Learning to be an expat, part one


I’d only been at my job for about two weeks, and Artur and I were sent off to look at some field sites. We were in Ferghana City in Uzbekistan, waiting on the tarmac to board our plane. It was very very cold, and the flight crew was only boarding transit passengers from a Russia flight. We stood there, shivering and waiting. They boarded all the Russia passengers and then they waited some more, I guess just in case more transit passengers showed up. My bones were starting to ache with the cold, and still we were waiting.

And then Artur got sick of it. He shoved me in the back and told me, “You’re American. Just keep speaking English and get us on that plane.” So I did. I climbed the stairs as a woman yelled at me, and when she told me “transit only,” in Russian, I told her, loud and in English, that I had a ticket, I was tired of standing around in the cold, and I was going to get on the plane. I did this in my best haughty American voice, and when she argued in Russian, I just repeated myself louder in English. I spoke both Russian and Uzbek, but this was not the time for reasoned communication.

The woman cracked. She said something rude to me in Russian and let me by. I was followed by a joyous stampede of other passengers. When I got on the plane, there were lots of empty seats. Artur and I flew to Tashkent with an empty seat between us.

Photo credit: yuriybrisk
That’s not the Ferghana airport, but it looked just like this.