We asked some questions to Todd Brunswick (hereinafter referred as T.B.) - one of our clients who had been on 2 tours with us: Odessa Fall tour and Moscow Fall tour in September 2004. In this interview Todd is sharing his experience on the tours.
How did you learn about Anastasia romance tours?
T.B.: I first learned of the Anastasia romance tours from a TV show which aired a few years ago. Even though, after the show, I still had my doubts I was intrigued enough to look into it further. I began checking the internet and reading the articles from men who had attended these tours. This only resulted in building my curiosity even more.
What made you decide to go to Russia/Ukraine?
T.B.: I didn't actually make a decision to go. It was more like asking myself, why not? I didn't want this turning out to be one of those things in life which I would look back on and say, I should have done that.
What had you heard about these countries and these kind of tours before you came and what do you think now?
T.B.: My opinion of these countries and these tours, prior to my trip, was very poor. I had always believed the countries and its people were somehow beneath me and that of other Americans. I couldn't have been more wrong! I now know that even though the financial structure of these two countries is still behind ours, their people are not. Their level of education is much higher, their work ethics are much better and their level of acceptance seems to be much higher towards the things in life which can not be changed. As far as the tours, it seems only the nightmares hit the spotlights and I didn't witness any while I was on tour. My experience was a good one and I would recommend it to anyone.
You have been to two countries. Does Ukraine differ from Russia?
T.B.: I found the two countries to be quite a bit different. In Ukraine, besides things being less expensive, I found the people to be much more relaxed and laid back. There didn't seem to be that sense of urgency that I felt in Russia. However, keep in mind, I only visited two cities in Ukraine and two in Russia.
What are the major differences in Russian/Ukrainian and American cultures?
T.B.: The biggest difference between the cultures, I found, was the people, their education, their morals and their overall level of values. I was surprised by their ability to speak two, and in some cases, more languages at a young age. The importance of a good education seemed to be better realized by their youth then it is here. I was also surprised by their level of acceptance. People here tend to "shoot first and ask questions later", where as people there seem to go with the flow and not let smaller issues upset them. I also noticed that words here, a lot of the time, are used with little or no feeling behind them such as telling someone you love them. Most women there are not so quick to use words unless they accurately describe how they feel. I think most people from all over the world share a lot of the same wants, needs and goals. They just differ on how to obtain them.
Can you tell us what your impression of Russian and Ukrainian ladies is?
T.B.: I was left with a very good impression from the ladies of both countries. I found them to be, for the most part, very sincere and tolerant, especially when it came to the language barrier. I was also impressed by the level of standards they have for themselves. Here, people think nothing of walking out the door in sweat pants and beat up old clothes, but there, everyone looked good and dressed very well. I also noticed there were very, very few overweight women. In general, the women there take much better care of themselves.
How would you say Russian/Ukrainian ladies are different from American women in general?
T.B.: In general the Ukraine and Russian women seem to be more proud and comfortable with themselves then American women. Don't get me wrong, there are many good women here as well but I think the Ukrainian and Russian women are more approachable, easier to talk to, despite the language difference, and much more open and receptive towards all men. Not just the good looking ones. They seem to be more interested in a man's personality and more willing to take the time to get to know him.
Do the socials help in meeting ladies? In what way?
T.B.: The socials were a great tool towards meeting and getting to know the women. They allowed me to meet a very large number of women in a short period of time plus, having the interpreters at the socials made it much easier to initiate a conversation. They also created a very relaxed atmosphere which made it easier for me to be myself. I also noticed that most of the women attending the socials did so with one or two of their friends. This turned out to be a very positive thing as well. The women were much more comfortable, I ended up meeting two or three at a time and there never seemed to be any lack of conversation.
Did you have any concerns for your safety when going out at night?
T.B.: When I first arrived in Ukraine I was very concerned, but being greeted at the Airport by the Anastasia reps helped dissipate those fears. I also had spoken to a friend, prior to the tour, who had visited Ukraine and Russia before and he suggested I simply try to blend in. He told me to wear dark clothing. He went on to explain that wearing bright colors, such as yellows and reds, would be similar to carrying a large flag that said I am a tourist. This was the same advice given to me by the Anastasia web site, so I took it. I also tried to stay aware of my surroundings when going out at night and we always stayed in groups of two or more. Staying safe simply boiled down to just using a little bit of common sense. The same as you would when traveling anywhere.
What part of the tour did you like best? Why?
T.B.: Even though this question is number 10, I saved it till last because I found it to be the most difficult to talk about and the most personal. I had a great time on my tour and look forward to doing it again but the best and most memorable time I had there was the short time I spent with a girl I had met. After all, that's the reason I went there. I met her towards the end of my trip. Our schedules conflicted quite a bit so I wasn't able to spend the time with her I would have liked but I can still picture her smile and hear her laugh in my mind. I think about her often. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, hopefully soon.
What do you think about the guys in your group?
T.B.: I was surprised by the variety of men which attended the tours. Some with a great deal of class and some with none. Overall, we shared a common goal and that seemed to keep us together as a group. I have kept in touch with a few of the other men through the internet and I'm looking forward to seeing them again. Possibly on a future tour. One of the men was planning be together a woman he met there and he writes every so often to bring me up to date. I look forward to his letters and like hearing about the progress he's making. Another man I became friends with started planning his next trip even before he had gotten home. I think he met someone he cared for in Odessa but didn't have enough time to really get to know her before he moved on to Moscow. I'm looking forward to hearing how things work out for him.
What can you say about the Anastasia staff?
T.B.: I don't think I could ever say enough. They were all very professional, polite, understanding and most importantly patient. They were more then willing to do anything they could to help everyone with their problems and needs. I think some of them could have a good future as a juggler considering how well and how many things they were able to deal with at one time. I also want to mention that at no time did anyone of them make me feel like a client. They made all of us feel like friends.
What advice would you give to someone who has not been on the tour but is thinking about going on one?
T.B.: GO, STOP THINKING ABOUT IT, AND JUST GO!! Regrets are just that, regrets. Even if you don't meet the woman of your dreams it will be an experience you will remember the rest of your life.
From your practical experience what can you say a man should do before the tour?
T.B.: Probably the best advice I can give is to tell someone to take a little time to prepare for it. Don't just throw some clothes in your luggage and head out the door. Try to learn a few of the words, a little about the culture and read the articles provided by the Anastasia web site. They'll give you an insight as to the do's and don'ts and help make your tour much more pleasurable. Very possibly, even more successful.
How, do you think, a man should act to make the socials/tours more efficient?
T.B.: The best thing anyone can do to better their tour and social events is to keep an open mind and follow the advice given by the Anastasia reps. I would also recommend, to any men attending the socials, to remember the women are there for the same reasons as the men and they understand you have only a little time to get acquainted with as many women as possible. Also, and very important, remember you are the foreigner. You're the one that talks funny and sounds different and this is sometimes more difficult for the women then the men.
Did the tours influence your worldly view? What did they change?
T.B.: The time I spent in Ukraine and Russia have changed my life, probably forever. They've made me realize there's life outside the US. By that I mean I have learned not to limit myself to my immediate surroundings. Almost everyone I know, including me, seems to get to a point in their life where they become complacent and content with the way things are. My trip woke me up and rekindled my desire to learn new things and experience new places and most of all, meet new people. I'm even trying to learn a new language. Not doing too well, but I'm trying and I'm having fun.