Juan Sebastian Velasquez, Colombia, Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Software Engineering and Computer Systems
During my short time in Russia, I’ve learned to cope with the winter cold, but it is still a bit difficult because I'm from a country that has a warm climate. With the little experience of living in St. Petersburg, I can give some tips on how not to freeze to death in Russia: the first thing, of course, is to buy warm clothes: a good jacket as well as a hat, gloves, and boots. I suggest buying them here and not in your own country. I survived my first winter without boots, but that wasn’t a very good idea since the streets are always wet from the rain and melted snow. Another thing that I always recommend when you are freezing outside is to grab a warm cup of coffee from some bakery or cafe – that will surely warm you up. And finally, do not stay locked in your house: winter is hard but beautiful and there are a lot of fun activities in and outside the city to enjoy during this wonderful season.
Harith Al-Dabbagh, Iraq, Bachelor’s Student at the Information Technologies and Programming Faculty
I wouldn't say that I was shocked by the Russian winter. I was expecting it to be worse because in Baghdad the temperature reaches 50 degrees in the summer, so winter in Russia is like heaven to me. To be honest, during my first winter here I was surprised by how dark the city was for most of December – I used to go to the university for my Russian language classes in the dark and come back in the dark. It was a cool experience. Also, it was cold and all I can recommend is to get good warm clothes, especially a coat.
Last year, as a first-year Bachelor’s student, I spent most of the wintertime studying with my new friends. All of us were concentrated on doing well on our exams. It was a pretty impressive level of teamwork that was going on during this time of year!
I also enjoyed walking around the city center, which is insanely beautiful. I had been here before as a tourist with some friends who live in Europe. They thought that St. Petersburg decorated with its festive lights was the most beautiful city that they had ever seen.
Rigel Olvera, Mexico, PhD student at the Faculty of Applied Optics
First of all, to survive the Russian winter, it is crucial to take care of your diet, as a lot of vitamins cannot be assimilated by our body due to the lack of sun hours. Healthy eating habits help us save energy and can even prevent depression. I would recommend consuming high-fat products, such as yogurts or any dairy products, also don't forget about fish, which contains some necessary fats. Secondly, a healthy body is a healthy mind, thus I strongly recommend doing any physical exercise to create a more active routine that will enhance your mood during these gloomy days. I believe one of the biggest challenges that international students face during the winter is depression, and something that really helps me to overcome a low spirit is being in touch with friends, doing activities with them, and also looking for activities that you can do by yourself to keep your mind busy. If you feel depressed or lonely, don’t try to solve it all alone or isolate yourself; it’s always better to talk to your friends who also live in Russia and can understand your feelings.
Jorge Medina, Colombia, Master’s Student at the Faculty of Secure Information Technologies
To have a great winter in St. Petersburg, I always check the weather app before I go outside – it’s a great tool that helps me get prepared to leave the house, always wearing a beanie, gloves, and a good coat. At the beginning of winter there is not much snow, but as the days pass you can see it all over the city, which is beautiful, but you should be careful walking outside, since a layer of ice and snow forms on the ground and the pavement can become slippery.
Winter is wonderful: you can see how rivers freeze and the city is getting dressed in white. I like to go to the Gulf of Finland in winter, as you can see the sea and the beach covered with snow and if you are lucky, even enjoy the sun.
You can enjoy winter activities such as ice skating and take an amazing opportunity to ski. And now I understand why one of the most important drinks in Russia is tea – when you get outside it is always nice to recover the heat with a cup of delicious hot beverage.
Hadi Hijazi, France, Research associate at the Faculty of Laser Photonics and Optoelectronics
To explore St. Petersburg in winter, I had to buy a lot of warm clothes and equipment – gloves, winter hats, special shoes, and leggings to wear under your jeans, which allows you to go out for a long time without freezing. I anticipated the weather and ordered everything I needed in advance online from a German website known for excellent winter garments.
I think to see the real charm of Russia, you should visit St. Petersburg during the winter, when days are very short, the city is illuminated during the night, and the snow gives it a wonderful look that can't be found elsewhere. I’ve noticed that local people are upset when there's no snowfall and are excited to see it back – now I realize why.
I haven’t tried many winter activities during the famous Russian winter. I went skiing through the forest and it was amazing, but there are still many other things I’d like to try in the future such as ice fishing and husky dog sledding. I think that’s something everyone should experience when they arrive in Russia.
To get completely ready for the Russian winter, learn some handy phrases to describe winter cold, take advantage of our mood-boosting strategies for the winter season and discover the coldest places in Russia.