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Vanessa: Russianess

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Moscow makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Moscow, etc. 

I’m Ness, I’m 25 and from Nottingham in the UK. Like many Ex-pats I came to Moscow as an English teacher. I’d like to say that I chose Russia because of it’s vibrant culture, interesting people, fascinating history or beautiful landscape, but my motivations were purely economical; I needed a job and Moscow had some. That other stuff has been a fantastic bonus.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging while I was preparing to leave; it was mainly intended as a way to keep friends and family up to date with what I’m doing. I’ve also blogged or kept diaries about other trips I’ve made in the past so it just seemed like a logical thing to do.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Probably the one about the love poem a stranger handed to me in Wendy’s.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Moscow differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

There are too many differences to list but most of them are easy to adjust to. Sometimes it’s the little differences that are more striking, like how everyone loves to stamp and sign everything 50 times or the hundreds of superstitions and old wives tales that even the most rational of my friends swear by.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Moscow? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I really wasn’t prepared for the weather; a 60 degree swing between summer and winter is pretty dramatic compared to the temperatures back home.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

On the return leg of a journey to St Petersburg with friends, we took the overnight train and I had the ingenious idea of slipping my passport inside my pillowcase to keep it safe. It was only as we left the station that I realized I’d left it behind. We ran back to the platform to see the train pulling out of the station. We had to walk over a mile down the track to find it parked up for cleaning and bang on the doors to get it back. Perhaps unsurprisingly that wasn’t the first time I’d lost a passport.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Moscow?

  • 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.
  • Enjoy the winter! – it’s fun but long. The key is not to stay shut away indoors but go out and do things with friends, that and vitamin D supplements.
  • Ignore that rubbish about Russians being cold and never smiling, all it means is when they do smile it’s much more genuine.

How is the expat community in Moscow? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Moscow has a really active ex-pat scene; there are some good online communities and regular nights at bars where you can usually hear American and British voices. I’ve also met a lot of people through my job.

How would you summarize your expat life in Moscow in a single, catchy sentence?

Moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Jürgen Hofmeister

"When I came to Moscow I barely knew anyone, but now I've got dozens of expat contacts from dozens of countries. "

Caroline Hayes

"At the first InterNations Moscow event that I attended I was absolutely delighted by the elegant atmosphere and the high-quality expat crowd. "

Global Expat Guide