The Biggest Culture Shocks For Anyone Moving from the UK to Moscow

So there you are, ready to embark on a journey to the Motherland, armed with your Lonely Planet Moscow Guide, a matching phrasebook and hopefully some thermal pants. What are you in store for? How different will it be? Well, here are is a list of things that you will probably find a little jarring to say the least.

It is really fucking cold.

No, really. It is. It’s currently -6 and I’m considering cracking out the bikini as summer has truly arrived. If you’re looking at packing for this winter, pack all your thermals, then go out and buy double the amount because you will not have enough.

Also, men wear tights under their jeans here. Do not be precious. Get yourself some fucking thermals, your leg hair is not enough to save you.

Due to it being really fucking cold, there is a lot of fucking snow. 

Legend has it that beneath the blanket of white lies a mysterious green carpet that is seen only during warmer months. They call this grass. You will forget about grass. My boss told me to visit somewhere in summer and I caught myself wondering how snow survives during summer. Silly Phillie, snow melts in summer, but that’s how used to I’ve got to snow: I can’t imagine a world without it.

There is no Cadbury. 

That’s right, no Creme Eggs. No Freddos. No Giant Chocolate Buttons. Instead get used to Milka (fucking Europe*), Alyonka and Alpen(?!). What are Alyonka and Alpen? Fucking shit brands of chocolate. Alpen is worse than Alyonka, but Alyonka is creepy baby chocolate. I’m probably going to be arrested for my problems with Alyonka. It was nice knowing you.

Also: Galaxy is called Dove and Walkers are called Lays. Importantly, Milky Ways, Mars Bars and KitKat Chunkys still exist. However, no Magic Stars.

Crab flavour Pringles.

Absolute madness. Not a fan.

There is no Spoons. 

That means no Curry Night Thursdays or £1.99 Captain Morgan and cokes. Not that you need it with the cheap drinks prices at basically everywhere, but it’s definitely strange to enter a city and not be confronted with three Wetherspoons within ten metres of each other.

Decent vodka for less than £4.

Actually, I don’t know if it is decent or not, but all I know is that a) it is strong and b) I am not blind. The trick, like with most things, is to buy the prettiest bottle you can see with the largest sale sticker. Last night I bought vodka that contained “birch juice”. That’s right. It also had a beautiful country scene on the back.

The internet is amazing.

It’s nice not to pay BT or Sky £19.99 a month for them to “discover” that you don’t have Fibre Optic in your area yet and yet still charge you the same amount due to their mistake. Here I have excellent internet that rarely cuts out and doesn’t make me want to throw my laptop out of a window.

Chinese and Indian Takeaway aren’t really ‘things’ here.

Instead get used to: Georgian, Armenian, Russified sushi, Pie, American, Vietnamese, Generic East Asian. Still perfectly tasty, unfortunately I just really want some sweet and sour bean curd or some goddamn Chana Saag right now.

Russians are really nice. Don’t believe anyone that tells you any differently.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Russians get a bad rep for being perfectly normal human beings. People who say that Russians are cold and unsmiling may have just been dickheads to the Russians and not received smiles in return. Russia is a big country with a large population and that means that you will find any type of person that you want to.

Russians are really romantic.

PDA everywhere. Trains. Restaurants. Cafes. P. D. A.

It’s quite cute, but for us unfeeling and stone-cold Brits, it takes a while to get used to.


  • I actually love Europe. Please let me keep my EU citizenship, Juncker. I’ll write a glowing review of any country you want. Even Luxembourg.