What I wasn't expecting was just how beautiful everything looked under the white blanket of snow. I Tomsk women remember touching town on Siberian soil after a hectic whirlwind of sight-seeing and bar-hopping in Moscow, even though we arrived bleary-eyed after an all-nighter of travel. Reflecting back on my time in Siberia I am struck by how mysterious a thing the memory is.
Whilst some memories are so vivid it seems like they happened yesterday, others have already become clouded over and lost somewhere in the periphery of a collective nostalgia for the place in which I spent 4 months.
Admittedly perhaps this pondering reflects more of my lacking in the geography department than a profound insight into the nuances of the human mind, but it has also made me realise how I should probably reflect on my experiences before they vanish completely.
So what it is like living in the Siberian Athens, so called because of Tomsk women six universities and huge student population and not its balmy climate! Since my return a lot "Tomsk women" people have asked me this question, or in fact the less erudite 'So Russia, what's that like? How can you answer such a big question with a succinct enough answer? My decision to study Russian was both random and rather unexpected for my friends and family and I suppose my decision to go to Tomsk also was.
When one of our university lecturers offered Tomsk as a study option I was intrigued - what was this place that I had formerly only known as the name of a Womble? Before I knew it I had volunteered myself and was bulk-buying insulating socks. The rest, as they say, is Tomsk women. I studied at the Tomsk Polytechnic University for just over four months, slowly chipping away at was initially seemed an indecipherable and but beautiful sounding language and trying to ingratiate it with my ever befuddled mind.
Tomsk women Although I realised during my stay as a student in Tomsk Tomsk women life in Russia is not for the faint of heart, I also realised that Tomsk women will look back on my time there as the most enriching of my life.
Ruth, left, and Abigail, her friend from Bristol. It was only as I stepped off the plane that I truly understood the meaning Tomsk women a 'biting wind'.
Perhaps this is what I had long been expecting what else can you expect when arriving in Russia in the winter? I don't know whether it was the early morning darkness that gradually lightened with the dawn or just the effect so much white had on our unsuspecting eyes, but the snow literally appeared to sparkle, as if someone had mixed a tiny amount of glitter with it and deftly sprinkled it everywhere just in time for our arrival. Our disorientating drive "Tomsk women" the airport to our student halls appealed to all of my romantic tendencies with endless birch trees and houses buried under the fresh flurry of snowflakes.
The countryside soon gave way to the city with its comical mashroutkas, austere Soviet-style buildings and impossible looking wooden houses and I knew then that I would never get bored of Tomsk.
Once my romantic reveries and the excitement of arrival diminished somewhat, the realities of Siberia hit home. The biggest shock initially came not from the weather, but the language. Despite 2 years of learning Russian at my university we naively arrived at our first phonetics class with little idea that we were almost incomprehensible to the average Russian.
Although we knew a lot of grammar, too long without actually conversing with any 'real' Russians transpired to mean that we pronounced essentially every word unintelligibly. Anna, our spritely and eternally patient first teacher, went to pains to rectify this. The initial two weeks consisted of Anna saying a word, us repeating the word and then this process repeating itself as many times as it took for us to sound just a fraction Russian.
It was a long two weeks if truth be told. Fortunately the patience of Anna was also mirrored by our study coordinator Nastya, who went out of her way at every opportunity to help us, advise us and smile sympathetically at the correct moments.
This caring nature was common of many of our teachers, one of whom even gained the nickname 'mummy' because she was always so interested in what we had eaten for dinner, how we had spent the time since our last lesson and most importantly of all, how our health Tomsk women. At the slightest yawn or sniffle her forehead would wrinkle as she frowned with concern and demanded first 'How many hours did you sleep last night? The best way of getting the most of any experience in a new country has to be saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself.
One of the aspects of life in Siberia most extraordinary to an outsider is of course, the weather. Suffice to say that although I think it was initially a shock, being decked out in the appropriate clothing suddenly means that there is little difference between -5C and C. The cold of the outside was viciously battled on the inside by the overpowering central heating of every municipal building. Shedding clothes in much the same slightly reptilian way that a snake sheds its skin upon entering the doorway became second nature, as was adding at least five "Tomsk women" to each journey "Tomsk women" order to allow for the donning of extra socks, boots and an assortment of gloves, hats and scarves.
I was always amazed at how the walk to university was made one of the most interesting parts of the day just from the variety of outerwear people wore. From stunning fur coats and stilettos to the most outrageous luminescent puffa jackets, it couldn't be Tomsk women that the citizens of Tomsk were attention shy.