How i ended up in Russia (part two)


(if you missed it, here's part one)

As I had feared, I came back from Russia and nothing much had changed and I all I really wanted to do was get back. Now, this may seem strange, but especially at that time in my life, I was feeling good in Moscow, whereas in the UK I had no real skills to boast of, in Russia I was the guy who could use his Russian to help people out, fix problems and offer some authority on something. 
Also, my regime wasn’t the grinding 9-5, basically, my traveling to Russia was a kind of escapism from reality.

Now, since I was out of cash I ended up getting a job as a temp in the mortgage services department of a bank. My duties could have basically been performed by a trained monkey and my morale was quite low.

                                                                         life had become the move office space

To boot, the office was a sausage-fest extravaganza and I had been spoiled by hot women and excellent ratios. Oh well.
Nobody was particularly interested in my cool travel stories and after about a month, I began to feel like my brain was going dead. I became paranoid that I was forgetting the Russian I knew and tried anything to keep it up - most lunch breaks I’d go sit in my car, put on a Russian music CD and read and write down new words. I remember I was having a crack at Master and Margareta at the time and not really having a clue what was going on.
Now, I wasn’t a boarder-line autistic recluse or anything, I hung out with the guys and they were ok, I just hated the idea of becoming a brain-dead vegtable.

Some of the people there were bitter, others really didn’t like their jobs at all, so I made a note that I never wanted to turn into that. Life is for living, not just existing - hating every minute of working life aint for me, fuck that.

After 9 months, which felt more like years, I made it back to Russia – this time for 11 months of study. I still didn’t know much about the visas so finding something like this was the perfect solution.

It was different the second time around and I made it to more classes and after living in a Russian dorm and getting a new girlfriend (to whom I only spoke Rusian), I improved a lot.
Unfortunately, I stil didn’t really know what I was doing and ended up in the same situation as before, the only difference being that now I had found out about my visa options.

Instead of doing the office, soul-suck fest again, I went back to work with my uncle on a home renovation project for about 9 months. I much prefer physical work and getting outside so this was a good option for me, plus I was working tax free to save as much as possible

                                                                                 fuck you tax man

The next time back I was on a one year multi entry business visa (before this process became near impossible), sharing a nice flat with 34 year old man from Ecuador who sang in a group called the Salsa boys and hunting for work.
I started with teaching, like so many do and everything was going pretty well, except I hated teaching with a passion that would make a professional Italian sexer look tame.  
Because I hated teaching so much (I don’t know why, I just really didn’t like it), I was doing the absolute bare-minimum of work possible and my finances started taking a bashing.

Then, the Russian government changed the visa law so that if you had a one-year multi entry exit business visa, you would now only be allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 3 months, then have to leave for 3 months. As you can imagine, this fucked things up for me and a lot of other teachers who were, basically, illegally working.


                                                        although i didn't look like the typical illegal worker 

Once my visa ran out, I had a back-up plan in place. One of my friends found about a contact who could hook us  up with work permits – enter Pavel, the ex-KGB interrogator, although for all we knew, if could have been the KGB soup chef. 

He was a middle man to a company that had been set up to provide work permits. A husband and wife had basically set up a legal entity with a small office, except the company was more of a front, possibly part of some other scheme, I’ll never know.
Anyhow, as a way of making extra money, the company was offering legal work permits to people like me, for a price (about 30,000 roubles).

The process took about four months, but at least I had the document to let me carry on doing my thing in mother Russia.
At this point, things were really going quite well, I had dropped teaching for companies, taken on 3 people I week that I taught from home and started getting some regular translation work for real estate magazines, the money was enough to keep me happy and paying the bills - until the financial crisis hit.

                                                                                                     oh yes

Thanks to the crash, I lost all my students and lost all my translation work after changes in management. When new management comes in, they often have their own people or team they put in place, but ce est la vi.

Unfortunately, I wasn't told about this and was promised work that they never even bothered to send.
Things were not good and all I could do was pucker up those sweet, sweet cheeks of mine while the global financial crisis ravished me.

Moving on, I had moved out over a falling out with the Ecuadorian salsa boy (who was now an unemployed salsa boy) and was paying almost 20,000 roubles per month for, basically, a box room that wasn't even near the metro.

Financially I was doomed and had to take more than a few parental bailouts. I was left feeling like my masculinity had been reduced to nothing.


                                    On the upside, I wasn't pimping out my sexual organs to get by

What saved me and my decent into the brutal world of male prostitution was my girlfriend of the time. I moved into her place, where I didn't have to pay rent, and my troubles were over for about a year or so, then came the relationship crisis, which was brought on by my indecisiveness.

You see, all this time I had never really committed myself to Russia, my mind was always kind of here and there, thinking I won’t settle into a 9-5 thing, since I probably won’t be here for the long run, plus I was also fairly addicted to modern warfare 2 at the time.

Usually when you have some undefined shit going on inside, it manifests itself into other areas of life that seem unrelated. I eventually ended up splitting with my gf and getting one last testosterone-neutralizing parental bail out. Seeing as how I needed to start forking up the roubls for rent again, I knew I needed to do something this time.

I have to say though, being single again did feel amazing and I had a new drive and a time frame. I took one last  3 month business visa and I knew that if, by the end of the three months, I didn't get something sorted, it was time to pack up the bags and call all the years I spent in Russia a failure.


                                                                         time was almost up

I was attacking ever job I saw – I even applied for a hotel manager job that I didn't get (which was probably for the best).
Fortunately, with some luck and a lot of searching, I came across an offer in the Moscow Times and got the job that was offering ok pay and a work permit. This was good timing since I had about 2 weeks to spare.

About and year and a half later, that brings to where I am today. I have the work permit, a job that ( thankfully it’s not teaching or editing), a great girlfriend and a new puppy who is trying to bite me as I write this.

Of course Moscow has its stress and its faults, but I still enjoy my life here. I think living in other countries offers amazing personal growth opportunities and lets you meet people and get into things that you never would at home, wherever that is.
After so many years, I feel at home both here and in England and I still feel there is a lot of growth (personal and professional) for me to do in Moscow.

When I feel I've done all I can, then we’ll see where I go next. Until then, I'll keep the rants coming!


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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

First, your blog is amazing and hilarious. Thanks for taking the time to share and document the frustrations of Russia. Having traveled and ridden the TS railway, the frustration felt in russia is in its own category.

Second, I feel you when you felt like the world came to an end when you went back to the UK for the first time, parental bailouts, being stuck, and working that gap year to boot. I should know i had a similar experience studying abroad in Sweden

I'm currently a recent grad, should've invested in a a better degree (BA in anthro) and you've described my post-grad life spot-on. Reading your post, it's given me a little light at the end of the tunnel that maybe...everything will work itself out. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck.

Cheers,
Jason

Lt. Columbo on December 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM said...

don't worry dude, there is light at the end of the tunnel, just don't end up pulling an office space!
best of luck mate

Anonymous said...

As with the above comment i'd just like to express my gratitude for your writing and just say that I am loving it. (Currently around 2:30am and an excellent stumble-upon it has been)

Having left school, it took me about 6 months to get a job. (3 months of that was me just being lazy and enjoying the freedom, which soon turned to soul crushing boredom). I spent the next few months working, until I couldn't take it anymore, quit, and went to Sweden for a month to stay with friends I had met online. It was absolutely amazing for me to simply be elsewhere, a new language, new friends, new culture.

I live on a small island with a population of around 100k, so you can imagine the sense of confinement.

Anyway, I am back here now slogging away trying to find some work to get me off this rock again. Only this time my goal is to leave permanently by the end of this year.

I am applying to universities in both the US and Russia, both have their pros and cons, but I am honestly more interested in Russia, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg. My personal goal is to follow up Nuclear physics, more as a policy maker and educator than a technician. (I want to change the world)

But in the time between now and September of next year I just want to go somewhere different, I think i would actually quite enjoy teaching English. And hell, maybe I might end up staying for another 4 years for uni.

So, if you do take interest and decide to read this monologue thank you for taking the time, and I shall be intently reading through your posts over the coming days/weeks.

As far as questions for you go, my main ones would probably be, any recommendations (websites or techniques) for learning Russian? And am I in your opinion, looking at quite an ordeal in moving to Russia with limited speaking ability other than English? (Although I am keen to learn)

Cheers,

Josh

Lt. Columbo on June 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM said...

well moving here with no Russian will be a challenge, to say the least, but it is doable. If you handle it, you'll be stronger for it in the long run.

As for Russian, check out some posts i did on with learning tips, and also the book recommendations.

good luck!

Anonymous said...

Omg I really wish I just had a life like u man, u sound Soo chill, I guess money is not the only thing that mattersbin life

Lt. Columbo on October 6, 2013 at 10:29 PM said...

thanks man, i am pretty cool (and handsome) lol
About money, for sure you don't need to be mad baller to have a good standard of life and enjoy yourself!

Black Volk said...

Thanks so much for your blog. It is really encouraging. In 2016 how has your Russian experience changed?

Lt. Columbo on December 11, 2016 at 1:58 AM said...

Hi Volk, well it's been quite a few years since i wrote that post and i should probably do a follow up - but long story short, me, wife and baby left russia over a year ago and now live in Bulgaira. nice climit, cheap and EU which is a lot easier for me! :)

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