Novosibirsk Travel Blog

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I am currently taking a 4-week Russian course in Akademgorodok, a small academic settlement about a 40 minute drive from the centre of Novosibirsk. It was built in the late fifties, in the middle of the forest, near the Ob sea (which is actually a lake). Before that, there must`ve been nothing here but dense taiga. I often look out of the window of my dorm room, and try to imagine there is no road, no cars, no people - that`s what it was like less than half a century ago. In those days I probably wouldn`t have had to go to the zoo to see wolves, or bears even. I like taking shortcuts through the forest, rather than walking along the main roads. Of course, since there are no maps showing the trails through the forest afaik, one often has to guess which way to go, and isn`t always succesful. A less pleasant side-effect is that there are many insects, especially now it has stopped raining continuedly. And they are big! I`ve seen wasps and mosquitos twice the size they are at home. Ick.

What surprised me at first was the lack of grand architecture. It`s all very simple, a bit run down now, though not in an ugly way. But hey, it was their great intellect and scientific achievements the Soviets wanted to show here, not their talent for constructing seemingly endless buildings (like Moscow`s university) or larger-than-life statues. Speaking of which, Lenin still stands strong on Novosibirsk`s main square, which bears his name. (Statues of Stalin were torn down in the sixties.)

I never thought I would like living in a small town, but I do! I know only a handful of people here, but I run into them on the way to the shop and such - it`s nice. In the centre babushkas are selling fruit and vegetables, kids are skating, people are drinking beer, eating ice creams and playing the guitar. I`m actually sorry I`m only here for a month now, I wish I could study here for a whole year (if everyone else can bear the winter, so can I).

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photo by: rostovcat