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I'm looking for Russian-speaking countries where I can go to improve my Russian while at the same time learning something and having some great experiences.

What are your opinions on interesting Russian-speaking countries to go to, aside from Russia? Any recommendations for stuff to do, be it nature, culture, food, etc., are welcome.

Personally I've been to Latvia, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. I'd be happy to answer any questions others might have about those countries to the best of my ability.

I'm amazed that you didn't even consider it. Ukraine is by far the easiest Russian speaking country to get into, and unless you stay someplace like Odessa, almost everyone will be speaking Russian. Sure, the slang will be different and the accent will be different, but it's the closest you'll get without going to Russia.

Just stay away from the far east. Kharkiv is as far as you want to go
hi anon, i've been waiting for a -stans thread to appear. I plan on going to Kyrgyzstan in mid september this year to stay the full 60 days visa free and then a little bit in Kazakstan.
Will it be unbearably cold in autumn?
How far will I go with basically non-existent russian?
How do they treat white tourists?
Where would you recommend going?
thanks in advance.
wtf are you on about, odessa is a russian speaking city
t.former odessa resident
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Wow. I love /trv/. Nobody around me has any interest in studying Russian, let alone all the other countries speaking it. Finding this thread is really neat.

Regardless, OP you're doing the exact same thing I'm pursuing. I'm still a beginner but at the moment I have a Russian tutor who's a Kazakhstan exchange student.

I'm an American in the process of getting my masters with the endgame of being a professor overseas. I already have experience teaching and I'm interested in Russian speaking countries.

Places like you mentioned are all on the list for general traveling or job prospects.

I'd love to hear any noteworthy stories in each.

Any recommendations for places to see? To help I'm interested in night life, fashion, traditional architecture, food, natural beauty and historical sights.

Any cultural taboos to avoid?

Do any dating over there?

How did you get interested in Russian speaking countries?

I've been to Vladivostok, Russia and had an absolute wonderful time there and I'll share my stories if any anons are interested.

Pic related

Oh, it's absolutely been considered, but coincidences led to me going to the other countries first. What makes you say Odessa isn't a place where everybody speaks Russian? My impression has been that Kiev and Odessa are the main cities in Ukraine to go to. Any other special recommendations for Ukraine?

> Part 1/2

If you look up some weather statistics for Kyrgyzstan, you'll see that most populated areas don't even get all that cold in winter. However, naturally it's going to get cold enough if you go up into the mountains. I went around July, and Bishkek was ridiculously hot, to the point where I woke up in a pool of my own sweat each day. Going out to Issyk-Kul and Naryn was a beautiful change, as the temperature got a lot more comfortable. It quickly gets cold in the mountains, but not unbearably so. As far as I understood, though, a lot of the mountain roads going through Kyrgyzstan get closed down in winter due to all the snow.

I'd say not knowing Russian is going to be a challenge once you get out of Bishkek. I also can't remember any of the museums in Bishkek having proper information in English. However, I met a German girl who didn't know a word of Russian, and she felt like she was getting along nicely with hand gestures and such. I feel like part of the experience is being able to communicate with people, though, and rural Kyrgyzstan isn't great at English. As long as you can show on a map where you want to go and haggle a bit by using pen and paper, plus show people what you want to buy and so on, you should be okay. The Lonely Planet guidebook for Kyrgyzstan notes when places to visit in the more rural parts of Kyrgyzstan have people who know English there, for example if you want to go to places like Tash Rabat.

And white tourists - no problem. Just get ready to drink some kymyz. It's fermented horse milk, and it tastes like shit. I promise. But I was greeted warmly by everybody and made friends that I still talk to today, two years later.
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> Part 2/2

For recommendations, I'll recommend all the things I did in the little time I had there. I didn't spend any time exploring Bishkek nightlife, but I get the impression there isn't really too much happening there. The central area of the city is interesting, and the National Museum in the central square is a place you definitely have to go to. It's a crazy museum.

Outside of Bishkek I spent one week around Issyk-Kul. I took a marshrutka out to Cholpon Ata, and the drive is beautiful. Everybody seems to go out to Issyk-Kul for vacation and for swimming, and I recommend you do the same. There were a few fun events going on, like the Asian version of Eurovision. You think Eurovision's bad, and then you go to the Asian version... I don't feel like there's a lot of quality places around there, but the whole lake has a lot of interesting places to visit. I ended up on a sort of local guided tour out to Karakol and places inbetween. Lots of beautiful places to see, but it takes a little while to drive between them.

I think my favorite nature part of the trip was going down to Naryn, and from then on to Tash Rabat. It's an old caravanserie on the Silk Road, not too far from the Chinese border. From there I went on horseback with a local guide over the mountains to Chatyr-Kul where we spent the night with a nomad family at about 5000m above sea level. Wonderful experience. Be prepared for altitude sickness, though. The picture is from the descent down to the lake.

Ala Archa national park just outside of Bishkek is also worth a visit.

If I go back to Kyrgyzstan, my aim will definitely be to visit more of the mountain lakes, like Song-Kul. I decided to travel on my own, but I know you can find tour operators that'll take you on these off road road trip tours lasting from a few days to a few weeks. Might be worth looking into if you've got the money and don't speak Russian.

I hope this helps as a start - feel free to ask away!

The Russian-speaking world has a fascinating story that too often is looked upon as just being trashy, in my opinion. I've had a great time getting to know the language better, and I'm definitely going to keep on digging into it.

I originally got interested in Russian because I served as a conscript on the Russo-Norwegian border a few years back. It just grew on me, and I decided I wanted to learn the language properly and also get to know more about culture and history. Part of my job now is also being an interpreter from Russian, which I find really interesting.

And I'm definitely interested in what you can tell about Vladivostok! The Russian Far East has always been fascinating, and I really hope to get to visit Kamchatka some day.

Concerning your questions, it's a little hard to answer in-depth about all three countries with just one post. However, I'll say this: Georgia has amazing food and a quite unique cuisine - if you have not tried Georgian food, you are missing out! You may also know that they make a lot of wine that for some reason just isn't that known on the Western market. I completely fell in love with Georgian food and wine during my stay there. For the first time in my life I brought back 6 bottles of wine from abroad, which is the maximum for a Norwegian.

Also, I found Georgia to be fascinating architecture-wise. Tbilisi has a ton of old wooden and stone buildings that just seem to have all been improvised and painted in different colors, interspersed with a ton of churches, as you can tell from the picture. I actually stayed for a few weeks in one of the houses in the top of that picture, and rent's pretty cheap, even there.

Night life in Tbilisi is also great. Loads of bars, excellent restaurants, and all of the places I found had this really great atmosphere. Reminiscing like this, I realize I'm definitely going back to Georgia.

I'd be happy to go into more detail in further posts.
How much Russian is spoken in Georgia? I'm stuck between learning German or Russian and can't really decide. I know it comes down to personal preference but it would be cool to hear how knowing Russian has helped you.

I've also heard that these countries can be extremely poor in some areas, is it really that bad?

t. American
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Russian is widely spoken in Georgia, albeit with an accent and funny grammar. The younger urban population might not speak it anymore in favour of English, but a majority of Georgians does speak it.
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I'm going to group both Georgia and Latvia together here, because of their similar shared Soviet history. Kyrgyzstan's break from the Soviet union is a little different, it seems to me. I'd be happy to discuss this if somebody disagrees with me.

Both Georgia and Latvia wanted to get out of the Soviet Union when it collapsed, as their liberation movements seemed to think of Soviet rule more as an occupation. Nowadays the aftermath and consequences of the 2008 war in Georgia is still very real for Georgians, and it seems that one of the big things Latvia fears is a possible re-annexation by Russia. Add to that that if you don't discriminate between 1st and 2nd languages, there's actually more people in Latvia that speak Russian than there are people that speak Latvian.

All of this and more leads to some people harboring anti-Russian sentiments, and especially in Latvia some people reacted if a person who wasn't a native Russian speaker started conversations with Latvians in Russians. I experienced this to a much lesser extent in Georgia, even though some people think of it as a bit strange if you go there specifically to learn Russian.

All in all, though, I found that Russian was a lot easier to use than English in both Latvia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

I guess I veered a little off topic here, but I hope the answers is of help none the less.

Also, concerning your second question: It really depends where you are. Just to generalize, they're not necessarily Africa poor, and especially the capitals are doing pretty well, but it gets pretty poor from a European point of view outside the cities. Everything will be cheap for an American.
Strange, because the guys I know from Odessa speak Russian and Ukrainian but told me that they mainly spoke Ukrainian when they grew up and lived there. When I was in the country, I was in Kiev, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv, and the only time I ever read or heard Ukrainian was on signs, tv, or restaurant menus
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Fascinating story anon. I appreciate the time and details you put into your posts. It helps more than you think!

For Vladivostok it was a short 5 day trip. Surprisingly English was useful and young people knew it more than I expected. Any time it wasn't I had my Russian friends help me

Simply speaking any Russian was met with surprise, curiousness and a "cool"-factor. I guess they don't get much tourists speaking Russian

The grand majority of my activities took place either at or near the city plaza

I ended up watching a theatrical performance about WWII, interesting seeing it from Russian perspective as an American

Saw an annual victory parade celebrating the defense of Vladivostok during WWII

They had a local a street market open once a week that had local crafts and cuisines available.

Went to a Soviet Inspired restaurant with the sickle and hammer, pictures of Lenin, Gorbachev, Stalin, etc. Really unique atmosphere. Good food in the day and it turns into a bar with a DJ and dancing at night.

Tried Russia's version of Chinese food. All the local cuisines are to die for as well. Borsch, Olivye, Shavyerma, etc.

Club Ra is a seasonal club only open spring and summer on the seaside. It's dubbed as the "hipster" club and has a crowd of young and beautiful people. If people hear you're not Russian you'll be the center of attention.

Can't recall names of the other clubs I went to but I didn't have a bad time in any of them. They played a mix of Russian dance, Modern American and super old American music (1940s).

If you want to see the local parks near the university area I'd recommend renting a car. It's an island connected by a huge iconic bridge.

Locals were incredibly helpful and gave great recommendations whenever I asked questions.

Hostels were cheap.

Smoking cigarettes is incredibly common and I'd recommend just having them on hand with a lighter with how frequently people ask and partake.

Pic is a "moomi troll" famous rock singer shirt.
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Someone named a band after the cartoon?
Not sure which one came first.
anyone know of websites for teavhing jobs specifically in eastern russia? russian website are ok too

i really want to move to vladivostok or one of the steppe oblasts
I can tell you stuff about northern Kyrgyzstan

mostly like Russia with a little bit of Turkey and China

pretty much the same like in europe. Maybe not that revealing.

>traditional architecture
pretty much non existent. They were nomads before commies came. So most buildings are commie style.

A lot of meat.

>natural beauty
Best nature imo. Been in almost 30 countries and imo its most amazing nature. Mountains and shiet

>historical sights
not many desu

September is good time to go because school starts in september and all tourist areas are not that filled anymore.
You dont know if it will be in September still full summer or if it already starting to cool down. Last year it started already to cool down and it was like 20°C. 3 years ago it was still full summer 30-40°C.
Russian is pretty important. English is not that commonly speaken. But they are all friendly and you will manage somehow with sign language.
They try to boost tourism last few years
I recomend to do a trip around Issyk-Kul

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