All stories

“There’s more freedom here”

I never had an idea to end up in Belarus. I come from Ulyanovsk, spent 11 months in the United States and about eighteen months in Berlin. When moving to Minsk, I was primarily focused on the company. I had confidence in it, knew they wouldn’t send me off to a bad place.

Before making the decision, I asked colleagues, googled prices, checked out the pictures. I remember a picture with a green bus approaching a bus stop with an electronic schedule board. I thought to myself, ‘Public transportation is probably good down there.’ I don’t drive and I got used to getting anywhere by subway in Berlin, so it was critical. Minsk is certainly inferior in this respect. But everything is fine compared to Ulyanovsk.

“Whereas back in Berlin all the necessary paperwork took six months to complete, in Minsk I was done in literally two days”

Quickly found a place to rent. The way that usually went in Berlin was as follows: you wait on the street with a group of thirty people while another twenty are looking at the apartment. Someone would already sign the hire contract by the time you get to walk in.

On top of this, moving to the United States or Europe is a contract with your own freedom in a way, although they don’t normally say it out loud. You lose the right to unemployment, for example. You always feel that if you tell your manager to go to hell now, you’ll get sent back immediately. I understood that I would return to more liberal conditions in Minsk. Perhaps it’s the company specifics that shines through but the communication here is surprisingly open. You need to explain, ‘sell’ the idea to a staff member and not just give instructions. I also noticed a common feature of Belarusian companies: if a managerial position becomes vacant, they’d try to fill it with somebody in-house.

The first difficulties I ran into were the financial relations of Belarus with the world. I could conduct my financial affairs all over the world from Russia five years ago; in Belarus such opportunities are more limited. Secondly, although Belarus is in the center of Europe, a Russian citizen can’t obtain a long-term Schengen visa here—11 months validity at the most. American visa is tougher to get in your country than in Germany. I’m used to being able to move freely, and here I got a Schengen visa valid only for three months, for example.

Check out open positions at Wargaming Group 9 Created with Sketch.

“Minsk is a clean, quiet, green city”

The feeling of security here is even higher than in Germany. Climate is a joy, too. In Minsk, we’re no longer surprised by the sun, it’s out there—great. I remember Berlin—leaving work early on a sunny day and marking rainy days in the calendar with a black cross. In principle, I’m fine with almost everything in Minsk at the moment.

I live a 10-minute walk away from the river, I really enjoy strolling there. I generally love nature more than going out. My wife and I have a calendar to mark when and where we’ve been. Like walks to a park, to cafes. Every weekend we try to go somewhere we haven’t visited before. We’ve been doing a good job with that so far.

Upsides
Renting an apartment is easy.
A quiet, safe city.
Many sunny days.

Downsides
Difficulties in managing finance abroad.