I registered on TAU2 out of curiosity rather than really hoping for success. I didn’t have the goal of getting married by all means and emigrating and I didn’t really think that this was possible. At one of the photo forums which I used sometimes because of my work, I saw an advertisement «Serious men from Europe». The advertisement popped up once, then again, and I decided to have a look and see what kind of men they were.
I immediately realised that the site was very good, very proper. First, one can’t enter it without registration. That is, there are no idle onlookers, nobody visits my profile just to have a look at it and even other female users can’t see it. Also, TAU2 has very good moderators. On other dating sites, when you publish your profile, people start writing disgusting things to you. There’s nothing like that on TAU2, it’s obvious that the site is well moderated and any indecency is simply impossible.
However It Wasn’t That Easy
I quickly put together my profile, added the first photo I could find and, looking forward to lots of attention, started waiting for the men to contact me. I don’t remember how long I was waiting but I got no letters. Not a single one. I even thought that, perhaps, I did something wrong and I checked the message settings, but all the settings were correct. Except not a single man was interested in the humble me…
Then I decided to be creative about presenting myself. I chose the photographs that showed what I do in life and not just a sweet but meaningless portrait.
It took more effort to brush up my profile. It had to be translated into English. This task was too important for a brainless electronic translator to be entrusted with it. I needed a correct word-by-word translation. This was not an easy task, considering the scanty remains of my English skills left after my college studies (I didn’t study English at the secondary school). Even now I am not sure I have managed to do a good job of it. But I have tried not only to list my personal details but also to tell about my life views.
After that I received two or three postcards. It looked like the times of fairy tales, when young girls sat by a castle window and young men on mighty stallions competed for their attention, were long past. One has to be active to succeed. So I started studying the potential candidates.
I have prepared unique postcards that I made myself. I have thought about the questions to which even a short answer would show what kind of person this is. When selecting the candidates, I paid more attention to what they told about themselves rather than to their photographs because I know how misleading a picture can be, especially if taken by an amateur photographer.
I got answers pretty much from everybody I had written to. They were nice and friendly. But Joao was one of the first men I got interested in. And the first man who wrote me a big letter. He wrote such interesting things in such an original way that it was impossible to answer briefly and superficially, he made me think about every word. After writing back to him, I had neither the time, nor the energy, nor the desire to answer any other messages. We communicated every day and discussed everything: from the Women’s Day on March 8 to the paintings of Goya, we also talked about housekeeping and some everyday things. We had common interests and communication was easy and interesting. Then we started calling each other and talking online. Five months passed from the moment we got acquainted to the moment we met in Lisbon. And when I was on my way to meet Joao, I already had a feeling that this was something serious.
All that time we used English to communicate. I used the translator on the site for communication, it’s very convenient. But all those months I was studying English like crazy, using all possible methods. As a result, I was able to hold a simple conversation and since then I have made a significant progress and still use English. But at present I am gradually starting to use the Portuguese words and phrases that I manage to learn. It’s a funny mix of languages at present, but I hope that later Portuguese will take the place of my weak English and I will be able to speak the native tongue of my husband fluently.
Portugal and Moving There
I like Portugal very much. Local people are very friendly and the country itself is strikingly beautiful. I keep noticing little things, little details that the locals must have got used to long ago but I still find them fascinating. It’s such a pleasure to look at all those courtyards, little houses with windows that have no bars and probably have never had any bars. The place is very cosy, small and right out of a fairy tale. I realise that Europe is probably full of such places but anyway Portugal is like the first love to me.
The first days in Portugal I spent on a road: we went driving all over the country. Travelling together quickly shows what kind of a person you are with and you can see how this person behaves in some difficult situations. The better I got to know Joao, the more it felt like he was just the person I’d like to see by my side. And this feeling is still there, my feelings towards my husband keep evolving.
On my first visit I spent over three months in Portugal. My daughter stayed in Russia and missed me very much, but I couldn’t come back earlier because legalization of documents in Europe takes a very long time and without it one can’t get the registration. Had I known about this before the trip, I would have got apostille stamps on all my documents, from passport to diplomas, in Russia. This would have saved both time and money.
On my next visit to Portugal I took my daughter with me and I went there to stay. The only problem we had was the difficulties with the entry visas. The necessary requirement was to have had a job for at least six months with a salary of at least thirty thousand roubles. I don’t know who came up with these rules, but according to them, our whole region can’t leave the country. I lived in Stavropol where an average salary is seven or eight thousand roubles at best. And as for me, I didn’t have a salary at all, I was a freelancer because it suited me better…
But we have found a solution: we bought a travel tour, this is the best way for a person who, like myself, had never before been abroad. And we bought the tour in Lisbon, it was even cheaper this way.
Joao’s family was very nice to us. I was very lucky to get such a mother-in-law, she’s very friendly. At first I didn’t even understand what they were talking about between themselves but it’s still very obvious how people treat you. My daughter and I have easily adapted to the new place. She goes to school, I spend a lot of time and effort on learning Portuguese because it’s impossible to find a job without being able to speak the language. Recently we bought a spacious apartment, with three bedrooms, in the very centre of the city, with windows overlooking an ancient castle.
Of course, there were difficulties. For example, I couldn’t do the simplest things on my own, like taking my child to the doctor. We still go to the doctor all together, it’s kind of a family outing.
The second problem is the cuisine, in Portugal it’s very different. Of course, I have given my husband a taste for the borscht. But in general Portuguese consider the Russian cuisine too fatty, too rich in calories. They don’t eat butter. And even if they do make soup, it’s a vegetable soup, puréed in a blender. It took me a long time to get used to this.
Another problem is the cold. There is no central heating or radiators here, only a fireplace. Of course, a fireplace is pretty, it’s pleasant to look at the fire and to warm up by it, but it burns out quickly and that’s it, it’s cold again. And the winters aren’t that warm. I’m always cold. The problem seems funny, but it does exist. I have even drawn a stove and asked my husband how come such a clever nation still can’t figure out how to make a stove.
But the main thing is the change of life pace. I used to be on the go all the time and now I’m stuck at home and don’t know when this will be over. On the other hand, yes, I used to have an interesting job, a full, cheerful life, but, come to think of it, I didn’t have a feeling that everything was well. If I’m unemployed now, this is the price I have to pay for being happy in my family life.
My Piece of Advice
To all those who are looking for their other half, I have only one advice: look for the person with whom you have something in common. You need to look for a certain personality rather than for a person from a particular country or, which is even worse, choosing a person based on his picture. We went on a trip to Spain and saw a vineyard with a rich, beautiful house there. So, a girl sees the photo of a man with such a house in the background. Of course, it looks nice. And then she marries that rich Spaniard and what does she see there? The house is in the middle of nowhere and her expectations were wrong. That’s why you have to know exactly what you want and to base your search on this.
In general, we, women, have two problems: fear and passivity. We would rather sit and bemoan our hard life. But one has to do something about it, to keep trying. I don’t mean to lower your expectations, this is important, too. But to be more tolerant of men. They are different, there are a lot of men who are not the way we would like them to be, but not all of them are like that!
The appearance of dating websites is a godsend. It’s a wonderful invention and people should use it even if the search fails. If it failed once, it will succeed the next time. Keep trying!
Olga is a photographer from Stavropol, she met Joao, an artist from Portugal, and came to visit him. They spent several months together. On her second visit Olga brought her daughter with her—she has come to stay in Portugal.