Who are you?
My name is Jasilyn, and I am a 27-year-old American from a suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I attended both the University of Cincinnati and Cleveland State University where I studied history, secondary education, and ESL.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Ufa, Russia in August 2015. I moved here for several reasons. The first reason was that I wanted to live abroad, and I was always interested in Russia. I had a friend who moved the year before me, and he was the one who got me in contact with my current employer. Second, I wanted more experience teaching English as a Second Language to, hopefully, make me more marketable when I move back to the USA.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I didn’t really face any challenges. I was stuck in customs for three hours because I was flagged as a foreigner. I made the mistake of coming directly through Ufa than through Moscow. It was only a mistake because they don’t have a lot of foreigners come through so you stick out. Luckily, two women from my work were there and were able to translate and help me out. Also, getting a visa was complicated, but it wasn’t a bad challenge. You need to have a job before arriving in Russia.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, there are a lot of students from Central Asia, Asia, and the Middle East. There aren’t a whole lot of expats from English-speaking countries, especially if you compare the city to major cities, but every day I learn about more.
What do you like about life where you are?
This is probably cliché, but I just like living in a different city and experiencing a new culture. Ufa is quite different from the rest of Russia because it’s a Muslim republic. I learn as much about Russian culture as I do about Islam.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I dislike being so far from my family. It’s usually not a problem, but during the holidays I find it especially hard. Also, the holidays are hard because Russia doesn’t celebrate the same ones.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The biggest cultural I’ve experienced are gender expectations. It’s a lot more conservative here than in the USA. Women are expected to cook, clean, and raise a family. If you aren’t married by 26 people think something is wrong with you. Also, women are expected to have long hair and look beautiful all the time. I don’t agree with these ways of thinking.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Be open to new experiences and cultural differences. If you are a woman you should realize that relationships between men and women are different, and this can be a good or bad thing. Also, be aware that bureaucracy is different and their way of thinking is different. It was really hard when I first came here because it felt like everything was disorganized, but if you just accept it as the way things are you’ll be a lot less stressed out.
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to stay indefinitely, but I have too many university loans to pay back and I don’t make enough money here. I will probably go back to the USA in July of 2017.
You can keep up to date with Jasilyn's adventures on her blog, Coffee And Cleveland.