Durham University students about...
Krasnoyarsk is a big city, about the size of Leeds. It is quite an industrial city in central Siberia, so it's quite polluted, but you can get used to that. There are lots of theatres, operas to go to, concerts, sports, etc. You can find very pretty parts of Krasnoyarsk if you go to the islands — in autumn the trees are really pretty and the air is fresh and clear. Krasnoyarsk has everything, all the usual facilities and entertainment both cultural and popular.
...Krasnoyarsk State University
At first it was a surprise! It looks like a derelict factory. But it's fine inside — warm, comfortable. Favourite lessons are Grammar + Great Russian People.
Take toilet paper with you to the loo, and another person — the doors don't have locks.
...problems for foreigners in Russia
Buses are the problem. All journeys are the same price… Don't be surprised if you have to cram into buses. That's normal. When in Russia, do as the Russians do. People often come to speak to you when they hear you talking English — it's not a problem, but it's unusual.
I had a stereotype that vodka would be very common, but I've found more people drink beer. We'd also heard stories of scary babushkas, so I was quite scared of them. And of course everyone at home told me not to be eaten by a bear. I also had an image of the Russians furry hats, like you see in Dr Zhivago.
...what Russian people value
They value being on time, they don't like people being late. They also value friendship, hospitality, family and their mobile phones.
It's difficult to describe Russian food, but it is different to English food. Lots of meat! And lots of fat + grease, but it's needed in the cold weather. The best things are pirozhki. Blini are also good with various fillings. Ice cream is great, which seems strange in such cold weather. Fast food is also very strange. Food is very cheap.
... а Russian family
Our relationship with our host family are generally very good. My family allows me to be independent — to go out when we want and return when we want (but do stick to the time you say, or call if you think you'll be late). My advice is to let them know from the start what you like + don't like, how much you eat + don't want to eat. Don't feel that you have to eat all in front of you — they give you more than enough so don't be afraid to leave food. In Russia they think we are too polite to ask for food. Keep making the effort to talk to them — it's good practice for you and helps you to build a stronger friendship.
Some tips from
Durham University students
- Carry passport so you don't get arrested.
- Buy warm clothes here, it's easier and cheaper than at home.
- Be patient at the post office.
- Go skiing — it's awesome and amazingly cheap!
- Take a few western medicines.