my neighbor and me - paper lanterns

What to do in Berryville: My Neighbor and Me

This is a pre-scheduled post while the Russky and I are gallivanting across Armenia. Don’t forget to check out our quick-fire impressions of Yerevan over on the blog.

For this post we’re heading back over the Atlantic to an amazing little shop in my hometown of Berryville, Virginia. A Russian town of equal size (around 3,000 people) likely has a post office and a produkti (a small shop with food and house products). In contrast, most small towns in America have some amenities of a larger city. Berryville has several different kinds of restaurants, a full grocery store, and even small artisanal shops that are excellent of a healthy economy.

One such shop is My Neighbor and Me, a small fair trade shop set up in what used to be the town’s police department. My Neighbor and Me sells hand-crafted, fair-trade products from marginalized producers from around the world. Imagine: in a tiny Virginia town you can buy someone a gift from Ghana, The Gambia, Peru, Guatemala, and many other countries. It’s a humbling reminder about how fortunate we are in America to be so connected, even in the smallest of towns.
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lambada market moscow

Moscow Day of the City: In Photos

We arrived in Yerevan yesterday and, despite some travel-induced sniffles, the Russky and I feel pretty good and ready to explore the city. We’re planning to do a big touristy tour today to get the lay of the land and then plan our Like a Local adventures further. This space likely won’t have too many Yerevan posts, but I’ll always shoot you over to the magazine’s site when we’ve got something new up!

Today’s post is just a quick photo set of our wanderings this weekend. It was chilly enough to require sweaters and jeans, but I ain’t even mad. It is fall now, after all…

drunk pomeranian moscow
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Creating the Perfect Expat ™

As evidenced above, I’m obviously the perfect expat as I fit myself seamlessly into any new environment.

As someone who straddles the line of being a loner but conditioned to be relatively social, I feel like I’ve been quite lucky in terms of my expat experience. I’ve heard of and seen plenty of perfectly nice people wash out from expat life because they can’t get over the isolation and otherishness (definitely a word) inherent in the experience. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m basically the Perfect Expat™. Jokes! But I do think I’m naturally disposed towards weathering the ups and downs of expat life quite well even if there are several areas where I feel I’m not quite meeting Perfect Expat™ levels.

Here are my guidelines for what makes up the Perfect Expat™:

1. Be able to spend a lot of time alone. It’s not necessarily that you will spend a lot of time alone or that non-loners can’t succeed in expat life, but – particularly at the beginning of your expat experience – things can be quite lonely. You might have an apartment to yourself and not know anyone in the city. Maybe you have a ton of colleagues who invite you out but can’t really speak your language. Maybe you’re just too exhausted from every day life to go out and socialize. It’s bound to happen and the ability to be alone and not mind it can serve you really well.
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Writing the Guidebook: On my Desk

(My desk will never be that zen – photo credit: Kevin_Morris)

As I wrote about before, I’m in the process of writing a Moscow guidebook. It sounds pretty exciting but unfortunately it’s mostly a lot of trolling websites and sitting in front of a desk, with occasional wanders through Moscow for research purposes. So, because I’m an avid snoop and assume you are too, here’s a look at what’s on my desk as I slave away.

What’s on my desk?

My Day-Timer, Mom Planner edition, which I didn’t see on Amazon but this one is quite similar and about a $1 more than I paid (affiliate link). I mean, my blog is a bit like a very needy child, but in fact this was just the planner that most closely fit my needs (and was in-store at the time). I have tried and tried to keep notes on my computer or on my phone – I even have the Samsung Galaxy Note tablet which has an awesome pen to scribble down notes. While I do use the tablet when I’m out and about, my primary planning is always done by hand; otherwise everything just flies out of my head immediately. Every meeting, blog post, magazine scheduling issue – it’s there in the planner. I love it.
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10 Reasons You Should Travel Before Marriage [ugh]

I read this post yesterday about why you should travel before marriage. I kind of just had to laugh. I mean I know that writers are often tasked with condensing posts to list-form (sentence + gif) which can remove nuance from an otherwise useful argument, but… I’m not sure a well-written, GIF free post could have saved that argument.

Before I get into it, I’ll start with the one good point about the article: I expected to be offended as a young married person. I wasn’t… really. While the writer attempts to mask what they’re actually saying with a bunch of LOL-worthy GIFs, in fact they’re buying into the trite idea that marriage is sad inevitability. But that wasn’t what really bothered me. Far worse in my eyes was the fact that the article basically derides every relationship not made legal as something easily tossed aside. Apparently if you’re not married, your actions count – they just don’t matter.


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In honor of our 115% funded Kickstarter and because we’ve been teasing you for weeks, the Russky and I have decided to finally reveal the location of Like a Local issue two. Here are all the clues we’ve give so far:

1: The flight from Moscow to Location X is just under 3 hours.
2: Location X is the capital city of a country sharing a border with four other countries.
3: One official language, one very prevalent 2nd language
4: Population? Just over 1 million.
5: Location X is a landlocked country
6: The alphabet of the local language is NOT Latin-based.
7: Location X has been the capital of its country since 1918.

Based on these clues, what’s your guess?

Click through to find out the correct answer!


One Last Plea [Kickstarter]

There’s one day left in our Kickstarter campaign. We’ve passed our original goal. We’re $56 dollars away from our stretch goal of covering unexpected printing costs. And we’re beyond ecstatic about the amazing 25 sponsors we’ve gotten so far!

But 25 out of all the people who are friends on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, stalk this blog? If all the people who read the magazine donated, it would have taken less than the minimum donation of $1 to have reached our original goal. At $1 each, the project would have needed 2-3 days worth of readers on this blog to reach our original goal.

So I’m throwing out one more plea to the blogosphere: if you’d like to show some monetary support for our magazine, there’s still time. For even $1 you’ll get to order us around the planet like the mini-dictator you are. For more you could get some awesome postcards from the far-flung corners of the world or even a hard copy of our magazine!

Any extra money over our original and stretch goals? It’ll go right into a bank account to sit and wait patiently to be doled out to future contributors. While we hope to eventually be self-sufficient in paying our contributors, we haven’t found the perfect partners yet. And where we’re going (for Like a Local isn’t likely to being doing a London or Paris edition any time soon) that payment to our future contributors can mean a lot. For example: in our issue 2 location, our stipend of $30 is a bit more than 10% of local monthly salary – so even small donations can make a big difference!

All of the money for contributors will be documented on the Like a Local site so you can see exactly who your contribution went towards. Isn’t that cool?

Donate here

anti selfie 2

Download this App: SLMMSK

As you can probably see, I’ve redone the blog a little. I felt it needed some freshening up and I missed a good sidebar. Anyway, onto the good stuff…

A quick note for future Friday shenanigans: try out this new SLMMSK app (for iPhone and Android).

I was really excited to see the release of the anti-selfie app for Android several days ago; I’d been reading about it online as iPhone users posted their strange photos online from the mysterious app by Glitché. Called SLMMSK, the app takes a typical selfie and distorts it into something equally interesting and creepy. There are ten different filter options ranging from emoticons to blurs to censor bars, as well as a CCTV-style grain and timestamp on the photo. SLMMSK is being marketed as an alternative to the over-indulgent selfie culture and as a critique of surveillance society. All in all it’s bound to be something that’s interesting to artsy, hipstery folk.

Overall, I thought it was pretty neat although not necessarily an app I’ll be using every day. Also (I can’t comment for the iPhone) but the Android version is pretty slow and crashes occasionally, but works just fine for the most part.
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Russy + 4 leaf clover

Russian Superstitions: Four-Leaf Clover

I love my husband a lot even though sometimes we forget that we’re married and he’s basically an extremely tall five-year-old. Also, we’ve gotten to the point where occasionally it slips our minds that we’re both foreigners to each other so when something really culturally bizarre pops up, we’re doubly surprised. Here’s a quick story about one of the Russian superstitions that caught me by surprise.

This particular incident happened during our month-long stint at my parent’s house in America. We have a good-sized front and back lawn which I’m always more than happy to enjoy when I’m home from life in the big, lawn-less city of Moscow. During our America month we spent a lot of time outside when it wasn’t too unbearably hot.

One such day, we went out only to be repelled almost immediately by the classic sticky heat of a Virginia summer. We quickly decided to cancel our outdoor lounging plans and retreat back into the air conditioning. I was heading into the front door with the Russky trailing behind, eyes to the ground in search of an elusive four-leaf clover. If there is grass, you better believe that he is paying more attention to his search for a four-leaf clover than anything you might be saying.

Hand on the doorknob, a victorious cry caused me to spin around. I came face-to-face with a four leaf clover, wilted from the heat but nonetheless very much lucky. ‘I finally found one!’ he crowed proudly. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised – the sheer number of clover popping up on our sprawling lawn made the chances quite minuscule. I congratulated him and prepared to grab a large book to press and the clover into a keepsake.

However, there wasn’t even enough time for that.

Immediately after the proclamation came an event that made me 1000% sure I do not want a child any time soon. Children (those sticky, messy little creatures) are prone to danger thanks to poor motor function, undeveloped brains, and, yes, sticking any and everything in their mouths. The Russky, my very own overgrown man-child, was no exception. After a cursory glance at the verdant little miracle it went straight towards his mouth. As swiftly as any mother might, I slapped the four-leaf clover away from him in shock. ‘What the hell are you doing?!’

He looked at me, offended. ‘I have to eat it. Or I’ll lose the luck.’

Alright, share: what’s your weird superstition that would cause others to look at you like you’re a lunatic?

church 1

Travel Dreaming: Pyatino’s Trinity Church

(All photos in this post are by av_otus)

Do you ever come across something online that you just have to see? I hear this a lot in relation to Pinterest, although I don’t quite get it as I use Pinterest as a necessary evil, rather than something that strikes me as fun. Regardless of my (lack of) love for Pinterest, the phenomenon of finding amazing travel discovery online happens to me all the time as it’s basically my job to be on the web looking for interesting things to share. Also, I’m easily swayed by a pretty picture and a small hint of adventure.
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