September 01, 2011

Long Term Expats



Twenty years ago, the economic and social void that followed the end of the Soviet Union and Communism attracted hundreds of multinational companies. With them, came their expatriates. Some rotated through in two or three year stints, Russia just another global stop on their corporate climb. Another breed of foreigners, however, have stayed put, crafting rich and often unexpected lives in Russia. None of them ever anticipated staying upwards of 20 years. These five have, and their stories reveal as much about them as they do about the attractive mystery that Russia exudes.

Writer, linguist, translator, and columnist Mickey Berdy’s mother told her once: “You were just born Russian. I don’t know how it happened, but it did.”

Berdy’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from different outposts of the Russian Empire in 1914: Ukraine and the Trans-Carpathian region. Berdy grew up listening to her parents and Slavic neighbors speaking to one another in a mix of “kitchen Czech, kitchen Ukrainian and kitchen Polish.” She traces her lifelong fascination with Russia back to trying to crack the code of the languages she grew up listening to.


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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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