Monday, 6 January 2014

Day 6 -Living in Siberia

Today I was lesson planning about Russia and why it might be considered amazing. 

In my opinion the most amazing thing is the way people survive in Siberia. Whilst the polar vortex is creating havoc in the US this is normal conditions for Siberia. An ex-colleague is currently living there and reports the following

1. People who live in cities tend to live in flats, not houses. The blocks of flats are generally on a centralised heating system. Therefore, most people have no control over the temperature of their own flat, or any control over when it is turned on or off. Generally speaking, if the temperature drops below 5C for more than 5 days in September, the heating is turned on. If this doesn't happen (Which is rare), the heating is turned on anyway around the middle of October. It stays on (except for absolutely essential maintenance) until May 1st. Then it is switched off. As you can imagine, this has both positive and negative factors. In the depths of winter, it is extremely comforting to met by a warm wave of heat as you step in from -35 or so. If you want your room to be cooler, open the window. A minute or two of -35 coming inside soon cools a room down. The downside is that if, like this year, it is exceptionally mild, you are left in a room heated to +27, which is quite uncomfortable. Equally, early May doesn't always bring warmth. Last year on May 1st it was snowing here, -5 and no heating is not your friend. As for being outside in extreme cold, below -15 or so your nostril hairs freeze when you breathe in. The difference between -20 and -35 C is not that noticeable if the wind is not blowing. Windchill makes a massive difference. 'Comfort' temperature and air temperature can be quite different. 
2. Other interesting facts are that at around -28 C a cup of boiling water thrown into the air turns instantly to snow. I have seen this with my own eyes. It's quite cool. At least the first time.

3. Fur is very common here, mainly because after about -15/-20, synthetic fibres just aren't going to cut it. Fur or feathers are the only way to keep warm.
4. The colder the weather, the more expensive the taxis. After -50, which although rare, is possible, taxis don't run. If your car breaks down and you can't walk to somewhere warm, you are going to die. So stay indoors.
5. Primary school children don't go to school if the temperature (as measured by the city) is below -25 at 8.30 am. ALL students, university included, don't go in if it is below -30 at 8.30 am.

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