Here it is, your check list of what to consider packing when coming on your year abroad in Russia.
- Spices and stock pastes etc – especially if you like smoked paprika (they have the normal stuff but in my opinion it has no real flavour!), ground ginger and cumin.
- Vitamin supplements (B12 and D). You can buy vitamin d here, but if you’re veggie like me you might want to bring a brand you know. (Though I’ve since discovered that Veganika sells D and B12, but not every city in Russia is guaranteed to have them and they could be more expensive here.)
- decaf coffee – decaf isn’t really a thing here.
- blue tack
- prepaid currency cards – I’d recommend Caxton FX. You just load it with as much as you want, and then if it gets lost or stolen or anything you only have to deal with the money on that card and not your whole account, which is a lot harder and will cost you with all the phone calls you’d have to make abroad.
- Photocopies of your passport, proof of insurance, migration card (you’ll have to get these done after you’ve entered the country), letter from your university/proof of accommodation (not crucial but would be useful).
- Thick scarf, hat and gloves, especially if you’re coming in the winter season.
- Thermal layers.
- Lined paper. For some reason, refill pads are not a thing here. You can buy copy books, but most of the time the paper is squared and not lined. I’ve made do by buying printer paper and hole-punching it.
- Any bank details/log-in details you might need to do online banking. You just never know if you’ll have a problem with your accounts or something.
- Paracetamol, ibuprofen and any other pain killer or medication that you are used to taking/have to take. You can’t guarantee that they will sell it here. I have managed to buy Ibuprofen (Ибупрофен) here though… so that one is fine. IF YOU NEED EPI-PENS, MAKE SURE YOU BRING ENOUGH! There was a girl that had to have some specially brought in from Finland and it was a really complicated process…
- If you’re a gym goer, bring a microfibre towel, and travel bottles for shampoo/conditioner/shower gel etc. and flip flops for the showers. Oh, and make sure you wear a separate set of trainers in the gym than in the street – you HAVE to change your shoes.
- Bring slippers. Whenever you go to someone’s house/in your own home, you need to change out of your outdoor shoes. It makes more sense once you’ve lived through the winter here and the roads become dirty with black ice and black snow.
- Bring gifts! If you’re staying with a host family, bring a fridge magnet, tea towel, box of biscuits in the shape of a telephone box/post box…. anything that is a little piece of something traditional from home. Your hosts will love it, although – be warned – it’s not the Russian way to show a ton of emotion when they receive a gift. They’ll appreciate it, but don’t expect them to go into raptures!
I would say that’s most of it. You can find pretty much any cosmetic/toiletry item in shops like ulibka radugi and skarlett (Улыбка Радуги, Скарлетт). For cruelty free stuff I tend to go to Veganika (Веганика), although those other two shops also sell CF stuff too sometimes. Most supermarkets will sell a large variety of food items. For clothes we have H&M, Bershka, Stradivarius, there’s even an M&S and Victoria’s Secret…. so in St P and Moscow and even in Novosibirsk I’d say you can find most things you need like that essentials-wise. For stationary stuff, book void is the best shop – Бук Войд.