Since this website also serves as my personal home page, I’d like to share some things about my life.

Like many who have grown up in a country that split apart, my background is a bit complicated. By bloodline, I am a 25 year old proud Ukrainian girl, despite only spending some summer vacations in Ukraine visiting my grandparents and soaking up sun on the Black Sea.

My parents were both teachers. In Soviet days teachers were assigned places to work throughout the nation. My parents were assigned to Grozny, Chechnya where both my older brother Dima and I were born and raised.

1994 was a year that would affect our family in so many ways. It started so promising. After studying English for 8 years, I participated in and won a contest that enabled me to travel to the United States as a High School exchange student. I still have my Bear River High School diploma in my scrapbook. There I lived with a large Mormon family that accepted me as one of their own and to whom I’ll forever be indebted to for their hospitality and kindness.

The Former Soviet Union was going through a period of tremendous turmoil and religious fundamentalists in Chechnya attempted to declare independence from the now separate Russian Federation. The results were tragic, and my family’s apartment was destroyed by artillery shells only 3 days into the conflict. It was horrifying to be separated from my family and not know if they were OK or not. There was  no way to communicate.

My family’s belongings were reduced to one suitcase and my Mom, Dad, and brother made their way to St. Petersburg where we had a few relatives, even though we had had very little contact with them in our lives. They helped arrange us housing in a communulka apartment. Communulkas are community apartments where individuals or families each have one private room and share common entrances, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. They can be very dreary places and ours was no exception. Our relatives also helped arrange a low paying security job for my brother for a foreign director at a TV station. Unfortunately, teachers from Chechnya were not in high demand in St. Petersburg and my parents were unemployed.

Despite strict rules about duration of stays of exchange students, because my home was a war zone, I was invited to stay another year. While I was happy to receive the offer, nothing could keep me away from my family a day longer.

Oddly, despite terribly cramped living arrangements in a dirty apartment, and barely enough money from my brother’s job to feed us, I think everybody in our family would agree: Those were the best days of our lives. We were together, we were safe, and we were happy.

Through hard work and perseverance, our family’s prospects improved steadily. In part because he spoke decent English, my brother was given more and more responsibility and rose to Sales Director at his television station before recently moving to a smaller station and assuming the role of General Director. My mother obtained a job as an economist in Russia’s largest bank, and my Dad taught Accounting and now works as an auditor. He also recently opened his own Accountancy School where he teaches different automated accounting programs and accounting as a science. My mom’s bank helped us to find a new apartment, and later allowed us to purchase it. Today, this is home for all four of us and Alzira, my deceptively villainous cat.

With my family working hard, I was left to complete my University Studies in St. Petersburg. After graduating, I took a job as a personal assistant to a Director, only to feel bored and underemployed. I reentered the university to get a second higher education and began to work as an accountant. 

Perhaps because of my parents influences, but probably more because of my desire to make some extra money, I also tutored English on the side to a few students. I continue to do this today.

Last year, life took another twist when I met and started dating an American living in St. Petersburg. Though he is too chicken to ballroom dance with me, and seems less inclined to visit museums with me the longer we date, I have grown quite close to him. Slowly but surely, I’m molding him into the ideal boyfriend. He needs a little work on helping me with my coat and offering his hand when I get out of a car, and a lot of work keeping his shoes cleaner, but we are two of a kind and can’t seem to stop laughing or smiling when we are together.

While dating him, he seemed to have countless friends and friends of friends that were visiting St. Petersburg and needed help with apartments, or whatever. And thus, the idea to start my own business was born. Officially, he has a role in my business. 

He is my “Entertainment Director” since his is much more familiar with nightclubs and bars than I am. You can see some of his contributions to this website in the nightclub and restaurants sections.

Today, I have no time for ballroom dancing, embroidery or even reading because I am working. When I’m not buried in a book teaching me about HTML and website design, I am either negotiating with local apartment owners to get the best possible prices for my guests, arguing with local authorities about visa registrations, or answering your e-mails. I love my new work and have already made new friends around the world.

I hope you will contact me at info@oksanasapartments.com   if you plan to visit St. Petersburg.

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2007 Update:    The text above was originally written in 2002.  I only edited my age a few times over the past 5 years.  I left the original text because I received a lot of comments over the years on this and I think it’s useful to understand the origins of my company.    But a lot has changed in 5 years. 

The little business I started in my parents living room has grown every year and now includes 9 full time employees plus some part time people.  We’ve evolved into a property management company and now have over 25 apartments under management, plus many apartments that I still occasionally rent as an agent directly through owners. Managing apartments instead of being an agent has allowed us to improve the quality of the apartments we rent out without raising rates.   The effect has been tremendous.   It’s been an unbelievably exciting experience to start and grow a business.   We still work often with the independent travelers that were my sole clients when I started, but more and more often, we work with companies, hospitals, adoption agencies, universities, embassies and others that have many regular repeat clients.    Over 75% of our business is either repeat or referral, so I like to think that we are doing something right.   

On the personal level, the boyfriend I wrote about is now my former boyfriend --  and current husband.  He's working with me full time on our business, although his definition of full time and mine are slightly different.   When work and family leave me time, I've become a fitness enthusiast and will soon participate in my first body fitness contest.  I'll see if I have the courage to post a photo of me on stage once I see them.   Wish me luck.   During the winter, my brother introduced my parents and myself to skiing, and it's one of my favorite things now.   We still visit an occasional concert or ballet, and enjoy our time with friends.  All in all, married life has been pretty good.     

One of the most exciting things about operating a travel business is that we have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit ourselves.   We almost always look for services on the internet most similar to ours to help us with our trip.  The knowledge learned from seeing how people in other countries approach their similar businesses has been a great help in improving our service and avoiding problems.         Below are some photos from our travels. 

St. Petersburg remains our favorite city (though Sydney and Rio have some big advantages during the winter).   We are anxious to see more of the world and hope we will see you also.      

 Oksana

 

 

 


Paris, France

Eiffel Tower on our honeymoon


Bangkok, Thailand

The Grand Palace


Rio De Janiero

View from Sugarloaf Mountain


Kemer, Turkey

Before dinner


Moscow, Russia

This photos is more about the shoes :-)


Ivano Frankovsk, Ukraine

Visiting family in Ukraine can interesting flying experience (or 48 hours on train each way)


Rio De Janiero

Botofogo beats Vasco for the Rio state championship 5-3. Chuck is mesmorized by Brazilian football passion. I get a lot of sun and nice photo before the game. :-)


Finland

My brother and me pretending we know how to fish.


Kiev, Ukraine


Typical Russian b'day party

Turning 26


Pattaya, Thailand

Chuck's turn to drive


Munich, Germany

In front of the Glockenheim.


Munich, Germany

The other side of Munich


Egypt

Camel riding


Tallinn, Estonia


Rio De Janiero

Body surfing with my brother


Aiya Nappa, Cyprus

reminder to self: Next time posing on beach, take website friendly picture. :-)


Salzburg, Austria

A rainy day :-(


Pisa, Italy

We broke the all time record for fastest visit to Pisa, but got a good photo.


Florence, Italy

In front of the famous Ponte Vechio.


Florence, Italy

Admiring Michael Angelo's David


Rome, Italy

Wondering where the lions are


Lucca, Italy

We visit the town Chuck's distant relatives came from. We didn't meet any relatives, but we did eat pizza and shop. :-)


Rio De Janiero

Important note for ladies. Always wear sunglasses in Rio because there are many many handsome men walking by.


Kuala Lampur, Malaysia

passport - check, visa - check, photo in front of Petronas Towers - check.


Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain


Sydney, Australia

Required harbor photo.


Blue Mountains, Australia

I can't find Koalas in pet stores in St. Petersburg :-((((


Cairns, Australia

Preparing to snorkle at the Great Barrier Reef


Kings Cross, Australia

A long way from home


Turkey

Fulfilling required cultural tour before anxiously returning to beach


25th B'day

My family toasting our guests. In Russia every 5th birthday is a big event.


Buzios, Brazil

Some trips are far too short


Fog de Igacu, Brazil

In need of a shower


St. Petersburg, Russia

In case you were wondering why I like the beach so much


Sharm El Sheik, Egypt

When in Egypt, do as the Egyptions


Turkey

Exploring ruins


At home

I was dared to put a photo of myself with this hair color on my website.


Forgotten Island Name, Thailand

Tried for an artistic picture, but mostly just got wet.


Milan, Italy

In front of the Duomo


Red Square, Moscow


St. Petersburg

Working from my living room the first week on the new job.


My US diploma

I guess technically, it's only an honorary diploma. But nobody needs to know.


St. Petersburg

I'm a Godmother!


Bangkok, Thailand

I didn't do anything, I swear!


Cairo, Egypt

Mom and I after a 14 hour bus ride


Prague Castle

The Czech President is safe. I'm on duty!


Prague Old Town Square

My brother takes a break from his wedding to dance with me.


St. Petersburg Body Fitness Competition

2 years of training, starvation, and very understanding husband leads to my wearing almost no clothes on stage and covering my body in what seemed like paint.


Body Fitness Competition

I realized that I really like food!


Las Vegas, USA

The only gambling I did entire trip was at the airport to pose for picture - and I won $273.00 (No lying - I swear!!!)


San Diego, USA

Chuck takes me to my first baseball game. The San Diego somethings against the Boston somethings. I don't know who won, but I know in bars afterwards the Boston fans were much louder.


Grand Canyon, USA

Spectacular views in the desert of Arizona. I want to go back to hike to the bottom, or as Chuck fears die trying.


Octoberfest, Germany

Very fun weekend, plus I get to wear a great outfit (Thanks Sveta!)


Bavarian Alps

Our friends invited us to go hiking while visiting in Germany. They failed to mention that we would be climbing to the top of a mountain. Chuck and I are plotting our revenge!

 

WHAT MY CUSTOMERS SAY

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