Upon telling family, friends, and co-workers about our upcoming work in Moscow, we had mostly two basic responses:
WOW! What a sacrifice!
Have fun on your vacation!
In reality, of course, it was neither of those things.
Beth and I could never really think of it as a sacrifice. Because, honestly, we wouldn't have done it if we didn't think we would have enjoyed it. We both fell in love with the city years before, and were elated that we would be living there.
And, although this goes without saying, life in Moscow most certainly wasn't a vacation. Anyone who has been to Moscow for more than a couple weeks will know this. Moscow is definitely more European than most of the rest of the country, and pretty international, but getting around and getting by can be difficult at times.
You see, if you're on a short term trip to possibly anywhere (meaning you're only there for a week or two), there's a strong likelihood you're going to get the special treatment. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just not a good barometer for actually living there. Many times people who host groups in the countries or cities they live in, they tend to go easy on them -- for the most part. They naturally want you to like and enjoy the place. And even if you have difficult work to do, you probably knew what you were getting into.
I digress. Sorry about that. I'm just trying to say that living anywhere that isn't your home culture is probably going to be pretty hard at times. There will be days where it's a blast and you think it couldn't be better, and there will be days where you collapse in the snow and want to give up (there will probably be more of these days, by the way). Either way, as long as you shake off your American sense of entitlement, an adventurous attitude, and have the long term in mind, every day will be worth it.