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The Last Word

What Advice Would You Give Someone Who Has Just Moved to Moscow?
New in town? Passport traveled far and wide to poll veteran Moscow transplants to see what advice they had for newcomers to our fair adopted city. Here’s what some of them said.
  • Study Russian. Russian culture resides in the Russian language. It was Charlemagne who said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” Go for it. Do your homework. Get out there and start communicating.
  • Buying 2-4 5-liter containers of mineral water and keep them sealed at home for when the water gets turned off. This can happen on very short notice (for example, at 8pm on the evening before) and with barely visible warning (a scrawled note glued to the door of your building). Almost half of Moscow seems to be renovating their apartments, and the water gets turned off when plumbing work is being done. You’ll want water on hand for drinking and cooking — and also for flushing the toilet.
  • Bring a thick skin!
  • Take in a street dog as a pet. They’re fantastic.
  • Make Russian friends in high places.
  • Come to Moscow with an open mind. Be patient and don’t get easily upset. Moscow opens up slowly but surely.
  • Breath deeply, everything will be all right. Not too deeply, though. The air is a bit polluted...
  • Don’t expect anything to happen quickly or on time.
  • Think of Moscow not as a regular city but as an adversary and a challenge! Walking somewhere can provide a whole range of dangers, annoyances, and hassles, so be sure to fully and generously count all of your personal victories.
  • Take advantage of the enormous number of cultural events that Moscow has to offer -- theaters, museums, concert halls, opera houses. Compared to prices in other countries, they’re a bargain!
  • The traffic is terrible. Buy yourself a subway map ASAP.
  • Buy some stiletto boots and a fur coat and strut your stuff with the best of them.
  • Frustration will get you nowhere — just be patient (but pushy) and things will happen eventually.
  • Look both ways.
  • Wander. Get wonderfully lost and then marvel at what you stumble across.

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