What gives a city its character? What is the difference between any two cities? I’ve travelled a lot, both in Europe and Russia, and I think that every city has its own special features. It is known that Paris is a city of love and St. Petersburg is the capital of Russian culture. And now comes the question: what’s so special about Tomsk? Why it is so dear me?
To answer this question, I have to say a bit about where I’m from. I was born in Bristol, in the south-west of Britain, in a city both beautiful and old, but nothing special. Last year, when I was looking for a place to go overseas for a year (it’s part of my Bachelor’s Degree), I had a variety of cities to go to – Moscow, Samara, St. Petersburg, etc. But I chose Tomsk. When I arrived people always asked me the same questions: what’s your name? Where are you from? And why did you choose Tomsk?
Despite the level of my Russian that time, I was able to answer the first two questions: “I’m Pete. I’m from Britain.” But I couldn’t answer the last question even in English. Maybe I was in search of new experience; Tomsk differs from Bristol (especially in winter) and it was interesting for me to go somewhere that wasn’t something I was used to.
And I will readily admit that I was really pleased with all the new things I experienced every day: the famous Russian bath, riding on “marshrutka” (a minibus), buckwheat, okroshka and dill in every dish. I know that all these things are normal to you, but for me this experience was totally new. As time went by, I got accustomed to the fact that Russian bath is just a good way to rest, Russian cuisine is tasty, and not as strange as I found it at first. And marshrutka is… a marshrutka.
During my adventures in Russia I met and made friends with a lot of new people, and I must say that I was really lucky because they are the most interesting people; nice and kind. Even the most usual things pleased me by virtue of the people I dealt with. There are a lot of good people all over the world, but I’ve never met such a huge number of them, even in Bristol.
At the end of the year I had to return home before my trip to Moscow to take part in an internship. You can’t even imagine how I missed my Tomsk friends – we keep in touch, but it’s different. I was afraid that I would not be able to return because of my studies, expenses of such a tour and political problems.
But I saved a few pounds from my job and returned here, only for a month up to my exams in October. It was really expensive and complicated to organise, but I would do everything for my friends in Tomsk.
And here is my answer – aren’t the people what gives the city its character? A city is nothing without its residents. There are no such sights as in Moscow, no such landmarks as in St. Petersburg, but Tomsk is the place where the best people live.