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4 Jan

Nana Kalandadze (Georgia)
Mediamall, 30.12.2015

The seventh time I've seen the sun - or Life in Minsk

The seventh time I see the sun, it’s for me is happiness. For the inhabitants of warm countries, it may seem ridiculous, how to someone can calculate, during a year how much time the sun rises. Nearly three months since I live in Minsk and each day the same, cold… around all is gray. Today, for the seventh time I see the sun. It turns out, city is not so bad, you can even live here. In the city center, beautiful view of the water channel. But unlike today’s, not enough warmth ... The warmth - that I love most in my city, in my country.

5 am, I am in Minsk, flight only 3 hour. From Tbilisi prepared for the frost, put all that I had. Today is April 22, the only thing that has changed in my clothes since February, in thick coats I do not wear thick knitted jacket and gloves... Everything else is the same.

"Well, you’ve already arrived" - program curator met me at the airport. If you are a citizen of Georgia and want to visit Belarus, keep in mind - here need insurance, otherwise you can’t enter the country. I heard about insurance at the airport in Minsk. Due to the fact that the migration card has been filled, where I pointed out that I staying in Belarus for more than three months, I had to make insurance for this period of time, which would cost about 100 euro.

Do you have problems in Belarus? - Try to resolve it with the man (male). Here woman creates problems from nothing. However, in a country where the law is above all, a man is not  a guarantor. I decided to make the insurance not at the airport, because of the fact that there it’s more expensive. I walked over to the border guard, I explained the situation, showed a letter from the university, and of course a small lie – insurance for me makes University. This time fortunate to, but do not try in Belarus to put pressure on the pity. This is not Georgia - where you definitely find a common relative or friend.

The road from the airport – up to dormitory. 6 am, a crowd of people at the bus stops. I am surprised, because in my country, life begins only after 9 o’clock. Finally, somewhere in the woods I saw two big buildings - "That’s your dormitory." The woman, who is sitting at the entrance of dormitory and check documents, is called «Vahtersha» (It’s impossible to translate). We also have a «social pedagogue», who in case of delay or any other problems, discuss it with you. The most important thing - "curfew", dormitory closes at 12 pm and opened in 6 am. From 12 to 6 as the entrance and exit from the dormitory, is prohibited. How having fun on Friday and Saturday night? - very easy, here taxi is considered as a luxury. Because of this you spend time in the club up to the opening subway, until 5:30 am.

Clubs, Nightlife

In an unfamiliar city you always try to make the acquaintance. The easiest way - clubs, bars, pubs, places where young people gather. As one Belarusian guy said, "What do you expect baby, it’s the north." Indeed, I realized it from the first day. The lowest contact I ever seen. Here the clubs are divided into two categories - underground style, where the music is not good and expensive clubs, but they are not for students who are expecting the opening of the subway. Despite the fact that for me it was difficult to find a place for entertainment, I’m sure they exist, fact - at 5:30 am, the opening of the subway with us always waited for the crowd of young people.

Public transport

The main transport for the residents of Minsk is - the subway, buses and trolley buses. Ticket for public transportation costs 5000 rubles (7000 rubles - 1 GEL). The ticket is necessary to "punching" immediately, as soon as you entered into the bus. If the controller caught you without a punched ticket, immediately be issued a fine, without explanation.

Of course, I had a one good meeting with the controller.  After a week-long trip, when I realized, that controller does not enter on my bus line, Georgian logic has won - "Why pay for passage, still no one checks." So returning from the university with no punched ticket, into a bus entered two controllers – women. I have already said that here above all is the law and problems better deal with men. I was not lucky- meeting with the controllers. Trying to explain the situation to them, that I’m from another country and did not know about the rules, but it does not help. The controller stopped the bus, call somewhere continuously… In Belarus bus runs at scheduled times, falling from the schedule will be costly for driver. While controllers do phone calls, the driver lost his temper and has launched a bus... So I was saved from the penalty (for information - if you want to get the citizenship of Belarus, the presence of a fine could cause failure). After the meeting with controllers, I had never ridden without a punched ticket.

As I have said, here transport runs by scheduled, because of this you always has to be in motion. For example, if the bus departs from the dormitory at 7: 51, the second is only at 8:16. Each day begins with the fear of be late for a transport, based on this to a lecture, meeting or an internship.

The first week in Belarus

The most difficult was the first week of life in Minsk. Everything seems gray, not alive - Karl Marx, Engels streets, Lenin square .. Everywhere Soviet symbols.

If you are a citizen of Georgia (I underline Georgian citizen only for the fact, that Georgia is not a CIS member and many regulation does not apply for us). The simplest example - the citizens of CIS does not need insurance to enter Belarus, for Georgian citizens 3 monthly insurance will cost 80-100 euro. Another thing to know - in Belarus without a residence permit, you can stay only 90 days a year.

Let’s go back to the first week. If you are coming in Belarus for some period, the first week you will have to run for documents, or if you are a student and stay at dormitory, have to run at clinics.

From Belarus, you can easy and cheap go to Europe or Russia. But remember !!! - If you want to visit another country, do not forget the registration card. The border guard gives paper at the entrance to Belarus, it is necessary to fill and during the 5 days provide to the Migration Police.

My first week in Minsk was nightmarish, left in Georgia +17 degrees, I got into a frost. For the first time in my life I was wearing so many clothes. Because of the thick coat and jackets, I’m already tired after a few steps.

University

 Despite the number of lectures, study at university began at 8:30 am. The dormitory is far away from the university, district Malinovka, Kurchatov street №6, dormitory №3. Away from the dormitory is forest, from one side passing track, on the other railway. Compared with the city in Malinovka temperature is a few degrees lower and always a strong wind. From dormitory runs only two buses, number 96 - which reaches to the nearest metro station and 47c - on which I go to university. In weekends 47c is not working.

The first week at university was a difficult. Enters in the building  in a coat or hat is forbidden! - You will see warning at the university entrance. More - it is forbidden to sit on the floor or on a windowsill. In the courtyard of the university has a separate space for smokers, but a step to the left or the right, smoking is prohibited.

The Republic of Belarus and not Belorussia

Belorussia – for many people is insulting, especially for those, who still have national spirit. Belarusian language can be heard only in public transport, in the city all speak Russian. «Dzvery zachynyayutstsa»( doors are closing), «Nastupni prypynak» (next stop), «Kali laska» (please) – these are phrases, I learned while living in Minsk. According to residents of Minsk, the Belarusian language is not popular among the youth.

The political situation is probably understandable for all – Batka (old man), they call their president. When talking about him, everyone looks to the sky. It’s not because idolize him, just show the place of the President in the country. Here, about politics almost no one is talking, «the KGB listens». On the question, if you do not like the government, why not change it, answer is always the same – «we do not want war». They have example – Ukraine.

Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk ...

Minsk during World War II, almost was razed to the ground. City was rebuilt, because of this everything’s reminds the Soviet Union. Other cities differ from the capital city, Brest and Grodno during the First World War had been a part of Poland. Here people are much warmer, active and cheerful, cities are full of tourists. What is really lacking in Minsk. Nesvizh and Mir Castles, in Belarus are many places, which, unlike in Minsk, from the first time to fall in love.

P.S!!!

If you are a newcomer, try to talk less in your native language. During the three months I got 4 times a remark, only because of that I spoke in a different language. One such case - I sit in the bus with a friend and we spoke in English. The man looks, could not tolerate – « Maybe you discussed about me. Arrived in Belarus, speak Russian or Belarusian». But not surprised  – it’s a Belarus baby. 

Originally published: http://life.mediamall.ge/?id=157257