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“The guys really are changing the city”

I support the Quality Management System, particularly, the implementation of standards for the design, development, testing and prototyping of medical devices. Worked in the same field before, but at a company smaller than EPAM. When considering relocation options, I prioritized my future position, the city came second. A big company means big opportunity, the way I see it. Belarus seemed preferable because of the similarity of cultures, languages—and landscapes, too.

The job offer itself and the moment I came to work were a month apart. Psychological readiness to move, coordinated actions and support of EPAM mobility team—I had no reason to extend the process. I could’ve come earlier, but some personal stuff had gotten in the way.

I had two sources of conflicting information about Minsk before the relocation: skeptics with certain stereotypes about Belarus and, on the other hand, rave reviews. Being here, I’ve come to realize that the truth is somewhere in between.

“The skeptics said Belarus is the ‘Soviet Union,’ underdeveloped, this or that thing available in the developed countries is lacking here”

As it turned out, such way of looking at things is at least blown out of proportion.

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A couple of weeks back, I had to switch to remote work for family reasons and return to Kazan for a while. Got an opportunity to share the impressions with family and friends. I can say that the guys got interested in my stories not just about the city per se but also about the place that opens up new career opportunities. When they’re in Minsk, they will be satisfied—even the skeptics.

The way I figure, if there were more advertising of unique historical sights, about what life is like in Minsk, there’d be more tourists in the city. Many are unaware of how everyday life works: comfortable space for living, how well the roads are organized. I guess the city dwellers have simply gotten used to all this and no longer notice, but I can tell that road traffic is quiet, even during rush hour, and public transport runs on schedule.

“Seems like small things, but few cities can boast of it”

To my surprise, I get this question a lot, ‘What, is there stuff to see in Belarus? Europe is next door, get a train ticket or hop in the car—and you’re there.’ This is certainly an upside, but we have small children and hence haven’t had the time to check it out. Although some guys I know go to places in Europe every weekend.

I believe Belarus offers any type of recreation, there’s enough time to get anywhere during the weekend. In warm season this is definitely field trips into nature. It is special in Belarus, very different from other countries, closer to my liking. Water reservoirs are a family must-visit. I advise everyone to visit Nesvizh Castle, but you need to pick a time when it’s not all that crowded. Minsk itself, its nooks and crannies are open for endless exploration—say, discovering new places with street food, or walking in the parks. My wife and I have recently discovered a new type of recreation: sailing on the Minsk Sea, an interesting experience. We are going to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and Grodno for the weekend; I’ve been there on a business trip, a very cozy place.

Minsk is neither cheaper nor more expensive than Kazan, no serious dent in the budget. Housing seemed expensive, but one can go for something in the medium segment. We got lucky with this, found the right apartment in the second ad already. Concerns about the weather never materialized: I came in March from knee-deep snow to sunny weather here, mild warm climate. I drive a lot and was initially upset by the ‘kopeyka’ on Sundays (a weekly 1-kopeck gas price bump), but given the way traffic is arranged in Minsk, that’s nothing more than a butt of jokes. This whole time I’ve been here, I only heard a car honk twice—and still one of those times was me accidentally pressing the horn in the yard.

It was surprising at first how everything is civic and harmonious, like the acts in a ballet. The locals disagree, to which I reply, “Come to Kazan, you’ll see the difference.” Belarusians are really open, easy to communicate with. We got to know each other with colleagues, have our own bunch going; say, we can go somewhere on weekends together with families or meet up after work. Although I’m often told, ‘You go to the hospital or try getting some paperwork done, you’ll see things for what they really are.’ I don’t know, once went to the Pervomaisky Executive Committee—got such friendly reception, they almost invited me to have some tea. Even there, the stereotype that everything here is ‘Soviet style’ and petrified didn’t hold up.

When I had made up my mind about wanting to join EPAM, and an offer came from Belarus, I went online to read up on Minsk facts. I saw a statement claiming it to be an IT capital, a developing city. Having lived here, I can confirm this is the case: it’s not just for show, the guys really are changing the city, creating an atmosphere.

For now, my wife and I plan to stay in Minsk; we like everything, and there’s so much more still unexplored. Although putting down roots in one place is not like me, but given that EPAM is a global company, there is every opportunity to move forward.

Upsides
Nature.
Excellent road organization.
The IT capital’s atmosphere.

Downsides
Housing could’ve been cheaper.