About

About Me

Aspiring equestrian. Occasional writer. Perpetual workaholic. Eternal adventurer. 

A child of two Motherlands (Russia and the US of A), I have spent most of my life between Moscow and the eastern seaboard of the US — New York City, Washington DC, Maryland and Rhode Island, with a year-long educational stint in Europe thrown in for good measure. I self-identify more as an American than a Russian, because of my general worldview, professional behavior, personal priorities and gender relations — romantic and otherwise. Yet I cannot imagine life without Gogol’s comedies, classical ballet, potatoes, sour cream, birch forests, mushroom picking and dacha.

About Home & Away 

Expat life. Russian art. Destination — Moscow. A bit of travel beyond.

Here I recount all sorts of socio-cultural oddities of living in Moscow, the pains and pleasures of returning to a country which is starkly different from the one I left more than 15 years ago, and all things New York and America that I miss the most. From the Russians’ fashionable obsession with sushi to their medieval attitudes toward marriage, from extreme weather to popular tourist attractions, from personal struggles to national headlines, I attempt to chronicle all things that baffle, frustrate and  delight me in this amazing country.

Special thanks go out to my wonderful friends Jenna and Mark D., whose linguistic, creative and technological savvy helped me create this blog and whose ongoing guidance is responsible for maintaining H&A’s any semblance of quality in both content and appearance. Also huge bow of gratitude to the wonderful ‘blogger friends’ community, which I didn’t even know existed when I started writing, but that has been motivating, supporting and inspiring me since.

Cheers,

Anna.

Anna Belkina

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64 thoughts on “About

    • Phew, that’s still ways away, but Olympics frenzy is in full swing and it’s kind of fun! Glad to have you on board!

  1. Hello Anna,
    Your blog is exactly what I was looking for. I too am a blogger here in Russia, just not in Moscow. I landed in Kazan because my wife is from here. As I read several of your posts I understood your view point is very different, one my readers would very much appreciate. So you ask, why? I’ve created on my blog what I call Mirror Reflections – these were created to show the similarities between countries and also expose the differences. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve done a pingback to your blog. If you are interested you can come visit at: hague6185.wordpress.com

    • By all means, ping away! I look forward to checking out your blog – I cannot even imagine small-town life (in any country, except for my fantasy life on a farm in Scotland), especially for an expat in ‘middle-Russia’.

  2. Hello Anna, just came straight from celebitchy to collect “a nice little bowl of Pimms” you promised me for getting the colour of Kate’s dress, but found something muuuuuch better – your blog. God works in mysterious ways … :-))

    • Come on it, make yourself at home! Might be running low on Pimm’s but still well-stocked up on Stoli! Oh and if there was a ‘dont drink and blog’ rule, there might have be nothing for you to peruse right now — instead of this blog 😉

  3. Hello Anna,

    I saw your commentary on ladyofcakes’ Barcelona trip. You said you stayed there during studied abroad.

    I am working on a music video for a song dedicated to Barcelona. I was wondering if you have any stock video footage left over from your trip that I could use in my music video?

    I am in love with this city and am trying to make a video collage about it.

    Here is the link to a tumblr blog with more details: http://shareyourbarcelona.tumblr.com/

    Otherwise, I’ll be happy to answer any questions about the project,

    Thank you,

    Olga

    • Oh dear, as much as I’d love to help out, my study abroad was 9 years ago – when I didnt just not do video, I was still using a film (not digital) camera! Yes, a bit of a Luddite, this one. But your song is beautiful, and best of luck to you!

  4. I absolutely love Russia. I am a huge fan of Russian history, architecture, culture, food…everything. It’s such an interesting place, especially Far Eastern Russia. However, my friends told me that I shouldn’t visit because I’m of African descent and there’s apparently a lot of inter-ethnic problems in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I don’t know what to do because I want to visit and learn Russian so bad, especially in Kazan, Tatarstan. What do you think? Is it safe for me?

    • Boy, that’s a tough one. Ethnic tensions are indeed on the rise in Russia, however the ethnic ‘Others’ in question are (predominantly Muslim) migrant works (some legal, some not) from the former-USSR republics of Central Asia and the Caucuses. In fact, the latter group is often referred to as ‘Blacks.’ It’s more about social and economic issues than skin color.

      At the same time Russia has a long tradition of hosting foreign students from Africa, and the general attitude towards people of African descent is friendly and comfortable, with a doze of curiosity.

      The Moscow/StP vs everywhere else split is interesting too. In these two very international, diverse cities you are much less likely to be gawked at (as you are almost guaranteed to, walking down the street in sleepy Kazan), however, because most of the migrant workers gravitate toward Moscow, overall tensions and hostilities are exacerbated here.

      Another Moscow blogger had 2 guest posts by his black friend, on Being Black in Moscow. Maybe they will be helpful:
      http://www.england-moscow.com/2009/10/being-black-in-moscow.html
      http://www.england-moscow.com/2012/11/still-black-still-in-russia.html

      • Thank you for your helpful answer! I appreciate it. (And feeling better about visiting Russia sometime). Btw, have you ever been to Anadyr? I have a strange obsession with that place and want to visit. So many places to visit!

        • Goodness gracious, I’ve never ventured out so far from civilization! I am really a Moscow-St Pete’s kind of person – but can answer some Qs on the Astrakhan/Volga region, bc my sister lived there 🙂

  5. My name is Chris and I am emailing from British Corner Shop which is the online supermarket for British expats, shipping over 10,000 products worldwide. I came across your blog when looking for expat bloggers, as we are looking for bloggers to write a post on why they left their country of origin to become an expat. Would you be interested in writing a blog on why you became an expat where you are?

    Our Google+ page is: https://plus.google.com/b/117836621240166830995/communities/117088589711956513066

    Regards

    Chris

    • Chris – sorry for this ridiculously belated reply, which for some reason didn’t pop into my inbox (or I accidentally missed it) and I just noticed scrolling through the page. I am guessing you’ve had quite a number of contributors by now, but please feel free to reach out in the future. Your project looks very interesting!

  6. Hey Anna, hope you’re OK! Do you have a email or twitter handle I can contact you on? Writing a blog post in the coming weeks that I’d love your help with, if you’re interested!

  7. Dear Ann,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Moscow, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,
    Joyce

    • Dear Joyce – yes I absolutely would love to do the Q&A, however I do not see the questionnaire attached. You can email it to be at belkina.anna at gmail, and I will respond. And will send the pictures as well!

  8. Dear Anna,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Russia, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,
    Joyce

    • Dear Joyce, it’s too bad we haven’t been able to connect, because I would love to take part in this and share some photos, but unfortunately no questionnaire is enclosed. Should I reach out via your email address?

  9. You have a realy lovely blog. I’m delighted I came across your site and was wondering if you or any of your readers can give me some advice about recruitment in Russia. I’m working for a company that is looking to expand into Moscow and was wondering if anyone had any advice on the best places to advertise locally. We are looking for English speaking businessmanagers so any advice would be greatly appreciated. We’ve advertised on Linkedin and Monster.com but haven’t had much luck attracting the right applicants

    • Hi!
      Unfortunately none of my contacts are in the relevant sphere of business, but I do know that there are a lot of executive search firms operating in Russia, and when it comes to managers for foreign companies, very often these are subsidiaries of European companies – so I would say a good bet would be to reach out to those. They would have local recruiters who know the market, the language, and talent.
      best of luck!
      Anna.

  10. Hi Anna, what a wonderful and interesting life you’ve led and are leading now in Russia. We’ve always wanted to go and St. Petersburg is on our bucket list. Look forward to reading about your adventures 🙂

    • Thank you, and welcome to the blog! Being a Moscovite I will always be partial to my capital city 😉 but St Pete’s is great, especially all the palaces around it. I hope you get a chance to go!

    • Thank you thank you thank you, I am so flattered! Sorry I am just getting around to this – and to checking out your blog, esp your posts on Turkey (such a beloved by Russians destination yet so unknown, really). Cheers!

  11. Dear Anna, I would so appreciate a list of off-the-beaten path restaurant experiences for Moscow. It might be just for the Master and Margherita decor, or an invented dish, or some fusion which is not because of a trend but rather just an inspired fling with a vegetable. My husband and I are New Yorkers here on business – with only 4 more weeks remaining, and I am absolutely not interested in the TimeOut or Saveur recommendations of over the top dining, or fast slow food. If you could point me to old posts of yours or if you are inspired to put together a new list, I would so appreciate that. If you have a similar list or post for St. Petersburg, we’ll take that too, as we’re going there for a weekend. We should meet – I’m Art For Your Sake on Facebook. Nancy G

    • Hi Nancy, welcome to Moscow!
      I always appreciate a fellow discerning NYC foodie 🙂 I am afraid I don’t get out nearly enough to have a really long list of recommendations (I actually have been making an effort lately to do more of that and not just go for my favorite pork shashlyk at a park all the time), but there are a few places that have caught my attention, most of which havent made it into posts (but a couple will be in the upcoming posts over the next couple of weeks).

      Lavka Lavka on Petrovka is kind of a locavore’s dream, I mention it here https://gohomeandaway.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/moscow-a-perfect-summer-day/
      Recently I had my best Moscow burger to date, at Lumberjack near Kitay Gorod. I’m going back for more soon.
      I also like Grenuille at Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which is run by an Australian chef but is kind of a pan-Russian fusion place with a nice beer selection.
      And Pinch at Patriarshie Prudy is brand new, on the pricier side (and cash only) but has great artisanal cocktails, especially the Cardamon.
      But really, if you havent had a shashlyk outdoors at a park (I recommend Kolomenskoye) with a plastic cup of medovukha or cheap Russian draft beer, you havent lived :)))))

      I did a sh*t job at eating well in St Pete’s, so no restaurants to recommend, but I had salmon cream soup at a few places there (and never seen it on a Moscow menu!) and it’s absolutely fantastic, especially in the winter.

      And yes, I am absolutely up for meeting up – breakfasts and weekends work for me! I just followed you on FB 🙂

      • Dearest Anna, I am absolutely STUPEFIED that I did not see your message until now. I literally stumbled upon this reader by accident today, eek. Now am back in NYC. But if you come to these here parts, ping me and I will definitely do you the honors this time.

        I was in Moscow 2 months only …. N

  12. Hi Nancy, welcome to Moscow!
    I always appreciate a fellow discerning NYC foodie 🙂 I am afraid I don’t get out nearly enough to have a really long list of recommendations (I actually have been making an effort lately to do more of that and not just go for my favorite pork shashlyk at a park all the time), but there are a few places that have caught my attention, most of which havent made it into posts (but a couple will be in the upcoming posts over the next couple of weeks).

    Lavka Lavka on Petrovka is kind of a locavore’s dream, I mention it here https://gohomeandaway.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/moscow-a-perfect-summer-day/
    Recently I had my best Moscow burger to date, at Lumberjack near Kitay Gorod. I’m going back for more soon.
    I also like Grenuille at Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which is run by an Australian chef but is kind of a pan-Russian fusion place with a nice beer selection.
    And Pinch at Patriarshie Prudy is brand new, on the pricier side (and cash only) but has great artisanal cocktails, especially the Cardamon.
    But really, if you havent had a shashlyk outdoors at a park (I recommend Kolomenskoye) with a plastic cup of medovukha or cheap Russian draft beer, you havent lived :)))))

    I did a sh*t job at eating well in St Pete’s, so no restaurants to recommend, but I had salmon cream soup at a few places there (and never seen it on a Moscow menu!) and it’s absolutely fantastic, especially in the winter.

    And yes, I am absolutely up for meeting up – breakfasts and weekends work for me! I just followed you on FB 🙂

  13. Your blog is amazing!!! I totally love it! I would love to visit Moscow during June when it get’s warmer and your posts have some really helpful tips! I’m studying in Volgograd btw. 🙂

    • Diana, welcome to the blog, I am glad you like it! How do you find living in Volgograd? My sister lived in Astrakhan for a couple of years and she likes that area in general. Please let me now if you have any specific questions, or if you’ll be visiting Moscow down the like – I’d love to help out!

    • Welcome to the blog, very excited to have you! I am taking a short break from writing about Moscow to catch up on gazillion travel recaps, but there is plenty in the archives to keep you occupied, and I am happy to answer any questions you might have as well!

  14. Hello Anna,

    My name is Jan Cibula and I am project coordinator in Cyrillica in Moscow.
    We looking for Americans living in Moscow, which could cooperate with us on a new project, Subtitling Russian news in to the English , which will be distributed in US.
    If you are interested and have any questions do not hesitate to contact me. (jan.cibula@cyrillica.ru)

    With regards Jan

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