This morning, a stranger with a big moustache walked into OKNA*. Without any introduction, he turned to me “Aha! You’re the young guy from England. I have just the question for you. How do young people get into building model ships in your country?”. Oh boy. Despite being the local expert on all things UK here in Krasnoyarsk, I was stumped. He is surprised at my lack of knowledge: “Surely model ship building isn’t happening out of sight!”. Well… I really didn’t want to disappoint him. It turned out he was a big fan of building model ships (Vice-President of model ship building in the Krasnoyarsk Administrative Region, no less), and he had been watching videos about model ship building in the UK. It turns out we hold big competitions in public swimming pools. He was also interested in finding out if I had any contacts high up in the Navy, as he was looking for the plans to a British ship that he couldn’t find on the Internet, and that no one was answering him about. As I wasn’t any use on this front either, he showed me a very long video of model ships bobbing up and down on a lake in nearby Zelenogorsk (a closed city, for which it is tricky, but not impossible, for foreigners to get a pass into). We chatted for half an hour about boats and parted as firm friends. I thought I would write a blog for the first time in a while to remember such moments. Continue reading
Hello, I’m a new Interra Volunteer here in Krasnoyarsk for the next 6 months. My name is Veikka Vainikka and I’m 19 years old. I come from Eastern Finland from a small town called Juuka but for the last three years I went to a high school in Kuopio, a nearby city to Juuka. Continue reading
An important part of every long-term EVS project is the on-arrival training. Ten days after arriving in Krasnoyarsk, it was already time to head off again (but not for too long!). I took the a two-day train ride to Vladimir, a historical town near Moscow. The train there was good fun, there weren’t many people for once, so despite being top bunk, I had access to a table most of the time. I read Vladimir Sorokin’s new book “Manaraga”, a dystopian novel where books are only used as fuel for cooking high-end, black market, gastronomy. In one passage that I particularly enjoyed, one of the characters asks why Japanese food is loved all over the world but Russian food isn’t. The answer is that Japanese food is open, you can see exactly what sushi is made of. Fish, and rice. You can trust it. But who can tell what is hiding inside a bowl of borsch, a plate of pelmeni or a pirozhki? Russian food is closed, and you have to be on your guards. Of course, I don’t subscribe to this, I love Russian food. Sometimes it’s probably even for the best that I can’t tell what’s inside. Continue reading
I flew into Krasnoyarsk on the seventh of September, on Friday. Today is Tuesday. I had three flight changes on the way here, so I didn’t sleep at all. Instead, I read Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness*, which I bought at the WHS Smith in Heathrow (but it is also available in all good bookshops!). It’s very good. The first day was a bit of a waking dream because of the lack of sleep, but I’m still pretty sure it happened. I still don’t have a very clear idea of what life will be like in Krasnoyarsk, so in this first blog I will just try and jot down as many first impressions and experiences as possible, and give my loyal readers and super fans (of which I’m sure there will be many), a rough idea of the geography and atmosphere of the city. Maybe it can serve as a useful canvas for future adventures. Continue reading
In one of my German language clubs, I once presented a selection of German public broadcast documentaries about Siberia to the participants. In particular, we went through the opening themes and paid attention to how Siberia was described by the announcers. Fasten your seatbelt, folks: Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago we were invited by some friends to their dacha over the weekend. There, we had our first banya experience so here’s a little report of how it went: Continue reading
I had imagined that Krasnoyarsk would be really cold but my mind had conveniently blocked any thoughts about the severe reality – that we would easily hit -40°C or below at some point. And if even your colleagues and people in the shops warn you of going outside on Day X, you know that the snow is going to hit the fan. So here’s what actual Siberians recommended to a naïve foreigner like me: Continue reading
My EVS project has reached the finish line. While I look back on these six months, I think there are not enough words to describe the emotions I felt.
It is not my first experience abroad, but it is certainly the first experience in which I find myself for such a long period away from home, from relatives and friends, from everyday life. The EVS project was the perfect opportunity to break the mold, and an experience where you put yourself on the line and you can (re)discover yourself. Continue reading
It’s now been my second time that I searched and found an apartment on the real estate market of a foreign country, and though the database is of course rather small, I think I can already provide some tentative advice for young people like us about how to proceed best in this matter. (INTERRA always offers you accommodation in the form a host family but I chose to have my own place.)
INTERRA has a new EVS volunteer in Krasnoyarsk! My name’s Erich, I’m 27 and come from the Western part of Germany. I can guarantee you that it’s not as snowy and cold there as it is in Krasnoyarsk, that means only you have the real beauty of winter.