So, my plane arrived late, and I didn’t sleep much on the flight over. I was tired, and in desperate need of a pillow to lie my head on; however, from the moment I step foot on Moscow soil, I knew I couldn’t close my eyes just yet.
The university I’m staying at is Moscow State University, its main building architecture – designed in the Stalinist style, represents one-of-seven skyscrapers located in Moscow. The sheer greatness of the building was breathtaking and I couldn’t believe that I, Elizabeth Vlasyuk, was going to be living in the heart of Moscow for the next six weeks. The next two days were spent exploring the beauty of the city.
We saw, what I believe, is the most iconic structure of Moscow – the Kremlin in the distance, located along the Red Square.
ГУМ: Great Mall in Red Square
Inside the Great Mall
Christ the Savior
All of a sudden, everything was much bigger than me, more sturdy than I, overwhelming. However, all the in same, discovering these new places was exciting, fulfilling even. They filled the void of my traveling, wandering dreams.
Although the architecture and history were fascinating, there were a few things that really caught my attention:
- Everywhere and anywhere you went or even looked, the streets were spotless. As we walked throughout the city, I had a hard time finding a garbage can, because they were uncharacteristically small and clean, not like the usual garbage can that sticks out like a sore thumb overflowing with trash that is typical of American cities.
- “If looks could kill,” is a phrase usually meaning that if a person doesn’t greet you or smile, that it means that they are unhappy, upset, or dissatisfied with something or someone. Interesting how different two cultures can be. In Russia, you don’t smile or say good morning to strangers you may see on the street. I believe it’s because it’s considered to be too informal and improper. I feel that Russians and several other nations hold familiarity to be a kind of honor and respect. So smiling at a complete stranger could definitely get you some interesting looks!
- When you purchase a good, there is no hand-touching (albeit there were a few rare moments). So far, at every café, restaurant, bakery, and dinning hall, there has been a small glass plate, on which the cashiers place the money. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, a combination of isolationism and familiarity, that comes through in a public place.
In the days that followed, I experienced my first week of class, attended a classical concert, and visited the university’s Botanical Garden. My classes are all in Russian, and it took about three days for me to adapt my thoughts. Growing up in the US, the way I processed information and thought things through were in my mind -English. Now that I am here, I’ve grown accustomed to thinking in Russian, which allows me to process things more quickly, and at the same time, immensely has helped me improve my Russian grammar and pronunciation when I write and speak.
While at the university’s Botanical Garden, I was fortunate enough to see seas of tulips, which to me hold a special meaning. My father and mother used to grow and sell tulips as a business when they lived in Ukraine. Now that my father has passed, tulips remind me of his wholeheartedness and hardworking character.
It was during this time when I began to notice my loneliness a bit, much like this lone yellow tulip; however, it was still beautiful standing along side with the others, much like me experiencing Moscow with new found friends.
BG- Second Family
Friends, that I have gotten closer to with every new day, have become like my family away from home. They make it easier on the mind and heart, being so far away. They have also made my experience abroad a lot more special, and I no longer feel so lonely. I know we are all in this together, and that we are all here to help each other figure out the unknowns.
Now I’m not so scared or worried anymore, so until next time!
Signing off. ✌