I know and am excited about what I want to do for a career
  14. I don’t see how Americans can survive on only 2 weeks of vacation a year!
  15. I am really afraid of going to the doctor’s. I have an intense phobia.
  16. I have a lot more issues with anger
  17. I get more headaches
  18. I’ve experienced God’s grace in so many beautiful ways
  19. I’m no longer afraid to stand my ground or get pushy in lines and at stores
  20. I’m more of an introvert than I used to be and am much more comfortable with solitude.
  21. I’m more patriotic than I used to be: America rocks!
  22. I get a bit freaked out by people who smile in public, and am slightly uncomfortable with talkative and friendly store clerks
  23. I sometimes unconsciously judge people by their shoes or handbag
  24. I read way more than I used to (thanks, public transportation!)
  25. I have developed a new level of passion for honey, mushrooms, berries and other edible stuff gathered from the woods
  26. I consider an electric kettle one of the most important kitchen appliances.
  27. I’m no longer ashamed to preen in public. Americans hide their sideways glances into mirrors. Not so with Russians – they’re not afraid! Men and women alike go right up to mirrors to poke, prod, pluck apply make up, do their hair, and adjust their ties.
  28. I’m more thankful
  29. I’m stronger
  30. I have friends from all over the world
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5 Responses to Three Year Veteran

  1. Phyllis says:

    TODAY is our nine-year anniversary of moving to Moscow. Now, obviously we haven’t been in Moscow all that time, but your list makes me think of how this part of the world has changed me. I’m afraid I hardly even remember who I was before.

    Do you mind if I copy your idea of a list like this?

  2. Nine years! Wow. Has it really been that long? I remember visiting you guys when you first moved to Moscow….
    Go right ahead and copy – it’s a compliment!

  3. Pingback: Four Year Anniversary | Breakfast in Moscow

  4. Pingback: Five Things Russia Has Taught Me | Breakfast in Moscow

  5. Pingback: Four Year Anniversary | Breakfast in Moscow

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