The Russian AbroadHi, I’m Olga.

That’s what I usually say to people when I introduce myself.

So I thought, if you’ve somehow landed on my blog, and you’re probably wondering who I am, I should introduce myself to you too. So hi there — I’m Olga! I am 25 years old and I currently live in Berlin.

I was born in April 1991 — just few months after the collapse of the Soviet Union — in a city called Riga, in a country called Latvia. That’s where I spent the first 21 years of my life.

And as it often happens when you’re raised by two post-Soviet grandparents (which was my case), I was growing up with a mindset that the world was very big and I was very little. I wasn’t dreaming of travelling the world one day, let alone living in other countries. That seemed absolutely unreachable. Me? Oh, stop it, please! But somehow, the idea of spending my whole life in tiny Latvia was making me feel a bit sad. I’ve been having a huge FOMO for the things I haven’t seen, for the places I’ve never heard of, for the people I’ve never met.

My grandparents, however, tried to show me the world, as much as they could.

When I was 7, my grannie and I went to Crimea. That was my first ever trip abroad.

When I was 10, my dad took me to Turkey.

At the age of 12 and 13, I visited St. Petersburg — the only two times I’ve been to Russia.

When I turned 15, I visited UK for the first time. Later, I travelled there again at the age of 19.

Before I hit my 20s, I already knew that I wanted OUT.

my grannie and I in CrimeaBut HOW? I didn’t come from money, so I could forget about getting a degree abroad. At that time, my best shot was to get into a local university, work hard on my grades, obtain a scholarship and go for an exchange semester abroad, having all my expenses paid by the government and hoping that somehow, I’ll find my way to stay abroad.

Which is exactly what I did! I first came to Leipzig in September 2012 as an ERASMUS student. Meant to stay there for 4 months only, I managed to extend my scholarship and stay for another semester. After a full academic year abroad, coming back to Riga seemed ridiculous — so I just exmatriculated from University of Latvia (or got myself expelled… depends on how you see it) and transferred to University of Leipzig for a higher semester.

This, by the way, may or may not have involved a C1 German language certification that I had to obtain within two and a half months before applying.

So either I’m just very, very lucky, or very, very stubborn. You choose.

It’s when I moved to Germany when I really got the travel bug.

In 2014, I moved to Ecuador, following my first serious boyfriend across the Atlantic ocean. Oh, Ecuador.. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But it is then when I decided to start blogging and capture my expat life. That’s how The Russian Abroad was finally born.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Learn how to appreciate nature.

In six months, I moved back to Europe, spending two weeks in London before I came back home. In that short time frame, one of my posts got some serious fraction on Facebook. And then another one.. and another one. And then my blog crashed because it couldn’t deal with the amount of traffic it was getting. Crazy, right? When I first hit the publish button, I had no idea anybody would EVER read any of my articles, let alone share them on social media, leave comments, and even come back for more content. So I’m saying warm and huge THANK YOU to all my readers out there! You really have no idea how much help you’ve given me back in the day!

Right now, I live in Berlin, having a full-time content marketing job in one of Berlin’s SaaS start-ups. I still do heaps of travelling, discovering foreign countries and my own Self in the meantime. My goal is to show that you CAN build your own life the way you want, even if it seems that all the odds are against you. After all, I’ve learned that life never gives you lemons — it just depends on your lemonade-making skills.

With ♥

Olga aka The Russian Abroad