When I travel, I always strive to meet and talk to the locals as it is the best way to learn about a new place. They can show you places, that you won’t find in the traditional travel guides and tell you stories from the real life. But finding people who are equally interested and have the time to meet people from other cultures can be difficult. In this blog post, I would like to tell you about where and how to meet local Russians in Russia.

Get out there

When I first moved to Russia in January, I only knew my family and a couple of my family’s friends over here. But in order to establish a daily life and being thevery social being that I am, I also wnted to have my own friends and acquaintances in Russia. And this rarely just happens by coinsidence. How often do you just talk to people you meet during the day?

Read about why I chose to move to Russia for six months

I have always been convinced that you play a crucial part in shaping the way your life is going to be and thereby create your own happiness. Of course there will also be some unknown factors that you have no control of whatsoever and you must accept that, but if you do not have the wish to actually come out and do something to make things happen then they will, sorry to say, not happen. And it’s not only relevant when you want to meet new friends, but also if you are in a situation where you want to find a partner, a new job or some other change in your life.

You can either sit back and wait for a random situation where what you want to happen might happen or you can lean forward and increase the chances of what you want to happen to happen. How? Get out there.

The more people you meet, the greater are the chances that you meet an interesting person who could become an acquaintance, a friend, a really good friend, a colleague, an employer, a partner or something else.

Find expats and language clubs

What I wanted was to get good friends and acquaintances in Kazan. Therefore, before actually going there, I started looking for different groups, meetings and events for expats in Kazan. Through this I found an expat club, two weekly language exchange meetings and monthly couchsurfing meetings. I contacted them all through facebook or e-mail to hear more about them, when their next meeting would be and if I could come along.

As a result, I quickly got a huge network in Kazan of local Russians, expats and exchange students. Common to all of them was that they all had an international mindset, they could speak English and they had the same desire as me to meet new people, making it incredibly easy to talk to them already from the first time I joined one of the meetings.

You will be able to find language exchange clubs in most major cities in Russia, as many first of all want to practice their English. However, they are usually very interested in all languages ​​and cultures in the world, so it all depends on who attends the meetings. Common to all of them is that they are incredibly happy when people from other countries come to their meetings and it is a really good way to meet local Russians.

Expat groups are also becoming increasingly popular and are not necessarily only for people who work / study in a city for a long time. It’s just as much for meeting people from all over the world.

Check out my list of expat and language clubs in Moscow, Kazan and St. Petersburg further down in this blogpost.

Couchsurfing

Most people probably know Couchsurfing as a free form of AirBnb, where travelers can stay at your place if you have a spare room or go live with locals around the world yourself. And that’s true, but there’s more to it.
Overall, CouchSurfing is a platform that connects people from all over the world who are interested in meeting other people and cultures. You can actually use Couchsurfing in 2 ways:

  • You can live with locals and/or have travelers living at your place
  • You can meet other adventurers through events, “meet up’s” or “hangouts”

So go create a profile on Couchsurfing and look for different events in the city you are going to.

Become a volunteer or stay at a hostel

Another thing I also did was to volunteer at a hostel that I had found on the volunteer site www.workaway.info. I had done it before on the Phillippines and in Taiwan and through that I met some amazing open minded and outgoing people, whom I am still very good friends with today.

Many people believe that hostels are only for 18-year-old backpackers who drink at the reception each evening and sleep in nasty dorms with 30 people. Isn’t the only reason you would want to stay at a hostel if you can not afford to go to a hotel?
Not necessarily. Of course you will be able to find the extremely cheap youth hostels, where you can hang out at the bar day and night (nothing wrong with that!) and where the bathroom might look like something from a horror movie. BUT, today you can find really great hostels with private rooms, breakfast, evening events for hostel guests and much more, and they are not necessarily much cheaper than a traditional hotel. Doing a little research you can easily find family-friendly hostels and high quality hostels.

The main difference between a hotel and one of these more modern hostels, in my opinion, is that in a hostel you will find more interaction with staff and with other travelers. It was therefore perfect for me to become volunteer at the Kazanskoe Podvorye hostel and thereby meet local Russians, other volunteers and tourists. My volunteer work consisted in helping the hostels PR manager to make content for social media and host various evening events for hostel guests with the other volunteers.

Read more about the Kazanskoe Podvorye hostel and what events I have organized

List of expat and language clubs in Moscow, Kazan and St. Petersburg:

Moscow

Language Exchange Meetingwww.facebook.com/MoscowLEM
Where: Keep an eye on their facebook page, where they create events for each week.
When: Every sunday from 6 PM

Moscow Expats, www.facebook.com/groups/moscowexpats
Where: Keep an eye on their facebook group where they create events
When: Keep an eye on their facebook group where they create events

BlaBla Russia Language Exchange, www.facebook.com/BlaBla-Russia-Language-Exchange-237310703469176/
Where: Keep an eye on their facebook page where they create events
When: Keep an eye on their facebook page where they create events

Kazan

Language Exchange
Where: Ziferblat café, 14 Universitetskaya
When: Every sunday at 1 PM

Ziferblat Kazan

Ét af mine foretrukne steder i Kazan er Ziferblat Свободное пространство "Циферблат" – Казань.Ziferblat er et internationalt pay-per-minute "Sitting Room" koncept, hvor gæsterne betaler for den tid de bruger der og kan tage ubegrænset te, kager, kaffe og kiks. Indretning er hjemlig og rustik, og der er generelt bare en fantastisk atmosfære her.Dette koncept startede i Moskva og eksisterer i dag i Rusland, Storbritannien, Ukraine, Slovenien og Mongoliet.Tjek deres stemning i min korte video her.//ENGLISHOne of my favourite places in Kazan is Ziferblat.Ziferblat is an international pay per minute "Sitting Room" concept, where guests pay for the time they spent there and are welcome to unlimited teas, cakes, coffees & biscuits. The decor is homely and rustic, and there is this amazing atmosphere there. This concept originated in Moscow and today exists in Russia, the UK, Ukraine, Slovenia and Mongolia. Check out their vibe in my short video here.

Slået op af Meanwhile in Russia m. Adil i 17. april 2018

City Club Kazan, www.facebook.com/cityclubkazan
Where: They change the location from event to event, but they always take place in the evening at one of the city’s bars, where the first beer is usually at their expense.
When: Keep an eye on their facebook page where they create events

St. Petersburg

SpbenglishLEPclub, www.facebook.com/spbenglishLEPclub
Where: Пространство Freedom (Prostranstva Freedom) Казанская ул., д.7, 191186 Saint Petersburg, Russia
When: Every tuesday at 19:00 and every sunday at 18:00.

BlaBla Russia Language Exchange, www.facebook.com/BlaBla-Russia-Language-Exchange-237310703469176/
Where: Keep an eye on their facebook page where they create events
When: Keep an eye on their facebook page where they create events


Check out what 5 important things you need to know when going to Russia

Do you have any questions on where and how you can meet local Russians? Comments? Ideas for other topics/guides for my next blog post?
Write me an email at adil.mirzakhanova@gmail.com or write a message here on the blog.

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