“I absolutely fell in love with Moscow. It’s one of those places where you can’t help but trip over history at every turn. It’s a city of enormous contradictions.”
Diana Ratemo is a 5th year Student of Medicine at the Volgograd State Medical University in Russia. She opted to study abroad which opened travel doors for her. She is also a travel blogger who gives helpful tips and amazing photos that capture the true essence of the places she visits. Check out her blog here!
Here is what she had to say about Russia;
CW: Why study in Russia?
DR: I never really gave much thought to exactly where I wanted to do my undergrad, but I knew I wanted to go someplace abroad. So I just filtered the places by the amount of tuition fee I needed to pay. Russia has some of the cheapest universities in the world and their quality of education is excellent.
CW: How was it when you first moved there/first impression?
DR: Haha! I get that question quite a lot. And my answer has always been the same. I was shocked! Lemme explain. As I mentioned earlier, all I wanted was to study abroad. Anywhere. As long as it was abroad. Having said that, I didn’t quite do my research. So I automatically assumed that everyone in Russia spoke English. I assumed that all street signs and pretty much every other sign would be in English. Yeah, they were not. To make matters worse, everything was written in the Cyrillic alphabet. So I couldn’t read a thing! Also, I expected the structures to be a lot more modern.
CW:How would you compare Kenya and Russia?
DR:There are a couple of things that stand out. Like how all streets are super clean over here, how all drivers obey street signs even when the road is clear, how when the seasons change the whole place looks different. Kinda like you moved cities or something. But when it comes to people, Kenyans are way warmer and a lot friendlier.
CW:What places have you visited there?
DR: First place I visited was Voronezh. It’s a little more modern compared to Volgograd but everything else is pretty much the same. Second place was Dombay. It felt like heaven out there! Waking up in warm, wooden cottages with the most gorgeous views of the snow-covered Caucasus Mountains. I had my first skiing lesson up there. It was so much fun. I’ve visited Moscow and St. Petersburg as well.
CW: What spots/places would you advise travelers to try?
DR: Dombay! That’s the best place to visit in Russia if you’re into adventure. Otherwise if you are into history and architecture, Moscow and St. Petersburg will do. Check out the Hermitage Museum and the Peterhof Palace if you are ever in Petersburg.
CW: What is the most outstanding thing about Russia?
DR: The people. They come off as cold most of the time because they hardly smile and almost always have serious looks on their faces.
CW:What is your favourite spot in the city you currently live?
DR: Mamayev Kurgan. It’s a memorial complex commemorating one of the Second World War battles that took part in the city. It’s filled with intricately sculptured statues and engraved walls. At the top of the hill stands the tallest sculpture of a woman in the world.
CW: What do you dislike about the place?
DR: The extreme temperatures get to me sometimes. Like when it hits -30 degrees Celsius in winter and 50 degrees Celsius in the summer.
CW: Favourite Russian meal?
DR: Russian salads are a treat! My favourite one is the Olivier salad. Yum!
CW: What would you advise anyone who wants to travel or study in Russia?
DR: Do your research first. It helps when you come a little more prepared than I was. Also, avoid confrontation at all costs because those won’t end well for you. Other than that, be open-minded and have fun!
Photo Credit: Diana Ratemo
To learn more about Diana and her travels please visit: www.dianaratemo.com
Have a lovely week!