Saturday, February 21, 2009

The First Russian Girl I Ever Met

The first Russian girl I ever actually met was back in about 1996, before I went to work in New York. I was interested in working in Russia, just back from Asia -- staying back home in Podunk. At that time I could find very little information about it on the Internet, and it was too intimidated to just roll up in Russia looking for a job.

I had an acquaintance working as an English teacher in Switzerland, and she had a colleague who was Russian; she referred me to this Russian, and we struck up an e-mail correspondence.

This Russian had no particular advice about going to Russia, but it was interesting to meet her. She was in her late 20's at that time -- she'd emigrated to Switzerland in the late 80's by marrying a Swiss guy during some kind of Soviet Union educational exchange.

Turned out, however, that she'd been legally married in Russia at that time.

"It was so easy to do?" I queried.

"At that time, it was possible, now it wouldn't be."

She was married to that Swiss guy for less than a year, I think -- she told me that she was going to Prague repeatedly to meet her Russian husband during this time, and actually got pregnant at one point. This ended her Swiss marriage, and she eventually lost the baby, but she managed to get Swiss citizenship.

She had a long-term boyfriend in Switzerland at the time I was corresponding with her, but she was planning a visit to America -- she visited a friend in Philadelphia and within a couple of weeks had a boyfriend there and had broken up with her boyfriend in Switzerland.

That eventually didn't work out and she went back to Switzerland and married another guy.

You think all this would have been a cautionary tale about going to Russia. But you know me. I laugh at danger.

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