Thursday, 31 December 2015

Russian in Croatia or vice versa!

Coming home!!


So after four months in Moscow Russia, it was time to visit home. We went back to Croatia for two weeks to get some sun. Yes, amazing, this global warming thing is cool because we get to enjoy real springtime in Croatia. People have warned me about lack of sun in Moscow, but you don't really understand it until you have no sun for a month and then you have it every day. Now, after charging up batteries I think, or more hope, we will be able to fully enjoy Russian -20 celsius.
One day i was filming for Croatian television how Moscow celebrates new year. It was only -5 but it was like -30 for me. I realised it when I tried to pay for metro tickets, and a line of 10 people formed behind me, because my hands were so frozen that it took me five minutes to pick up the coins lady returned to me. People behind were not so thrilled but at least nobody screamed. 
Its really nice being home but our social life is a bit over the top. I think I have not seen so many friends in such a short time when I lived here. At least I don't have time to fight with my family, we rather leave that for Skype. Kids enjoy so much that I think I will need to drag them back to the plane.The presents we brought went great, but I think that there will be quite many people in Zagreb now with Putin T-shirts.


We also visited the best advent of Europe this year - Zagreb. It is really amazing and so different from Moscow. It really depends what you like but Zagreb is small cosy and they really managed this year to make it a dreamy wintery place. Although temperatures were over 15 celsius most of the days. Moscow is big so everything needs to be big, decorations, markets. Just very happy that prices of hot dogs and hot vine are affordable although you drink it on red square.

Heating or Overheating.

Major issue I have now is heating in our apartment in Zagreb. In Moscow you cannot set heating on certain temperature. In our apartment only one radiator is open and constant temperature in the apartment is 26. It is great when you do not move. But a second you start doing something in the apartment you do it in a bathing suit. The worst thing I saw is that in one hairdressing salon they turn on air-conditioning to cool dow the place because you cannot control heating. But now I have big issue in Croatia. Here heating turns off during night and during day you put it on 22 celsius. I AM FREEZING. I think I have two paris of pants and a three warm sweaters in the evening when we watch TV. My husband says I should start doing all the cleaning in the night, so I would not be cold. Think Russian system suits me better.

Going Back.

It is strange, but as much as I enjoy home, I also like our new home. And now I have even more curiosity to get to know Russians and their culture. I will have to recalibrate myself not to smile to everyone in metro, but as I still exercise it everyday with my kids, it should be easy. And I cannot wait to tell you what to wear on -20. And Vodka, I have still not tried it - and this is really not ok. So next time you hear from me it will be 2016 and I will try to write after drinking three shots of VODKA!! see you 

Friday, 18 December 2015

De-stereotyping Russians?!

Russians are cold, or not?!

In the west Russians are considered to be very cold and reserved, completely closed to foreigners. I don't know how this opinion formed. Maybe because they all look really serious. Or because we all imagine Russians through Putin!?! For sure this opinion did not come from people who visited Russia. Any article I read from people who visited Russia talks about Russians as friendly and warm. 

My experience is very positive. Of course you can run into a lady in the kiosk who shouts at you before you ask a question, but this also happens in Croatia. One day I decided to go on foot to a food-store. which is a ten minute walk from where I live. As a typical woman, I bought five big bags of food, weighing at least fifteen kg. Thankfully, half way home I asked, in my clumsy Russian, a guy to help me, because I nearly fainted. AND HE DID. First I needed to convince him that I can carry half of it, because he wanted to carry all five bags by himself. He did not help me just over the street but went all the way to my building. I was really surprised, I imagined that here nobody wants to talk to a foreigner.

Another day I went to the post office, I needed to buy a postcard. And in Moscow you don't have postcards on every kiosk. So I managed to find it in the post office. But there was a long queue. Ok, I thought, 1 hour wait for one postcard. But lady who was just handing in her ten envelopes asked the post office clerk to give me a postcard and I was done in three minutes. She also added that Croatia is beautiful when I asked for stamps.

So I don't know if the Russian winter has still not cooled me down, or I am irreparable optimist, but I think Russians are very nice and open and I still enjoy every day of my time here.

Russian women are beautiful?!

Everyone has heard about Russian beauty, especially about beautiful women. Russian friends I know in Croatia are indeed beautiful. So I imagined that the Red Square looks like a catwalk. Well it does not. On Red square you mostly find Japanese tourists. So I tried to find some other places in the centre, but had no luck. In the end I gave up. There are not many beautiful women on streets of Moscow!

Luckily, I met a Russian guy who explained the whole mystery. Russian beautiful women are actually not walking down the street. They are also not in Metro. They are in - CARS. In the huge Moscow traffic. They are also high maintenance. If you want to be with a Russian lady from Moscow you need to have money and they insist on getting flowers very often. At least that is info that I have now. If i find it is not true I let you know.

Also now I am rethinking my mode of transport. As the saying goes; 'When in Rome do as Romans do!'. If I want to feel beautiful i would need to start driving a car. Think I'll wait for spring and pretend to be a student girl on Moscow metro.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Russia, Moscow - Great start!!



So the adventure starts. 
It is August, I am on Croatian seaside. Sun is amazing but I know that just in one month I was going to change Croatian scenery for cold and unknown Moscow. My husband got a job there and as we always promised each other that we would stay together, the decision was a simple one - all of us - My husband, two kids and me - would be moving soon.



First, we tried to get as much info as possible about Moscow and Russia, and it did not go well. Mainly people told us it was grey, serious, congested with traffic and full of unpleasant people. One of our friends who had lived her whole life in Moscow, completely terrified me. Some of the instructions were - Russians are very serious, they don't like Croatians, they wished there is still Yugoslavia, so whenever you introduce yourself tell them you come from Yugoslavia; never smile if there is no reason for it, traffic is terrible - you can spend two hours in traffic just to cover 10km in the city. At that point I got really scared. Will we really be able to survive this? How are kids going to cope? We have such a great life in Croatia...


 At last the moving day arrived. Scared of the unknown and how it will all work out, especially being a woman and needing to plan everything three months in advance it was a pretty fast move. I think we didn't even have time to think it through, which was even better. Moscow is huge. When you think that in Croatia there are 4,5 mil people and Moscow has around 12 mil you start to feel really small. However the town somehow seemed as if we had known it, as if we had already been there before. I don't know whether it was because I knew it was to be our new home, but it seemed as if I had mentally prepared myself for it. And what a GOOD surprise this adventure proved to be!!! 


Moscow is great; we really enjoy our time here. Yes, some of the thing my friend said are true, but fortunately most of them are not. Russians are serious and closed, just until you start to talk to them in Russian. It was amazing when I discovered that, even though my Russian is bad and sometimes they think I come from Ural mountains when i speak it, they turn from grumpy serious figures into people who genuinely want to help you. I do sound strange when I try to speak Russian, it is a mash of Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian and a touch of real Russian. I came to shop one day and asked for meat. The way I said it in my Russian it took my hands, my feet and repeating it five times in order for the guy to understand me; 'but I was reading the label on the meat!!! ' I realised later that probably the thing was that maybe I did not sound as a foreigner, but the guy still couldn't 
believe he cannot understand a word I was saying. 


Russians love kids. When with kids you really feel their hospitality. In metro there was not a single time that someone did not get up to let my kids sit. Also they do ask you for directions the moment they see you have kids with you. As one of my Russian friend explained, if you have kids you must be local, so you learn how to say ' ne znajem' which means you don't know and you are safe. There are amazing places in Moscow to visit with kids; parks which are the size of Zagreb so in order to say you have visited one you need to go there at least five times and then you can say you have seen the entrance and at least additional two kilometres of a 10 km walk through the park. We try to visit a new place each weekend and already we have seen many things such as,  parks, ice-skating rinks, chocolate museum, circus.....

And as I mentioned earlier, my friend instructed me to tell people that I come from Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, this time I did follow her advice (not clever on every ocasion). I did it once and NEVER again. My daughter started to play with a Russian girl in the park, so her father asked us where we come from. Almost proudly I said - Yugoslavia - and you should have seen the look on his face -'What do you mean Yugoslavia?! It does not exist anymore. Now you have Croatia, Serbia... so where are you from?' I really felt embarrassed but at least I knew Russians knew their geography and I shouldn't mess with that. Next time when I was asked about my origins, I said Croatia and every Russian had a story about visiting Croatia at one time and how it was beautiful, and how they loved it.


The last problem that first I thought I would not be able to survive was the traffic. In Zagreb I needed 15 min to go by car from one end of the city to the other end. Here the traffic is really bad. So I decided not to use a car. Metro is perfect; fast, simple (after you lear how to read Russian). So I use the metro. Every weekend my husband and I fight because he wants to use the car but I love freedom of the Metro; yes, it seems longer but you do not get stuck sitting in the same spot for half an hour or even more. And i like that feeling that I am moving. Funny, but my main problem in the Metro was to stay serious. I always tend to smile to people. Here, it could result in them calling a doctor to take me to a mental hospital, so I learned to smile on the inside, but my face stays dead serious.

We really enjoy our time here. kids are happy, I am making many new friends, discovering new life and culture and accepting to play by their rules in order for all of us to feel happy.
Russia and Russians do feel distant and somehow eastern until you come to live here and discover what a great country it is and what great people live here. And we have just started our adventure....