Thursday, September 25, 2014

From Russia, With Love

A Glimpse into our Europe Trip

Adventures First Stop: Prague, Czech Republic. Meandering around the medieval cobble pathways of this beautiful city, we found ourselves absorbed in the unique culture of this post-Soviet country.  From castles to Communist Museums, we were diligent in our goal of “experiencing” Prague. However, towards the end of our stay, it was determined that the most valuable way of spending our time would be eating Czech food (aka potatoes and meat) and lounging about the laid-back city. Prague provided us with endless picturesque places to over look the entire city and relax. On a side note, nothing makes you feel more self-conscious about being an American like walking into a Mickey D’s—Can’t a girl just want some cheap ice cream?

Next Stop: Dresden, Germany. Dresden is a small town in south-east Germany. The fog was heavy around the city but for some unexplainable reason, it made the city feel homey and romantic. In an effort to be classy and well-educated, we bought tickets to “Cosi Fan Tutte” an opera by Mozart. Despite my best efforts to be sophisticated and refined….three hours of Italian turned out to be too much for me to handle. No doubt that the music was stunning and uplifting but I think my sophistication can only last for an hour and a half. Maybe I can work up to it?

On to Berlin! There is so much to be said about Berlin. Don’t fret, I will spare you. I would hate to turn this blog into an overly detailed account of my trip! Berlin provided ample opportunities to learn about the history of both the city as well as Germany. Drew and I went to more museums than our brains could handle.  We are the dorkiest: we love to learn about history but to be where history took place is even more powerful. I did, however, hate being such an American tourist by not speaking any German. I apologize Deutschland, I apologize.
Finally, it was our time to cross over to the Russian Federation.  After months of preparation and years of wishing, I was finally going to meet Mother Russia. Stress and fear replaced my excitement. Foreign airports and delays can do that to a girl. After hours pregnant of inconvenience, HEAVY bags, unplanned fasting, sore muscles, delayed flights and taxis, we finally arrived. Welcoming us to Moscow was a techno version of the theme song from Pirates of the Caribbean and massive traffic jams. After arriving to our apartment and signing contracts--that probably promised the University my first child since neither of us attempted to read the long documents-- I couldn’t wait to get some sleep. My dreams were quickly turned into nightmares with the Russian Cyrillic alphabet terrorizing me. The next morning it took an hour or so and mental preparation (and extreme hunger) before I finally mustered up the courage to leave my apartment and commence the hunt for food. The adventure was only beginning.

Heart Don’t Fail Me Now, Courage Don’t Desert Me

 As childish as it seems, that has been my motto while being abroad. I am pushing myself way out of my comfort zone almost every day. The few muttered Russian words I speak a day seem like a real personal victory. Contrary to what you may expect,  Moscow ain’t no Provo! Moscow is brimming with gray skyscrapers, herds of people rushing to the metro, beautiful Russian Orthodox churches gleaming in the sun, and traces of a communist past. Almost everywhere you go, in this maze of concrete, you find something strikingly beautiful. Luckily for me, I have three months here full of time to stop and smell the roses. Unfortunately, Moscow smells like cigarettes. Moscow also sounds like jackhammers, construction, and movement. Luckily, after brief exploring of our surroundings, there are beautiful parks where I can turn for the peace.

 One thought that has really struck me is how ignorant many of us, I am definitely included, are guilty of being towards other cultures. Especially Russia and America. Russia is painted as a freezing country full of Volka-loving-Russian-mafia. Russians think Americans adore Micky D’s and never stop smiling. Is there truth to stereotypes? Sometimes.   Should Americans know more about Russia than snow, Putin, and Tetris? Definitely.
My Mission (I have already chosen to accept it): Give my readers—or reader, which is probably more accurate—more knowledge and insight into this vast, diverse, country from my experiences here in Moscow.

Stay tuned for hot topics such as: Are track suits really a thing?, Funny questions I have been asked, and Strange things I have seen.