Where is the love?

As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m not easily offended. In fact, thinking back over my almost four years in Riga, I’ve only been really offended twice – and both times were because someone mistook me for a Latvian.

Now before you get your knickers in a twist, it wasn’t the fact that somebody thought I was Latvian that offended me – it was the treatment I received because someone thought I was Latvian. And funnily enough, both times, it was at the hands of a Latvian person, or more specifically, a Latvian woman.

Looking particularly Irish

Looking particularly Irish

The first time was last year. I’m a member of this expat organisation called InterNations. Once a month, they organise a night out, but they also have a very useful forum for anyone thinking of visiting, or moving to, Latvia. I’ve volunteered to be a local ‘scout’, which means that people can contact me if they’re looking for something to do, something to see, trying to find a job, or just trying to find out where to buy tampons or a blender.

Two Spanish guys got in touch with me last summer – they were spending a couple of days in Riga and looking for a good place to watch the football. I met them in a bar and we got chatting. A little while later, a Latvian girl joined us – I think they’d met her online too. She was charming to the guys, but when I went to introduce myself, things got weird.

Me: Hi, I’m…

Ginta: Which language?

Me: Um, English.

(Of course, I realised later, she meant Latvian or Russian.)

Ginta: Huh. 

She then sat as far away from me as possible. Over the course of the conversation, she realised that I wasn’t a local – and everything changed.

Ginta: Oh, I’m so sorry for being rude! I thought you were local! 

Me: Does that make a difference?

Ginta: Of course! I hate Latvian women! 

Me: Oh. 

I get the feeling that the movie ‘Thelma and Louise’ would have been a very different kettle of fish had it been ‘Telma un Luīze’. Telma probably would have bopped Luiza over the head with something, put a brick on the accelerator and gleefully watched her sail over the cliff – before running back to find Breds Pits.

Then last week, I was in a pub – there’s a theme developing here – chatting to a Danish guy I know. After around an hour, his absolute knock-out of a girlfriend showed up with one of her colleagues. The two guys shook hands, so I offered her mine. Denied. I said hello anyway, and pulled her over a bar stool. She took it and placed it right in front of me, then sat on it WITH HER BACK TO ME, effectively cutting me out of the conversation completely. The only way she could have been more obvious in marking her territory would be if she had peed on him.

Luckily, thanks to my new habit of doing pilates (almost) every day, my super-duper flexibility saved the day. I managed to keep myself in the conversation by twisting myself into weird shapes and butting in every now and then. She quickly realised I wasn’t a local.

Gunta: Oh, you’re an English teacher! That’s so cool! I saw this really funny thing online today…

The shame of it was that she was actually really smart, funny, well-travelled… the kind of girl I could actually be friends with. Unfortunately, she had to go and show her claws right at the beginning.

I really don’t understand this sort of behaviour. I could never treat another woman like this – and especially not one of my own countrywomen. And what’s with the about-face? I’m a threat if I’m Latvian but not a threat if I’m Irish? I know Irish women don’t regularly top ‘Most Beautiful’ lists, but I looked exactly the same before and after they realised I wasn’t local – apart from a slightly surprised look. I don’t think I’m a total beast, but I don’t think I’m irresistible either – certainly roomfuls of men manage to control themselves around me all the time. (Hmm, that doesn’t sound good…)

Basically, I’m confused. I know there’s a saying that roughly translates as ‘A Latvian’s favourite dish is another Latvian’, but whatever happened to sisterhood?

So, let’s sum up – the Latvians don’t like the Russians; the Russians don’t like the Latvians; the women don’t like each other; the men are mainly used for sperm-donation and carrying heavy stuff so nobody really cares what they think. If Latvia could somehow harness all of the negativity and hostility floating around and turn it into something useful, like electricity, this small country could probably power half of Europe.





About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvian women, Love and Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

182 Responses to Where is the love?

  1. Jana says:

    Hey there! Don’t worry about the idiot Latvians (believe me, I’m one of them 😀 ), although I am quite surprised how often you manage to find the meanest bitches of ’em all 😀 🙂 I will be one of the many to be sad to know you’ve left Latvia, btw, I LOVE your blog!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I think a lot of people will be sad – they just don’t realise it yet 😉
      And yes, I think I’m a weirdo/bitch magnet 😉

  2. Alyce says:

    Oh yeah, I can totally relate to that. Ignore, avoid, forget, nobody should waste their thoughts on such trash!

  3. LAMarcom says:

    “the men are mainly used for sperm-donation and carrying heavy stuff so nobody really cares what they think.”
    Laughing my ass off!
    Lady, you are hilarious and you write so well.

    I know this post is on a serious subject, but your telling of it makes me a happy camper.
    I have worked all over the world (mostly in the Mid East), and I have seen prejudice plenty.
    Always pisses me off!
    Great post.
    I loved it.
    Might sound trite, but “You Rock!”
    I need to check out that broken washing machine post that caught my eye. Nothing worse than a broken down washer, unless of course it is a backed up toilet and it is a Sunday night and the next day is Christmas…et cetera.

  4. Gunta says:

    Well, this one is easy – latvian women or sometimes also foreign women living in latvia think that if you are hanging out with a foreigner, the you must be a golddigging horny slut. There is sort of a stigma against latvian women who date/marry foreigners. It’s probably a self esteem issue. So, the girl thought you are latvian, so – you are after her man AND you are a golddigging horny slut.

  5. Hey, Linda!
    I`ve been following your blog for some time now and, though, sometimes I don`t agree with your observations and statements about them, I don`t get all hostile just because your experience differs from mine. Actually I quite fancy your blog. This time I decided that it`s finally the time for me to say something – damn, girl, you`ve gotten yourself into the company of the weirdest specimens of this country! :]

    I`m a full-blooded Latvian girl (24) and I`ll tell you what I usually tell to everyone (local or not) who asks if we, latvians, hate russians and vice versa – No, we do not hate people based on their nationality, we dislike jerks and assholes and there`s no difference what nationality they have. Though, there are more russians in the world than latvians hence there are more russian jerks and assholes. Pure math, deary! : ]

    When my friends and I go out for a drink, we do not attack anyone with “death stares”, simply because we`re too busy enjoying ourselves to be bothered by other latvian women – we`re just awesome enough and we don`t feel threatened by others. If the company is joined by people that are not latvians, we simply just change the language of communication to english, so no one would feel left out, one might get ignored if one`s being rude or offensive towards us, the establishment, things we hold dear (the first time you get a warning and an explenation why that upsets us) etc.

    When it comes to deifferences between Latvian women and Russian – the latter ones are typically more passionate and hot blooded, when latvians are a bit more nordic and reserved when it comes to dealing with people. I don`t like people in general, not based on their ethnicity – I just find them weird, though, it might be just me that`s weird. : ]
    When communicating with people from other countries, I`ve been mistaken for an Irish, a Dutch, an American and quite few times for a Russian as well, just because I`m not too shy and am not affraid to speak.

    Anyways – you should just come out and have a swell time in our company. Maybe then we`ll see more of what you`ve seen and vice versa.
    Meanwhile – this was the song that popped into my head while reading this article:

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, great song choice! And I agree – I’m probably very strange too 🙂 Thanks for the invite – drop me an email and maybe we can meet up some time!
      And I’m glad you like the blog – most of the time!

  6. barbedwords says:

    Well, how rude! I have never come across any behaviour like this with Italian women, who are always really friendly. Actually, now I think about it, when I’ve been in a group of Italian friends, the women usually just ignore the men and talk to each other so they probably wouldn’t even notice if I was some hottie trying to chat up one of the Italian stallions 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, if you were in Latvia, you’d have 8 or 9 death stares turned on you at once – the collective malevolence might kill you 😉

  7. lizard100 says:

    Sounds like a total mine field. It’s weird how you’re only a threat if you’re Latvian. Perhaps you should dust off the kemp reclaim costume for clarity?

  8. Oh gosh. Yes, it’s a bit unsettling when someone does a complete double-take based on information that should be irrelevant (or when someone tries to completely block you from the conversation).

  9. It’s again one of those posts making me think- that Linda is in some other dimension not the one I’m living in. I know people pretty well, I had almost 40 years to observe them but then and again you are surprising me with the stories that sounds so much unfamiliar to me. I’ve been in 20+ countries and all can say is- people are all the same everywhere. The differences are really minor and the most noticeable of those comes from your own perception.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I don’t think I can ‘perceive’ someone pulling a stool in front of me, or sitting with their back to me (and I wasn’t the only one to notice that). Or telling me that they hate women from their own country. I’ve been in a lot of countries too, and I’ve never experienced anything like this anywhere else.

      • Maybe you just didn’t go to such a ghetto bars before…

      • Expat Eye says:

        Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t drink in ghetto bars. These were both nice establishments. Do you think bitches are exclusive to ‘ghettos’? Chances are, you’d meet far nicer, more normal people in those – money-grabbing women who think they’re too good to hang out with locals tend not to go there.

      • Edijs says:

        Have to say that I cannot agree with any of you.

        There are always some patterns in particular countries that repeat because of its environment, but at the same time the level of rudeness which you described is not exclusive to this country. Latvia is simply small, particularly population wise and the bulk of inconsiderate people is more spread out, so it gives the illusion that there is a lot more of these instances per capita. Such experiences highly depend from the kind of people you meet or spend time with, seen enough Chinese, Americans and guys from various other countries complaining about local girls because of varying reasons, and examples of mind boggling ignorance from people of both sexes and all age groups which to me tells less about national character but rather about their personal worldview which in the end derives from basic human traits.

        I do not have the practical experience of traveling 20 countries, but from the experience I do have, I can tell that all you need is to just live a couple of months in the given country as if you were an average local and you will quickly find that even the most pleasant places have their ugly side to which you were oblivious all this time.

        This of course does not apply to countries with completely different social culture that are deeply based in religion or traditionalism.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Latvia is the 6th country I’ve lived in, 7th if you count Ireland – of course, there are problems everywhere, but like I said, this rudeness/snobbiness I’ve never experienced anywhere else.

      • Edijs says:

        Firstly, I would have to ask in which specific countries you have lived in such amount of time that is comparable to the one which has been spent in Latvia. When I described the prevalence of rudeness, it didn’t mean that it has to manifest exactly in the same scenarios you described from point to point, but it just has to be the same amount of entitlement or ignorance which can be found in most countries if you look carefully enough. Otherwise you might just be lucky/unlucky to have noticed this only here.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ireland – 25 years, give or take
        America – 3 months
        France – 1 year
        Australia – 1 year
        New Zealand – 1 year
        Poland – 1 year
        So Latvia is the longest I’ve lived anywhere apart from Ireland. And I’m not saying these women are the rule, but there are a good few of them here. The men, in general, are fine.

    • Mārtiņš says:

      Edij, how can you judge how women treat women? How on earth can you have this experience + to agree or disagree with somebodies else experience?
      You know, yet another thing which is depicted in movies is women’s behaviour in lavatories/ladies’ room – they do something special there, possibly communicate, give a piece of advice or a shoulder to cry on (a stereotype from films); so if you are not a credibly dressed transvestite which infiltrates in opposite sex rest-room – there’s an aspect which is hidden from your eye – whether you want it or not.

  10. Diana says:

    fab post as always……love reading the fun comments…..

  11. archecotech says:

    Oh, the shit we put up with, yeah. I’m not in Latvia but Russians can be assholes too.

  12. Perhaps as soon as the two women realised you weren’t local, you suddenly posed no threat to them, because they knew that no self respecting ‘foreigner’ would be trying to take away their chances of catching themselves a husband that evening!

  13. Kristine says:

    Hmm, this got me thinking..I am a Latvian woman and I don’t hate Latvian women. Plus, i’ve never been, erm, vagina-blocked by some Latvian chick, just because she thought that I might be a threat to her, lol.
    Commenting on your previous post (I’m too lazy to write 2 comments) – wi-fi and public transport were the first things I was bitching about when I arrived to Ireland. And I miss beer! God, I’d kill for a pint of Bauskas tumšais! Smithwicks is nice, but… it’s just not Bauskas ;( (I promise myself to get drunk on it when I’ll be home for Līgo).

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, vagina-blocked! 🙂
      Yeah, I don’t blame you for bitching about those things in Ireland – the buses in Dublin (or at least the area where I lived) used to drive me nuts 😉 I think the wifi is probably improving but we’re still far behind, I’d imagine!

      • Emmi says:

        british buses..oh God… now I dont know about public transport in latvia but Austria and Gemrnay have the best public transport ever. the buses actually come in time according to the schedule and stop at every stop. so do the trams. in Britain you actually have to hail the buises like cabs and the bus stops that are turned the other way around… ugh. and no ticket sales points at bus stops! if you dont have the exact amount of money to pay the driver for the ticket you re screwed. and the super narrow roads that are used as parking spots and only one car can drive there – how does this even work? there s no two way drive? here in Uk transport is pretty bad…

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, it’s the same in Ireland – exact change only! Drives me mad – and it’s so expensive!

      • Kristine says:

        I live in Dublin and I’ve had a fair share of bus-rage. Btw, Bus Eireann is not better. I think only LUAS is good, at least the green line & red when there are no concerts in the O2. Damn those little underage girls going to One Direction…full city centre with them…brr. Sorry, rant over.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! It’s OK – I understand! I rarely took the Luas, but when I did, I thought it was great. It was a bloody long time coming though!

  14. Pingback: Google Search Terms ~ 6/1/2014 | Andy Kaufman's Kavalkade Krew Featuring The Wandering Poet

  15. Leta says:

    Did these guys look younger than you? Then my version what happened would be – when this girl saw you at first, she thought that you are some recently meet random woman, which had put spells on these her little babies and she have to save them from this old witch, like in story about Hansel and Gretel. Because latvian people like to think that they know how everybody have to behave, what to wear, how to talk etc. And for them it seems impossible that there are another types of relations between man and women except colleagues, lovers and family members. And older woman doesn’t behave properly by walking around with younger guys 🙂

    I am latvian and I think that most of latvians are real weirdos. Very often I see that kind of stuff in my own personality, but I work really hard to get rid off it and make my life more easy.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh, this comment made my day! And no, in answer to your theory – from what I remember of the two Spanish guys, they looked around my age, maybe a couple of years older. And the Danish guy must have been around 10 years older than me!

  16. Ok, I’m not getting into this disucssion as I think they are exceptions.
    BUT I found domething you might use for your students. 🙂 I gave up in the middle of the poem: http://sfglobe.com/?id=894

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! That was actually the link the second girl showed me! It’s definitely doing the rounds at the moment! I’ve sent the video version to a few of my more advanced students – just to blow their minds a little 😉

    • Awww, thank you! 🙂 I like you too, though I don’t necessarily always agree with you.
      Thanks for suggestion, nice blog – I like it already as the first article I opened was about cuisine. This is my favorite topic, because foreigners reaction to Latvian food is priceless. 😀 Btw – haven’t heard a list from you – what you fancy and what’s disgusting. 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Well, life would be very boring if everyone agreed with everyone all the time 😉 You might also like this one – she eats out a lot and says things like ‘everyone should eat in Vincent’s at least once’ – I can just imagine the queue of pensioners lining up to see what they can get for their leftover euro at the end of the month 😉
        As for me – I like pretty much all of the sweets and cakes, especially the cakes! The beer is good. Birch juice is good. The black bread I can take or leave, but the garlic version is OK. The meat here in general I find very fatty but kotletes and shashliks can be good if done right! A massive NO to that cold beetroot soup – possibly the vilest thing I’ve ever tasted! But most other soups are fine. Yes to pankukas. No to kefirs. And I don’t eat fish and I’m not a big salad fan so I can’t really judge those two! Oh, and no to zirni ar speki – grey peas – what’s that all about? 😉

  17. bevchen says:

    From complete bitch to intelligent, articulate and nice in the blink of an eye. Do all Latvian women suffer from multiple personality disorder or something? I don’t know many German women (other than those I work with – Karlsruhe university specialises in computer science/ing so most people my age are male), but those I have met have been nice to me even before they realised I wa English.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I really haven’t experienced this anywhere else! I don’t remember it ever happening in Poland – or anywhere else I’ve lived/travelled to. And if another Irish girl ever treated me that way because I’m Irish too? I don’t even know what I’d do because I just can’t imagine it ever happening!

    • Mārtiņš says:

      I cannot say much about the topic – I would have to be a woman to experience it. But women from computer science/technologies sphere… well – not very much of women are they (also men IT specialists are the kind by which one shouldn’t judge on men; they are). They are really special kind of people.

  18. Good thing you’re a well brought and Pilates flexible Irish girl now, or Latvia might have got it’s crime rate increased were it me in your place. I’m not generally a violent person, but if something really pisses me off that much, I can literary go berserk, and I tell ya it ain’t pretty. There’s no excuse for being rude to other person this much and only turn 180 degrees upon finding out that that other person getting your nasty side might be interesting faster all just because she’s not local and thus not a ‘treat’ for a local girl’s matrimonial or whatever purposes. Linda, you might consider carrying a brick in your handbag, so next time some one is going all bitch on you, you can easily not that one in one swing, and continue to have a good time with the rest of the company, while the nasty one’s unconscious and under your feet for a foot rest 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      It’s lucky I have the blog to vent my frustrations, or I might actually consider the brick idea! Oh, and remind me not to get on your bad side 😉

      • Don’t worry, you’re already in my good books 🙂 I think we’d have a better time having a beer or two than fighting, so there’d be no need to for me to go all crazy on you. Hm… unless you go all leotard, start kicking me with some stiletto and trying to push me, then, I’m afraid I might punch ya for good – I ain’t doing a cat-fight 😉 LOL

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, no, I prefer punches to bitch slaps 😉 If I make it to Lithuania before I leave, we’ll definitely have a beer or two!

      • See? we’ve so much in common 😀 Though I must say sometimes I wish I knew how to do a cat-fight – it might be not the best way to knock out your offender, but it is hellava scary LOL

      • Expat Eye says:

        That’s true! I think I’ll stick to the brick approach though – brick beats claws 😉

      • ya, and bruises heal leaving no mark, unlike clawmarks… 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m glad we got all this worked out! 🙂

  19. parallel latvian says:

    I live is some parallel reality. Or maybe I don’t notice women doing something like this.

    • Expat Eye says:

      You probably just don’t notice 😉 Or maybe it hasn’t happened around you – it hasn’t happened to me that often, it just sticks in my craw when it does!
      And like I answered a previous comment, if I was in Ireland, I’d be going out with my small group of good friends and probably not talking to that many other people. Here, I tend to go out with lots of different people/groups, who have their own friends etc, so I meet a lot more people than I would in Ireland. And it is mostly positive!

  20. Mehere says:

    I think we can’t blame history as an excuse why to be unpolite, rude and cheap to other people at first sight. There are countries with even more violent history and they are very friendly people nowadays. Specially with the simple code ” I say hello, he/she says hello ” and not like ” I say hello and a bunch of silly reasons come as an excuse for hostility”
    Anyway, about the topic that someone mentioned previously that some couple was having a “perfect life” until some “russian btch” stole the man from her… Let’s start with the fact that is true that Russians and Latvians have very different ways of behaving, thinking, etc, and yeah its true they are much more direct and straight forward and as a man I can actually mention some remarkable differences, I have had both Latvian and Russian girlfriends, friends, lovers along the years and I’m not talking bad about Latvian women, I just will say some points which makes me choose the Russkii girls…
    At the beginning Russians may look colder, while Latvians look friendlier, but once you are in friendship Russians would open up a lot and make you feel warm at home, their friends are now your friends, and if we talk specially about women, Russian girls really know how to make a man happy in the aspects a man should be happy, Russian girls would be very attentive in kitchen, would take care of you, they still have that classic sweet, romantic, charming way of treating their men, very smart, intelligent for modern life, strong when needed and yeah the other important part, sex, veeeery sexual. Princes in front of others and a prostitute in bed. A guy who doesn’t like that should be probably gay…
    Just for the Baltic variety I can share that I also met several Estonian girls, and yeah, same old story, they hate Russians and Russians hates them, but I can actually say very positive things about Estonian girls in the aspect that they were very welcoming and making me feel very warm and cosy at their home.
    Another real life story happened to a local friend, he has Russian name, surname and parents but he is more like Latvian and his whole life he had only Latvian girls, he was at his early 20’s and it is when guys change girlfriend every week, once he told me he needs someone who can make him feel emotions, that he wanted to know how it feels to be in love as how some people say, some sweetness, charm, etc… So I told him, hmmm try a Russian girl !!
    It sounded like a joke but after a couple of weeks he actually meet a Russian girl and he was really happy about it and he said he experienced emotions in a relationship that he didn’t have before, and this player was actually thinking about her 24/7.
    There are nations with a much more violent past and also for hundreds of years, I guess Ireland had conflicts with England, Australia was an island for pirates, slaves and prisoners, as many latinamerican countries suffered of conquering, war, slavery and an imposed religion from Spain, but nowadays Ireland, Australia, Latinamerica, either rich or poor, they are famous to have some of the friendliest people of the world, happy smiles, real smiles which people can feel…
    Talk about Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, the local girls can look like afro, european, aztec, or a mixture between those, and actually they aren’t aggressive to each other blaming it on history.
    Why to live blaming history, life is now 🙂 and its short, better to be happy and make others happy 🙂
    “A coger y a chupar, que el mundo se va a acabar” (World will end, so drink and fuck)
    ” Everybody dies, but not everybody lives” Life your life alive, is not the same to Live than to simply Exist.
    A friendly advice 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’ll be interested to get the local reaction to this one! Thanks Mehere!

      • Baiba says:

        I have actually heard it from some latvian guys too, that russian girls are more passionate. Obvoiusly I haven’t had that experience myself, so I can’t say if that’s true:) And it kind of feels very good to be off the market and not a part of this kind of discussion anymore:)

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, I haven’t experienced Latvian vs Russian girls either 😉 Maybe some other guys can enlighten us!
        And yes, it must be far less tiring being off the market! 🙂 I’m not even looking for a guy at the moment, but still this kind of stuff happens!

      • Emmi says:

        Russian girls better in bed.. hmm.. seriously doubt that. it sound like “latvians are good at playing hockey”. sex is not a sport you can train to be good at with medals and certificates. or is there some special sex competition going on in latvia where people show off the best skills and a judge gives them awards? nope. good sex happens when two people match and have passion for each other. regardless of nationality. and for a woman good sex starts with compliments! guys should remember that

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Special sex competition!! 🙂

      • Emmi says:

        lets start our own sex olympics! I will represent the austrian team! no stilettoes and death stares allowed

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m in! 😉

      • Emmi says:

        you ll have to wear a leprechaun themed uniform and Ill wear the austrian dirndl dress… okay I guess I get a little carried away….. (envisions images of hot blong boys in leather pants and braces herself)

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, bracing myself for Irish boys in Aran jumpers! Better wear my best pjs… 😉

    • Emmi says:

      the dude has a point. blaming your problems on history is not going to help you. in the US for example there still is a lot of tension between black and white people especially woman. a black woman hates white women who date black men. not the case in brazil at all! all women are gorgeous, friendly, sweet and they all compliment each other with their diverse beauty. they are still dofferent and racism existst in brazil along with some other major prolbems but people are sweet and optimistic. and women are chosen by men not because of color/ethnicity but because of character plus they all have big butts and its a must have for a girl in brazil))) and the local guys are some of the most charming people in the world. every latvian should go to brazil and get a much needed injection of positivity and sunshine!

    • By your definition I’m probably gay so I won’t go deeper into polemics with you. Just say- your views are extremely unilateral.
      First I wrote some 20 sentences stating how wrong you are but then I just shortened to one main idea…

      Probably you’re just too young to understand many things.

      • Expat Eye says:

        He’s not that young 😉

      • rower says:

        statements are based solely on posters own experience. one can either feel sorry or happy for that one 🙂 That applies both to previous longposter and to Ivars 🙂

        my 2 cents : it’s not wrong person, it’s probably wrong company (for that person) 😉

  21. June says:

    It’s taken me a long time to get used to the shaking hands thing. I just find it so strange that someone comes into my house and puts a hand out to my husband but not to me, sitting right beside me. Arūnas has had to explain repeatedly that it’s just the culture – people are not being rude or sexist. I still don’t like it or understand it, but I’m not offended anymore. I do remember one time back in Ireland, we were renting out or house and this Polish family came to view it. Arūnas and I both greeted them at the door. Arūnas put his hand out to the father and then I put my hand out to follow suit. He looked at it, at me, and then turned back to talk to Arūnas. “Goodbye”, I said, and closed the door. You’re in my country now, Jack. You never, ever ignore the gesture of a proffered hand. On the women thing I haven’t really experienced it, probably because I have a small circle of friends. Don’t think it’d like it, though!

    • Expat Eye says:

      It’s not pleasant! If someone doesn’t like me, then fair enough, be rude or just don’t talk to me. But this instant rudeness for no reason at all is horrible. I’m glad you put your father-in-law in his place! If you offer your hand, they’re supposed to take it – that’s what I’ve been told anyway.

      • June says:

        No, no, not my father-in-law! The father of a family that came to view out house for renting! Not sure if I’d have been quite so brazen with the in-laws! But the point is the same – offering a hand is a symbol of peace and should never be ignored. I hate rudeness of any kind – one of my pet peavey, in fact.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, sorry, I misunderstood!

  22. Great post and great discussion Linda! Interesting that she took you for a local. Perhaps you’re assimilating a little bit. Although, I can’t really see that happening. 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, it’s hard to say! I don’t think I look Latvian, but Latvians are such a mix of different nationalities that it’s hard to say what a typical Latvian looks like too!

      I would say that the fact that there was a stool between us with my coat, bag, etc. on it, should have given me away as a foreigner immediately! Some of the locals would have been in his lap 😉

      • I’m sorry. I didn’t mean in appearance. I meat be demeanor. (That’s interesting though. I have two Latvian friends that are sisters. One is very dark completed with dark hair and the other looks vertu Nordic and fair haired.)

      • Expat Eye says:

        I hope not 😉 I was talking and smiling/laughing! Although I probably have stopped slouching as much since I’ve been here – the locals have great posture 😉 Oh, and I was drinking a pint of beer – a lot of local girls would drink ‘cocktails’ or wine 🙂

  23. astrameklere says:

    I don’t know about others, but my favourite sayings are “The more I see men, the more I like dogs.” and “Here is woman solidarity and there is a door (or exit), man…” Suppose, me and my friends are not Latvian? 😀

    • Expat Eye says:

      I have a lot of time for you and your friends – I’ve met most of them (I think) and their boyfriends/husbands and never felt unwelcome!
      But, those sayings… while I like the message of female solidarity, does it always have to be at the expense of guys? Can’t women feel empowered without making men feel stupid, weak, useless? I know it’s the current trend right now in TV shows, advertising etc., but I’m not a fan.

      • Mehere says:

        Its great that you are not a fan of that 🙂
        It means that you are a ” good female ”
        I think men should be manly gentleman, women should be feminine ladies,
        because there should be a gap between genders that allow us to appreciate oposites and we all know that oposites attracts each other.
        But the problem nowadays is that men are getting softer and girls are getting stronger, causing that both genders are at the same level and we don’t see difference.
        Sisterhood is great, Brotherhood is great, we all need to belong to a team of our own, but is not fun and not normal anymore if guys prefers to party only with guys, feel uncomfortable with girls and viceversa. At the end we all would love a tequila party where strong chests and nice sets of boobs are hanging out together 😉
        ( And please notest that if I say ” nice set of boobs ” doesn’t mean they have to be big boobs, all boobs are nice, big and impressive, small and cute , sensitive, shapes , colours , etc etc and many more details )

      • Emmi says:

        boobs rule the world….

      • astrameklere says:

        Linda, it’s just a joke in some funny situations. Mostly, thank God, my male friends have an excellent sense of humor. So, it is fine with them. 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yep, I’ve met most of them too 😉

  24. 1WriteWay says:

    Well, I guess you’ll get to do only one positive post every 4 years if you stayed in Latvia 😉
    Really, they think you’re a “threat” and once they realize you are not, then they treat you differently? A more calculating (and savvy) female would have befriended you immediately, studied you for your vulnerabilities, and then turned the tables on you (if you were still considered a threat). At the least, she would not have looked so foolish.
    A long time ago, I snubbed someone (not my proudest moment) only to realize soon after that I needed/wanted to be friendly with that person. Of course, that person snubbed me in return and I couldn’t blame her, but I felt very ashamed of myself. Like I said, it was a different situation and many years ago, but I don’t ever want to be guilty of that behavior again. Are you counting the days until you leave Latvia?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Pretty much! Well, right now I’m more focused on going there for a week in June (oh, this month) 😉 Trying to line up some interviews etc. The thoughts of the BIG move in September is too much for my tiny mind to cope with right now!
      Glad that you learned a lesson from your snub – I wonder if either of these girls will! 🙂

  25. nancytex2013 says:

    Oh my.

    Let me repeat, oh my.

    Two things;
    1. Both of these women are so unbelievably lucky it wasn’t me they showed those claws to. My claws are longer. And sharper. You can put money on that.
    2. I use the word fuck a LOT, but I rarely, rarely use the C word. I don’t know how you feel about the C word so I’m not typing it here. But honestly. If anyone was a C*nty McC*unterson, it was that second chick.

    Leave THAT PLACE now.

  26. ytaba36 says:

    A great post, and as always (well, usually) the comments provided much food for thought. Latvia is not on my bucket list of places I must see!


  27. Maybe you should get a Latvian cat…

  28. Karīna says:

    Most probably they think that you are only a tourist (as most foreigners), therefore your are definitely not a threat. Because you are supposed to leave soon.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Well, we spoke for quite a while afterwards so they knew I was here for a while! Maybe they just think Latvian men will be turned off by my pajamas eventually 😉

      • Emmi says:

        or maybe they dont like all women and consider it useless to even waste time on conversation with them. but since you are a foreigner you are a little more interesting since you could potentially introduce her to some rich male foreigners….. its only an assumption)

      • Expat Eye says:

        That’s definitely worth considering! I don’t know many rich male foreigners though so they’re wasting their time if that’s it 😉

      • Emmi says:

        well not neccessary rich ones… but you could have introduced her to a different social circle where there s more westerners, maybe she just likes western people (and I mean men) more than latvian men so she s trying to be nice to you for that reason…. in ukraine some girls wanted to hang out with me so that I would invite them to all of the student parties with Austrian/German guys that took a place at our hostel. Im not saying its a bad thing though. If I were living in Italy (country of most handsome men in the world in my opinion) I would also love to be a part of a social circle that has a lot of Italian boys…. but than I dont think I needed women for that – italian men just approached me from all sides by themselves last time I was in Florence .. and no jealousy from local women at all! thank God they understand we re all people or maybe I just lucked out with my group of friends. I mean Im also not going to bitch if an italian student decides to hang out with our blond Austrian boys in Vienna University…. the world is a sea full of fish and we all have a chance to catch smth. You know my mama taught me its good to share!

      • Expat Eye says:

        It is! And women are more than welcome to the Irish guys! 🙂 Just be kind to them 🙂

  29. isbergamanda says:

    All around the world I meet these women who seem to be holding some kind of competition when they are meeting other women for the first time. I usually try to have a smile on my face when greeting new people, but if it isn’t returned then I will turn my attention elsewhere. Who has time for such negativity?

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m the same – I (maybe naively) start off thinking everyone is nice – it’s up to them to prove otherwise! Unfortunately here, they show the claws before they show that they’re nice/smart/funny etc. And if I was Latvian, I probably would never have seen that side. Sad!

  30. lafemmet says:

    Very interesting post and Marta’s was as well! I am pretty sure it is very similar here. Thank God I have some good friends… I think it helps that I am married. of the market!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I think a lot of people here just hang around with their close-knit group of friends/family so miss a lot of stuff – or just aren’t aware that it happens. I get to meet different people all the time – most of the time, it’s positive, sometimes, not so much!!

      • Baiba says:

        That’s what I thought too, I mean, it’s years, since I was in a bar or a pub, I really have only this small group of people around. And they all are so normal… I’m probably already too rusty to socialize 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m sure you could get back into it if you had to 😉 But why would you want to if you’ve got a nice bunch of people around you at all times! I have to take the good with the bad! 😉

      • lafemmet says:

        It is the not so much that gets to us… It is sad that that one mean thing (or what we may perceive as mean) overrides so many positive experiences. But they do.

      • Expat Eye says:

        They do. It will probably take a while for me to get my head back to normal after I leave here, but I wonder, 6 months down the line what my over-riding feeling about Latvia will be?

  31. marta says:

    Oh, you are so precisely describing this.
    Actually, its a sad, chronic problem with some hideous consequences. My – very simplified and brutal theory: reasons for this woman-to-woman hostility, that you can feel EVERY single day here (I’m latvian, and sometimes when I travel to europe, I suddenly remember how to breathe without fear) is, well.. 1. hundreds of years of german ruling and latvian peasant/slave lifestyle, that made sure of our super-low self esteem, everyone being frighten, selfish and desperate. You keep your mouth shut, work hard, steal for your family is you can, try not to rock the boat (or you’ll get spanked in front of the whole village), and don’t be TOO PRETTY, because then german landlord will take you as his treat on your first night (jus primae noctis was widely popular here, I have two german ancestors as a result of that) – and if you happen to be a long term lover of a high-born master, you will be envied and hated by all female inhabitants of the village.. 2.wars and horrifying gulag experience, in wich 2/3rds of the men vanished, and any Man (no matter, alcoholic or brute) became most wanted prayer. It created a whole generation of manly, powerful, bitter women, who not only hated their life (understandably) but also taught this wisdom to their daughters. 3. Soviet occupation, wich made millions of russian women come here with their families, or on their own. If latvian ladies have this bitter-cold way of conquering things in life 😀 russians are much straight-forwards. I have heard heartbreaking stories of latvian women who lived all their life (or some years) with a man and “everyting was ok” and then this russian B^%^ came, waving her curvy body and took him away. There was (and is) a huge gap between russian and latvian temper, morals, traditions and ways of everyday life, and the blow of overflooding people from “all friendly soviet republics” was a trauma for both sides, I think. Motto “strongest and fastest survives (=get’s the man)” became even more pressing. “Never trust anybody. You cannot trust a man, but you can hold him with your (censored). Women, on the other hand, are ALL bitches, and you just wait, she might pretend she’s your friend, but the moment you look elsewhere, she will be sitting on your man’s lap”.
    So now we have not very much assimilated russians, depressed latvians, wars – long gone, economic situation – kind of sliiiightly better, probably because of millions sending money from abroad… but still, ladies must compete! Why? Oh, I quess generations must pass.. 😦 I have discovered that dressing up nicely – some colorful dress or nice coat – get’s you three kinds of looks from women. First is the historical look, where all the injustices of the centuries spill out in one glance, and it says “how can you can look so happy when I’m feeling so bad??? Do you think any man would look at you, with these colors mixed together? Stupid hare krishna!”
    Second is – rare, but exists – an interested, evaluative, inviting glance. It comes from lesbians.
    Third, wich, I’m glad to say, is more and more common in last years, comes from hipster-artist-hippie type women, and its more like – “oh, what a nice combination of green and purple! Good for you!” – it’s really a relief to see a non-competing expression.
    So, hopefully it’s getting better. Maybe in 20 years latvian women will be able to get out of their misery and really enjoy each other’s company.
    Anyway, thanks for bringing it up in this funny-poisonous way 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I was aiming for funny rather than poisonous, but it really did confuse me! I couldn’t understand the sudden change in attitude just because I wasn’t local! The competition here must be fierce for women to behave in such a rude manner. If an Irish woman treated a Latvian woman like that, I’d say they were a xenophobic weirdo and stand up for the Latvian girl! But for Latvian women to treat each other like that… I was at a loss! Thank you for taking the time to write that comprehensive comment! Linda. 🙂

      • marta says:

        Maybe the inadequately low self esteem makes the foreigners too “posh” to be hated 😀
        Actually, it IS strange – I mean, why wouldn’t irish girl steal your man, if you are so sure that latvian or russian would. But there is some strange logic in there, maybe because the foreigner will be gone sooner or later. So, what stays here, is the real enemy 😀 Ohh, ridiculous.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! It is kind of crazy! The way I see it, if a guy wants to be with you, he wants to be with you. He can’t be ‘stolen’ – if he can, then he didn’t want to be with you that much in the first place so why would you fight over him? 😉

      • Baiba says:

        It’s probably the same reason, why so many women choose to stay with a man, who is drinking, cheating etc. Because the most important thing is to have a man, no matter what he is like.

      • Expat Eye says:

        It’s such a sad way to think – I’m sure a lot of these women would be far happier on their own. Is it a self-esteem thing? Or a ‘wanting to look like a normal family from the outside’ thing?

      • marta says:

        That, on the other hand, is consequence from the traumatic years where so many families were single mothers raising kids, the veterans-alcoholics or disabled men (not)trying to be fathers. Idea, that man is only kind of a tool in hands of a woman, tool that gives her the wife/girlfriend status. Kind of idolizing him, even suffering abuse and abandonment, but only because he is male, “kids needs father”, without respect, love or tenderness, like a weapon that one can use. Very strange – but I have seen this in many families. Men become mindless, too – there is some sparkle of sense underneath, but it’s hidden so faraway.. Mothers raise “beloved sons” – because they silently hate their useless husbands, and they desperatlely need the love that they didn’t get from their absent fathers and cold mothers – so all the love goes to the son, but there goes also all the expectation, demands, all the plans for their lives and the overpowering control! So son grows up to be a big baby, who is rather useless in any aspect except listening to his mother and being depressed/alcoholic or any other destructive way he tries to escape. I have heard so many horrible stories how mothers control their children, I have became rather imune to that. But recently when I heard that teenagers mother LOCKS the kitchen when son gets an unsatisfactory grade, so he can’t ave anything to eat.. it was too much even for me. What kind of inhumane sadism is that, doing this to your own child?
        Ok, you got me there! Monologing about phychology of latvian families, I shouldn’t have started 😀 Its an endless topic 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        You’ve basically just summed up everything I’ve been vaguely theorising for the last few years!! 🙂 An American guy I know once described Latvian men as ‘macho babies’ 🙂
        Sure you don’t want to start your own blog?! I find this kind of stuff fascinating!

      • Baiba says:

        I think it’s the self esteem, but it can be both. Although I haven’t really noticed, that latvians would be so obsessed with this wish to keep a pretty facade. But then again, if it’s there, it too comes from a low self esteem, no?

        On the other hand one hears now and then, that people don’t want to work on their relationships anymore. I think it’s hard to speak of a global latvian tendency, we too are pretty different

      • Expat Eye says:

        True! I know a lot of really nice women – I just found this bizarre. Thought I’d put it out there and get a local perspective on it – glad I did! 🙂

      • Baiba says:

        And local perspective 🙂 sometimes you can hear from a latvian, that he or she doesn’t like latvians. Men, women – doesn’t matter. Well, that is something, that makes me wonder – what the…?!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Me too! The first one had lived in England for a while so she came back with an ‘attitude’ I suppose. I guess it happens!

      • marta says:

        Thanks, Linda, Im glad that discussion is flaming 🙂 I have been thinking about this a lot, and you did strike a chord here!
        Emmi – of course, russian men vs latvian women is another story! The topic was non-existing female solidaity, so I din’t go into all the possible directions of the sad occupation history.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I do like striking chords 🙂 Just glad the comments have been positive and educational so far!

      • Baiba says:

        Yes, mostly it comes from people, who live or have lived abroad, but not always. But anyway – nationality is a part of ones identity. And hating it is rather strange. Like hating all blond people, if you are blond yourself.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, true! I’m not a fan of the Irish guys abroad who are a bit creepy and give other Irish guys a bad name – because they’re really not like that in Ireland! But in general, I think Irish people are great, and it’s usually a pleasure to meet them, especially when you’ve been living abroad for a while – just that meeting of minds and humour that you don’t get with other nationalities!

      • Baiba says:

        Yes, exactly. And common history. Movies, we have watched, as we were small. Music. Way of thinking. These are all things, that should not be so easily thrown away, because when you do, it makes you poorer. My opinion, because I like to be a latvian, with all the good and the bad things 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yep, same for me being Irish! There are some things that only another Irish person will get! 🙂

    • Emmi says:

      Russian women took over latvian men? hmm I thought the Russian occupiers were predominantly male and actually may have taken advantage of Latvian girls. In fact I think lots of latvian girls were married to Russian men after the war (whether its a good thing or not is debatable), now you say Russian women came along as well and raped Latvian dudes? poor blokes:) its a good thing lithuania gave the Russians the citizenship immediately after the fall of soviet union so all the Russian chicks just moved away to pursue british and amerian guys instead) btw in Vienna I worked with an Amerian guy who left his wife of 14 years for a much younger Ukrainian woman. everyone bitched about her and as much as I detest sluts like her, I still blame the man. because sluts are in every country and temptation is everywhere. its not an exuse to cheat on your wife. if he would have left her for a spanish/irish/american/phillippina woman – would that make him less of an asshole? oh those men, they always have excuses….. just because a country has lots of lonely women, doesnt mean you should break up your own family and pursue younger meat whether its Russian korean of latvian…..

      • Emmi says:

        and in any case – women should not hate each other for Gods sake! except when there is a definite reason to hate. I mean, if there was such a thing as female solidarity, if we women stuck together instead of competing for men, we would have elected female presidents and stopped all the wars in the world….

      • Expat Eye says:

        Amen, sister! 🙂

    • wasd says:

      Wow. quite a read. Thankyou for the explanation, because sometimes I really dont get it why our woman tend to make their lives complicated by plain hating and competing with any other woman in their sight or not. I used to hear a lot of this from my girlfriend – “Oh look at her legs, so thin” (not in positive way), “ooh look, that coat, she stands out a lot” and bunch of other comments like that. Glad I was able to offer her completely different perspective, and seemed that she really gave this up, because I was always asking on that, why should you even care how she looks, or what she wears, only thing you are making here is showing up how insecure you feel about your self. If woman is fit – good for her, shee looks after her body, if she dreses good – good for her, pleasent view and good style.
      All and all, i dont get most of latvian women, because to me it seems they live in their own delusional and self inflicted world of pain, just because most of time there isnt much stuff to really worry about, so they keep some simple list of things to hate on.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, I’ve heard that from a few guys – they can’t understand why their woman is constantly looking at/putting down other women when she has nothing to worry about – at all! Most of the time the guy hasn’t even noticed the other girl!

  32. CatLady says:

    All I can think is that they’re insecure. Incredibly shallow.
    Maybe to them a foreign guy is what a house in Chelsea is to me? One just knows that the likes of Abramovich (that’s the metaphorical you) won’t try to guzzump you, whereas an equal wanna be will pull out all the stops to get the prized possession.
    Next time you should ask – why were you so hostile and rude? If they try to defend themselves don’t take that sh*t and get the answer. Be Paxman! I’m genuinely interested to know.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Me too! I saw the first girl again at a house party recently – she was so friendly and nice. ‘Oh, I was hoping I’d meet you again because we didn’t really get to talk last time…’ Wonder why?!

  33. A choice post 🙂

    Gosh, I’m so glad it’s not like this in Spain… people (men AND women) are just so friendly on first contact in a social setting.

Comments are closed.