Just a Temporary Пока́

In the Muzeon Art Park looking back on an amazing semester

The past few days have been hard for me. I’ve been counting down the days until I have to leave Russia knowing that my time is slowly drawing to an end while I helplessly watch. Russia means so much to me and I keep feeling like my departure is premature especially since I have just gotten a better handle on the language and culture. I’ve been dreading the 28th of May for a while and, since I’m not the best at handling negative emotions when I first feel them, I was going about the situation completely wrong. I felt bitter, almost scared of going home; what if all the personal developments I made here vanish when I leave? What if I can’t stay in touch with the amazing people I met here? What if I forget everything I’ve seen and done? Most terrifying of all, what if I leave with regrets about not doing and seeing more? All those confusing and negative emotions led to me having more than one breakdown of tears and sadness. This is not easy to admit but it’s true.

Today I had a revelation, however. Aided by the beautiful weather and some ABBA music, I shifted my perspective: yes, it is sad to leave and I will miss my new friends and this magnificent and mystifying country, but I have grown so much and pushed past so many boundaries here. I have grown from being shy around new people to be outgoing and confident in myself around strangers. I have started learning Russian and made incredible progress. I have been so far outside my comfort zone I don’t even remember where the old boundaries were. I’ve spent more time in Russia than most Americans will ever spend here. These are all things to celebrate and be proud of, not mourn the loss of.

Yes, I will still cry when I have to go to the airport on my final day, and yes I will cry when I say goodbye to my incredible friends and fellow adventurers, but I will do so in a more positive way, knowing that just because I leave doesn’t mean that everything has to change.

Now that I got the super emotional stuff out of the way, let me elaborate on just what is so special to me about my time in Russia:

First, I consider myself mostly introverted and that hasn’t changed, but my ability to socialize comfortably has changed. I will admit I had a hard time in the past accepting that people I didn’t already know would like me and spend time with me. This leftover remnant of my less confident days would hinder friendships that I could have formed but didn’t let myself partake in. When I came to Russia all alone I could not hide behind my pre-existing friendships and refuse to open myself to new people. I quickly realized that I would only succeed here by being more outgoing than ever before and some of the greatest friendships I’ve had come out of that change.

Next, I like the freedom and independence of Moscow. I am very independent at home but living in a big city is nice because I know I will never see most of the people again and I am just another one in the crowd. I much prefer this lifestyle than knowing everyone in a town and always feeling judged or recognized. It’s nice to be anonymous sometimes! There is also so much freedom that comes with public transportation. I miss driving my car wherever I want or need to go but public transportation is incredibly useful too; I also have really enjoyed not needing to buy gas.

Finally, there is always something new and educational to do around Moscow. There are so many other cities with tons of museums and parks like Moscow but knowing I am in Russia makes it so much better. Every day I learn at least one thing new and a lot of that is due to interacting with Russians or existing in historical places like the Kremlin. I love Russian people too; I always wonder where they have been and what they have seen in their lives, especially the older generations who lived through the Soviet Union.

Of course, I will also miss more specific things like a certain bookstore, restaurant, or metro station. It’s all the little and big things that add up and make you fall in love with a place and I truly love Moscow after my four months. I am excited to be home too however because I miss your friends and family and professors and my dog but it is sad to say goodbye to four months of memories, laughter, smiles, and even some tears. Thanks for a great time Moscow; this is only Пока́ for now, not forever!

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Making вареники and жаркое in a Russian Cooking Class

Traditional Russian food is not my favorite but tonight I went to a cooking class with my program as a farewell event since we are all leaving in a few days. Not everyone from my program came but a lot of people did and we had a very fun time trying to cook cherry вареники (vareniki) and another dish that is beef and vegetables in a little pot.

Me and my roommate

Actually finding the place was difficult and I now know that the store is located in the largest mall in Europe, Aviapark which is here in Moscow. I have never been a good cook, quite the opposite actually; I am terrible in the kitchen! Thankfully my roommate and I paired up together and tried our best to make the meal. First we started by making homemade dough for the vareniki, which is essentially Russian dumplings filled with a bunch of different things. Tonight they were filled with cherry that we roasted on the stovetop with cinnamon. We made the dough then roasted vegetables such as onions, carrots, and tomatoes and threw them in individual sized pots with beef then left them in the oven for about half an hour.

While the meat and potatoes, which were for a dish called жаркое (zharkoye) were cooking in the oven we started the more difficult task of flattening our dough and cutting circle shapes with a cup to make the vareniki with. It turns out that putting warm cherries in the dough and shaping it properly is actually really hard! Out of all the vareniki that Emily and I made, maybe two or three were truly presentable. But they still tasted good which is what really matters.

Cherries and cinnamon,

Next, we put our misshapen vareniki into a pot of boiling water to cook for about three minutes. When they were done and the beef dish was done, we could finally eat. The vareniki were paired with сметана (smetana), or Russian sour cream, which is a staple with almost any Russian meal. Overall this was not my favorite meal in the world because I’m not the biggest fan of cherries, but the beef was good and it was fun to test my culinary skills on a traditional Russian meal.

Also, this was one of the last times that most of my program will be together in one place before we leave so it turned out to be a very sentimental evening, at least for me. When the food was over we all received certificates from CIEE and photo albums of some good memories from the last four months. I had a blast and the food was good, but now I am on the bus back to my dorm thinking of all the things and people I will most the most.

Making vareniki with Emily and Vanya, our Russian friend

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Misadventures in Russia

Life abroad involves so much more than the Instagram and Facebook pictures show. Oftentimes, there is an abundant number of silly mistakes that occur behind the scenes, almost like a gag reel from a movie set. These moments become some of the best memories and they provide a chance to look back on a trip and laugh at past mistakes. Here are a few highlights of my silliest mistakes and wildest misadventures:

Losing My Phone:

I like to joke that the first thing I did in Russia was lose my phone. This is actually pretty accurate considering I lost it somewhere in the airport before I went through customs to enter the country. Knowing my past history it was most likely in the bathroom but it could have been anywhere. All I know for sure is that as soon as I left customs and met my group I did not have it and didn’t realize it was missing until we were all settled in the van about to drive away from the airport which I felt very guilty about because my mistake led to the driver turning around so I could run around the airport with my program leader trying to find it (spoiler- I never found it.) What I did see however was actually really interesting; I got an inside look at the inner working or the Russian airport!

Nancy, my director, took me to various security rooms and even a baggage holding area to try and find the phone that I stupidly lost as soon as I got off my plane. I met some intimidating security guards and stood in awe as Nancy spoke with them in Russian.
In all honesty, I, think I handled the situation very well and I stayed quite calm despite knowing my parents would be upset and not knowing how I would communicate for the next for months. I have never been overly attached to my phone but it was a bit jarring to know that this little piece of technology that I was so familiar with was gone while I had just been thrust into a very different country not knowing anyone on my program. In all this experience taught me the greatest lesson on letting go of material items and living in the moment. I didn’t realize how comforting it was to know where all the buttons were on my old phone and know exactly which apps I needed for which tasks. I also realized a bit later that all my pictures were gone too. Thankfully I have had many opportunities to make up for all the lost photos.

While I thought it was highly ironic and completely characteristic that I would lose my phone within my first hour of being in Russia, my parents were not so amused. Unfortunately t, they were also not surprised. What I ended up doing was buying a new Russian phone and everyone on my program had to get a phone plan so it worked out nicely given the circumstances. The phone plans are also relatively cheap here, about $10-20 a month, and the new smartphone was only about $90. Not ideal but certainly a funny story to tell.

Random things I should have realized earlier:

● It is much cheaper to buy your own gallon jug of water and fill up smaller bottles to carry around, and it is probably better for the environment too. Water is no free anywhere here and I was paying about $3 per meal for a while until I figured out about the jugs which are about $1 each.
● It gets colder when the sun goes down. Very embarrassed I still forget this and have nights like last night where I have to huddle on the sidewalk with my friends while waiting for a cab because a short sleeve shirt is not warm enough.
● Although we are in Russia, some people do speak English. Be careful what you say in public because someone may actually know what you’re saying!
● Photo translate is a thing and it is very useful.

Injuries in the Metro:

This event happened on February 15th after my first full day at my internship. Two of my closest friends here had come to watch my first presentation in my American History Club lecture series and afterwards, we ate dinner with some more friends at a fun Georgian restaurant and then went to Krispy Kreme on the Old Arbat street afterwards. By the time we finished at Krispy Kreme, some people were going to a bar but I was not in the mood and neither was Megan, my loyal non-partier friend. So while the rest of the group went to a bar we went to the Metro to get home.

The bad news is that I was wearing tall heels because I wanted to look good for my first presentation but they turned against me when I hit a rough spot on the metro stairs. My body was propelled forward by the fall and I landed roughly on my knees at the bottom of the stairs with my left ankle twisted inward. It was so painful but loyal, sweet Megan only laughed a bit. I was laughing too, through th3 pain. The metro was very empty at this point and thankfully only a few strangers witnessed my shame.
Later, I ended up going to the European Medical Center which is like an Urgent Care from the US because Russian hospitals are less trustworthy I had an extra done and got a brace for the swelling and to help my walking. All is fine now but that was certainly one of my less epic moments

What I have learned: No matter how embarrassing some things are, you can always get by when you can laugh at yourself and let others laugh at you too. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously, especially when living abroad!

(In the next post read about the time my friend and I failed to bake a cake and then when I got lost going to the Game of Thrones season premiere in a movie theatre.)

My ankle after the incident

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Living Conditions in Russia- Part One: My Dorm

My room in Dorm 2

Dorm 2

The sunset and view from my window

I’ve been thinking a lot about the living conditions in Russia, and how the standard of living in this country is both living up to my expectations and challenging my preconceived ideas. I remember watching numerous videos online and reading as many blogs as possible before coming to Moscow to get an idea of what kind of conditions I would be living in. Is the weather actually as bad as everyone says it is? Are all the buildings grey and ugly? Will I be able to find hair products and skin care products that I can use? All these questions seem silly to me now, but also very reasonable considering the big transition I was about to make. Few Americans visit Russia compared to other destinations, and even fewer live here long enough to see beyond the tourist side of Russian life. I knew this going into my study abroad semester but I was still daunted by the fact that there was little information online about the truth of life in Moscow. I’ve only been here for a few months but hopefully, I can shed some light on this issue for anyone who is considering coming here or is simply curious about this mysterious city.

Part One: My Dorm

First, I want to say that if you are even considering going to Russia, don’t hesitate because of other people’s perceptions of this nation. Don’t let the stereotypes and common fears of Russia dictate whether you will travel here because I can honestly say that despite some major differences compared to home, life in Russia has never been scary, unsafe, or unbearably uncomfortable.

What Russia has been, however, is challenging. In the past three months, I have learned to shower without a shower head on the wall, look past the mold in my bathroom, living with a broken closet, use a kitchen that has rudimentary equipment, and accept the mysterious stains on the walls as extra decoration. I’m certain my dorm was built at least three or four decades ago with no renovations or updates, but it has a certain charm about it. My favorite random aspect is how every hall and stairway and the room looks different, not on purpose but likely because there was no real planning when it was built.

The dorm I live in is Dorm 2 which my friends half-affectionately/half-ironically call общежитие номер два, its name in Russian. This dorm gets a lot of grief and negative reviews but in all honesty, I have been very comfortable during my time here. Sure, the quality is much lower than that of the US or Wofford but I knew this going into the program. Also, this dorm is highly coveted for its close proximity to the school building (about two minutes.) Some students have a much further journey to class. For example, Dorm 1 is about an hour or more away from the classrooms.

My dorm has almost everything I need to live comfortably and I really can’t complain too much, especially when I am living here as a foreigner and taking up a room that many native Russian students want. My window is huge and is probably my favourite aspect of the room; my roommare and I have the most amazing view of the school’s soccer field and a park across the street. There are soccer games and concerts that sometimes go on outside and our window gives us free admission. The park also has the most beautiful sunsets.

Concerning the other parts of my room, the beds are very firm and my mattress has certain springs which my back has become very familiar with, but I sleep well at night so what else could I ask for? My closet door is broken but at least it is fully attached unlike in my friend’s room where her closet door is leaning against the wall completely unattached. Our shower head has no way to attach to the wall so I just use it freely in one hand while shampooing with the other hand. The whole bathroom is outdated but everything works once you get over the somewhat dirty appearance which no amount of cleaning has been able to fix.

Our kitchen is probably the worst aspect of the dorms. There is a kitchen on each floor but they are small and no one cleans up after themselves so there is often a horde of small cockroaches under the sink. The appliances also only half work and there are no outlets but my friends and I still enjoy cooking random meals and laughing about our poor attempts at cooking real food (pasta is a favourite but we ventured to steak at one point.)

What I have learned is it’s all about keeping an open mind and accepting what you have, and most importantly, being thankful for it.

Finally, my goal in this post was not to complain about my life in Russia. Hopefully, you can see that I am actually very comfortable and simply trying to show Americans the differences I have experienced and explain how they make me thankful for what I have at home. I will truly miss общежитие два and all the crazy, funny memories I’ve made in this building, and all the friends I made them with.

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Learning Russian

A typical day in Moscow

It’s no secret that I don’t speak Russian. My friends know it, my teachers know it, and all the cashiers in Moscow know it too. It was certainly intimidating to come to Russia without knowing the language but this has just been one small challenge that has not set me back, only given me room to grow (plus given me many funny stories to laugh about for a while.) Here is my journey trying to learn Russian:

Russian is not easy, especially for native English speakers. I knew to go into my study abroad experience that the language would be one of the more difficult aspects but I have not had any major difficulties so far.

There are only two other people on my program who have never had a Russian class before, and we have been taking all our language classes together. We started with the lowest level of Russian skills but I think it is safe to say we have improved the most out of everyone since we started at the lowest level possible. The only thing I somewhat mastered before coming to Russia was the Cyrillic alphabet which was one of the best pre-departure decisions I ever made. I hardly worry about which towels or clothes I bought, but having that small understanding of the alphabet as soon as I got off the plane was comforting and helped keep me driven to learn more. More practically, there are also a lot of words in Russian which sounds like their English counterpart if you can sound the words out (conditioner is кондиционер, pizza is пицца, etc.) Many of these words are foreign words brought to the Russian language but it was nice to recognize them before I started actually learning some of the languages.

One benefit of learning Russian for the first time in Russia is that the class moves so much faster than it ever would in America. My class has covered more topics than I imagined and I have been learning words that some of my friends learned two or three semesters I to their studies. Those friends are still much better than me of course but my teachers never went slowly or waited to teach us the harder words. My teachers also speak very little English and the whole class is taught in Russian. I am so pleased with my progress; I have advanced to the point where I can order food and get help in stores, and I even maintained a long but weak conversation with an old woman at a bus stop; I really only talked about the sun and weather because my vocabulary is very limited but I felt so accomplished when it was over!

Not every situation goes as well as the bus stop story, however. One of my more tragic moments occurred when I went to Ikea early on in the semester to buy new bed sheets and ended up leaving with a curtain and two other sheets made for a queen size bed. (This was also before I learned about the Yandex photo translator app.) Oops. I also accidentally bought fabric softener instead of laundry detergent and used it for a few washes before an employee at the laundromat kindly corrected me.

Another time, I was so excited to see the new movie Five Feet Apart and bought tickets in the store and everything, only to find out the movie was dubbed in Russian with no subtitles. Honestly, that wasn’t the worst experience of my life but to say I was confused is an understatement. I left the movie feeling like I understood a solid fourth of it but that was mainly because of hand gestures and body language.

There have been many other strange experiences but for the sake of keeping this post short, I will add one more, the cringiest-
I had been having a terrible day a few weeks ago and walked all around the Chistye Prudy park looking for a library and a store to update my phone plan. My phone was going to die and leave me with no directions so I went to a cafe to charge my phone. I was super frazzled going in and ran into a server causing her to drop a freshly made latte. I immediately blurted out Спасибо, Спасибо, only realizing too late I had thanked her instead of apologizing. Oops again. I managed to apologize after I thought about what I had said but the embarrassment was still there.

Despite the struggles, I have never felt unsafe or overly stressed by not knowing Russian and I can’t imagine how different my semester would have been if I let fear about the language keep me from coming to Russia. I survived. Not only that, but I have been thriving and I have a new passion for learning Russian which is something I never thought I could do.

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Experiencing Russian Culture Through the Lens of an Internship

Living in Moscow for the past two months has been thrilling. One of my favorite aspects of this experience has been my internship at the American Center which is a branch of the US Embassy in Moscow. While it may not initially seem thrilling to be working at an internship every Friday for six to seven hours, this has truly been one of the best parts of my time in Moscow. I knew I wanted to do an internship when I applied for this program, but I did not anticipate what I would gain from an internship beyond professional development. Rather, through my internship, I have also slowly but surely become a part of a community outside of MGIMO, the university where I study. By working at the AMC, I have steadily been integrating myself into the culture of Moscow by making new friends and forming strong connections outside of MGIMO.

So, what do I do every Friday at the American Center? My internship requires me to research information and condense it into a digestible form that the Russian public can enjoy. This is my fancy way of saying that I have been doing a lot of research and creating/giving many presentations. Most of my presentations so far have been to Russian adults or college and high school students who frequent the AMC. I have been giving hour-long presentations about American History to this crowd every other Friday, and I find this task very fulfilling. Outside of the American History Club however, I recently created and led an event for a group of 11-year-old students at a Russian school. Both types of presentations are challenging and rewarding in their own way, but my trip to the school on April 5th was one of the most informative experiences of my time in Moscow.

When I arrived at the school with Viola, my boss at the American Center, I was surprised to see the differences between American schools and this school in Moscow. The building had intense security and the kids wore unfamiliar uniforms, but I could feel that despite the apparent differences this was still a place with caring teachers and eager students. The day got started when Viola and I were led to a conference room where a small feast-like spread was set up for us. Viola informed me that this was a common Russian way of greeting guests and I felt honored to have that experience. After the presentation, which went well and allowed me to connect with Russian school kids, we went back to the same small feast-like setup and had to eat more or else we would appear rude to our hosts. The whole situation was unfamiliar but charming and I could see how excited the school was to have a native English speaker who could work with the kids.

I know that without my internship at the American Center I would never have had the chance to see this side of Russian life and I am so thankful to have been a part of that event where I could witness a deeper side of Russia beyond the architecture and typical sights. I have even been invited back to participate in more English events with the students and I feel that I am slowly making connections with native Russians, all thanks to my internship. Even without the chance to go visit the school, I have made a group of new Russian friends just at the American Center, and there has been a small crowd of people who show up to all my presentations. Ultimately, I am so glad I chose to do this internship because while I originally thought it would limit my time exploring Russian culture, it has brought me closer to understanding it.

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How Moscow Has Changed My Attitude Towards Coffee

I used to hate drinking coffee; My friends at school know I love Diet Coke, but while I have been in Moscow the past two months I have found myself drinking and enjoying coffee more than ever before. My new coffee habit might be because I have not seen a single Diet Coke since I have been here, but it might also be a result of the cold weather that is still present in early April. Moscow also has an abundance of anti-cafes which do nothing to help my growing love of coffee (an anti-cafe is a unique place where a person pays for his or her time rather than the drinks and food he or she purchases). For example, one of my favorite anti cafes in Moscow only costs 350 rubles and you can stay for as many hours as you want and get free unlimited coffee and cookies (disclaimer, this café doesn’t have the best coffee, but it is my favorite because they have at least 20 cats that roam the building). There are also other anti-cafes in Moscow which have better coffee for free as long as you pay the price for your time there.

While coffee is everywhere in Moscow, I have had a hard time finding soda that I like. There are cans and bottles of soda all over Moscow but I have always preferred to drink soda from a fountain machine, like at a fast food restaurant.  Unfortunately, my best option here is a McDonalds Coke Zero, which is never served with ice and does not compare to a Diet Coke from home.  Other than the fact that I would rather enjoy soda from home, this difference contributes to my love of coffee because I would rather spend my time in a local cafe than a McDonalds.  Clearly, there have been many factors contributing to my newfound appreciation of coffee: Moscow’s climate, the abundance of anti-cafes, and the lack of good soda. Beyond these factors, however, lies the truth that I simply like the idea of being a coffee drinker because I feel slightly more sophisticated with a cup of coffee or cappuccino.

My appreciation for coffee may seem unimportant compared to other factors of life in Moscow, but it is actually representative of my personal attempt to adapt to the culture and react to this new environment.  Back home I used to enjoy my early morning trips to the McDonalds drive-through for a cold Diet Coke but now when that is not an option, I have adapted and I find just as much enjoyment from a different morning routine.  Going into the city to study in a cafe rather than staying in my dorm is also a simple way to get outside and see Moscow while still being productive.  Finally, the atmosphere of anti-cafes is something I have never seen in America.  It’s all about the little things in life and living in Moscow has pushed me to appreciate the small joy of coffee which I could never bring myself to appreciate in America.

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Hello from Moscow

I have been living in Moscow for a while now and sadly my program was officially halfway over last Friday.  I told so many people I would be writing this blog but here we are halfway into the program and I have only just written my first post! My failure to start this blog in a timely manner has bothered me for a while but despite my best attempts, I couldn’t produce any posts I was proud of.  I have also struggled a bit with writing down my feelings on Russia because I know no matter what I say or how I phrase my thoughts, I can’t truly express how much I love Moscow.

So despite the setback, I have decided that the middle of the program is a wonderful time to start blogging because I am much more familiar with Moscow and the things that happen in this city.  Although it would have been nice to capture all my awkward and silly moments at the start of this experience, but I can still write about those times in retrospect.

Having said that, let me explain why I chose to study in this unique city:

Russia is not the most sought after study abroad location, but I knew for a long time I wanted to come here.  I was partly drawn to the academic aspect of my program (which is for international relations) and even more so to the idea of being in Russia, a foreign country that I have only read about in books or seen on the news.  There is something so distinctly different about Russia that captured my heart and I wanted to travel somewhere with a completely different history from the US.  Russia was a clear choice because first of all, I enjoy Russian literature and culture, but secondly Russia’s communist past is so different from anything in America’s history. Living in Russia has been a great chance to see a historical nation that is also highly relevant in current affairs.  Finally, I also knew I could complete an internship this semester at the American Center in Moscow’s US Embassy and this opportunity was a factor in my choice to study here.

Although I knew for a long time I wanted to study abroad in Russia, and I knew what it meant to me, some of my family members were shocked by my choice. For example, when I originally told my parents that I wanted to study abroad in Moscow they were not too enthusiastic.  I even remember sitting around the table on Mother’s Day a year or so ago when my family thought I was joking about wanting to come here. Their comments upset me but now I view the whole situation as a funny memory. I believe I received those negative reactions because Russia has a strange and complicated reputation in America, and sometimes is seen as inherently unsafe, which I have not found to be true.  While my choice to come here was somewhat unconventional, I have not regretted my decision once since I arrived. In fact, every time I walk by the Kremlin or go for a stroll through Red Square I feel so happy to be here that I cannot imagine being anywhere else!

There have been some bad days in terms of weather, but I am convinced that it’s is all part of the Russian experience. Even when the weather was quite bad I was still able to enjoy being outside in the heavy snow and cold air.  While the stereotypes of Russian weather are pretty much true, other ones can be misleading.  One misleading stereotype is that Russia is ugly and everything here looks like it came from the Soviet era.  There are a lot of gray buildings but in some ways they just add to the Russian atmosphere and remind me of the incredibly long and complex history of this nation. While some buildings are less than attractive, there is a surprising number of pastel-colored buildings in Russia too, especially near the city center.  The weather has also been quite sunny lately and I am having the best time walking around to see everything outside when the sky is actually blue!

Yes, life in Moscow has been difficult at times, especially since English is not widely spoken here and I have only been learning Russian for about a month and a half, but the challenges are just a way to grow.  I have found my challenges here have also been of a personal nature, such as overcoming self-doubts or figuring out how to manage my time when there is so much I want to do.  There has been a fair share of challenges specific to Russia too though, such as the time I went to Ikea to buy bed sheets but actually bought a curtain because I couldn’t read the package. Even during the harder times my experience so far has been even better than I ever expected; my mom and dad even joked once that I sound happier on the phone here in Russia than I do in Spartanburg.

Ultimately I know that my time in Moscow has been a bit different from other study abroad experiences, but I would not trade this time for anything else even if that would mean I could travel around Europe every weekend or live in more conventionally aesthetic conditions. I have had some of the best times here with the new friends I have made and I am getting a close look at what life is like for ordinary Russians, a perspective which I find very valuable.  Thanks for the good times, Moscow!

Now that I have finally managed to write this post, I am excited to keep writing on all the topics I have planned to discuss. My future posts will be aimed at informing my friends and family about life in Russia but also cataloging my experiences so I can go back through them in the future. Stick around for some amusing and sometimes tragic stories like how I lost my phone on the first day I arrived here, or all my awkward encounters while trying to learn and speak Russian. Future posts will also be about topics such as:

  • The academic culture in Russia, life at MGIMO, and Russian students
  • My biggest challenges and accomplishments so far
  • Some Russian stereotypes and if they are true
  • My time in Vladimir and Suzdal, two smaller Russian cities
  • Food and nightlife in Moscow
  • The dogs of Russia
  • Cultural differences between Russia and the US
  • My daily experiences and lifestyle
  • My internship at the American Center in the US Embassy

Finally, below is a small collection of the pictures I have taken so far. I hope you can see the beauty of Russia and realize this place is made up of more than gray Soviet-era buildings.  Look out for more pictures on Facebook and in other blog posts!


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