Misconceptions about Russia
This is my list of 7 things that foreigners sometimes think of Russia and they are wrong.
Life in Russia is easy
Most foreign students come to Russia with the impression that life will be very nice and easy. So when they are faced with certain challenges, they give up, lose hope and immediately wish to return to their home country.
Attaining success in life is not a day's job, it requires effort and sacrifices. One will have to endure certain hardships. So it's best to have an open mindset about how your life will turn out upon arrival, so that way, it'll be a lot easier.
The same can be said about any other country.
I'll definitely have a job waiting for me
Well, there's no job waiting for you. You have to search for it. Most foreign students come to Russia with the impression that because they speak English or French or Spanish, they can easily land a teaching job, a call center job or a nanny job. Well, that's far from the truth. To get a job in Russia, you need to have a resume suitable for the job and you need to apply for the job by yourself. For some, it takes just days, for others weeks and months and for the rest, it might take years. It really depends on what you have to offer and what the employer is searching for.
Russians are unapproachable
Russians are NOT unapproachable. They just have a tendency of not making the first move. They'll most likely wait for the other person to either say hi or speak to them, then they'll take it up from there. They are very nice and warm people, contrary to popular opinion about them being "strict". Well, Russians can be strict, especially when it comes to time keeping, saying the truth, passing a judgment, etc. It's important for international students to understand that their culture and that of the Russians might have some differences and as we know, culture plays a huge role in communication and actions.
Another easy way to get closer to Russians is to show genuine interest in their traditions and cultures (music, food, etc).
The weather is horrible
Yes, the weather can be awfully cold, but not horrible. Russia has 4 seasons which are: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Winter is the only season that comes with snow and intense cold. But there is a saying Russians have and it goes like: "There is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing". This means that if the weather is very cold, it's only logical that you dress properly with a winter jacket, gloves, head warmers, scarfs, etc. But if you're poorly dressed, then you'll feel the full wrath of the Russian winter. And you should note that there are jackets and clothing for every season, which makes proper clothing accessible and easy.
Russian food has no spice
That's partially true, as it depends on the type of food. Most international students from Africa find it hard to get used to Russian food because they claim it's not spicy. But here's good news, there are lots of Russian food that are spicy and that look a lot like some African recipes. A very good example is Plof, this is a meal that consists of rice, vegetables, spices and beef/chicken.
It is similar to the West African Fried Rice recipe. What I like very very much is Borscht.
Russia is not safe
Contrary to what we see on social media and on the news these days, Russia is very safe! One of the safest countries in the world. Even though it's not advisable to be out late at night in Russia just as in other countries of the world, the crime rate is relatively low. Russia is foreigners friendly and accommodating. A foreigner in distress tends to get help faster in Russia than in other countries.
I can't get African/Asian food spices and products
There's no need to come to Russia with your luggage full of products and condiments from your country, but if you must, then by all means, go ahead. There are so many shops that sell African/Asian products, food condiments, etc. This is to help foreign students feel at home even though they are away from home.
Sometimes, the prices may be on the high side, but it's totally worth the purchase.
One of such places is the African market in Moscow, it's located near the metro "Tyoplii Stan", there you can get a variety of African or Asian food condiments and they are relatively affordable. For African ladies who have different hair texture and therefore need hair products suitable for their hair texture, it's all obtainable there.
It's safe to say that anyone can make Russia their “home away from home" because Russia always welcomes foreigners with arms wide open.