So after last summer things on Foreign Wife Happy Life got a bit slow. I didn't really publish that many articles or record any new podcast episodes. There's a perfectly good explanation for that. I was a bit distracted. I thought I'd share a bit of what I was doing during the second half of 2018.
The truth is, I have a confession to make.
I flew to the other side of the planet to ask a girl out on a date.
That's slightly less impressive on a blog dedicated to men who make a habit of dating abroad, but let me give a little context here.
I didn't meet this girl on a dating site, by using a marriage agency, or even on a social network. She was my online Russian teacher. By summer of 2018 I had been studying the Russian language for a year. I started learning the language when I was in Ukraine (I was there for a summer teaching English). However the bulk of studying took place online. I used a website which allowed you to have one on one lessons with language teachers from around the world via video chat.
During my first year of Russian language studies I had several teachers and tutors, but I had constant lessons with one tutor in particular. We'll call her Anya (that's not her real name).
I still remember my first lesson with Anya back in 2017. She was cute, feminine, and a very good teacher. Over the year that I had lessons with her we shared countless conversations. When you're learning a foreign language a lot of the conversations you have with your teacher are similar to ones you would have during the early days of dating someone.
You talk about your hobbies, your family, and your work. As your level in the language increases you start sharing your ideas and opinions. However to make our lessons a conversation I was sure to always turn Anya's questions around and ask her about her life and her opinion. Overtime I think it might of been learning about her as a person that made me think of her as more than just my Russian teacher.
A spark is lit
To be honest I'm not exactly sure how or why it happened, but there was a definite moment when I realized that I had a huge crush on her. It happened in the middle of one of our lessons as I was sitting a coffee shop with my laptop. Over the past couple months I had made a concerted effort to improve my Russian and was taking lessons with Anya three to four times a week.
But this lesson was different. It was a literal light bulb moment. I always knew Anya was beautiful and attractive, but I realized at this moment that I knew an awful lot about her, just as she new a great deal about me. I realized that in that moment that there was a very good chance she was the kind of girl I always hoped to find.
Naturally the thought occurred to me: Why not ask her out?
A simple idea, but not all that easy. There were a few hurdles standing between me and a possible date with Anya. The chief of which was that she lived in Kazakhstan. I also didn't know for sure if she was single (though I was 75-85% positive she was).
Another issue was that through our lessons both of us had kept things 100% professional and focused on my Russian. On either side there was never any indication that we were anything more than student and teacher. We weren't even officially friends.
This wasn't a boundary I could brake through over the internet. I guess I could have asked her during a lesson if she wanted to talk sometime about something outside of our lessons. But honestly that just wasn't my style, and my gut told me if wasn't hers either. If I asked out a girl I wanted to do it face to face, especially if I've only ever talked to her on the internet.
You may or may not believe me, but Kazakhstan was already on my list of possible countries to visit, along with Kyrgyzstan and Russia (Siberia specifically). I was learning Russian not so much to visit Russia, but more to use it as a lingua franca in some of the post Soviet states.
I was always attracted to regions and countries I knew little to nothing about. I knew I wanted to take a trip that summer to somewhere. Why not Kazakhstan? I could meet up with Anya at a cafe or park, and then, assuming if we had good chemistry (and she was actually single), I could make a pitch for our first date.
The day I realized I had a crush on Anya was the day I planned my first trip to Kazakhstan.
Even if I hadn't met Anya, I probably would have gone to Kazakhstan anyways. I'm glad I took the trip. It was truly unforgettable. I couch surfed across three different cities, made some new friends, and even got invited to a traditional Kazakh wedding (more on that in a different article).
The big surprise
As things played out I ended up finally meeting with Anya about a week before I went back home. For me it was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most.
The day before Anya and I were to meet, I was texting her to confirm the details. That's when she shared a bit of surprising information that for me hit like a bomb..
She couldn't walk, and was confined to a wheelchair.
That was not something I wasn't prepared for. When you've talked to someone only on video chat it's not exactly something you would notice either. It also bears mentioning that Anya had no idea about my feelings for her or that she was a big reason I decided to come to Kazakhstan. On her part she never really had a reason to tell me she was paralyzed (after all I was just another one of her students).
The following day her father was able to drop her off at the central park in her city. After several months of waiting and hoping, and after a pricey plane ticket and a whirlwind of couch surfing adventures, I was finally going to meet this girl who had unknowingly captivated me.
I'll never forget when I turned the corner in the park to see a pretty girl waiting patiently in an electric wheelchair. It wasn't at all how I pictured our first meeting.
We started talking and I walked alongside her as she gave me a tour of the park (which was pretty big). At first things were a little awkward. It was weird for both of us to talk to someone we had only meet on video chat. Thankfully that awkwardness didn't last long.
Then there was the awkward fact that she was in wheelchair. If I had known beforehand I could have prepared myself, but I had just found out not even 24 hours before that the possible girl of my dreams couldn't walk. Fortunately that awkwardness faded away too. After a awhile I saw the girl and not the chair, but if I'm honest it did take some getting used to.
We ended up spending the entire day and part of the evening together in the park. Time flew. After flying thousands of miles across the world I had finally broken the bonds of our teacher/student relationship. We were now friends, and natural ones at that. We talked about anything and everything. There was definitely chemistry between us. If this meeting had been a date it would have been a home run.
The entire time I second guessed whether I should still ask her out and pursue a romantic relationship. I still hadn't had time to process the fact that she couldn't walk. On the other hand I had come all this way to meet her, if I thought she was worth that why stop now?
There was a constant back in forth struggle in my head up until the minute she had to leave. In that second I decided that I would regret it if I never took the chance and saw this through. I promptly told her that I liked her, and that she was one of the reason I came to Kazakhstan (I played this down a little as not to freak her out), and that I wanted to see her again.
She was obviously not expecting this. It shell shocked her and she didn't know what to say other than "thank you" and that she didn't know what to say. She said we could meet again, but I could tell she now had a lot to process herself.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the story 🙂