Hello! My name’s Theo. I’m from London in England (boo Brexit!), and I’m twenty years old. I arrived in Krasnoyarsk on the Second of September. This is my first time in Russia, and I get a lot of odd looks from people when I tell them that, rather than choosing to go to Moscow or St Petersburg, I’ve opted to work in Eastern Siberia for six months. One of the reasons that I’m so keen to live in Krasnoyarsk is that very few people in the UK know anything about Siberia. Krasnoyarsk has a larger population than Cambridge, the city where I study, and yet nobody in Cambridge seems to have heard of it. I’ve always dreamed of going to Siberia and exploring a bit. When I was younger, this was because of a romanticised view of Siberian life, a love of snow, and an obsession with Snow Leopards. But now I’m just hoping to discover something a little different from London, and hopefully to make some friends!
The 19th of January was Baptism day in Russia. All around the country, people threw themselves into frozen rivers, to clean themselves of sin. I, sadly, remained chock-full with sin. I had taken a towel with me, flip-flops, a swimsuit and a shot of cognac, and the conditions were ideal: -12 Celsius, 20 degrees warmer than usual at this time of year. We watched as hundreds of people dived in, simultaneously doing the sign of the cross. Three dives, three crosses seemed to be the rule, and Orthodox Church music played out over loudspeaker. But as we stood in the queue from 1am to almost 3am, I got cold feet, well, cold everything really, and chickened out. I went home a dry, broken man. Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of my adventures with cold water.
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
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.)
Last week I went to Nizhnij Novgorod for a training course for the EVS project (training which involved several volunteers, where we discussed various issues relating to the project and the volunteer’s integration in the society of the host Country from many points of view).
Coming back from “hot” Nizhnij Novgorod, I found myself again in Krasnoyarsk with an average temperature of -26°. It’s not the only surprise. On the contrary, should not even be. “Federica, you’re in Siberia. What do you expect?”
It has been more than three months that I live in Krasnoyarsk and, in the past time, I have been twice in St. Petersburg and once in Moscow. Take what follows as a personal observation, due to a variety of trips and daily life spent in the greatest Country in the world.
The first question they asked me when arrived in Krasnoyarsk: have you felt any kind of cultural shock? My answer, in general, is no. Maybe because I already lived in Russia, I know the traditions, and I know exactly what to expect and what NOT to expect. However, which are the more tangible differences?
For a week at the beginning of August, Krasnoyarsk was filled with new faces, new ideas and different languages, as Interra hosted two groups of young people from Germany, Bulgaria and Finland. We organised two different projects – PhotoСинтез, a project for school students about photography, art, history and culture, and an International Summer School for German and Russian students, focused on business, social enterprise and the work of NGOs. Continue reading
It is two months I am in Krasnoyarsk, and I am enjoying the city, people and my work so much!
At the beginning of July, I have been with my host Aygul and her family to dacha. That was a great experience! For those who do not know, dacha is not a simple country house. Russian people go there both to escape the city, both to work. The culture of dachas is a kind of compensation to a city dweller for the cramped living conditions… There, in the embrace of nature, people enjoy fishing, swimming, picking mushrooms and growing their own vegetables. That was great for me, because I experienced a real Russian way to live and spent a weekend in a particular way. Continue reading