- big, difficult, busy, expensive but fascinating
When I first arrived, most of the people from my home university have been there for five months already, so they had already done a lot of travelling and bonding together. I did however meet a lot of new people from other parts of the world. I really enjoyed the academic side of the stay, as the university offered various classes to do with linguistics, plus the teaching was of a very high standard. They approached every person individually, which is something you don’t get in most universities. The most difficult thing about Russia
is that you constantly have to fight against their bureaucracy. If you accidently forgot your student ID at university, the doorman will make you pay to get it back; if you need to go to the library, you have to get at least 3 letters from your university stating you are a student there; if you want to travel, you have to register with police everywhere you go etc. If you can overlook that, Russia
and Moscow specifically are fascinating, with a lot of interesting people. I would also recommend travelling to St Petersburg
for a few days. Overall, I enjoyed my stay there, despite a few initial hiccups, which are to be expected on a year abroad.
Useful local words: 'халява'.
What not to pack: I would recommend packing some basic medicine, but no blood transfusion kits or anything like that (believe it or not we were told to bring one at my university!).
What to pack: Warm clothes are essential, if you are going in the Winter, as clothes can be much more expensive in Moscow than in the UK.
Couldn't have done without: Patience and a good sense of humour.
Word of advice: Don’t just stay in Moscow, try to travel outside of it, because the capital is very different from the rest of Russia.
Darya Syrpis, Russian and Polish, Birmingham University
Visit our Russia homepage to find out more about the city.