Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Moscow:
Life in Moscow is totally different life back home, although I have not lived in my home country for some time. Moscow is big, expensive and congested with traffic. I had some culture shock that I have mentioned in my blog and it took me about a year to get used to living in Moscow.
I would encourage anyone to ask as many questions as possible, until they are clear about what they are moving into. Do not be embarrassed by your questions, or let someone else try to make you feel embarrassed. No question is dumb when you’re thinking about moving 5,000 miles from home.
Learn Cyrillic! - I was lucky enough that I had some time to teach myself the Russian alphabet and some basic phrases before I arrived. It really helped me to find my way around in the beginning, especially on the metro.
Learn more Russian, it’s amazing how warm Russians become as they laugh at you try and spit out some of their language in a northern accent with ‘mate’ on the end.
In Russia, and more potently in Moscow, let your mind jump to the obvious logic path, and then ignore it. There is one simple rule, if it makes sense, it will not happen. Planning for the unexpected is unnecessary toil, just go with the flow.
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how polite most people are. From the first day, everyone said “hello” in the apartment building lift. Strangers are usually happy to take the time to explain directions. And Muscovites often are open to discussion of new ideas.
For me, the biggest transition wasn't something exotic: the language barrier was tough but not insurmountable and I didn't experience much culture shock. What really got to me was transitioning from living in a small town to living in one of the largest, craziest cities in the world.
I was very hesitant to make the move, but once I set my mind to it, I was committed to maintaining a positive attitude. Maybe because of that, or because many things in Moscow – from the economy to basic services to public safety – improved drastically since my childhood days, my overall impression of the city was a lot more positive than I expected it to be. I expected to complain a lot more about not having access to one thing or another.
We started this blog as a family several years ago when we moved to New Zealand. It became an amazing way to communicate our experiences with friends and family and then we noticed a type of journal evolving about all our living and travel experiences. We all contribute to the blog, but I’ve noticed as the kids get older they get busy and as mom I end up recording all our memories.
The Russian way of doing business varies hugely from that of Canada, and that was a significant adjustment. It’s also much less “openly friendly” than back home – though once you make friends, the people are generous and kind.
I think the best thing an expat can do in coming to Moscow is bring a very open mind and be prepared for things to be challenging here. Things like renewing your drivers’ license can be a three-day event, so I always bring a good book and a bottle of water, even if I’m just popping out for a loaf of bread.
I was not at all prepared, and I’m really not sure how I could have been. Perhaps it’s not possible to prepare yourself to live in another culture. I think I would have done everything exactly the same had I known what I know now because culture shock is called ‘shock’ for a reason.