One thing leads to another, and I met a wife who, you guessed it, is Russian. The funny thing is that today she knows Spanish better than I do Russian. At first, she moved to Chile with me, and we lived there for some time, until one day I saw information that the Russian government was giving a scholarship to study in Russia. For the citizens of Chile, there was only one specialty – “Nuclear Physics”. I thought that this opportunity seemed to be created especially for me. After going through the formalities, I was chosen, and my wife and I left everything and moved here.
What did you know about Russia before moving here?
I knew about her history. In the West, it is quite difficult to find more or less impartial sources of information, especially when it comes to political issues. Of course, I was aware of all these prejudices that exist in the West, for example, that Russians drink a lot of vodka, that you can meet bears on the streets. The most common stereotype is that Russia is a country that never has summer. I don't remember a single documentary or report where Russia was shown in the summer. This impression was imposed so strongly that before coming here I bought thermal pants, similar to those worn by skiers, and seriously considered wearing them on the street. It seems funny to me now, but not then.
I have always adored Russian science fiction like the Strugatskys, Lukyanenko, Bulgakov — it was a great pleasure for me to read them.
Why did you choose Russia to live in and not Chile?
In fact, my wife and I are now, after three years here, just trying to decide where to live. The main reason why we may not stay in Russia is that the migration system is too complicated here. Of course, I understand that there are good reasons for this, but I feel that she has exhausted our strength. In Chile, marriage to a citizen is a good enough reason not to separate a family, and therefore it is much easier for my wife to emigrate to Chile than it is for me to emigrate to Russia.
What surprised you the most when you arrived in Russia? Was it difficult to adapt to new realities?
There are so many things that you can't talk about everything at once. Probably, what surprised me the most was the high level of culture and education, which can be seen almost everywhere in Russia. I have been lucky enough to visit many countries, including the United States and European countries, and very few places have I seen the level that I see here. I think this is something Russians should be proud of and pass on to new generations.
Another feature that I really like and probably made me interested in Russian culture is the way Russians see things in general. They do not think corny, repeating common truths that many blindly memorize. On the contrary, they are able to think independently and analyze things, guided by common sense. For me it was something very refreshing.
Is it hard for you to endure the Russian winter?
The most difficult thing in the Russian winter for me was not its low temperatures, but its duration. I come from a country where the year is clearly divided into 4 seasons, and their duration is almost the same. Russian winter lasts for long months, and most of the day is dark! I think it really affects me emotionally. I need the sun! Otherwise, Russian winter seems very beautiful to me.
How does Moscow differ from Santiago? What is better in Moscow and what is better in Santiago?
First of all, I must say that Chile is a small country, so I can't compare Moscow with Santiago, it's like comparing a watermelon with an orange.< /p>
How do Russians differ from Chileans?
I was very surprised to see that Russians, when they enter into a trusting relationship with a person or are among friends, are very similar not only to Chileans, but also to Hispanics in general. But the Chileans seem more relaxed to me, especially when troubles happen to them. Russians waste too much emotional energy in unpleasant situations, like when your car gets scratched, or your phone breaks, or you're running late. Chileans do not attach such importance to this. It seems to me that spending so much energy on negativity is not very good, I think it affects the health of Russians in general. Chileans also have negative sides. For example, we often miss out on things that could make our country a better place if we put in enough effort.
Is it hard for a foreigner in Russia? What obstacles do you face?
I can only speak about my experience. What happened to me doesn't mean it will happen to everyone. For foreigners in Russia there is the following trap. To get a visa you have to have a place to live, but people who rent apartments don't want to register you, especially if you're a foreigner. In turn, to get a job, you need to have a residence permit. Finally, in order to buy your home, you must be in the country legally, that is, on a visa. End of equation.
Is it possible to live in Russia without knowing the Russian language?
I'd say it's possible, but it's not very comfortable. In my opinion, if you want to stay in Russia for a long time, you will have to learn the language. If you don't, you will always feel a little isolated. And you will not be able to fully immerse yourself in Russian culture. For me, this is a big omission, because the language is the key to the knowledge and culture of each people.
Do you miss Chile?
Of course I miss Chile, mainly my family, climate and food. It's not that I don't like local dishes, on the contrary, I really like them! This is especially true for sweets: I really love Russian chocolate and sweets. I think that if my wife and I have to go back to Chile, I will miss a lot of things in Russia. Nevertheless, I will be extremely grateful for everything to the Russian government, which gave me this opportunity to study here; Russian people with a pure and kind heart; university teachers who, despite their strictness, somehow revealed in me abilities that I myself did not suspect; and my wife's family, who received me with great love and helped us a lot all the time we were here.
You have a beautiful country, and I feel proud that I could feel the true Russian soul!
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