Russia after 8 years: How does it feel like

It feels weird. 

I will get into that a bit later, but first, let me start talking a bit about why I have decided to write about this today. This will be an on-the-run post, more serious than normal. On May 4th, 2013, 8 years ago, I traveled to Russia for the first time. You can read all about those first impressions here, but in short, I landed at Domodedovo airport and felt what a 15 °C cold feels like, possibly for the first time in life. 

The sun was barely visible through thick clouds, even though it was the middle of the day. The agency responsible for getting me and my new colleagues to Kursk and Belgorod had rented an ancient, soviet era bus that would take us through over 700 Km of highways. 

The next memory is already at night, after long hours on that lonely highway among tall Russian pine trees. We stopped at a small diner along the street to use the bathroom. The lady behind the counter looked at each of the students with a severe, almost hateful face. Those were my first impressions: cold, cloudy skies, old buses and highways, and severe gazes from Russian ladies.
But I digress. Back to the main topic.

Why does it feel weird?

It feels weird because after 8 years living in this country, I have so much to be thankful for, and yet I cannot really say I would like to live another 8 years here. I loved pine forests even before coming to Russia, and I got used to soviet era buses going around old highways. I even started to see the smiles behind the initial stern looks people give in the streets, so in the end, none of the first impressions really stuck.

The things I feel truly thankful for are the scholarship and the job opportunities I got in the country, and above all, all the friends I met along the way. Every one of them contributed to changing my life into a remarkable, at times crazy, adventure, which is so much cooler than the life path that waited for me in Brazil. I multiplied my worldview by infinite the moment I got to Belgorod and met all these students from all parts of the world. And even that was multiplied million-fold when I got to Moscow and became friends with people from so many backgrounds!
For all of that, I am forever grateful.

Why not continue living in Russia, then? 

The reasons why I came to Russia in the first place are no longer that important to me. Back then, I was a teenager hungry for some kind of adventure, and going to Russia for studies seemed like a pretty straightforward way to achieve that. Not that I didn’t want the other achievements. 

Now I am already an adult. Look mom! I’m a grown-up now! My priorities in life are a bit different and I can’t say that I feel comfortable living in this country, despite having so many friends and so many dear memories here. Of course, no country has an obligation to meet my expectations, but lately the situation with the rule of law is becoming grim. Recent news about a possible war with Ukraine are also worrying. I don’t expect things to change for the better in the short term, which is why I have been thinking more and more often about moving on to new opportunities, and perhaps having new adventures. 

Though this time I won’t decide on the country because of Age of Empires III

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