Interview: Leigh-Ann Stewart

Hello guys! Today we have an interview with absolutely special person. And I will tell you why. It supposed to be usual interview for the website with no surprises, however this girl has completely changed the whole situation. I met such a bright, juicy, truthful answers for my sometimes boring questions that i realized that Moscow expat world has a great representative in her face. I hope you are intrigued  and excited enough already so lets go):


Realmoscow: How have you decided to move to Moscow? And How do you find this city for life after all you’ve experienced?

Leigh-Ann: I am one of those people who have always wanted to come to Russia. Had I been a rich enough to study foreign languages at University and spend a year abroad, I would have definitely chosen Russia and I probably would have gone to Siberia. I chose the long way around, graduated, taught English for a year in France, spent a year working and studying for my teaching qualification in Sheffield, UK. Finally, I got my certificate, worked a bit more, watched all my friends jet off to Indonesia and Thailand and when I was financially ready to make the move, I chose Russia – without hesitating. This country has so much history, I was always fascinated by it – probably because, Russia has always been the “ASBO* next door neighbour” for Western Europe.

I remember learning about Soviet Russia in school. It was in the same chapter as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. I was convinced there was definitely more to Russia than the historical fallacies published in biased French government approved school manuals (not to mention that you guys also beat Napoleon). I was born in the 80’s, so one of my earliest memories of this country was seeing Yelstin on the television, I have no idea what he was talking about, but the language was cool. So, later on, I fell in love with the language and the accent. Russian people speaking English is very sexy, but, obviously, being a teacher, I try not to be distracted by this during my lessons.

About city life – here in Moscow. Well to give you some background. I spent my childhood before moving to France with my parents and growing up on a farm, in a village of about 10 inhabitants. Until 18, I lived in small rural towns, surrounded by woods and lakes. Needless to say, when I went to University, I gave up country life for small city life in Limoges, France (160 000 inhabitants). There I got bored and spent most of my time with friends in the big cities and finally I moved to Sheffield in the UK, another small city (0.5 million).

Moscow is, by far and away, the biggest city I have ever lived in. The more I live in urban areas, the more I realise I will never go back to rural life. I love Moscow because I can get anything at anytime, I will always be able to get a cab, food, go drinking, meet people, find new bars, speak more Russian. It does have its downfalls too though, for example, whenever I go to Sheffield I expect everything to be open all the time. Mostly, it’s just the people on the metro, I still can’t figure out how people just wander around the metro like they are on a boat. Left – Right – I wish they would just make a decision and get out of my way! Then again, who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with the metro.

Realmoscow: What is your favourite place to eat and to go out?

Leigh-Ann: Tough one, I am a creature of habit, I would vote for Pirogi. I am not that into spending time in overpriced bars and nightclubs. Pirogi does decent food and decent beer for very decent prices. It’s a great place to meet for drink on a week night, to stumble into for breakfast and beer after a night out, to have lunch in when you are on your own and need to work or not.

Just for drinks, I would definitely vote for Booze Bub, the service is great, it’s really nice inside and of course, it is also home to the most famous barman in Moscow and definitely deserves his rep. They also play like pop rock, so it’s a bit like being in a pub back home, a really nice pub I mean.
Going out, Bourbon Street when the party is well started, great for loud rock music, dancing on the bar and not talking because the music is really loud.

I have a pet hate for house music and nightclubs (I refuse to queue for anything) so I am not the best reference. I have been to a few, Rolling Stone is alright, Propaganda is survivable if you get me to drunk to go home without breakfast (pirogi is next door), I absolutely hated Solyanka, way too classy for me!

Realmoscow:  Which places in Russia do you like besides Moscow?

Leigh-Ann: Good question! Well I have tried the Russian cities like Nizhny Novgorod, and I have to admit that they are a bit similar. I would definitely recommend that everybody venture outside of Moscow and see at least one city apart from the obvious St Pete’s (which is on my list for November). Just for the experience, platzkart travel and vodka. My obsession has always been Siberia, the eastern wilderness. That is my next adventure – well actually I am going further – to Kamchatka, in December. This is probably the most exciting thing I will do in my life, snowmobiles, dog sledding, hot springs, ice fishing and giant crabs.

photo by Agoldzhan@FlickR

This is my type of holiday, a real adventure, where no one goes, at a time no one wants to go.

Realmoscow: How long do you plan to stay with us in this city?)

Leigh-Ann:  Good question. I have moved a lot and I know this is not my last stop. Life is tough here, it’s satisfying but it’s not easy, that doesn’t stop me loving the place no matter how much it can annoy me sometimes. We’ll see if my plane makes it back from Kamchatka and move on from there!

*ASBO: anti social behaviour order – invented by the Brits – awarded by the police to noisy neighbours and young delinquents

The interview went really great for what I must thank Leigh-Ann solely – her answers on usual questions were great! Hope you enjoyed them too guys 😉
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