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Can westerners survive a brutal Siberian winter?
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lucifer911



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:24 am    Post subject: Can westerners survive a brutal Siberian winter? Reply with quote

I am Australian and after speaking to many travel agents I was informed it is quite rare for a westerner to go for a holiday in Siberia during their winter period. Are there any westerners who have been able to teach english in a cold Siberian city like Yakutsk and survive to tell the story?

Does anyone actually enjoy Siberian winter? I have been told by russians in Moscow that I would die there because of the warm country I come from. I am also told people can survive in Siberian towns because they have grew up there and climatised to the weather for many years.

I am specifying the colder Siberian towns not the towns in southern Siberia. Oymyakon does seem to be a brutal place.. even their summers look cold to me. Also Siberia is much colder than Moscow and St Petersburg so you can't say if someone can survive in Moscow they can survive Yakutsk - it is a whole new level of cold.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1023
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:48 pm    Post subject: A good question! Reply with quote

I have spent much of my life in Cyprus, which is a very warm island and has a similar climate to some parts of Australia. I used to visit Russia frequently from 1994- 2002,usually in late winter for a week or two each time and then went for six months in late October 2005 to Moscow where they had the coldest January for decades and it went down to -28 Celsius for several weeks! I frequently got colds of course, which I coped with most of the time, but then picked up a nasty chesty type of infection just before I was due to come back here and this took me over 6 weeks to get rid of! It made me feel tired and weak and seems to have damaged my immune system because even now I easily get colds here in winter when it is still relatively mild by northern standards and also if I visit the U.K. in winter where it is also rarely very cold. Of course the constitution of every individual is different and also other factors such as age need to be considered- I was in my early 50's in the Moscow winter, for example.
As a general rule people can adapt much more easily when they move from cold climates to warm ones than the other way round and the thickness of blood flow is affected by the cold. I have known guys from Canada and the north of the USA who went and worked in Siberia in winter though and said they adjusted to it without too many problems but admittedly they were around half my age so this needs to kept in mind. Heart disease and other circulatory problems are also aggravated by cold and Siberia can be hellishly cold with up to - 50 Celsius, though not all the time!
Hope this info is of use?
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lucifer911



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:51 pm    Post subject: Re: A good question! Reply with quote

yes this is useful to know. Worst case scenario would be getting lost in a cold city and being stuck in the cold. The temperature in Moscow at the moment seems pleasant to me. I am very curious to see the cities in Siberia but have often worried about the cold. Maybe I should travel to Siberia at the start of winter just for a few days to experiment. Did you get sick in Moscow because of the amount of people potentially spreading flu? or is it because it is so cold that your immune system is shocked? I have always wondered why more people get the flu during winter than summer.

I should probably go to Russia for a short holiday before diving into ESL there and being stuck in russian winter with no escape until teaching contract finishes. Going from Australia to Russia is a huge climate change and I need to know how I can handle it before making a long term commitment. I have a small advantage over most australians in the sense that I have worked in freezers for quite a few years.. but that was a while ago now and working in a freezer isn't the same as being in Siberia with icy wind blowing in your face. I have also come across a few posts on this board about ESL teachers hating russian winter...


maruss wrote:
I have spent much of my life in Cyprus, which is a very warm island and has a similar climate to some parts of Australia. I used to visit Russia frequently from 1994- 2002,usually in late winter for a week or two each time and then went for six months in late October 2005 to Moscow where they had the coldest January for decades and it went down to -28 Celsius for several weeks! I frequently got colds of course, which I coped with most of the time, but then picked up a nasty chesty type of infection just before I was due to come back here and this took me over 6 weeks to get rid of! It made me feel tired and weak and seems to have damaged my immune system because even now I easily get colds here in winter when it is still relatively mild by northern standards and also if I visit the U.K. in winter where it is also rarely very cold. Of course the constitution of every individual is different and also other factors such as age need to be considered- I was in my early 50's in the Moscow winter, for example.
As a general rule people can adapt much more easily when they move from cold climates to warm ones than the other way round and the thickness of blood flow is affected by the cold. I have known guys from Canada and the north of the USA who went and worked in Siberia in winter though and said they adjusted to it without too many problems but admittedly they were around half my age so this needs to kept in mind. Heart disease and other circulatory problems are also aggravated by cold and Siberia can be hellishly cold with up to - 50 Celsius, though not all the time!
Hope this info is of use?
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1077
Location: New York

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Russians like to say: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Get a decent coat, hat, boots, and gloves...you'll be just fine Smile
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1023
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:41 pm    Post subject: Moscow climate etc. Reply with quote

Like many large cities which have over-expanded without good planning, Moscow is notorious for air pollution and being an unhealthy place to live in. Often bottlenecked traffic is a major cause as well as noise and dubious landfill sites which have been built on to provide much needed accommodation. In Soviet times environmental factors did not play any part in where people were housed so the nearer to their place of work in factories etc. the better! You can find plenty of info. about Moscows problems on the web-once you see the place you will understand why !Miles and miles of often grey, drab and featureless suburbs with monotonous high-rise blocks of flats are the norm and the places which have style and look more attractive are where the rich live and play!These can be near the centre or in green and leafy 'dacha' areas outside the city.....but whatever it is always a fascinating place for a first-timer, although it can be daunting and overwhelming!
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lucifer911



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

this is optimistic.. I will seek out the most appropriate clothes for winter. Precautions still need to be taken though in Siberia where occasional electricity failures can occur.. and anything below -40 degrees should be avoided.

jpvanderwerf2001 wrote:
As Russians like to say: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Get a decent coat, hat, boots, and gloves...you'll be just fine Smile
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lucifer911



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Moscow climate etc. Reply with quote

this is why I'm considering working in Siberia where the pollution isn't as bad but the cold is more severe. I still intend to my first year in Moscow then hopefully work my way out to less polluted less populated areas.

maruss wrote:
Like many large cities which have over-expanded without good planning, Moscow is notorious for air pollution and being an unhealthy place to live in. Often bottlenecked traffic is a major cause as well as noise and dubious landfill sites which have been built on to provide much needed accommodation. In Soviet times environmental factors did not play any part in where people were housed so the nearer to their place of work in factories etc. the better! You can find plenty of info. about Moscows problems on the web-once you see the place you will understand why !Miles and miles of often grey, drab and featureless suburbs with monotonous high-rise blocks of flats are the norm and the places which have style and look more attractive are where the rich live and play!These can be near the centre or in green and leafy 'dacha' areas outside the city.....but whatever it is always a fascinating place for a first-timer, although it can be daunting and overwhelming!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's nothing genetically in-built to surviving the cold. Just do as the Russians do and wrap up well, as JP says. You'll be fine.

Good luck!
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betacygnus



Joined: 15 Apr 2008
Posts: 23
Location: The Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lived in Russia for three years, including in Novosibirsk during the winter of 2009-2010. It never went above -30C from mid-November to mid-February, and dipped into the -40's for several days in January. And, I walked 1.5 km to work each day, and back to the flat after dark each night. I wore LL Bean "Snow Sneakers," Russian-made rabbit-fur socks, Russian-made lined winter pants (1,200 Rubles), Polartec double-lined fleece gloves and a knee-length "Tiger Force" down parka with recessed cuffs, drawstring hood, lined hood with fur trim (5,500 Rubles), and I was never cold, even at -40C. The biggest problem was the sweltering buildings, many of which still have the old Soviet-era radiators which blast heat full-bore as they have no shut-off valve. Thermostats are unknown. I had to wrap the radiator in my bedroom with 3 heavy blankets because the pipes were too old to have someone come and install a shut-off valve. Truth be known, I found the summers in both western Russia and in Siberia intolerable, as they are surprisingly hot and humid, there was no air-conditioning, no window screens, the window panes had no solar coating, and my classroom faced south.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1023
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: wow! Reply with quote

I admire your dedication and only hope that you are well-rewarded for it-or at least are there for some other special purpose which you are fulfilling?Without knowing your age or where you come from and what climate and conditions you were used to before etc., my sincere advice is to be careful because the repercussions on your health may well come later...
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teacher X



Joined: 13 Feb 2013
Posts: 189
Location: Super Sovietsky Apartment Box 918

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
There's nothing genetically in-built to surviving the cold. Just do as the Russians do and wrap up well, as JP says. You'll be fine.

Good luck!



Most of the Russians I know have absolutely zero cold tolerance. They're already complaining that the weather is too cold for them. Weak Russians!
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've currently got a set of Moscovites in Prague whining that it's only 20 degrees here; much 'nicer' in Moscow this summer, apparently!

As for myself, I agree; it's not the weather, it's inadequate clothing. Invest a bit in some North Face and enjoy:-) Worked for me in one Moscow winter averaging -30.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tell your Muscovites that the stifling heat wave in Moscow is over and that the cold drizzle heralding autumn is upon us.

Prague is there to be enjoyed, whatever the weather.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1023
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:41 am    Post subject: on dear Reply with quote

What about the 'babushki leto'-or don't you think it will come this year?This is the equivalent of an Indian summer in the west and is the last period of warm and sunny weather when people still sit outside and wear summer clothes before the cold drizzly gloom of autumn sets in!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always hard to tell...
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