My life in Moscow - a wonderful experience
Expat life can be a wild journey filled with a lot of fun, adventures, good times - and yet as “expat wife” the things are particularly challenging.
I must admit I do not like this label. Like so many women these days, I really enjoyed having my own independence, my own career, but when I choose to temporary leave my career to follow my husband’s work, this label becomes my new identity as well.
I was pushed out of my comfort zone, I have been confronted with my own shortcomings, but still this kind of life force me to grow in ways I didn’t expect.
I left my country 8 years ago following my husband for our expat adventure. I left my family and my friends, I left my permanent job behind.
The first year was the most challenging for me. Everything was new and fresh, but I also felt as a tourist all the time during the first month in Moscow. And once I had a life routine, I realized that this is not adventure but my new home.
Because we are social beings, it is in our nature to find new friends and to socialize quickly. There were many different international clubs already operating here in Moscow. A quick google search pointed me in the right direction: International Women’s Club of Moscow (IWC).
My first “Coffee morning” happened and finally I managed to become a member of the biggest international Club in Moscow.
I met some wonderful people there, expat’s wives who clung together there for support. Coffee mornings used to be (and still) organized by great ladies, the Club’s volunteers. We would get together almost every Coffee morning and organized our private coffees during the week. The Club brings me a sense of real community.
I appreciated all new experiences. My son started his international school, my husband worked, and I had a new way of living.
At that time there were almost 400 IWC members and a group of 20 ladies, volunteers, expat’s wives, were leading the Club as Steering Committee members. After a few months I was invited to join them as a volunteer, there was a voting, and I became the IG Chair assistant. I have been supporting the Interest Group Chair in her activities, and I’ve been learning every day.
Volunteering is thus essential for our community.
With volunteer’s help the Club is able to reach goals such as promoting friendship among women from all different sides of the world and to raise funds for Its Charities.
Talking about the benefits of volunteers, many people think that the benefit of volunteering is a kind of warm feeling and can’t be sad after helping others. In fact, this is just one of the benefits. Volunteering can be said all-encompassing and after overcoming some challenges with learning new things, you can learn to start mastering new skills and you also benefit others by transferring your knowledge. Everybody wins!
Volunteering allows me to get out of my comfort zone by taking new tasks and performing new activities that I might not otherwise do.
When my colleague left Moscow, I took over the Interest Group’s Chair position and soon afterwards I have been involved in organizing one of the Club’s biggest event dedicated to Club’s members - Signing into Interest Groups. It was quite challenging to manage 45 IG’s, with almost hundred people involved from the side of these Interest Groups having in total 300 people at the event. It was a successful event, and it remains in my memory as a great experience and a chance given to me to learn a lot.
If You are new in Moscow, and looking for some activity, you might consider volunteering in the IWC. Nowadays many jobs require work experience, and volunteering allows you to use your work-experience which helps you to get the job done.
Volunteering can help you to pass over difficulties in social situations, gives you opportunity to talk to others and to get along with others.
In my volunteering carrier further on, it was challenging for me to lead and organizing the Winter Bazaar Cultural program, than I took over the IWC General Officer position and I have been the Chair of the biggest Winter Bazaar in Russia organized by IWC’s Steering Committee with involvement of over hundred volunteers. I proudly think back on this period.
All these positions were in demand and together with other ladies I had to dedicate my personal time, energy and skills to make the Winter Bazaar a success and to improve the Club’s activities.
And the IWC, unlike other international clubs, has a lot of activities such as Charities, Winter Bazaar, Interest Groups, Meet & Greet, maintaining IWC’s Website, Club’s social networks, 4 Newspapers, Partnership activities, Coffee Mornings, International Women’s Evening etc. All done by volunteers.
Next to above mentioned reason to volunteer, I have always been motivated with the fact of improving social surroundings for “expat wives” coming in Moscow, as well as raising funds to help homeless people, children in orphanages, children without parental care and other people in need, through IWC Charities.
I learned that dedication is the essence of the spirit of volunteerism.
I saw more and more ladies/members joining the volunteer team and met so many kind people, I learned about many different nationalities and cultures. I served the community and learned a lot from it.
I am happy I had a chance to be part of such a great Club. While I am excited about the new opportunities, there is also a big part of me that is sad having to say goodbye to amazing ladies from the IWC Steering Committee. I have enjoyed the time we spent together in our volunteer roles and all the fun we had along the way.
I am wishing the IWC all the best moving forward. It is my pleasure to have been part of those who made history of the over 40 years existing International Women’s Club of Moscow.