Three flights: Montréal – Frankfurt – Moscow – Arkhangelsk. First one was great, big plane, my friend Pascal was working on my flight. Love when this happens. Then long layover in Germany where flight was delayed an hour. It was the middle of the night for me combine with my cold, wasn’t easy, but survived. Arrived in Moscow where I had to go through immigration. Realized few people wearing mask not even properly. Immigration officer didn’t want to attend me when he saw my Canadian passport, guess, he didn’t speak English. Then another lady did, she told me to take off my mask. Felt a bit strange but did what I was told. 10 minutes later, I had my passport again with my documents. Did my Covid Test at the airport, got the results in an hour. My last flight, I was getting restless, small plane and full, 2 hours flight. A girl from Zambia came to pick us up and brought us to the hostel. It was very nice, I was sharing with another girl from Zambia, 18 years old who had the shock in her system due to the weather.
Following days were meeting with volunteers (mostly from Central Asia) who helped us go around bureaucracy: doctor’s appointment, getting a new sim card, registration card etc. I was jetlag and still sick with a cold. Not very pleasant.
Yesterday late afternoon, I finally moved into my dorm, a big room with two beds although I am by myself. Doesn’t seem to be anyone in the room next door either. Paying 70$ per month which is super cheap. Phone is 7$ per month (40 GB and 400 minutes calls). Food and taxis are cheap as well. I think with 400$ per month, I’ll be living very good.
People keep asking why I came to study in Russia. Seems to be like a big thing. It’s a huge surprise for them to meet a Canadian wanted to study in their country. It’s usually the first question I am asked. The second one is how I find the weather (it’s minus 18oC), hum, I am Canadian, we have the same weather at home, nothing different. I choose Arkhangelsk because I love winter. For me, the biggest change is the daylight. Sun gets up at 9:29 and it goes down at 14h38. We hardly see the sun, its mostly grey. I will go buy vitamin D tomorrow.
I haven’t had time to visit the city yet, I had class all day (10h – 16h) and tomorrow, I need to catch up on my late assignments. I have spoken to the program coordinator, and she told me first semester is quite challenging and many people quit because of its big workload. She said next semester will be easier. My schedule is from Monday to Friday (18h – 21h) while Saturday varies from 12h – 15h, but today we had a full day. Most classes for now are online because I was in Canada and since there is 2 months left to the semester, they will continue like this, but next semester will be at the university.
The teachers are very comprehensive, I feel everyone (from the program coordinator to the international mobility expert) are doing their best to accommodate me as much as possible. This is what I’ve learnt throughout my travels, one should never judge a population as per their government. I know lots of people were sceptic when I said I was coming to study here. I am happy, I came. I love my program and so far, I’ve been more than lucky with all the helps I’ve received. More than I had even hoped for. For sure, I will have some challenges, languages being a major one, but that’s also one of the reasons I came here to try and learn it. Earlier, as I was coming back to my room, I had to show my access card and the ladies were talking to me and laughing, no idea what they were saying. I just told them in Russian, I didn’t speak the language.
Fancy some Salmon and cheese chips? I can assure you, there weren’t good!