Essentials for Expats in Siberia… Russia

IF you’re super lucky, you might get a double whammy of blog posts this evening. I’ve always hated ‘scheduling’ posts, despite it solving the whole barren month syndrome that Moomads regularly faces. When I finish a piece of work I just have to share it, straight away… maybe to quench my insatiable thirst for attention and praise.

I’ve decided to bring you this; Essentials for Expats (or potential travellers) in Siberia just as winter really begins to give way to spring… and just as I begin to realise that I almost completely fucked up when I packed for the climate of Mother Russia.

  1. A halfway decent winter coat – actually, I purchased an absolute bargain from Primark a few weeks before a left the UK. The sleeves come up just a little too short on me but I got it anyway. I paid the pretty minimal £25 and committed to the purchase because it had a faux-fur lined body with a humongous faux-fur lined hood. It hasn’t ripped, the zips still work, the faux-fur is still as soft as ever even after a few washes AND yes, it seriously does keep the cold out.
  2. A hat, a scarf and mittens – I don’t care what hat you buy, as long as you buy one. My hood did an amazing job of keeping the cold out, but often times I would be chastised for not wearing a hat. I was especially naughty to have gone hatless on the occasion that I was chasing shots of vodka with marinated tomatoes in the snow by a frozen lake with my boss. On the really bitter days, I actually would wear my fake furry cossack hat, with my hood over the top and my scarf wrapped around them both, covering my chin and nose. Get mittens. Mittens are better than gloves. Even the Thinsulate gloves lost out to my fleece lined Primarni mittens.
  3. Boots – trainers are not good here. When the snow comes, it comes hard… all over your feet *snigger* The nice thing about snow though, is that usually it falls off before it melts so I used my everything5pounds.com very unwaterproof ‘trainer boots’ the whole winter without any leakage or trench foot as a side effect. It was only when the spring flooding arrived that I had to kiss those babies goodbye. SIDE NOTE: my boots were also faux-fur lined.
  4. Thick socks, fleece lined tights/leggings – these were my thermals this year. I spent more on thermals for my winter season in Andorra but this year I went to Primark and bought fleece lined tights for £2 a pair. AND they look way better with skirts and dresses. TOASTY.
  5. A reliable day bag – my colourful backpack has survived five countries in the last year. Most places online warned me that rucksacks weren’t exactly the classy bag of choice for women in Russia but you can safely ignore that and rock whatever bag you so desire. My rucksack has done nothing but make me friends. Plus handbags/rucksacks are expensive here.

 

pony

I got the winter wardrobe down, bro. But news flash:

Siberian cities are not shrouded in endless snow storms, forever and ever, amen.

Spring 2016 has graced us with +25C weather on several occasions already and its set to get hotter as summer comes along. I spent somewhere around 10,000 rubles (£100ish) on an emergency summer wardrobe (consisting of bright red hippy pants, elephant print crop tops and plimsolls) just so that I don’t pass out on my way to work. Many things in Russia are extremely cheap compared to similar items in Britain, but clothing is more or less exactly the same. Any bargains you see at home are worth getting before you come to RU.

Things you probably don’t need to buy in bulk before setting off are:

  1. Moisturiser – these guys KNOW how to look after their skin.
  2. Vitamins/Pain killers/Cold and Flu stuff – chemists are Russian corner shops.
  3. Tampons – tampons are available.
  4. Anything sweet – chocolate and cakes are in abundance.
  5. Tea bags – OK so this might be a difficult one. But give this country a chance to EDUCATE you in tea. They are the true tea nation, I tell ya.

EXTRA

Bring rubles with you. This might sound stupid but I didn’t change any money before I arrived and ended up a little stuck when I couldn’t find a functioning cash machine to draw anything out. Thankfully, my boss is awesome and paid me two weeks upfront as soon as I landed. Tyumen still seems to be largely cash driven and although banks do exist I’ve got by VERY easily in the last six months without a bank account.

Put aside money to purchase a beautiful pashmina from a market here. You’ll need one if you’re visiting religious sites.

If you know anyone who’s planning travels in Russia make sure to point them in this general direction with a share below!

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