blogs, interview, novosibirsk, people Siberian Exiles

21.11.2008 17:18   

“We live in Novosibirsk”. Every day that phrase can deliver almost 1.5 million. Among them are foreigners, who lives in the city becomes a real challenge. They come here to work, learn and observe the solar eclipse. If they want to stay here forever? Hardly. But each of them, we believe, is trying to get some pleasure from being here.

metkere.com discussed with the three foreigners their lives in the city.

Scott Richardson

**[Scott Richardson](http://snrrussiablog.blogspot.com)**

**— What is the purpose of your visit to Novosibirsk? What do you do here?**

— I am an American lawyer from Florida teaching a two-week course on criminal law and procedure at Novosibirsk State University. It is in association with the [Center for International Legal Studies](http://cils.net/) in Salzburg, Austria. CILS places lawyers in educational institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, who volunteer their time to teach courses in many areas of the law.

**— Did you know anything about Novosibirsk before coming here? What were your expectations?**

— I read as much as I could find [online](http://novosibirskguide.com/) and in books. I knew that the city is the third largest in Russia, and that it played a significant role in the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway. In addition, because the University is in Akademgorodok, I learned about the development of this center of intellectual and research activity.

**— Can you compare Novosibirsk to any other cities of the world you have ever been to?**

— Most of my time has been spent in Akademgorodok. It is in a very pretty setting, surrounded by forests. I cannot compare it to any place I have ever been to. I went to Novosibirsk last Friday evening. [The Opera and Ballet Theater](http://www.opera-novosibirsk.ru/index.php?locale=en_us) is one of the most beautiful of its kind. Novosibirsk itself had the feel of many modern cities, with many restaurants, nightclubs and retail stores.

**— What you are most lacking here?**

— Other than my wife? I guess it is the immediate access to the internet, because at home, it is so easy to get online. Here, it took quite an effort to get it working consistently in my flat.

**— What frustrates you most about living here?**

— My inability to speak the Russian language. I tried before coming here, but it was too difficult and time consuming. That is my fault. When I go to a store or a restaurant, I am frustrated by my inability to make myself understood. But that is not the fault of the very friendly and gracious people here, who are very patient with me!

**— And what makes you glad?**

— I am very gratified that the Russian students and professors I have met are genuinely interested in academic cooperation and the exchange of ideas. We all want to live in a world where we understand each other, and the key to understanding is communication. As long as we continue to communicate in an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation, the citizens of our two countries will always see the path to a better world.

**— If you have a chance to take anything from Novosibirsk as a souvenir, what it would be?**

— I am happy to take the memories of a truly beautiful place, and the friendship of the people I have met.

Bruno

**[Bruno](http://brucelenorf.blogspot.com/)**

**— What is the purpose of your visit to Novosibirsk? What do you do here?**

— Well, I am here for more than a visit. I arrived in October 2007 and plan to stay for at least another 2 years. I am engineer, working as a project manager in a company providing services for the oil industry. I mean that’s what I do professionally. Beside that, in my free time, I try to use the opportunity that’s given to me to explore life here, meet people, and do the same things that all of you Russians do.

**— Did you know anything about Novosibirsk before coming here? What were your expectations?**

— When I was proposed this position in Novosibirsk, my knowledge about Novosibirsk holds in 3 words: Siberia, cold, far. My expectations were then pretty low. I felt I’d be happy if I survive there. Back in the U.S. where I lived before coming here, some people told me that there was no TV here… (and that’s coming from the people who knew enough about Siberia to know that Novosibirsk was a city). Still, I felt there must be more to it than I was told at the time, and I am extremely happy I came.

**— Can you compare Novosibirsk to any other cities of the world you have ever been to?**

— Ouch… that’s a tough one. I can’t really say that Novosibirsk is a pretty city. Cities in Europe usually have kept a trace of their history that gives them a certain charm that Novosibirsk is lacking. However, Novosibirsk compensates by its dynamism and ambition… while managing to keep its own identity. While I can regret that I cannot find all the other stores that I could find in other cities, I still appreciate that the center does not yet look like a giant shopping mall and that there is no McDonald’s here (as there are in all American cities and small towns). One thing I really enjoy here is how people like being outside (particularly in the summer) and that there is always activities in the street and in the parks.

**— What you are most lacking here?**

— On the material side? The easiness of the American life. On the personal side? My family.

**— What frustrates you most about living here?**

— How did you know something would frustrate me here. Let’s put it in these words: the unjustified complexities of some administrative systems, and the very special interpretation of the «standing in line» concept.

**— And what makes you glad?**

— What makes me happy is the dynamism of the people I work and hang out with. There is such an energy in some people here, and such great potential. And people are very «simple» (in the right sense of the term) in the sense that what they enjoy is very genuine: they love kids, they enjoy life, they enjoy others…

**— If you have a chance to take anything from Novosibirsk as a souvenir, what it would be?**

— It would be the seasons… I love the difference between the long days in the summer and the crazy vegetation, and the cold and snowy winter. Add the raw fish that you guys have as appetizers (salmon).

Lucas & Jamie Orner

**[Lucas Orner](http://orners.blogspot.com/)**

**— What is the purpose of your visit to Novosibirsk? What do you do here?**

— Our purpose for being in Novosibirsk is to learn the Russian language. My wife Jamie and I are students at Novosibirsk State University, where we study Monday through Friday from 9:00am-12:20pm. We have heard that NSU is one of the best places to learn Russian and based on our classes, we agree. They have an excellent language learning program and our professors are excellent teachers of the language.

**— Did you know anything about Novosibirsk before coming here? What were your expectations?**

— We knew some basic information about Novosibirsk before we came and we found a lot of information and pictures of the city on the internet. We also have an American friend who lived here several years ago, and he was able to tell us more about the city and what we should expect. Our expectations were that Novosibirsk was a large city in a very cold area of Russia. We heard a lot about the prestige of the university and the many scientific institutes that were connected with it.

**— Can you compare Novosibirsk to any other cities of the world you have ever been to?**

— My hometown is Chicago and there are many similarities between Novosibirsk and Chicago. Historically, they were both built around the same time. In the 1870?s the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the city, but it grew rapidly into one of America?s largest cities. Novosibirsk was also built in that era and grew quickly to be one of Russia?s largest cities. Also, Chicago is located on Lake Michigan like Novosibirsk is located on the Ob Sea. Both cities also have great public transportation and many museums and theaters.

**— What you are most lacking here?**

— It is most difficult to be so far from our family who live in the U. S. Otherwise we have been able to find everything that we enjoyed having in the U.S.

**— What frustrates you most about living here?**

— The only frustration that we have living here is not being able to speak the language yet, but that is why we are here. Hopefully in a couple months we will be able to communicate more clearly.

**— And what makes you glad?**

— We love the beautiful forests that surround the city. We enjoy walking through the forest on our way to classes each day in Akademgorodok. The great language study program at NSU also makes us very happy because it is our reason for being here and it has been even better than we expected.

**— If you have a chance to take anything from Novosibirsk as a souvenir, what it would be?**

— My wife and I have just been discussing this question. I think I would choose some locally-made winter clothes, especially a winter hat. I have met many talented people who are able to make their own gloves, scarves, and hats, and I think that would be what I would want to take as a souvenir. It would remind us of the cold winters.