Interviewer – Bologny magazine journalist Anna Sukhova-Dulskaya.
Anastasia Novobranova is almost 36 years old. She was born on December 10, 1985 in the Omsk region, in a small urban-type settlement Tevriz.
As a translator-linguist, she studied at the Omsk State University at the Faculty of Foreign Languages. The second specialty is Global Governance (studied in the magistracy).
She worked in the field of diplomacy. In recent years, she has been teaching English. She is married and has a daughter. At the moment he lives in France, in a small town called Antibes.
Bologny: Anastasia, please tell us how your story began? Have you lived in Russia and decided to leave? Why?
Anastasia: My story began with my English teacher. I still remember the first lesson when she entered the class and began to speak in English. At that moment I realized that English is love forever.
I learned it so quickly that by the time I was 7-8 I went through the entire school curriculum. Then there was the coveted faculty of foreign languages, and after it the master’s degree at the University of Nottingham with a campus in China, an internship at the UN in Austria. After the internship, I stayed in China for 5 years.
Bologny: Please tell us which countries have you been and how long in each country?
Anastasia: I lived the longest time in China – 5 years, studied and worked there. I spent about 4 months on an internship in Austria, after China I ended up in Moscow, by the will of circumstances I did not live there for long.
Then there was hot Saudi Arabia – almost 2 years, after it – the United States, also for 2 years. In these two countries, I was in expatriation with my husband. We now live in his native France.
Bologny: Was it difficult to decide on a life on the road? How does it help you?
Anastasia: It seems to me that I did not even dare to do it. It happened by itself. But somehow, since childhood, I could not imagine myself in one place. I have always been interested in the world in a global perspective – countries, cultures, languages, cities …
Thoughts tend to materialize, and that’s what happened. First, one country, and then another. And then life itself began to take shape. And when you get to know and live in different cultures, it helps a lot to develop flexibility.
The outlook on the world becomes wider, the boundaries of differences are erased – the Chinese, the Americans, the French … They all become just people, just like you.
Bologny: What are the features of this lifestyle “on suitcases”?
Anastasia: Your home is where your family is and where you are now. Moving, you understand how much of life that surrounds us is material. There are things you can easily do without.
You can leave things, but values - family, friendship, relationships – they always move with you, and they don’t need packaging.
Bologny: Still, how is it possible not to be attached to a place and to things at all?
Anastasia: Every time, finding yourself in a new place, you understand that this is the next stage, after which there will be a new one. But you are here and now, and you need to arrange a house, establish a life and get the most out of a new experience.
By virtue of my character, I never get attached to a place, things do not mean so much to me either. There is almost nothing that cannot be replaced. But for me, the place is, first of all, people.
And this is the most difficult thing – to say goodbye to people who entered your life, not knowing when you will see them next time …
Bologny: Tell us about your family? How does everyone manage to stay in harmony with frequent travels?
Anastasia: My family is small: me, husband and child. And it seems to me that our common feature is that we are people of the world. Without trips and new impressions, it seems to me, we will no longer be able to, as without air!
But I will not hide, not everything is so rosy. A new place is a new quest: at home, at school, doing things to your liking and looking for new acquaintances. The last one is the most difficult. Sometimes it takes a year to find at least some minimal society. It is very difficult without communication.
Harmony can be maintained thanks to mutual understanding and mutual support. My husband supports me in my endeavors, and I – in his. We also have common interests, and we are also sociable. His friends become mine, my acquaintance with kindergarten mothers grows into friendship with families.
As for practical skills, languages help us: we both speak English and French, my husband understands Russian quite well, our daughter is trilingual (knows three languages), and communication is much easier with knowledge of languages.
Bologny: How is your child going through the move? How do you prepare him for a change of location? How do you help to get used to a new country?
Anastasia: Children are a very flexible people, albeit up to a certain age, I think. So far, for Arina, who will be four years old, this is all adventure: we are flying on a big plane, we will meet new friends.
I tell her about what awaits us, what we will do, and in a new place I immediately build up a useful routine for her: school, dating, swimming lessons, walking on the playground in the park.
And another very important point: we always carry her books with us – beloved ones, those that we read before going to bed, that always surround her. Books for her are a sign of stability.
Bologny: Tell us about the peculiarities of the mentality and culture of people in the countries where they lived and how to adapt to them? Are they very different from ours?
Anastasia: People – everywhere people, all by and large want the same thing: happiness, health, prosperity for themselves and loved ones. And it unites us all. But each country has its own customs, of course.
In China, for example, at first it was strange to hear questions from the series: “How much do you earn?” The fact that for us to ask is kind of indecent, the Chinese are in the order of things.
In Saudi Arabia, walking down the street was only possible in a long, spacious robe – an abaya. I must say, not always convenient, but this is the custom of another country in which I am a guest. In the USA you can see something that is difficult to “unsee” later!
My adaptation is simple – I accept features as they are. I have to wear a robe – I wear, they ask “uncomfortable” things – I answer as it is, I see something very strange like wings-eyelashes and nails three meters high – I pass by, it’s not my business.
I just don’t go into someone else’s monastery with my charter, I don’t educate others and I don’t try to convince someone of anything.
Bologny: Where was the hardest part to adjust, and how did you overcome it?
Anastasia: Probably the hardest thing for me was in the USA. It’s just some other planet. Despite the fact that I had already been there on the student program.
But it’s still not easy: the huge time difference with Europe and Russia, in particular, the organization of life – nowhere without a car, three meters wrong with the choice of a house – put life at risk, buying food is a whole quest, since good food is needed there well search.
And it is very difficult to make acquaintances and friendships. It is easier to do this with foreigners, whom fate also brought there for some reason. In the States, adaptation was the worst. I confess, sometimes I wanted to run away!
The routine saved, then an unexpected meeting with old friends in New York, then an internship at a local school. And then everything went into a rut.
Bologny: How to deal with the language barrier? Learn all the languages of the countries, where are you moving?
Anastasia: The barrier, as a rule, we set ourselves, and it is in our head. To deal with it, you just need to go and do it! I saw many people who understand well and even know the language, but do not want to speak, because they are afraid – suddenly they will not be understood!
Of course, no one will understand you if you don’t even try to speak. I speak English, that was enough for me to live in expatriation.
But in China, knowledge of the language came in handy, in France, knowledge of French, of course, is necessary, because the French love their language and want others to speak it too. You can get along with English, but “you won’t get very far.”
I didn’t learn Arabic, just a couple of “local words”. Many people in Saudi Arabia speak English. And the people there are very helpful, if you need help, they will make an effort to explain in English.
Bologny: Were there any dangerous or scary moments while moving, in new places? How did you overcome it?
Anastasia: When I flew to Saudi Arabia, it was a little scary. There are a lot of restrictions related to the specifics of the country. And I was afraid that suddenly I had something from things or medicines that would be on the list of unauthorized ones (alcohol-containing medicines, for example).
I was 8 months pregnant then, and I prepared everything in Russia for childbirth. But in vain I was afraid! There is not everything as we think and how it is shown to us in the media.
Bologny: What’s your favorite country you’ve seen and why?
Anastasia: Each country is good in its own way. I really love China for its incredible combination of antiquity and skyscrapers. America is good because there you can even go to work in a Snow Maiden costume every day – your business, no one will say a word.
France is delicious. Here I learn a lot about food, broaden my horizons in what I was not interested in before. But Saudi Arabia probably left the warmest memories in me. My daughter was born there, our family arose. There it was easiest for me to set up everyday life, comfort.
It was also there that I first learned about working with children with learning difficulties, and it was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to seemingly obvious things.
Bologny: How do you deal with stress? What helps you adjust to new places?
Anastasia: Difficulties to deal with are what helps me. I regard them as obstacles, overcoming which I proudly say to myself that I am great!
When it’s really hard, I go to the big city. Megacities are places of power for me. For example, I can stand by the road for an hour and look at the traffic flows in Moscow. The energy of the city saturates me, I want to walk, run, do, move mountains.
If there is no way to go, a good conversation with a friend over a glass of white wine is also salvation. Stress needs to be distracted.
Immersion in work – I also use this method more often than others. Learning also helps me. Oddly enough, learning new skills always improves my mood.
Bologny: Do you have a hobby?
Anastasia: My main hobby, as you already understood, is traveling! Although I live in them, I am always glad to go somewhere, to see something new. I really love to read, but mostly in English and modern writers. And I love to write poetry and stories, but not often.
Bologny: Do you have a desire to return to Russia? What are your plans for the future?
Anastasia: There is a great desire! I would like to go to Moscow with its noise, rhythm, metro clatter. But I’m not making plans to move, because fate always has the last word in this matter.
Now I am settling in France, getting all the necessary documents. Then I want to continue my career in education, but at the international level. I have a master’s degree, but I would like to get a PhD.
Bologny: What inspires you, what helps in life?
Anastasia: I take my inspiration from the people with whom I communicate, with whom I work. The success of the students motivates me. I want to give them even more knowledge, even more faith that language is just a skill, and it can be learned and hone.
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