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Volgograd - Tsaritsyn (1589-1925) - Stalingrad (1925-1961)


Obscure enough to appear on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' as at least a ?5,000 question, "Where exactly is Volgograd?" is likely to leave even your most knowledgeable friend puzzled. However, mention that it used to be called Stalingrad and your history buffs and those who have watched 'Enemy at the Gates' will sigh with recognition.

Volgograd is an important industrial city and the administrative centre of the Volgograd region, Russia. Its length is almost 100 kilometers north to south and it is situated on the western bank of the Volga River, after which the city was named. Volgograd has the status of Hero City of Russia because the Battle of Stalingrad happened here during the Second World War.

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Places of interest in Volgograd:
Mamayev Hill
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Panorama
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Planetarium
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Volga-Don Channel
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Museum Old Sarepta
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Central Embankment
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The Alley of Heroes
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History and Population

Volgograd has enough restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres, pools and bowling to have a great time out. The nightclubs have had differing reviews, but by far the safest for foreigners is Velvet on the bank of the Volga in the centre of town, LOFT and Push. The cinemas offer all the new releases in Russian, while a number of international plays (in Russian only) are performed at the musical theatre and the central theatre. There are many ice rinks in winter here and Volga cruises in summer time, any time of the year you can ride a horse and play paintball, visit contact zoo, aqua park or rock climbing wall. You can also visit dance classes or gyms, ride a bike and take quests.

Too warm to provide good skiing or skating facilities, Volgograd offers opportunities for all-weather sports, such as swimming and football. There are a large number of swimming pools scattered about the city (though these require an easily obtainable health certificate from a Russian doctor) and Volgograd's water polo team is reportedly the best in the country. If you prefer to watch than to take part, the Sports Bars regularly show international and national football games.

Climate

Volgograd has a humid continental climate with severe winters, no dry season, hot summers and strong seasonality.

Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from -10C to 32C and is rarely below-21C or above 37C.

The coldest month is February and the hottest is July.

Getting to and Arriving in Volgograd

After a brief spell of orientation and guidance in Moscow (see Moscow page), you will take the 20-hour train ride to Volgograd from Moscow's Paveletskaya station. Standard compartments sleep four reasonably comfortable on drop-down beds and have space for luggage. There is a constant supply of boiling water on the train and a restaurant car. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Paveletskaya station, which takes 6 hours less than the train despite five short stops along the way. The standard buses don't have a toilet onboard, but are equipped with a TV, reclining seats, heating and air-conditioning.

Upon your arrival, you will be met by someone from Language Link (who will speak English) and be driven to your apartment, where you will be given fresh sheets, basic instructions in household domestics - boiler, cooker, locks, rubbish bins - and contact details.

Accommodation

Language Link provides one- and two-bedroomed apartments in the centre of Volgograd that are no more than 30 minutes walk from the office, the main school and a large number of shops, restaurants and services. Whether alone or sharing with one other teacher, you will have your own bedroom and access to a kitchen, bathroom and toilet. All bills will be paid by Language Link. While the flats are not overly luxurious, they are clean, warm and safe. Bedding, cutlery and crockery are all supplied. All flats have a washing machine, and some have a TV and an iron.

Internet

There is no internet in your apartment, but if you need it, a Language Link staff member will call an internet company and coordinate a time when a Wi-Fi router will be installed at your apartment. It will cost you 600-700 rubles per month.

Electricity

Electricity is 220 volt/50 Hz (as in the UK and Western Europe). Plugs are of the two-pin variety so if you are bringing electrical goods from the UK, don't forget to bring continental adaptors too. It is not recommended that you bring electrical items from the US. Adaptors are very expensive and not overly safe and you could probably pick up the same items in Volgograd or Moscow for a reasonable price. Street-wide power cuts are rare, though more frequent than in the UK and US. It is also not uncommon to descend just your flat into darkness by turning on a light. It is advised that you bring a torch with you to use while fumbling for the fuse box.

Street-wide power cuts are rare, though more frequent than in the UK and US. It is also not uncommon to descend just your flat into darkness by turning on a light. It is advised that you bring a torch with you to use while fumbling for the fuse box.

Water

It is not advisable to drink water from the taps or water fountains. Water can be boiled and left to cool or you can buy inexpensive bottled water.

Hot water is available in all flats once you have mastered the gas boiler. Although frequently annoying, the boilers do at least ensure that when the hot water is turned off to the rest of Volgograd for 2 weeks of the year you will continue to smell sweet.

Laundry/Dry cleaning

There is a washing machine in your apartment. You can use radiators to dry your clothes. 'Launderette' is not in the Russian vocabulary. Dry cleaning services are available, but will cost you a small fortune. There is also an iron in your apartment.

Getting Around

Getting to and from your house to Language Link office by day is easiest on foot. If you are feeling cold or lazy, you can take one of the many minibuses or electric buses along the main streets for no more than 20 rubles. Exploration outside the central district is easiest by either minibus or underground metro-tram. Public transport generally stops around midnight.

Teachers are advised to use authorized taxis for travel late at night or early in the morning (one journey within the central district will cost no more than $1.50 at any time). Taxis can be ordered by phone easily, provided you are conscious enough to remember your phone number, where you are and where you're going. Random cars will stop to offer you a lift (for payment) on the street, but you are strongly advised not to use them (unless, of course, you would normally get into strange, clapped-out cars with one or more possibly intoxicated men in).

Crime, Health and Emergencies

Volgograd is no more dangerous than your average Western city and common sense is your best weapon. Main streets and areas around teachers' accommodation are well lit. Be on your guard, don't carry obviously expensive items openly and use taxis at night. In the event of an emergency, you should contact one of Language Link's Russian office staff.

For the most part, Volgograd is a healthy place to live, provided you are not planning to undertake any high-risk activities. With the latter in mind, teachers arriving from the UK should note that Russians normally drive on the right and can often turn left on a green light.

Language Link provides medical services for all teachers, but does not cover high-risk activities such as skiing, bungee jumping, or swimming the Volga in January. If you plan to do any of these activities, it may be worth taking out some extra insurance from home. (Check the policy carefully to see if it is valid if you are working, rather than just travelling.)

Every fifth shop in Volgograd is a chemist/pharmacist. Although a wide-range of foreign items are often available. Dental and optical care, though not covered by Language Link, are considerably cheaper in Russia.

Money

US dollars can be changed easily at Volgograd's post office and exchange offices, but GB are less easily exchanged outside Moscow. Rubles cannot be taken out of Russia at the time of writing and are therefore not readily available for exchange outside the country.

Cash machines/ATMs are available in Volgograd from where you can access your home account.

Teachers should check their tax and social security situation before leaving for Russia. The UK does not have a reciprocal agreement with Russia for social security and teachers may choose to make arrangements with the Inland Revenue to pay additional national insurance contributions. Depending on the length of time spent abroad and individual circumstances, some UK teachers will be eligible to claim tax back from the Inland Revenue for the financial year before their departure to Russia. The salary is payed twice a month to your salary card. The salary card will be made once you`ve started working, but it`s necessary for you to know your TIN (for USA).

Food

If you can't cook and refuse to learn, it is possible to eat out in Volgograd every night on your salary. In addition to the swarms of cafes offering traditional Russian cuisine there are a number of reasonably-priced restaurants serving foreign cuisine - Georgian, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Ukrainian and Oriental cuisine. The pick of the restaurants in the central district are: Bamberg, Bochka, Deja vu , Grettel, Belle Ville , Zhaba Dushit, Palermo Pizza, Bulvar Cafe, Le Balcon, Marusia, Pivnaya biblioteka, Schastie Est`, Zolotaya Praga, Alkhovski, Nosorog, Kaife, Onegin, Rimmini , Custom Coffee and Black dog, and Vedrov bar, pubs with grub, live music on Fridays, and a lot of Russian English speakers. Also there are many fast-food restaurants: Subway, McDonalds, KFC, etc.

Shopping

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Volgograd has a number of good-sized supermarkets, a well-stocked fruit and veggie market and hundreds of kiosks offering anything. There are 7 big shopping malls in Volgograd, they offer huge variety of shops , such as Nike, ECCO, Benetton, Mango, Bershka, Zara, New Yorker, H&M, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti, etc.

Hospitality

If the Russian experience is all new to you, you may initially feel that you have entered a world where smiling is a criminal offence. However, underneath the often serious exterior, most Russians are extremely kind, caring and hospitable people inside, and once you`ve become a person they know, they will meet you with a smile.

Entertainment and Sport

Volgograd has enough restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres, pools and bowling to have a great time out. The nightclubs have had differing reviews, but by far the safest for foreigners is Velvet on the bank of the Volga in the centre of town, LOFT and Push. The cinemas offer all the new releases in Russian, while a number of international plays (in Russian only) are performed at the musical theatre and the central theatre. There are many ice rinks in winter here and Volga cruises in summer time, any time of the year you can ride a horse and play paintball, visit contact zoo, aqua park or rock climbing wall. You can also visit dance classes or gyms, ride a bike and take quests.

Too warm to provide good skiing or skating facilities, Volgograd offers opportunities for all-weather sports, such as swimming and football. There are a large number of swimming pools scattered about the city (though these require an easily obtainable health certificate from a Russian doctor) and Volgograd's water polo team is reportedly the best in the country. If you prefer to watch than to take part, the Sports Bars regularly show international and national football games.

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Language Link
e-mail: info@languagelink.ru
tel: +7 (495) 730-63-99 (call centre )
fax: +7 (495) 730-6428