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They view Russia differently, but the North, as a rule, always evokes a lively positive interest among all foreigners.

Many people know that the coldest capital of the world is Yakutsk, but they regard it as a kind of mystery, an incomprehensible, unattainable land. On the other hand, those of foreigners who come into contact with our mentality, language, culture, climate, living and working here, begin to understand it a little better, and the following impressions are the most striking example.

Alyssia Hunter (USA)

A Hunter 1

Works and lives in Yakutsk since January 2019.

  • Yakutsk is a cute city with lots of modern conveniences. I love winter. Winter – it’s beautiful and the homes are heated properly for it. I’ll miss winter I’m back home. My favorite dish from traditional Yakut cuisine? Frozen fish. It’s surprisingly good -so is seared reindeer.

A Hunter 2

As for the comparison of Yakutians and Americans: American Indians oddly resemble traditional Yakutians. I think early ancestors must have travelled over the ice bridge in winter to the USA. People in the USA aren’t really allowed to wear fur coats or animal rights activists will spray a paint on them. Personally, I love fur.

People here are really friendly and like to help when they can.

A Hunter 3

I like shooting guns and driving cars and motorcycles and I can’t do things like that here. But, I had a great time learning archery here.

A Hunter 4

I really enjoyed visiting the town of Vilyuisk. It was such a beautiful place and I got to see the 1600s architecture still standing strong. I can’t pick out any specific time, but that memory. They gave me some really cool handmade jewelry which I will always cherish.

Verenia Keet (Cape Town, South Africa)

Jam1

Two (2) academic years in Yakutsk

Your most vivid impression of Yakutia. When you first arrived, what struck you to the bottom of your heart?

I like the PEOPLE! Friendly, open, homely, sincere

Jam2

What you can stand more easily: heat or cold?

As for the weather here, I cope well enough. However, the weather impacts my social activities. So I’m obviously more active during the summer.

I survived the summers in Pakistan where I lived for 14 years. The summer temperatures there are between 45 and 55 degrees centigrade.

I lived in Kazakhstan for three years, where I experienced sub-zero temperatures up to 52 degrees below zero.

So I am accustomed to both extremes, and I don’t mind either.

Most of all, I appreciate the people, the environment and the simplicity of life.

Public transport. During the winter I use it, and in the summer I try to walk depending on the distance I have to go.

I go to cafes and restaurants with colleagues, friends, and sometimes with adult students. The menu items are usually freshly cooked, and relatively diverse.

Healthcare system. Yes. Besides having the annual medical examinations as required by Russian law, I have also used a dentist, I have a tooth extracted. I was completely satisfied!

I have noticed a lot of modern developments such as new constructions of homes and shopping malls.

My favorite place in Yakutsk?

ISE for sure. Everything about ISE is organized, welcoming and a home away from home.

My favorite dish. I was born in a seaside city, so stroganina for sure. I LOOOOVE fish and seafood. But I had never eaten raw, frozen fish before I came to Yakutsk.

What is the fundamental difference in people ofYakutia and of your country? In your opinion

Life in Yakutsk seems to be more primitive (in a positive way) than in the modern trappings of life in Cape Town. Here, people always seem to have time for each other. In Cape Town, I have to make appointments to see even my closest family members and friends.

What is common in Yakut people and people in your country? Is there anything that unites us?

Certainly. Not only Capetonians and Yakutians, but in my opinion, I think that all people of the world are united in the quest for the ‘freedom to be.’ Regardless of who we are or where we live, we somehow always become entrapped by the circumstances of life.

Jam3

What do you lack in Yakutsk from what was available to you in your country?

I lack nothing in Yakutsk. Travelling and living in foreign environments has taught me to appreciate my complete experience of being somewhere different. After all, what’s the point of leaving ‘home’ and then wanting or needing something from there?

What entertainment do you like most in Yakutsk?

From a unique perspective, I enjoyed the opera ‘La Traviata’ in Russian. I saw it in summer 2018 at the Opera Theatre in Yakutsk.

A funny incident that happened to you in Yakutia, which you will remember for a long time.

In the beginning when I first arrived, I confused the Russian words ‘staboi’ (with you) and ‘samnoi’ (with me). So once, when I ordered food to take home with me and used the wrong word, the waiter told me in perfect English ‘Let’s go! Is your house far from here?’

Jam4

I really love the Russian adaptation of my name: Roughly translated, my first name, Verenia means ‘jam’ in Russian. My father’s name was Albert, so my patronymic name is Albertovna. Among my colleagues I have become known as Jam Albertovna., and it isn’t unusual to be addressed as simply ‘Jam.’

Glynis Wakeman (South African/British)

Glynis 1

2 years in Yakutsk

When you first arrived here, what struck you to the bottom of your heart?

I think, it was quite different to what I expected. My biggest fear was not making it through the long winter, but the coldest part only lasts 3 to 4 months. I survived, learnt some vital tips and stayed warmer in the second year.

What you can stand more easily: heat or cold?

They are both harsh in extreme conditions. I've been in middle eastern countries with temperatures reaching +50°. One needs to learn the Dos and Donts in temperatures like this.

How do you like the weather in Yakutsk?

I'm very happy when the summer comes, like right now, after a long winter.

Which season in Yakutia is more comfortable for you and why?

Definitely summer, because I enjoy the outdoors.

Glynis 2

What do you like most of Yakutsk as a city? 

I like the cultural community, markets and performances in the squares.

Do you use public transport?

This year, yes. Taxis are quite expensive, so I've learnt to read 2GIS and often get a bus, unless I'm in a hurry.

Do you often eat in cafes, canteens, restaurants? What is your impression of them?

Well, I love dining out in style, so I prefer the more exotic restaurants. Because of this, I don't go out a lot.

Have you applied to medicine in the city of Yakutsk? Did you use the services of doctors or dentists?

Yes, I got frozen kidneys during the first year of winter. So I had to go to the doctor to sort it out.

What is missing for your comfort in the city?

Definitely a tennis court.

What is your favorite place in Yakutsk?

Chochur Muran

What is your favorite local dish?

I love tongue, so I guess it would be this dish.

What Yakut dish do you find most incomprehensible?

Well, I once said I'd never eaten pure fat, but actually I landed up eating it for energy on a trail in Oymyakon.

What qualities of people in Yakutsk impressed you most? (Positive or negative)

People are mostly friendly. Most people don't even know I'm a foreigner because I look like a Russian.

What is the fundamental difference in people of Yakutia and of your country? In your opinion.

Well, currently my country is full of crime. I personally don't trust people who walk up to you unexpectedly. I've had to learn to deal with this kind of thing.

What is common in Yakut people and people in your country? Is there anything that unites us?

People are alike everywhere in the world. This is a difficult question to answer, as South Africa has a mix of cultures. I would say bbq and meat. South Africans are big on this.

What do you lack in Yakutsk from what is available to you in your country?

Tasty favorite snacks that aren't available.

What (or who) will you miss when you leave our city?

I'm not leaving yet, but I would definitely miss the people I've come to call friends.

Glynis 3

What entertainment do you like most in Yakutsk?

Walking in nature.

What do you do besides work as a hobby?

Hang out with friends.

A funny incident that happened to you in Yakutia, which you will remember for a long time.

Once I was buying take away chicken and communication was lost in number dialogue and action. I ordered 6 of the same chicken dishes, when I meant 6 pieces of chicken.

Glynis 4

Other comments (any)

I'm enjoying Yakutsk and am staying for another year.

James Scholl

James 1

Where are you from? (citizenship)

My passport states ‘British Citizen’, but I do not like to be identified by that label because I feel like a citizen of the world.

For how long have you been living in Yakutsk?

I’ve been living in this city since September 2018.

When you first arrived here, what struck you most?

Before landing at the airport, I saw hundreds of small clearings and lakes surrounded by taiga out of the airplane window. I suppose that was inevitably my first impression, but my first visit to Makhtal restaurant also left a deep impression on my tastebuds.

James 2

What you can stand more easily: heat or cold?

There is no such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate clothing.

How do you like the weather in Yakutsk?

It is what it is. I do not so much like or dislike the weather as it likes or dislikes me.

Which season in Yakutia is more comfortable for you and why?

I have only spent 9 months here, so I cannot yet comment on my comfort in summer.

James 3

What do you like most of Yakutsk as a city?

I enjoy the multicultural aspect. There are people from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Western Russia, the Arctic, Europe, Africa, the Pacific and the Americas here.

Do you use public transport? How do you like that?

I step on, take the ride, pay, and then I get off.

Do you often eat in cafes, canteens, restaurants? What is the impression of them?

As I mentioned, the food in Makhtal restaurant blew me away. Apart from that, I am half goat, so I am happy to eat Kyrgyz, Georgian, Western Russian or local Sakha food any time.

Have you applied to medicine in the city of Yakutsk? Did you use the services of doctors or dentists?

Yes, the wild forest berries from the farmers’ market cured my colds and flu all winter. I send my gratitude to all the berry-pickers.

What is missing for your comfort in the city?

Nearby quiet green spaces and parks to hang out and get away from the traffic noise.

James 4

What is your favorite place in Yakutsk?

My favorite place is the shipyard at Zhatai – I enjoy looking at the rusty ships.

Have you seen Yakut movies (made in Yakutia)? (For example, The Sun Above Me Never Sets or others). Your impressions.

No, I wanted to watch ‘Kyun’ and ‘Cheeke’ but I had nobody to go with …

What is your favorite Yakut dish?

Butter soup, with frozen venison and stroganina.

What Yakut dish do you find most incomprehensible?

I have yet to encounter an incomprehensible dish.

What qualities of people in Yakutsk impressed you most? (Positive or negative).

I cannot generalize about ‘people’ – it is possible to find unkind and kind people the world over.

What is the fundamental difference in people of Yakutia and of your country? In your opinion.

Humans are humans – we all need food, clothing, shelter, community, love and a sense of purpose. I prefer to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.

What is common in Yakut people and people in your country? Is there anything that unites us?

As for Question above.

What do you lack in Yakutsk from what is available to you in your country?

I do not ‘have’ a country (Britain is not ‘mine’ – I just happened to be born in a hospital there). I lack nothing in Yakutsk except for the physical presence of the people I care about, who live in many different countries around the world.

What (or who) will you miss when you leave our city?

That’s top secret ;)

James 5

What entertainment do you like most in Yakutsk?

I have always enjoyed reading books and watching films, and I hope to experience some Sakha music, cinema and theater in future.

What do you do besides work as a hobby?

I tend to do a lot of reading and thinking about religion, science and philosophy. I also play basketball, hang out with friends and practice my khomus.

A funny incident that happened to you in Yakutia, which you will remember for a long time.

Many funny things have happened here, but one doesn’t stand out in particular.

James 6

Other comments (positive or negative)

I have many opinions on a wide range of topics (no comment ;)

Kristine Bolt (Jamaica)

Kristine 1

I've lived in Yakutia for almost 2 years now. I moved here in mid-August 2017.

My first impression of Yakutia was of Yakutsk. It seemed very dusty and industrial because it was late summer. Also, all of the cars seemed very dirty and I didn't understand why. But now I've lived here for 2 years, I totally understand.

What you can stand more easily: heat or cold?

I HATE BEING HOT!!! Hate it! I absolutely cannot stand being hot. I much prefer being in the cold.

How do you like the weather in Yakutsk?

I LOVE Yakutsk weather. I can experience all of the seasons here. In autumn, everything explodes into fall colors and it gets cool and overcast (I love when it's overcast). In winter, Yakutia becomes an amazing winter wonderland. In spring, everything melts and little bits of color start popping up everywhere. And in summer, we get to wear summer clothes and flip flops.

Kristine 3

Which season in Yakutia is more comfortable for you and why?

I love every season in Yakutia because there's always something to do. In autumn, we can hike and take advantage of the last bits of warmth. In winter, we can admire the frozen lakes and it's nice and cold. In spring, we can skate on the melting ice and go hiking again. In summer, we can go camping. Probably the least comfortable season for me is summer because of the HUGE mosquitoes and the heat.

What do you like most of Yakutsk as a city?

I like that there's always something to do. People in Jamaica think that when it gets cold we just stay in our homes and do nothing but go from there to work and back. But that's not true. There's always something happening.

Do you use public transport?

I walk to most places. But when I need to, I travel by bus. Occasionally, I take taxis.

Do you often eat in cafes, canteens, restaurants? What is your impression of them?

Yes, I eat out sometimes. I mostly go to cafes because I enjoy having a large cappuccino while I work on my laptop. Usually, when I go to restaurants, it's with friends. I haven't had a bad experience eating out yet!

Have you applied to medicine in the city of Yakutsk? Did you use the services of doctors or dentists?

This past winter, I was ill 3 times!!! Two of those times, I went to the doctor. The doctor was very understanding and helpful, even though he didn't speak English. I've been to the dentist once so far, but I'll be going again in a few weeks, just for a regular cleaning.

What is missing for your comfort in the city?

Nothing. There's absolutely nothing that I miss.

Kristine 4

What is your favorite place in Yakutsk?

‘Kafema’ café on Ordzhonikidze street and Traveler’s Coffee in Lenin Square. I've spent many hours in both of those cafes enjoying great coffee, while dreaming and planning for my future!

What is your favorite dish of traditional Yakut cuisine?

Hmmm...I'd have to say... morse (fresh berry drink) ! It's so refreshing and not sweet.

What Yakut dish do you find most incomprehensible?

Liver pie. I love liver normally but I'm not really into liver pie.

What qualities of people in Yakutsk impressed you most? (Positive or negative)

Yakutians are the kindest, most welcoming and generous people I've ever met, as a group. I've had only positive experiences with Yakutians, everywhere that I've been in Yakutia. People always take care of me and they always want to know more about where I'm from and where I've been.

What is the fundamental difference in people in Yakutia and in your country? In your opinion.

That's a difficult one to answer without offending either Jamaicans or Yakutians. This isn't a fair question.

What is common in Yakut people and people in your country? Is there anything that unites us?

Yes, we're all people :). We all love to be loved by those we love. We all want to be part of a unit or team. We're all people so we have similar desires.

What do you lack in Yakutsk from what is available to you in your country?

Hair products for Black women. Of course, there is only a handful of Black women here in Yakutia so it's understandable. Our hair is a different texture so what works for others doesn't work well for Black women, So I bring my own hair products from Jamaica.

What (or who) will you miss when you leave our city?

My entire ISE family! And some of the other people I've met since I moved here.

What entertainment do you like most in Yakutsk?

Khomus concerts. I love those.

What do you do besides work as a hobby?

I'm a lifelong, avid reader. Life is incomplete without a book, as far as I'm concerned. So I'm always reading something. I also love watching films. And I love exploring nature.

A funny incident that happened to you in Yakutia, which you will remember for a long time.

Sometimes people stop me on the street just to say hello and ask me how I'm doing, sometimes to take a selfie with me. It's always strange to me that people know me here. In my own country, nobody cares who I am. I feel as if I'm loved by the whole republic and that's an incomparable feeling.

Kristine 5

Other comments (positive or negative)

I love Yakutia. There's nothing about it that I've encountered that I dislike. From the people to nature, food, I love it all! I enjoy my life here and my work and I'm making the very best of precious memories here.

Padraig Foreman (the UK)

Foreman 1

I've been in Yakutsk since October 2018

My first impression. When I first arrived I realized that life in Yakutsk was very different from life in England, the buildings are very different and the considerations made for the cold like the pipes that carry water reminded of a factory!

What you can stand more easily: heat or cold?

The cold is better for me, I get too sweaty in the heat!

How do you like the weather in Yakutsk?

The weather is nice at times but the cold is indeed incredibly cold.

Foremean 2

Which season in Yakutia is more comfortable for you and why?

Early spring has been lovely. The cold and clear air with the bright sun is great

What do you like most of Yakutsk as a city?

I like the big fields that are still seen, it’s good to see that nature still exists here.

Do you use public transport?

Sometimes, when I first arrived I didn’t, I used taxis to save walking anywhere. But as the weather got nicer I used it more. It's much cheaper than in England!

Do you often eat in cafes, canteens, restaurants? What is the impression of them?

They are cheap, and very nice! The people of Yakutia seem to like pizza and sushi! I’ve had some great pizzas. I also love Russian cooking like their soups etc.

Foreman 3

Have you applied to medicine in the city of Yakutsk? Did you use the services of doctors or dentists?

I had a stomach illness recently and went to hospital for tests. I was surprised how they tested my stomach with a huge tube down my throat. They would never have done that in England.

What is missing for your comfort in the city?

I would like an English library, I love libraries, but my Russian is bad so I can’t use the ones here.

What is your favorite place in Yakutsk?

My favorite place is probably a cafe or night bar, with friends, food and music!

What is your favorite local dish?

Stroganina is good.

What Yakut dish do you think most incomprehensible?

The frozen food is a bit strange, usually you cook food!

What qualities of people in Yakutsk impressed you most? (Positive or negative)

I love the inquisitive nature of Yakutians, and their pride of their culture.

What is the fundamental difference in people of Yakutia and your country? In your opinion.

The people of Yakutia rely on their cultural heritage a lot, in England we usually just watch the news of the day.

What is common in Yakut people and people in your country? Is there anything that unites us?

They are both very proud of their country.

What do you lack in Yakutsk from what is available to you in your country?

There are less bars here in Yakutsk so there are less beers to choose from

What or who will you miss when you leave our city?

I have made lots of friends working at ISE so I’ll miss them.

What entertainment do you like most in Yakutsk?

I have been doing some sports and have been to the cinema a few times but mostly I just like to hang out with my friends.

Foreman 4

What do you do besides work as a hobby?

I like to do Yoga and to watch videos on the Internet. I have been into some good series recently.

A funny incident that happened to you in Yakutia …

I see lots of people that recognize me from my time in the city, it’s not exactly funny but it’s nice and I’ll definitely remember feeling special.

Foreman 5

Other comments (positive or negative)

Yakutsk is a lovely place and the people are all so friendly and welcoming. The city is a fantastic place and the students at ISE are all really fun to teach. It’s been a great learning experience being here and I hope it continues being so!

By courtesy of ISE School

http://lp.iseykt.ru/demolessons 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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