Struggling in moscow



I just wanted to ask for some advice. I’m learning Russian and I’m currently in Moscow til June and finding it really tough, firstly from the point of view of homesickness, and secondly with making a long-distance relationship work.

Just before I came away I had some silly arguments with my boyfriend… I think it was just the stress of leaving etc affecting us but it feels as though I came away under a cloud and we haven’t quite got back to normal. It’d hard over the phone, it can be really easy to misunderstand things/ a tone of voice etc. And we’re both stressed out! My boyfriend had his dissertation to write, finals coming up and some health issues at the moment, and I’m just trying to cope with teaching, studying, feeling kind of lonely, a strange place etc… basically it’s affecting us quite badly. we keep arguing and I get so upset by even the little things at the monent. I don’t want to lose our relationship… I can see myself marrying this guy but it’s hard keeping on an even keel… Does anyone have any advice, especially those who maybe have a spouse away in the services? How do you keep relationships good, and stay close? How can I deal with my homesickness? I know I have a great opportunity here but at times I feel like jumping on the first plane home!

I would really appreciate some help, thank you all. xx


Hi there! I’m also living overseas, and involved in a slightly long-distance relationship. It is tough, there’s no way around it. Here’s all the advice I can offer right now.

For the homesickness: try to simplify your life as much as possible. Don’t have too high expectations of yourself. Living in another language takes a huge amount of mental energy, and if you expect to be able to be as active and productive as you were at home, you’ll end up frustrated. I don’t know how long you’ve been in Moscow, but if it hasn’t been too long you’re likely to be suffering from culture shock. Just don’t be hard on yourself. It’s expected.

Surround yourself with pictures of home, if you miss it a lot. Make a mural on your bedroom door, and keep a picture in your wallet. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by where you are, pull out a picture of home, your family, and your boyfriend, and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever. Count the days. Mark them on a calendar if it helps.

For the long distance relationship: I don’t have as much advice to offer about that, since my boyfriend lives in a different city in the same country, and I can see him every couple of weeks. My strategy is to try not to argue on the phone. If we have something serious to discuss, we do it by e-mail or in person. We use the telephone to discuss lighter topics, like what we’ve been doing, how we’re feeling, how much we miss each other, and how our families are.

I don’t know how the phone systems are in Russia and England, but sending text messages to each other’s phones really helped me and my BF. It’s nice to know that he thinks of me often. If phones won’t work, send e-mails to each other. I get three to six messages a day from my boyfriend. Nothing important, just “thinking of you” or “hope you’ve eaten breakfast” or “I’m home from work now.” It’s nice to know that even when I’m miles away from him, my boyfriend is including me in his life and I know more about what’s happening in his life than his buddies who live next door.

We’ve also made commitments to each other not to go out with people who would make our partner jealous while we’re separated. For example, I don’t go out with a group of exclusively male friends, and he doesn’t go out with a group of just women. I know I can trust him, but it’s nice to know that he’s considering my feelings, and he likes to know that I have a female friend around to make sure I’m safe. We also send each other pictures of friends we’re spending time with so that when we tell each other stories about them, we each know who the other is talking about. It makes us feel closer to each others’ lives.

I wouldn’t say there are any gems in the information I’ve given you, but I hope it’s a start. I find being in a long-distance relationship is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m only living two cities over from my boyfriend. I can tell you exactly how many days there are until we can live in the same place again (8 months and two days). It’s easier for me because we’ve agreed to get engaged as soon as I’m finished graduate school (10 months and 7 days from now), and I know that getting married to each other is the highest priority in each of our lives. That knowledge helps me trust him and relax when something happens and he loses his phone and can’t call me for two or three days. (Being in touch with several mutual friends who can let me know that kind of thing helps, too.)

Anyway, I hope your relationship can last through this challenge. Good luck. I will pray for you.


Dear struggling,
I feel for you. Many years ago, I spent a year in France, and after about one month I “hit the wall” with culture shock. I didn’t think I would, but it happens. At that point, you have two choices: 1) appreciate the culture you’re in, look for its positive qualities, and learn from it and you’ll do OK, or 2) hate the culture you’re in and be miserable, counting the days until you go home. BTW, #1 makes it a little harder to embrace your home culture.

Fortunately, I didn’t have a relationship to maintain at that time, but I did meet my husband there, so when I went back hom, I then had a “long distance” boyfriend in France while I was back in the U.S. Yep, it’s hard. Technology like e-mail was non-existent back then, so we wrote multiple letters each week. We also sent each other cassette tapes. It’s hard because spending time together is important. It isn’t a relationship-killer, though. Keep in mind that it is a “season” in your relationship, and that you’ll look back on it some day and realize what you learned from it.

You both have things to focus on to keep you busy. Agree that the details won’t resolve from thousands of miles away. Celebrate that he can work on his dissertation and you on your teaching and that it not be in competition for much of your relationship time. Agree that when you are both done with those things and you get back together that you will have plenty of time for each other and to work out the little things that upset you. Listen to each other and tell each other that if it is meant to be a permanent relationship, all the details will be overcome by love and perseverence.

I will pray for you. Pray for him and for patience and faith. See 2 Peter 1:5-10 (lately my favorite verses)


When I was deployed to Afghanistan for a year, my wife and I stayed in touch regularly with Yahoo! Messenger…it helped a lot, I also got a webcam so that she could see me…she had one too, but it wasn’t as good…but the voice chat feature on YM really helped and is much cheaper than phone calls.




Thank you for your advice… I will do my best to apply all of it! You are right about the culture shock, it’s hard to deal with somewhere so different, but this won’t be forever :slight_smile:

I guess the secret is just staying busy and keeping in lots of contact, not stressing, trusting the other one etc. We’ve had a couple of positive talks recently so I think it will be better now.

Thank you anyway,



I’m going to be the voice of doom on this one and give you another viewpoint. Just so you can add it to the mix.

First, congratulations on the Moscow trip! The Russian people at heart are very similar to Americans. Outgoing, friendly, fascinated with YOUR culture and they come from that “big country” mentality we have. Enjoy the many places you can see and while you are trying to practice your Russian on them, they’ll be trying to practice their very good English on you!

Now for the communications.

I was in this situation 18 years ago. Sometimes we blame distance for our relationship problems when distance has nothing to do with it. Distance has a way of putting a microscope on problems that are already there. Sometimes people who are hard to communicate with become even more so when you aren’t right there with them. Distance can be a way of literally taking a step back and looking at a relationship in its totality.

I blamed distance for my ex’s phone calls and the unpleasantness and the mixed signals from his letters, and the anger and the pouting and the hostility and the blaming. When the fact was, he was just a jerk.

And funny thing was, when distance was removed from the equation and he was living in my house, he was STILL a jerk. And a mean one.

So maybe it wasn’t distance. Because some people do quite nicely with long distance relationships.

What you might be finding out is that you and/or your boyfriend do not deal with stress in a productive or healthy way. And until that is resolved, there is little hope for a good calm relationship.

Sometimes distance is a good way to mercifully end something that really wasn’t going to work anyway.

Only prayer and discernment on your part will show which category you and boyfriend belong in. But someone who is happy to waste precious and expensive long-distance minutes on “petty arguments” is not a fun guy to tie your future with.

Let him do his dissertation, fix his health and deal with his problems while you are busy with your once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t let him distract you from this wonderful opportunity. When you get back, if he is able to treat you in an adult fashion with respect and you are able to do the same, then pursue a relationship. Otherwise, I promise you this story won’t have a happy ending. Been there, done that, blamed the distance too. Do yourself a favor, don’t think of walking down the aisle with a man who can’t have a civil phone conversation with you!


I will echo what has been said…pray…and pray with him on the phone. It was wonderful for me to be able to say prayers with my wife and the kids in the evenings…

Shared time in prayer is time well spent.



Thank you, Liberanosamalo, your response was very thought-provoking…only, I’m embarrassed to say that I think, in all honesty, it’s me who’s being the problem at the moment. I don’t always deal too well with stress and I probably lean too heavily on my boyfriend for unending emotional support when things haven’t gone well, with the result that we’ve got into this dynamic of me being upset all the time, and him just going quiet and withdrawing :frowning: .

I’ve been thinking of ways to deal with that, mostly through finding peace in prayer, or through talking to my mum and girlfriends, and being more positive and calm in our conversations.

So, I guess I will heed your advice but apply it more to myself and hopefully get things back on that even keel.

Thank you for the help anyway :slight_smile:


Actually, Richard’sGirl, if YOU are the problem, then it’s much easier for you to fix it than if he were the problem. :t

This sounds more hopeful than you originally described it if that’s so. You can’t control anything in life but your own reactions. Once you have those under control, the rest kind of falls into place. The unexamined life really ISN’T worth living.

I suspect if you really find a way to enjoy this WONDERFUL opportunity and view it positively and make the most of it, your stress level will go down and you will find your relationship with your boyfriend improves vastly. Good luck!


Thanks Liberanosamalo… You’re right that it’s in my hands to fix this problem… mostly. The only thing is, I feel that my respect for him/ faith in him has been compromised just recently. And maybe that’s led to the arguments etc.

I know I’m throwing something new in here, something I didn’t mention in my opening post but it’s worrying me so…

He has basically paid a company to write his dissertation for him :frowning: . Well, he sent off a plan with his basic ideas, they sent him back a fully written dissertation which he is planning to ‘rework’ to make ‘his own’. I felt that this was wrong and tried to dissuade him, but he was just so stressed, due to having a rubbish supervisor and suddenly having to change topic at a late stage. To be honest, I understand and sympathise with his problems but it’s left me feeling disappointed in him, and unsure as to a) just how immoral/serious this issue is, and b) what is says about him as a person. I love him and would like to marry him, we’ve talked so much about the future and he’s my best friend, but it concerns me that he would do this!

So, our relationship is under strain because I’m questioning that decision plus I’m so far away and stressed out at the mo :frowning: .

Anyway, you’re right - I need to make the most of my opportunity and be positive about it. I’ve been getting on much better with Richard the past couple of days as I’ve been calmer… but I still have this niggle and it’s kind of, I don’t know, eroding something in our relationship.

I know it’s maybe a topic for a new thread, but I would really appreciate some perspectives on this issue as I can’t discuss something so confidential with anyone I know.

Am I making it a bigger deal than it needs to be? He’s such a good person basically, should this be a relationship-killer?



Okay, integrity issues are a fault line that runs through the heart of a relationship. Do not ignore your doubts.

Never ignore your doubts. Listen to that little voice.

What you have found out about him (and hey, you don’t need to shack up to find out the truth about people, you can see it all the way from Moscow!) is that when he is under stress, he throws his principles aside for expediency, makes excuses and blames his rubbish supervisor.

You have found out that one of the most important papers he has to write as a student, the one that will give him a degree, is not even his, but he will sign his name to it. (Is that the same signature you would depend upon on a marriage license to say that he will remain with you forever and be faithful to you?)

He is taking huge risks. The people who grade his dissertation may have ways to check to see if these are really legitimate. He may have the biggest public humiliation in his life looming on the horizon. Will that be because his teacher is “rubbish” also?

What will he do if he decides you are “rubbish?”

A man of integrity would take the new assignment and do it, even at the cost of a lower grade. It may be lower, but it will be his grade.

You’ve seen a glimpse of his character. Do you love him, or the man you thought he was, or wish he was?

Do you think now he will never lie to you either?

Don’t make any commitments to this man until you resolve these serious issues.


:frowning: Now I just don’t know what to do…

I know this was wrong really… but I love him so much and see so much that is good in him. He’s not proud of it. He has made the argument to me that, as the original plan was his and the final version will be his, it’s not so bad…? I don’t know.

Are you saying that I should probably break up with him because of this? What about just agreeing that nothing like this can happen again.

Thanks for your response… I’ve been hanging on all day to see if anyone would reply!


I’d say he has a big Strike One going there. I wouldn’t give him three strikes myself. A dissertation is a big deal. Even if the idea was his, no professor worth his salt would accept a paper that was subcontracted out to a third party, even if your friend had the right to alter the work another person did.

If it’s “not so bad,” then he would tell the professor as he handed in his paper just how it was “written” and I’m sure the professor would agree with him and just give him the A anyway.

Will he share the advanced degree with the person who wrote the paper? Me? I’d have a hard time framing that diploma and looking at it every day…

Did he cheat on any other exams when his back was to the wall?

He’s turning in a paper as if he was the one who researched it and wrote it and it is his work. This isn’t a college term paper. It’s his dissertation.

Yes, you do know. That’s why it bothers you. Would you do it? No, I bet not. Because it’s… dishonest. And you are realizing you two do not have the same standards of honesty. And it is troubling you.

Even if he says he is unhappy at having to do it, you have found out that he is a guy who will cut moral corners and violate his conscience and minimize the severity of it if his back is to the wall.

Will he do the same on his taxes? His business accounts?

He has good in him. Maybe. But do recognize he has a huge stripe of dishonesty right down the center.

So you can agree that nothing like this will ever happen again. But what is his word worth to you now? Will you always be waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Good that he feels bad about it. But that just means his conscience isn’t completely dead yet. Maybe next time the dishonesty will be easier?

He has a lot of growing up to do.

Should you break up with him? I’m not telling you to do that. I’m telling you there are red lights flashing. With what I know now about my xh, I should have shown him to the door the first time I caught him in a lie.

But already your respect for him is diminished. Just what would it take for him to put himself back where he used to be in your estimation? Accepting his punishment like a man and coming clean with the teacher? Starting his whole paper from scratch and working on it night and day and handing in a less perfect but more honest paper?

Or is he the kind who will do anything to get ahead?

Your call whether you can live with that or not. Pray real hard and dont’ be afraid to be very honest with him.

Here’s a hint about some people… when they realize you are on to them and you have judged them, some of them become hostile and defensive and start picking fights with YOU to put things back on an even keel. You snap at them, you get mean… see? You’re BOTH bad! It’s very manipulative. Watch and see if he does that. That would be my “strike two, he’s out.”

And when he’s stressed, not only does he cut moral corners, but he retreats and becomes silent and noncommunicative. And you are leaning on THIS person for YOUR support? Find your own strength, girlfriend. Then you can make an honest choice about him that’s good for you!

You see… not only does he have poor communication skills and brings out the harpy in you… (because why? Saying it nice the first time doesn’t work, and he retreats and you pursue getting louder and more upset the more he retreats?) There’s a hopeful dynamic! :thumbsup:

Also… he’s a poor planner. He’s stressed and having to do his paper at the last minute in a hurry because… why? It’s a surprise to him he has to do one? He put it off so long or worked so slowly on something so important that by the time he realized his original idea wouldn’t be sufficient, he had no choice but to pay someone else to take the test… I mean, write the dissertation for him?

He needs to grow up before you can decide if he’s more than just beloved friend material. No one says don’t love him. No one says don’t be his friend (trying to lead him onto a better path.) But do you want to tie your fortunes to his? Do you want to take his name that he may drag through the mud as your own?

Enjoy your time in Moscow. You shouldn’t be stressing about stuff when you have a grand opportunity to do something you may never be able to do again. I’m sure you didn’t get where you are by paying people to do your work for you.

Bonus question: Is his boss really “rubbish” or are there personality conflicts because the boss detects a lack of integrity in him also?


My DH and I maintained a long distance relationship for 18 months until he was able to move here. Rather than phones (long distance) and cellphones ($$$$$) we used a VoIP server like:

This is normally used for internet gaming in MMORPG’s (Multiplayer online games) to coordinate tactics etc. Just download the client, and purchase a server subscription. ( you don’t have to use it for gaming.) You just need an internet connection (highspeed), a headset/mic and a computer. It’s very easy and I just left the speakers open so I knew when he got home from work. (He’d speak into the mic and say hello- we’d chat for a while or whatever). I purchased a server for about $40 for a year subscription. (10 man server).

This worked very well for us and was economical! :thumbsup:

BTW, as long as you both have internet connections, this is works internationally. My husband and I did some online gaming as well and had friends in Hungary, Australia, Canada, everywhere in the US… etc. etc. :slight_smile:


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