I Don't Like the Cold, But I'm Moving to Siberia

Is this what you think Siberia looks like? You're not the only one. pixabay.com CC0

Written by  April 4, 2018

Why I'm leaving my life in New York City for a foreign land.  

One of my most rewarding traits is my ability to fully commit to random decisions. This gift has led me across the country and back—literally. I moved to California for high school and then back to my home state, New York, for college.

Now, I’m preparing to move to Siberia.

I do not speak Russian.

I don’t know anyone there.

I don’t really like the cold, either.

I stumbled upon the job on my college’s job board and applied on a whim, thinking that I would never get it. For the past month and a half, I have prepared for this move and new job: teaching English to kids. But the actuality of my move only hit me recently. Two weeks before my departure date, I panicked and almost took a sales job in California. Though I felt unsure, I now feel more confident about this move. The relocation feels like a decision, not a change that I fell haphazardly into.

So, why Russia? 

This is where the randomness comes into play. I like teaching and being around kids inspires me and fills me with energy. (Well, not when they’re screaming and crying, but most of the time.) I wanted to go somewhere that I’d never been before; someplace completely different. Novosibirsk fit the bill; it's the third-largest city in Russia and it is located in the province of Siberia.

The term "Siberia" elicits strange looks from other Americans and does conjure an image of an empty, flat, snow-covered expanse where the Mafia sends people to die. But I’ll be working in an urban area, where I can engage in cultural opportunities. 

Nevertheless, New York City and I have a love-hate relationship. Everything feels familiar to the point of suffocation. 

That's not the only reason I chose Russia. I’m from New York City and deeply proud of it. Bagels are my favourite carb, fast-walking is the only kind of walking, and if a stranger yells at me, I will yell back. Nevertheless, the city and I have a love-hate relationship. Everything feels familiar to the point of suffocation. (It might seem odd to non-New Yorkers, but the city feels safe, cozy, and almost bland.) And while the city is full of people I love, it also houses some physical and metaphorical demons. People say you can’t run away from your problems. However, on some level, that is exactly what I’m doing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Finally, I'm also fulfilling the dreams of my younger self. I always wanted to travel, but it seemed out of reach for someone like me. I’m now learning there are numerous ways to travel on a budget while making money (though any form of international travel remains a privilege).

Saying goodbye

I’m really bad at saying goodbye. My parents are somehow more emotional about this journey than I am. They bring me cold weather clothes, likely intended for Olympic skiers, and tell me stories about young American women getting kidnapped in Russia.

My friends are fully supportive. Meanwhile, my cat is oblivious, despite the fact that I tell her frequently to assure we are prepared for our year-long separation.

I still have a few more friends to tell before my plane leaves the ground. I’m a private person, but I’m also nervous about potential failure and my fears about having a goodbye-for-now accidentally turning into a goodbye-forever. I can’t anticipate the ways in which myself and others will change over the course of a year.

At the same time, I’m beyond ready to grow and now that my flight is soon, I'm excited to leave. I look forward to meeting my students and coworkers as well as exploring Novosibirsk. I want my life to be an adventure, so I’m making it one.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Jillian Elkin

Jillian Elkin works as an ESL teacher for kids and teens at the EF Education First school in Novosibirsk, Russia. Her interests are film, writing, and cake.

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