Our "Q & A Interview" this month is with Bradley, from Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bradley, please tell us a little about yourself.
I've never been married and I have no children. My parents are retired farmers. I grew up in Iowa with two older brothers. Both brothers have been married for many years. One brother has twins, a boy and a girl, who are almost 3 years old. I am an attorney with my own office in Scottsdale, AZ. I practice general litigation, probate, estates, wills, and a little immigration (mainly L-1 and E-1 visas). My undergraduate degree was in Architecture, which I practiced for 3 years in Connecticut before I returned for law school. I travel a lot for pleasure and a little for business. I have had around 8 - 10 serious relationships as an adult. I almost got married right after I graduated from law school, but it just didn't feel right. I have a dog, a boxer named Paddersen. I dabble in the stock market and in Arizona real estate.
What were your feelings about your personal life in general before you even thought about participating in a service such as Happier Abroad Romance Tours?
I'm generally a pretty happy person, so I would say I was happy before, but at nearly 36 years of age, I was facing the fact that I would probably never find someone to share my life with. I was at the point in life where I was asking myself "Is this it? Is a good job, nice house, and good friends all I'll ever have?" While being alone isn't the end of the world, being with someone is so much better.
How did you perceive services such as ours before you decided participating? What made you finally decide to participate? Did you check out other services and why did you decide on Happier Abroad Romance Tours?
I really didn't know much about the foreign introduction business and started this process skeptical. I first heard about your service on KZON when you had a Valentine's Day contest that included as a prize, a Romance Tour to St. Petersburg. I checked out your website for the first time around February 1, 1999. Your site was the first introduction service I had ever looked at. I started by looking at the recent additions. When I saw how attractive and genuinely interested the women seemed, I grew even more skeptical, but was interested enough to read all the information on your site, including the info about Romance Tours. I started to bookmark women that interested me on your site. I also decided to investigate other sites and was amazed by the sheer volume of sites out there. Through my research I found that some sites were legitimate and some were scams. I found a couple of lists on Russia and Russian women and subscribed. I estimate I looked at about 100 websites and read 1000's of postings to various lists from February until June. I decided I wanted to use a site that had a romance tour, had a large number of women, and had a search engine to initially screen women. I picked Happier Abroad Romance Tours because it had all of the above, plus your site was very informative and easy to use, you were adding 100 (or more) new women every Wednesday like clockwork, and you're a local company for me (I try to work with local companies as much as I can).
Exactly how did you use our services?
After five months of reviewing women on your site, I had book-marked several hundred that I was interested in. I went back through the list and tried to cut it down to a reasonable number to correspond with, but found that decisions I was making were arbitrary. In my research I had read about response rates being low and was frankly still a little skeptical, so I decided to just go on a Romance Tour. I love to travel and I wanted to see Russia. Also 2 weeks in Russia for around $3,000 was less then I had spent on some vacations so I decided to go. I had not written to any women before I left, but I had turned in names of about 20 women I wanted to meet, and printed about 100 women's pictures and profiles off the internet so I would know a little about them.
How did you first come in contact with your fiancee? Describe your feelings when you first actually met her.
We met at the second social on Wednesday at Hollywood Nights. Interestingly, she was one of the women whose profiles I had printed, but not one I requested inviting to the social. I knew she would be there when Ken gave us the list of women and I checked it against my printouts. I was talking to another woman on the west side of the club, when I saw Olga sitting alone on the upper level over by the bar on the east side of the club. I immediately recognized her from her profile and started to end the conversation I was in, so I could talk to Olga. On the way over to her table, one of the interpreters stopped me and said that one of the women wanted to meet me (This was the only time this happened and I didn't really like it.) I went and talked to any woman I wanted to at the socials , so I didn't need or want this assistance, although there were so many I'm sure I missed several beautiful and charming women. However, several of the guys on the trip, for reasons I will never understand, didn't go talk to the women. Why go to Russia on a romance tour, then sit on the sidelines and watch? Anyway, the woman I was pulled over to meet, was not my type so I only talked to her for a few minutes, then continued on to Olga. I thought she was beautiful and she was wearing an attractive black dress (She looked hot!!). When I first approached her, she didn't make eye contact and when I started to talk to her, it was obvious we needed a translator. I grabbed the translator who had dragged me to meet the last woman, and Olga and I started to talk about her job, my job, her daughter, our families, etc. My impression was that she was interested, but a little skeptical about American men in general. (I was right about this and have since noticed that we both seem to always be able to tell by looking at each other what we are thinking, a handy trait when verbal communication is difficult) We talked for about 15 minutes and she gave me her number. She was working both days and nights so we made plans to get together on Sunday.
From your first meeting, briefly describe how events transpired up to your engagement.
We met on Sunday on a double date with one of Olga's friends and a second guy on the tour. We toured St. Issac's Cathedral and went up into the tower, then had a late lunch. She had to teach aerobics on Monday night, so we got together on Tuesday. She made me a traditional Russian dinner. We spent the rest of the trip together touring Pushkin, at the ballet, etc. We talked about how some of the couples who meet on the tour were getting engaged, but we decided to wait. We wanted to spend more time together and I wanted to meet her daughter, who was spending the summer with grandma in Moldova. Olga came with me to the airport. I could see in her eyes, that she was scared she would never see me again, despite my reassuring her that I would be back. When I got back home, I had an Email waiting from Olga. I sent her messages every day. I went back to see her October 15th and spent two weeks with her and her daughter. Everything went really well. Our feelings for each other continued to grow. We talked about our future and all the difficulties she would experience moving to America. We even took salsa dance lessons (trying to learn dancing from an instructor who does not speak your native language gave me some additional insight into just how difficult things will be for Olga moving here and how many sacrifices she is making to be with me). I proposed on October 27th and she said da (yes). We quickly gathered her info for the fiancee visa and I returned to Arizona on October 30.
How do you feel about your life now?
I feel great. I look forward to Olga coming here and sharing my life with her. I'm also a little scared about the difficulties we will encounter in Olga continuing to learn English, learning to drive, leaving her friends, etc. She is making a huge change in her life.
How did you like St. Petersburg?
In August, St. Petersburg was amazing. Activities everywhere, nightlife, parks museums, the ballet, reasonably good weather, etc. In October, the company was great, but the weather was dismal, making outdoor activities uncomfortable. Also in October, without Happier Abroad Romance Tours coordinating activities, I had to deal with more of the bureaucratic nightmare that is Russia
Was the language barrier a problem for you?
Yes, but not insurmountable if you have patience. To solve the problem, we used a Russian/English pocket dictionary for simple items on the first trip. Anything we couldn't make each other understand we would write down and keep on a list for when a translator was available. On my second trip, I bought an electronic talking translator that worked pretty well (about 500,000 words and phrases), but we still kept lists and used translators a few times. I think this will continue to be our biggest problem after Olga arrives and I hope that some of the other Russian women already here will be able to help and assist her with English.
Would you recommend the tours as a way to find your "second half"?
Yes, I think the tours are a great way to meet someone. In the mail lists I subscribed to, the tours and especially the socials, get bashed pretty hard. The criticism is uninformed and unfair. Americans are use to the meat-market concept of American bars where people go to get picked-up, and they apply that standard and judgment to the socials. The socials are not meat-markets although I can understand how the impression is formed. You take a nightclub, put in 20-25 men and 75-100 women, add alcohol and music and stir. It can create an uncomfortable environment, but it shouldn't. Everyone in the room is there hoping to meet someone for a long term relationship, not a one night stand. I attended all three socials. I met 10-12 women on the first and asked 6 women for their phone numbers, I met about the same number at the second social and asked 8 for their phone numbers. All the women I met were sincere in wanting to meet someone special. Every women I asked to give me her number did so and everyone I asked to meet me for a date said yes. Where in America can a man go and have that kind of success? At the third social, I didn't meet anyone. One of the women I met at the first social and went out with several times was invited to the third social. Apparently she had crashed the first social because her friend was invited, so I had a date for the third social. I wasn't really upset because I had already met more women than I had time to see anyway.
How do you perceive our services now?
I think your tour is an amazing event and an amazing value. After meeting the women in St. Pete, I now assume that the other women on your site are also genuinely interested in meeting an American for a serious relationship. I would highly recommend any of your services.
Your impressions about Russian women?
I think Russian women have the same needs and desires as any other women, but their difference lies in the difficulties of their lives in Russia. Day to day Russian life or their upbringing has taught them to be realistically hopeful. Of course, they are also very physically beautiful and exotic.
What are your plans for the future with your new fiancee?
Olga is going to come to Arizona when her visa is approved and we will get married. We will work on her and her daughter's English and teach Olga to drive. Olga wants to teach aerobics and get a job in an office. We will probably have another child in the future and hopefully live happily together, visiting her relatives in the hot summer months.
[Olga, 22, Zhmerinka
[Angela, 26, Kiev
[Irada, 25, St-Petersburg
[Bradley, 36, Scottsdale
[Neil, 40s, Phoenix
[Scott, 34, Tempe