Moscow expat unions: leisure, studies, charity work

If you feel somewhat lonely in Moscow’s urban jungle, tune in for RT’s guide across the capital’s expats’ clubs.

­Not only women

International Women’s Club is the largest expat club in Moscow, which, despite the name, also welcomes men.

“I have to say that women are more active than men,” Alfredo Perez Bravo, Ambassador of Mexico to Russia, told RT. “If you’re a newcomer to Russia, the first thing you have to do is try to get into one of these associations. For ladies I have to say, the most important one is IWC.”

For a yearly fee of 2,200 rubles ($70), members get access to around 50 interest groups, from popular yoga and architecture walks to some exotic ones, like icon painting.

“Members who have a skill or an interest can start a group and offer their skills to our members,” Inez de Nijs, IWC general officer, told RT. “If they need to, they can ask a guide or a teacher to help them with information they need.”

Members say the most rewarding part of it is an opportunity to give something back to the host country.

“We are involved in many charity projects in and around Moscow Region,” Anu Trigunayat, president of IWC, told RT.

­Finding game mates

For those in love with team games, Katie O’Shea near Prospect Mira holds its Pub Quiz sessions every two weeks. Put together your team of four and join the intellectual fun.

It is better though if you can show Bishkek on the map and know who the president of South Africa is. Whether you win the first prize or not, it will be 1,400 rubles (for a team of four) well-spent.

If you are looking to learn some foreign languages, then “Aloha!” should be your first word. Don’t worry: you won’t have to travel to Hawaii to meet members of this social club.

It started as a series of speed-dating meetings and proved very popular among Moscow’s students. Now they meet up several times a week to watch movies in their original language, play boardgames and discuss business projects.

“People don’t know what that is. They are a little afraid to meet random people at random locations, maybe thinking it’s a cult,” Anza, Aloha club member, told RT. “But if they come once, they’ll come many times after.”

­Fine wine and stuff

Speaking of cults, there is another group of expats that promotes one. They worship fine wines and work to dispel the myth that these are not available in Russia.

The expat wine-tasting club meets every month at various locations around Moscow.

“If you come to a wine tasting club, we’ll do all the work – go to distributors, look through catalogues of 20-30 of them, for the best selection,” Kent McNeley, expat wine-tasting club co-founder, told RT. “This way you can find outstanding wines. All of tonight’s champagnes have been rated by Parker as 90 and above.”

Like a fine wine, the club itself is blossoming with age. It started just over a year ago but already has almost 300 members.

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