Celebrating the festive season

New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in Russia. The equivalent of the British Christmas, New Year is a time to be spent with family, eating a lot of food and a time to look forward to the excitement of a fresh start when the clock chimes midnight. Christmas itself is celebrated on the 7th January, according to the Julian calendar, and is not regarded as the main holiday as it is in the UK, rather being celebrated as a religious holiday. And whilst the 25th December is just an average working day in Russia, I took advantage of my dual-holiday opportunity and attempted to create my own Christmas also. Continue reading “Celebrating the festive season”

Sochi

Sochi, a city rebuilt for the 2014 Winter Olympics, is now a sunny beach holiday destination for many Russians. Situated on the coast of the Black Sea, close to the Caucasus mountains, the balmy climate and beautiful surroundings would suggest on paper that Sochi’s charm might last beyond the Games. But when I visited the city last weekend it struck me as something of a mirage – beautiful but unreal, and another superficial attempt to prove something about a nation’s economic status. Sochi is, in my mind, a perfect example of the hypocrisies and paradoxes that exist in Russian society, and indeed in many countries across the globe. Continue reading “Sochi”

Second First Impressions

Being here in Rostov-on-Don is both totally new and extremely familiar at the same time. Since I have already spent time in Russia, there are many aspects of life and culture here that I don’t find so surprising this time around. Compared to my Spanish colleagues, for whom this experience is their first time in Russia, our ‘first impressions’ somewhat differ. I already feel used to life here, and think the city is pretty great so far, but my comparison is Tver, not the West. It’s interesting to compare my own impressions of the city with those of other foreigners, and reminds me of my initial reservations and culture shock I had 3 years ago. Continue reading “Second First Impressions”

Anushka

I arrived in Rostov-on-Don a week ago now. The journey was long, and something was different from before. Before, when I lived in Tver. I spent 8 months in Russia in 2013 for my year abroad, and since then Russia’s relationship with the West has changed somewhat drastically. When I told people that I was going to Russia then, the reaction was bemusement. Now it’s more incredulity. Why would I go to Russia at all, never mind consciously choose to spend another year there? Continue reading “Anushka”