Words and story by Yana Papaya.
Edited by Maryana Kirakovskaya.
Are you one of the ones who was looking for an educational challenge and was keen to study abroad? I was one of them and I was very attracted to the southern hemisphere. Lots of people kept on asking why I had chosen New Zealand, I didn’t have a proper answer. I just felt that it was right. At that time I was driven by a desire to gain overseas experience and have the chance to live by the ocean, meet new people, learn about different cultures and test myself on how capable I am to make my own decisions without my family and friends being around, however, New Zealand turned out to be not only a travel/study destination. This country made me realise who I am.
This is not just a story about myself. I’m telling you this because, lots of Russians consider New Zealand as an exotic place to live and study. While in return I consider Russia to be an extraordinary country to live and study. You can only imagine my surprise when I encountered a fabulous French chick – Rim – on a street of my home town back in Russia. It was a stroke of pure luck. Her charismatic appearance, gentle manner, gracious smile, voice (*man, you should hear when she is talking Russian (her accent is sooooo sexy) left me with no doubt that I had met a foreigner wandering in my own city. So, what is this charming girl doing here? What brought her to my home town – Ryazan – an average Russian city located 200km to the south from Moscow?
To come along and stay in Russia, where no one speaks French and can hardly speak English is quite an unusual decision to make for a girl in her early 20s! Rim wasn’t only driven by a desire to travel around Russia, she felt hunger for knowledge and challenge. Rim came to study to become a dentist. Interestingly enough the Russian experience also encouraged her to learn more about herself and find out the answers to some life questions.
I didn’t come to Russia just to have fun, it was a serious intention of mine. Before I chose to enroll for an educational general medicine program in Russia, I tried engineering for a month back in France, but very quickly found out that it’s not my cup of tea as I don’t like math. I decided to continue to travel during the following year and after that I started to seriously consider studying in Russia. I found a dreamy educational programme that is taught in French, English and Russian. If this medical course was only taught in Russian, I wouldn’t use this opportunity (laughs).
When I was a kid I had two extreme dreams – I wanted to become a doctor and to be an actress, have lots of fans and travel around the world. I am happy to say that at least I am on track to making one of my dreams come true, as I am studying to become a dentist. No matter who you are and what job you are doing, you are a human being in the first instance and your personality will make a difference to the individual who you interact with. If you’re a bad person you might lose your patients and clients. You need to learn how to talk and socialize with the patient, the relationships you build are essential. And as for my job, the key is to build trust with your patients.
While living in Russia I had some moments when I thought I need to change myself, as people in Russia don’t smile on the street that often. I thought I should adapt and become one of them. It took me a while to understand that I didn’t want to change…I didn’t want to lose myself as it would be very hard to go back and find myself again.
I am happy to say that I am a person with an opinion. I have my principles. For example, I never swear, I respect children, the elderly and nature. I believe that simple acts can make a huge difference, you have the choice to either throw away a cigarette on the street or in to a rubbish bin.
I like expressing myself in various creative ways as well. As for my hobbies I like modeling, creative writing, photography and taking part in different kind of sports. I feel myself growing up compared to the person I used to be back home. My Russian experience and life here has made me stronger and more free. I understand what freedom is. I was a spoilt girl, who was completely dependent on my parents. I couldn’t figure out how to open a bank account and do other daily tasks. While living in Russia I had to make hard decisions that tested me emotionally, financially and morally. I became fearless and now I overcame my biggest fear – being alone and feeling insecure. I also realised the importance of my family and how much I love them. To understand these very important things in life you need to travel far and be distant from them. Now I know that my family is the greatest thing that I have.
My mum actually represents a good example of how I see real women. My mum is very strong and feminine, she works hard but has her hobbies, she loves being with family, but also likes to be on her own. She always says to me “You should never lose yourself and melt into someone else.” By saying this she means that you need to be true to your values and have your own life views, happiness, interests and goals without relying only on your man…I think it’s a very strong attitude and it doesn’t have any relation with feminism.
The society makes you feel that you, as a woman, are always under the control of your parents or man…and lots of women are under this control and not able to express themselves properly. I don’t understand some girls that I met who say: “Why should I work if my man works and supports me?” Life is full of choices indeed, some girls are not interested in themselves, they see the purpose of life to find a right guy who will support them financially and that’s it. As for me I think these girls are missing so much by thinking about life in this way.
The beauty attracts the eyes, the personality attracts the heart. You get attracted to people easily while watching them, but when we are talking about love, we fall in love with personality. Lots of partners are separated because they are empty and unhappy inside. Why are they empty? Because they don’t know who they are and what they should be filled with. The formula of healthy relationships between man and woman, mother and child, as well as friends, is that each of us have our own dreams, space and growing personality.
I love Angelina Jolie in every single way. When I think of a celebrity that I might like, I like reading and watching interviews to find out who they really are, what their values are. Because in the first instance celebrities are real people like us, they have their stories, dramas and background. All the things that have happened in out past set up our future. We need to learn from past experiences in order to make the right choices in the present, to set up a better future. Nobody chooses where they came from, but we can choose where we are going. When you look at Angelina Jolie’s past – you see her as a a rebel girl – she was addicted to drugs and alcohol, but I admire how she has changed over the years and what she has done with her life. She helps people and I would like to do the same. I feel blessed that I am a Doctor, so I can really help and travel to the under-developed countries and help kids and women who struggle with their health problems.
I think it’s important for men to be romantic. There is a good saying that goes: “Luxury is a matter of money. Elegance is a matter of education.” You don’t have to be rich to be romantic and gentle and you can’t buy good manners or etiquette. It comes with the person and with the way they where brought up and what is accepted in society. Russian men are very independent, they work hard to make their own money and I think it’s great. While French guys are more dependent on their family, they plan to have things on their own and make their own income, but not straight away.
My life motto is be in love and spread it around. I am talking not only about love between a man and a woman, but also towards life, people. Spread your positive and peaceful attitude towards everything that surrounds you.
I am not afraid of anything anymore as I know if I made it in Russia and managed to find a happy life here, I can make it anywhere. Russia has helped me to realise that happiness is very easy to obtain, easier than I thought before. Now I appreciate more things and besides, here in Russia, I met a special person.
Be lost to find yourself and realise what you are looking for in life. Face your fears and experience something different.
Have a listen to the charming collection of romantic French songs, click the “Play” button on the mix below.