Author Topic: Occupying oneself as an expat  (Read 754 times)

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Offline Watsong

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Occupying oneself as an expat
« on: 17:03 01-Oct-2018 »
Hello. I've been registered on this forum since many years ago. However, only in the last two years has my involvement in Ukraine became a core part of my life. I need some advice. It simply didn't occur to me earlier about posting on this forum. Maybe I could have met up with expats in Odessa and found some direction?

So here is my story:
I was introduced to my Ukrainian girlfriend by a friend in Odessa. Everything was great. The passion of a new relationship! I knew intermediate level Russian from earlier studies. My girlfriend came to live in Odessa from a village, in order to go to University. She lived in Odessa ever since. This meant that Ukrainian was her native language. She didn't even know Russian before moving to Odessa. She's also an English interpreter. So tri-lingual? She always insists that we speak in Russian. Her English isn't as good as to be used constantly and I don't know Ukrainian, (although I learned a few words later and I can understand a lot due to similarities with Russian).

After a few months, I decided that I was going to quit my job in England and go to live in Odessa, in order to give our relationship a chance. Otherwise, it meant little more than 3 weeks per year together. My girlfriend invited me to live with her. It sounded like a good idea. I fully intended to rent an apartment, but she considered that more convenient for us to live together and she said why waste money on a second apartment?

So, we lived together for 92 days... Because we visited Turkey for a few days and I miscalculated and overstayed... got fined (. So then we were apart for 3 months and, during this time, she left her work. Were good reasons. It wasn't "official" work and she was paid only for tasks completed - despite having to sit in the office 6 days a week. Sometimes, she would return home angry and unhappy, because she went to work and was paid nothing! Unfortunately, she became really unhappy without work as well. She searched for work, but refused to take on a 13 hour day job for 6 days a week for around 200 dollars a month. She said that she would be in a regime in which she constantly works and has no time for us.

When I returned for our second 3 months together, something had changed. She was unhappy with life, in general. I knew some of it from what she told me while I was in England. But not to this extent that I encountered when I returned. She asked existential questions and spoke of not wanting children, of all marriages failing, of problems with her family members, etc. Especially her brother, whom lived in the apartment with us the whole time. -So- not romantic to have a messy, disrepectful brother living with you, whom refused to pay her anything to help her with bills for her apartment. But she refused to tell him to leave. He could rent a room in a shared apartment, within his salary.

She buys nothing, if possible. Living on, literally, 50 dollars a month, aside of the heating bill in the winter period. Food she gets from her parents in the village. Generally, she eats very little. I insisted on paying for apartment bills and food, in order to help her. She wasn't eager to accept... Most super economical person whom I ever met. The problem with this being that she won't buy anything to make her life a little more enjoyable. Not even a little chocolate. She opposed gifts. So surprise gifts were the only option. Surprise gifts are good anyway, but her opposition to being bought anything explains the mentality involved.

As a foreigner in Odessa, I didn't have any work. I couldn't make friends with people - being a foreigner and having only intermediate Russian language. My friend in Odessa, we rarely met. And so, we spent an awful lot of time sat together in a tiny apartment. So tiny, there isn't any bathroom. The bath is in the kitchen. The toilet "room" so small, that you can't sit on the toilet without turning sideways, because the door is too close for your knees. Her brother would sit on the toilet with the door ajar... The combination of her cat, her brother returning late from work, and her noisy neighbours - sleep was poor. Our relationship deteriorated into arguments, frustration and boredom. Visits to the park no longer brought to her any positive change in mood. Visits to cafes and restaurants became so frequent as to not be special anymore. We agreed to limit it to once per week. I searched for activities to do together. But she's opposed to everything, especially sport. My parents described the situation as sounding like being married for several years - and as something that's not supposed to happen so soon.

We both needed time apart. But not in the context of 3 months apart, 3 months together. In the end, we agreed that I would go and live in another apartment. This improved our relationship. But was only for 2 weeks near the end of my stay. So much damage had been done. She had been talking about not knowing what she wants in life. About searching for a new life and going to Thailand, (as an acquaintance invited her). Then, when it fell through, she began negotiating going to Russia with another acquaintance. And so, while I was in England, she went to Russia to live with a friend and found work there. I consider that it's fair enough, as she spent 8 months sat in her tiny apartment without work. She's coming back to Odessa before Christmas.

She hardly wants to speak to me anymore. She said that she thinks about us every day, but that she doesn't think that we make each other happy. She doesn't know what to do with our relationship. While I want to continue our relationship and to rectify the problems. So, firstly, a separate apartment. Secondly, something to occupy my time in Odessa - whether work, social, sport or anything. I need some good news about how our relationship problems will be resolved and how our future together will be happy. Otherwise, I have certainly lost her forever. She's lost in life and desperately searching for a happy future.

And this is where I need advice. How to occupy myself in Odessa for 3 months at a time? Doesn't have to be one activity. A mix of occasional activities would suffice. I can't afford the University fees for a full time Russian course. I tried contacting the Polytechnic University to study there again short term - but they wouldn't even reply. Ideally, I would like to make expat friends.

Any advice that you can offer would be greatly appreciated and could help bring happiness to us both.

Thanks.


Online K24

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #1 on: 17:17 01-Oct-2018 »
Do any of the typical digital nomad jobs

Offline Watsong

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #2 on: 18:19 01-Oct-2018 »
I tried upwork.com and it was a slave labour market dominated by Indians whom bidded on everything for the minimum job price. Freelancer.com didn't appear to be any better.

Offline David Rochlin

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #3 on: 22:12 01-Oct-2018 »
Or you could start and buy a business if you can afford to, and perhaps that might involve employment for your girlfriend as well.    Your girlfriend may be suffering from clinical depression.  Find a psychiatrist not a psychologist.  Her behavior and way of thinking is typical for that.  Be aware that Ukrainian families often consider mental illness a great shame and everyone might blame it on you rather than deal with it being somewhat hereditary.  If she is clinically depressed, medication is going to be the only solution at least at first.  Mental illness is particularly common among Ukrainians who suffered deprivation , and especially in the 1990s.

Offline Darren Jones

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #4 on: 10:25 02-Oct-2018 »
I would follow Davies advice.  Helping Odessa tourists is a good route to go down as your going to meet other English  speaking people and you can really get some good tours in place and some good trust worthy  apartments to book them into. Kiev is flooded with this but I always found Odessa a difficult place to get a  good trust worthy apartment 

Offline kyivkpic

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #5 on: 11:01 02-Oct-2018 »
It sounds like she thought you were a ticket to a better life in England.

The apartment with her brother sounds really weird.

Get her out of Ukraine like she wants or find another girl. 
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Offline Watsong

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #6 on: 12:40 02-Oct-2018 »
Thank you, David, for your advice. What you are saying makes sense and is corroborated in the things she has told me about her childhood. But I think you will understand when I say that my girlfriend would react to even the suggestion of visiting a psychiatrist with both a strong refusal and to regard it as ridiculous.

Darren's follow up with advising opening a business for helping tourists to Odessa - yes this is a good idea. Thank you for the suggestion. In fact, I once suggested it, but my girlfriend declined. I offered to operate everything except the actual meeting with clients and giving of tours. Aren't the tourists going to want to attend, for example, museums where only Russian and Ukrainian language tours are available? I, personally, cannot act as an effective interpreter beyond the basics, (e.g. reading cafe menus, ordering food and booking taxis).

@kyivkpic: She doesn't want, nor ever will, go to live permanently in another country. Her place is in Ukraine, within travelling distance of her beloved mother. Her immediate family are an integral part of her social life and support. Hence the strange situation with her brother. He is very important to her, but she still chastises him for his faults and failures and laments about the same. She said that if he wasn't her brother, she wouldn't choose to know him. Yet says that she can't throw him out of the apartment - because he's her brother. Such are the bonds of family. There was no dating agency involved in acquainting us, it occurred through a shared friend within our social circles. I feel that's important to be aware of in the context of reasons that women use dating agencies. Her friends and acquaintances are all flung to the four corners of the Earth or married and working. As a result, she doesn't get to meet friends very often. She once said to me, "And with whom am I going to speak? The cat?" - on the subject of making her brother go and live somewhere else. She was inferring how lonely it would be, as I had to return to England.

Offline kyivkpic

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #7 on: 13:44 02-Oct-2018 »
The brother sounds like a deal breaker. If your relationship goes further at what point are you going to tell him to Frak off and her to leave her brother to his own fate?

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Offline Watsong

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #8 on: 14:36 02-Oct-2018 »
When/If we get married and I buy a house for us to live in. That's when I will forbid her brother from ever living there with us. She can let him continue to live in her apartment, if she wants - she won't be living in it. We already agreed that we will legally arrange exclusive ownership of the house that I buy, such that it will remain 100% mine in the event of a divorce and her apartment will remain 100% hers. This discussion came from her talking about one of her colleagues at work. Whom got pregnant, got married, quickly divorced and was left literally living in the office where she works with her newborn child. What a horrifying story! My girlfriend brought one of her colleague's luggage bags to store in her apartment for a while, until her colleague could find somewhere to live.

Offline Darren Jones

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #9 on: 15:17 02-Oct-2018 »
But I think you will understand when I say that my girlfriend would react to even the suggestion of visiting a psychiatrist with both a strong refusal and to regard it as ridiculous.

That seems a common problem here, my wife and I had a bumpy time for a while and it took me a long time to get her to come around to seeing a psyc but then at that point she(and I) were so much more level headed it was not needed. Could never of got her to see someone when she really needed it and I suggested us to go as a couple.

Ref the tours, I gather as your looking to occupy for 3 months rather than make a living then the work does not have to pay a lot. Most museums have good English speaking guides that you can work with (he guys at the chocolate museum are excellent). All monuments, buildings, places of interest are all on the web in English so should not be hard to sort out.

Difficult though that she did not seem keen, with her studying English did she just see herself doing translation work?

Offline Watsong

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #10 on: 13:43 03-Oct-2018 »
She wasn't keen because she didn't want to work with foreigners anymore. She had, among other jobs, done some work for a dating agency. She hated it and had some stories to tell about how awful many of the girls and men were when she had to interpret for them on dates. She had to go abroad twice for interpreting for two dating couples and she was badly treated, in her view, by them. She's seen men so many times frivolously throwing words to the wind about love for girls they never met or can't even directly speak to, that it's numbed her to such romanticism. Well, a little, at least. She treasured every little gift, every poem that I ever wrote for her. Sometimes, she would be fairly neutral about something overtly - but privately, it was clear to me that she held dear such things. She doesn't like to be called affectionate names like "Darling" - but doesn't mind a variety of affectionate forms of her name. She can be blazingly and intensely loving at times. Yet has a propensity for guarding/hiding her feelings.

Offline Darren Jones

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #11 on: 16:49 03-Oct-2018 »
Have you ever been to  her village? Got to know her parents? It is such a contrast between village and city life compared to the UK for example, it is amazing how much people change and how much truth you will see in someone in Ukraine when they get back to their roots. So many things about my wife I could not understand until I spent good time in her family home and her small town. She also has problems with me in the same way and really needs to get to the UK for  some time to understand things about me (Like British banta for  example)

Offline Watsong

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #12 on: 18:20 03-Oct-2018 »
Yes, I spent a couple of days at her parents in the summer, last year. Her mum was thrilled to meet me. It was early on in our relationship and my girlfriend was really happy and positive and all seemed great. She leapt into her dad's arms - despite all the bad things she previously said about him. The toilet wasn't good... I had already been warned. It was an outhouse that had a bucket, partially inset into a hole. I didn't ask where they empty it. Maybe there's a village cesspit? Not pleasant to see the poo of all the family. The foods that I liked had been taken out of proportion and every meal we ate was chosen according to foods that I had said that I liked. So we -all- had porridge for breakfast. We -all- had vareniki for lunch. Their garden is used as farm land - like seemingly every house in the village. It was two houses. One for living and one for bathroom and kitchen. The only time I felt something wasn't right was when my girlfriend began working in the field. She expected me to just watch. Just stand and watch for two days? I wanted to help. She said that "It's difficult", (digging up onions) and she took on a negative tone. She let me help. But she didn't really want my help. As if, by helping, I was taking away something from her. I still don't understand her attitude in regard to this.

While I really need my girlfriend to come to the UK, we haven't applied yet. After investigating the rules, it appeared that we would have no chance of getting a Visa, despite me being a sponsor, because she didn't have "official" work, (and now no work), and no income that showed on a bank statement (cash salary). The travel agency said little chance of getting a Visa, but they offered to provide fake employment details for a fee. We declined. So the next step was to visit Europe twice, in order to make a better case. We've been once, so far - as she had to get a biometric passport first. That and it's really expensive to travel. I can confidently say that not being able to acquaint her with my life in England or my family has damaged our relationship. And now that the early days of our relationship have gone, the momentum that provided has been lost. By this I mean that her early high enthusiasm to visit the UK with me has diminished.

Offline David Rochlin

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #13 on: 23:37 03-Oct-2018 »
Yes, I spent a couple of days at her parents in the summer, last year. Her mum was thrilled to meet me. It was early on in our relationship and my girlfriend was really happy and positive and all seemed great. She leapt into her dad's arms - despite all the bad things she previously said about him. The toilet wasn't good... I had already been warned. It was an outhouse that had a bucket, partially inset into a hole. I didn't ask where they empty it. Maybe there's a village cesspit? Not pleasant to see the poo of all the family. The foods that I liked had been taken out of proportion and every meal we ate was chosen according to foods that I had said that I liked. So we -all- had porridge for breakfast. We -all- had vareniki for lunch. Their garden is used as farm land - like seemingly every house in the village. It was two houses. One for living and one for bathroom and kitchen. The only time I felt something wasn't right was when my girlfriend began working in the field. She expected me to just watch. Just stand and watch for two days? I wanted to help. She said that "It's difficult", (digging up onions) and she took on a negative tone. She let me help. But she didn't really want my help. As if, by helping, I was taking away something from her. I still don't understand her attitude in regard to this.

While I really need my girlfriend to come to the UK, we haven't applied yet. After investigating the rules, it appeared that we would have no chance of getting a Visa, despite me being a sponsor, because she didn't have "official" work, (and now no work), and no income that showed on a bank statement (cash salary). The travel agency said little chance of getting a Visa, but they offered to provide fake employment details for a fee. We declined. So the next step was to visit Europe twice, in order to make a better case. We've been once, so far - as she had to get a biometric passport first. That and it's really expensive to travel. I can confidently say that not being able to acquaint her with my life in England or my family has damaged our relationship. And now that the early days of our relationship have gone, the momentum that provided has been lost. By this I mean that her early high enthusiasm to visit the UK with me has diminished.

I will hazard a guess that what you took away from her was her image of you as not being a peasant like her.  She wanted you on a pedestal and your efforts to be relatable fell flat, because she didn't want that. 

Offline kyivkpic

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Re: Occupying oneself as an expat
« Reply #14 on: 07:20 04-Oct-2018 »
Yes, I spent a couple of days at her parents in the summer, last year. Her mum was thrilled to meet me. It was early on in our relationship and my girlfriend was really happy and positive and all seemed great. She leapt into her dad's arms - despite all the bad things she previously said about him. The toilet wasn't good... I had already been warned. It was an outhouse that had a bucket, partially inset into a hole. I didn't ask where they empty it. Maybe there's a village cesspit? Not pleasant to see the poo of all the family. The foods that I liked had been taken out of proportion and every meal we ate was chosen according to foods that I had said that I liked. So we -all- had porridge for breakfast. We -all- had vareniki for lunch. Their garden is used as farm land - like seemingly every house in the village. It was two houses. One for living and one for bathroom and kitchen. The only time I felt something wasn't right was when my girlfriend began working in the field. She expected me to just watch. Just stand and watch for two days? I wanted to help. She said that "It's difficult", (digging up onions) and she took on a negative tone. She let me help. But she didn't really want my help. As if, by helping, I was taking away something from her. I still don't understand her attitude in regard to this.

While I really need my girlfriend to come to the UK, we haven't applied yet. After investigating the rules, it appeared that we would have no chance of getting a Visa, despite me being a sponsor, because she didn't have "official" work, (and now no work), and no income that showed on a bank statement (cash salary). The travel agency said little chance of getting a Visa, but they offered to provide fake employment details for a fee. We declined. So the next step was to visit Europe twice, in order to make a better case. We've been once, so far - as she had to get a biometric passport first. That and it's really expensive to travel. I can confidently say that not being able to acquaint her with my life in England or my family has damaged our relationship. And now that the early days of our relationship have gone, the momentum that provided has been lost. By this I mean that her early high enthusiasm to visit the UK with me has diminished.

I will hazard a guess that what you took away from her was her image of you as not being a peasant like her.  She wanted you on a pedestal and your efforts to be relatable fell flat, because she didn't want that.

David your political analysis is usually terrible but you really nailed this mystery of human relations.

OP get a nice apartment for you both, buy her stuff to make her life less peasant-like. Maybe buy some equipment for the ģarden work at her parents. You can live at western standards in Odessa. Show her what it is like. Have your folks visit until you can go to the UK.

Poems and poop are nice but women are practical, especially Ukrainians.

As for the mystery about the village poophouses...some people have septic tanks that are emptied by a truck and some people put the poop in a compost pile and then fertilize the garden. This is the secret to immortality in Faust. There are also modern biotoilets that are clean and keep the smell and insects away. Good gift idea for her folks.

Many people also have proper septic systems.
Твоя голова всегда в ответе за то, куда сядет твой зад.