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
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 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
My name is Federica and I am the new EVS volunteer. I am from Valenza Po, a small town in Piedmont, in the North of Italy. Valenza is an international goldsmith centre, specialized in jewellery production, cradle of the secular handcraft tradition
I studied Foreign Languages at the University of Pavia, a town in Lombardy, not so far from Milan. I am specialized in English, French and Russian. Continue reading
This time last year I was working at a summer school in Germany with several international colleagues and students from the USA and different European countries. I remember that as we were getting to know each other at the beginning of the summer, we started throwing a plastic globe around the room and pointing out our homes, universities, dream travel destinations. One friend from America pointed at Russia, made a sweeping gesture across the huge space on the globe and said:
“Did you know, that to the east of Moscow there’s just… nothing?” Continue reading