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 Russia:
I spent the first 18 years of my life living in the countryside of Northern Ireland, which was – as you might expect – quiet. But there was very little culture shock, as I had been visiting Moscow on an annual basis for a decade before I finally moved out here, so I was already well acquainted with the city.
I know I will never get used to Russia, but that doesn't mean I don't like it here. My biggest problem is that Russians are not outgoing, friendly, warm people unless they are drinking. I am happy with a more reserved atmosphere than you typically meet in America, as I was raised by British parents, but miss the smiles, waves, and small talk that I had in my town in the USA.
Bring a coat. This should be an obvious one, but let me just say this: I am a Chicago native, so I am no stranger to a cold winter. This past winter was the coldest I have ever been and I had a knee-length down jacket. So be prepared for some chilly days. Wool socks saved my life.
I guess I did experience culture shock when I first came to Russia in 1995-96. Everything was different. Everything was very run down and you could still see the relics of Soviet times everywhere; but there was a sense of freedom, hope and opportunity. I was surprised how open Russians were and how creative they were in solving the everyday problems they faced like bureaucracy and lack of resources.
I think I was as prepared as I could have been, mainly in that I had studied the language (Russian) previously. Living in Novosibirsk temporarily was a preparation period for moving to the Altai as it allowed me to make short frequent visits. It wouldn’t have been possible to work or live in the Altai without fluent Russian.
I was really quite surprised that I didn’t experience much of a culture shock. When it comes to the cuisine, most of what we eat here in Russia I was already eating back in the states. I just got more of it. The funniest part is I came to Russia 30 lbs. over weight and have already lost twenty five of it. The one thing that is probably the hardest is not being able to see the beautiful mountains in the Portland area back in the states.