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Why Move from Warm Kishinev to Cold Minsk?

May 12, 2020

ISsoft is happy to welcome new employees from around the world. The USA, Lithuania, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Moldova, Russia, Azerbaijan – citizens from these and other countries are already working in our company. We decided to find out about the possible challenges of moving and reasons for relocating to Minsk. Our QA specialist Valery Antoch shared his story of moving from Kishinev, Moldova. 

“Unathletic Programmers and Kishinev”

I lived and studied in the capital of Moldova – Kishinev. That’s where I graduated from the Technical University with a degree in Information Technology Engineering. In my second year of studies, I completed a QA course, organized by an IT-company, in which I would work afterward. Before beginning to work there, however, I wanted to improve my English. I applied for a Work and Travel USA program and lived in the US for half a year. After coming back, I completed my third year of studies and received a job offer. That’s how I began my career in software testing. Our company’s programmers didn’t look very inspiring: slim, unathletic, with bad eye vision. I decided that I didn’t want to be a programmer. I always loved sports and didn’t want to spend my days in front of a computer screen. 

“Bad Tour Around Minsk”

Our office in Kishinev was one of the development centers of a large international company. Other development centers were located around the world, and, as a result, I found many new friends in different countries, including Belarus. That’s how I met my future spouse from Minsk: we worked with her on one project. 

One thing led to another, and I decided to visit her and my Belarusian friends, as well as see Minsk. That was back in December 2010. Time flew fast, we spent time together and relaxed, and on my last day in Minsk my friends decided to show me around town. Our tour should’ve started from the National Library. We came there by metro, and, honestly, I was severely  underdressed. In Moldova there is usually only -10 in winter, with snow and humidity. After exiting the metro, I understood that I didn’t want to go to the observation platform and that to survive on a tourist walk, I needed a couple more coats and snow boots. My friends found a solution and suggested we go see the city on a sightseeing bus. We waited for it, then went to the panoramic windows in  the middle of the bus…And what do you think? We couldn’t see a thing because of the frozen windows! That was my Minsk trip and I decided that I didn’t want to live in such a climate.

“April 1st”

My relationship with my girlfriend was developing and I decided to give Belarus a second chance. In three months, I revisited Belarus. I remember that moment as if it was yesterday. April 1st. It was warm in Kishinev, everybody was dressed in summer clothes. And then we are standing at the Gomel Customs Office, and I see that snow in the woods is up to your ankles. Obviously, this surprise didn’t make me happy. Nevertheless, I still moved to Minsk.  

I said that I wouldn’t live in Belarus, and in the first years I didn’t. During the first winters, I often went on business trips to London for a couple of weeks, then back to Minsk, and then it continued in a loop. Actually, I am still not used to the cold winters in Belarus, even though I’ve been living here for more than eight years. 

I’ve worked in my first company until 2015. Then my fiance and I got married and I started to search for a new job. 

“Why ISsoft?”

I was searching for a job for nearly two months – and it was ISsoft’s job offer that won my heart. Why? There were several reasons. First, the company was happy to hire a foreigner, while in many other companies I was rejected simply for not having a residence permit or citizenship. Another reason was more trivial: I liked the company and its offer.   

Honestly, the fact that every year ISsoft helps foreigners obtain a working visa is priceless. At my last job, I needed to do it myself. For now I plan to stay in Belarus with my family because it’s fascinating here, there are many opportunities, yet, of course, it’s freezing during winter.

 “Bad Internet and Tasty Dairy Products”

Over the eight years of living here I really got used to Minsk. Moreover, I haven’t visited Kishinev since 2015, that’s why the differences between cities became less apparent. Moldovan and Belarusian mentalities are very similar. People are amicable . In my hometown, everybody helps each other, and it’s the same here: if you ask for directions people will almost walk you to the destination, especially if they’ll understand that you’re a foreigner. However, just like in other countries, some people would not talk to me in Russian out of principle. One time a Belarusian man didn’t want to speak to me in Russian, even though I didn’t understand him. 

Your city is very clean. I know everybody notices that, and I can’t not mention it either. Even my parents (my dad lives near Milan, and my mom in London) were amazed by how clean Minsk is. Another thing that fascinates me are your utility services fees. In Kishinev, we paid five times more for an apartment smaller than the one in Minsk. Also, I must mention good roads. Belarusians, probably, know that, but sometimes underestimate it. Belarusian and Moldovan cuisine is different, yet you have so many potato dishes, so I could say that your cuisine is more versatile. Yet in Moldova there are many national dishes, which you can’t find in Belarus. Oh, and I almost forgot a significant advantage –  you have delicious dairy products. 

As for the disadvantages I would like to mention the internet – not only is it slow, but also expensive for such quality. Another disadvantage for me is bureaucracy. Every year I need to extend one document at the Citizenship and Migration Board. Once I didn’t manage to finish it on time and asked whether I could come tomorrow. They assured me that it would be totally fine. When I came on the next day, I was greeted with the words that I am under investigation and I must run to the manager of the board to resolve those issues. Moreover, they charged my wife and me: her for a cover-up and me for hiding and for not extending the document on time. That’s how it was. 

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