Then, twelve years later, overnight, I quit my job, moved with my husband and kids to another country and became an Expat wife. But I didn't really feel like one. There was no air of classy life that I saw in Expat wives I knew before. I actually felt really strange. I understood that our apartment looked good and is in the good area. I understood that my kids went to a good school. But actually everything else stayed the same. I found myself being a complete inbetweener. Not belonging to the high class women mentally and financially. But also having issue to connect with regular local people with whom I felt to be at the same level.
The wake up call came when I was offered to join International women club. It sounded so upscale and important. I was a bit proud to be able to be a part of this organisation. Just until I learned that there was a yearly admission fee. I mean, yes - we have nice apartment, yes- kids go to good school. But actually, moneywise, I did not feel like an Expat wife at all. My resolution was to find friends some other way. Anyway, regarding charity, I was always a more hands-on person. I like to see actually who I help, and not do it just through money (partly because I have a limited budget!).
The big brake came from our school. Actually, one mum I met at the parent teacher meeting, was just like prescribed, and she actually lived a street away from us. And my now really great Estonian friend was matched to me by my daughters teacher. And she was the best matchmaker I have ever met. Although, this Estonian lady was also the reason I visited one time International women club charity exhibition. Because she is a still an unknown painter with amazing drawing skills, and she needed support. There was no doubt that my wild Russian mum friend and I will come and help promote her work.
Picture this - a nice church, gloomy, rainy morning. My friend and me storm the show and buy one picture each, from our Estonian friend. As we come in, we are greeted by very friendly ladies. I still feel like I am crushing a cheerleaders party and I am the nerd. But to make best time of it, I don't only buy her art, I start selling it. You have to know the atmosphere is really composed and calm. And there I am, dragging people to her stand, trying to explain how this flower drawn by a pen, will make an excellent piece in their new home. I think that few of them wanted to call a psychiatric hospital to take me away.
In the end I accepted to be a simpler type of expat wife. And over a course of one year I met at least ten amazing women who felt quite the same. And we formed coffee dates which have no obligation, no admission, no lipstick and good hair and, to my relief, no high heels. And I really enjoy their company. So if you are new in Russia and don't feel you fit in the true Expat wife category, feel free to find us. No admission, no expected pedigree, just be yourself and have fun meeting girls from all-around the world....