Taking a Chance: My Leap to Expatriatism in Russia


It was some point during a University lecture on a topic which had no interest to me that I realized ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ Slightly ironic as I’d happily signed up to the three years and paid my dues to do so. And yet, at some point into my second year I knew that it wasn’t for me.

Not the University course itself, I did end up finishing it. But what would come later such as the task of searching for positions that I knew would not fulfill me or going through endless rounds of interviews lying through my teeth at each stage. It just wasn’t something that I had the heart to do. I guess I wanted to follow some free path in my life rather than struggle to climb someone else’s ladder.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

The lucky break happened during the World Cup in 2006. I was in Moscow as part of a year abroad through University. I can’t remember which teams were playing but I do remember that I got chatting to a Scottish guy who was editor for a magazine for ex-pats in Moscow.

We bought beers, ate food and I took his card. When I got back to my apartment later that night I wrote a travel article from the perspective of a foreign student in Russia and submitted it.  On and off over the next year while I completed my final year of University we kept in touch and I sent my articles in.

When my course ended I asked straight out for a job and got it. By that time he was working on a new magazine which was yet to launch and I was thrown in at the deep end to write content, source advertising and take photos.

My Russian language wasn’t the best and there were some tasks I was vastly inexperienced in. Building a sales team when I had no sales experience myself was tough. But I maintained belief and persevered and it came off. The magazine launched and it was a proud moment to have been part of something like that. That kind of break just would not have happened for me back home.

I guess my biggest advice would be not to fear opportunity. Chances really do happen, especially abroad when people are outside of their comfort zones. Strike up conversations, don’t be forceful with it and if and when an opportunity arises then take it.

And in my experience, a beer goes a long way towards helping too.

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Filed under Motivation, The Decision

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