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“Belarusians are great friends”

I am an engineer by profession, engaged in web applications development. EPAM is my second employer; I used to work for a small company before, from there I first moved to EPAM Hyderabad division in India and then to Minsk.

To be honest, at the time I learned about the relocation option to Belarus, I’d heard nothing about the country and got interested. I googled a bit, asked a colleague from St. Petersburg who gave positive feedback. Being in India, however, I had no idea what to expect from Minsk: the rules of residence for foreigners, places to go, where to live, how to organize the relocation process itself, cultural peculiarities and traditions.

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As soon as I shared my wish to relocate, the company offered me an intro training—a meeting where Mobility Team experts told more about the country and the city, about Belarusian laws, rules of residence, cultural peculiarities, places to buy Indian food, about the people living in the country, places for leisure and much more. I was gonna move to a country I knew nothing about, and I was interested in literally everything.

My wife and I arrived in November, and the first impression was cold weather. In India, the temperature never falls below +50°F (+10°C). We certainly knew the winter was gonna be different but were shocked nonetheless. Faced difficulties initially as not so many people speak English in Minsk as we had originally thought. For example, in places outside work, not everyone always understood us, and at times we had to communicate through an interpreter, or even use body language to get the message across.

“The company staff working with the relocated employees locally have been a tremendous help: explained all the nuances literally step-by-step, handled registration of permits and paperwork together with us, helped in every way”

Say, we had to go see a doctor—and we’ve gone through the whole procedure together.

Had a hard time buying the foodstuffs we were used to back home. Turned out not too difficult—only had to look better. For example, now I know where one can eat Indian traditional cuisine or buy spices and products—there are special departments in stores and at the market. My wife comes from a farming region and is used to certain vegetables; however, we’ve been able to find those, too, to cook at home.

All in all, I believe that Belarus’ living standard is decent. I love India very much, but I gotta admit that the standard of living there is not high enough. I’ve been to America and Singapore, but Minsk has proved to be closer to me.

“Plus, everything with work-life balance is much better here, and Belarusians themselves are friendly people”

You don’t open up to a stranger immediately, but when you get to know each other better, you become great friends. I can say that I even have more friends here now than in India. Together with a company of 5–6 people, we periodically participate in cultural festivals organized by the Embassy of India.

I tell my friends about Minsk, about the possibility to move. One friend is already working here, another one is about to relocate. Minsk is a tech hub, the Belarusian “Silicon Valley.” There’s this city in India, too—Bangalore, they’re even somewhat similar. All those who have moved are happy because the quality of life is noticeably improving. Belarus has great hospitals and highly-skilled doctors. And the cost of a normal, comfortable life is relatively low, though not as low as in my home town. There is stuff to see: we’ve already been to Mir Castle, we plan on visiting Grodno.

My wife and I aren’t planning to leave during the next three or four years. The registration paperwork needs to be dealt with every year, but the company helps, so it’s not a big issue. EPAM also offers Russian courses. I’m trying to learn it now. This is my fourth language, not an easy one to pick up, but I can already watch movies in Russian. And my wife watches Belarusian channels every day.

Upsides
Pleasant interaction experience with people.
Optimal work-life balance.
Living standard.

Downsides
Wintertime weather.
Few people understand English.