The following comments are from previous YRLC students:
- The Russian mentality – no messing about. They will tell you what they think and, no matter how harsh it sounds, it's not – they're just being honest. They're also the most hospitable people you will meet. Granted, on the outset, they can seem rather cold and uninterested but if you approach them with a problem they will go out of their way to help you.
- The extreme weather – I love the fact that it was -30 degrees and we survived… but then two weeks later it was almost 30 degrees and no snow whatsoever!
- THE FOOD. I know many people think Russian people only eat dough and lard but it is not so! They are, in fact, the healthiest nation I have come across and VERY concerned with what they are eating. Without any of this preservative-filled stuff, they make sure to get all their vitamins and minerals (often through delicious kasha and tvorog). I miss the pirogs, blinis, sirnikis and pelmeni SO MUCH already!
- Platzkart on long distance trains!! Once you get used to the horrific smell, 3 days in, you really begin to appreciate the journey. I met so many different, interesting people (including a wagon-load of dagestanii soldiers!) on my 4 day train journey to Siberia and it really helped my Russian. Watching the countryside change from the flatlands of Russia, through the Urals and into Siberia was also something I will never forget.
- Supermarket workers and people behind cash desks (e.g. in the train station) can be incredibly snappy and ruin your day but it’s important to not take it to heart. It got to the point where I gave as good as I got and my british-politeness flew out of the window but just try not to be too sensitive if someone does shout at you. They don't mean it personally.