This week’s Student Life post comes from Daniel Barnes. Thanks Daniel for sharing your experience with us!
Upon arrival in Moscow, I was swarmed with questions, but the most popular one was definitely “OMG, what is Moscow like?!” Okay, so I wasn’t exactly swarmed with questions, but this still counts. I must say that Moscow isn’t exactly what I expected. You might ask, “Daniel, what did you expect?” To be honest, I think I thought it would be lots of smoke, lots of vodka, and lots of people telling me I need to learn Russian (in Russian). So what is Moscow? Lots of smoke, lots of vodka, and lots of people telling me I need to learn Russian…BUT it is so much more. I know, I know I have only been living here for a short time, but I have done my best to expose myself to the city and culture, and I think that it is beautiful. I (hope) can safely speak for our group and say that we thoroughly enjoyed our experience here, and a large part of that is due to how great the culture is here.
For starters, the city is beautiful. What I find fascinating about European cities in general is the juxtaposition of centuries-old buildings and monuments with contemporary architecture. Russia already has very unique historical architecture, but pair that with beautiful skyscrapers and the most gorgeous metro stations I have ever seen. Seriously! If it wasn’t TOTALLY ILLEGAL (or mostly illegal, as I found out today) I would snap some pictures of how beautiful these metro stations are. The first time I went to Red Square and saw St. Basil’s cathedral, I was so pumped. I should probably remind you that I am THE ONLY ONE of the American group that hasn’t been to Moscow previously, so they were eager to see my reaction. I was trying to be super cool (and you thought it came naturally), but I think my excitement beat that out. It really is thrilling to see historical landmarks in person, even in America, but the beauty of the city is that as you look at the domes on the cathedral and walk the vast cobblestone plaza, you can also turn your head to the left and see a huge shopping mall and probably a McDonald’s (Makdonalds).
Trying to immerse oneself in foreign culture is also very difficult. In America it is not uncommon to walk a city street and hear ten different languages. However, anyone that has ever been to a foreign country, even for a split second, knows how difficult it can be to do the simplest of tasks without knowing the language. Granted, our group is learning Russian like crazy, but there are still problems that occur almost daily. It just happens. Though, I think I can successfully buy toilet paper and apple juice comfortably now and tell the grumpy cashier, “No, I don’t actually want a new plastic bag today, thank you.” Sometimes she even says goodbye. Score! I think we’re soul mates, really. Truthfully, though, it gets easier to live here and immerse myself every day, and I’m truly grateful to have this experience. I love it here!
Oh, PS, Moscow is eight hours ahead of the US (EST), so as I’m writing this, you’re probably enjoying a late lunch. I hope you’re having some cabbage and buckwheat. Maybe some pickles.
Даниил, Данила, Даня
(There are about five million ways to say my name.)