I decided that since those Russian spies were recently caught it was a good time to write my last blog post. Here it goes.
My year of studying in the Motherland is over. ...rather, it's been over for the past month and a half and I'm just now getting around to writing this last post. Do da do.
The last weeks in Moscow couldn't have been more packed with things to do or have felt more surreal. We were all extremely busy working on our research projects, taking finals, and running frantically around the city trying to see things we had always wanted to but of course had put off.
The research project presentations went well and were not as intimidating as I had imagined. Although we each had 15 minute presentations all in Russian, it wasn't so scary - it was just the five of us, Irina, and a few other professors. There were also a few cakes, fruit, candy, tea, and champagne patiently waiting for us to finish. Once Thursday, the Day of the Presentations, was over, I only had four more days in the city I had grown to love.
Speaking of love and Moscow, why do I love it? Love is a strong word, I admit. But, guess what. I even love Russia. (No, I'm not a spy, and no, I wasn't brainwashed. I think.) Really, though, Russia for some reason captured my attention and I spent a nine months in this foreign land trying to figure out why. Did I succeed in solving this riddle? Ehh......not really.
It's a mystery! There are so many things wrong and weird and strange and backwards and different and and and about Russia, specifically Moscow, that I often times wanted to scream. The living standards aren't up to par with what I'm used to; the people seem rude and cold; the weather is horrible; there always seem to be creepy men staring at you; the bureaucracy makes everything painfully inefficient; there is no concept of a line, anywhere; six wrinkly jalapeños cost $15. So why put up with it all? How could I even enjoy living there?
Honestly, sometimes, I hated it. I was usually exhausted at the end of each day and, feeling grimy from a day in the city, would fall asleep to the blaring sounds of traffic or people yelling outside my window. Looking back, it actually was hard to get used to living in Moscow. I put on a good game face but it did take me a few months to really feel comfortable. I knew Moscow would be different but I also thought that since I had lived in Germany since I was 13, it would be a piece of cake to get used to another non-America. Silly girl; Moscow is so completely different. Moscow is so completely unique compared to any place. Aha! This, my friends, is one reason I love Moscow - its uniqueness.
Moscow is so unlike any other city I've seen. First of all, the buildings (yes, I'm going to talk about architecture for a bit) are all so different. Moscow is home to grand, beautiful Tsarist-era buildings; ugly, run-down apartment buildings from the Soviet years; trippy, 70s colored apartment buildings; new, modern and surprisingly not ugly apartment buildings; thousands of Orthodox churches with their own unique architectures; Stalinist style buildings with Soviet symbols all over; the Seven Sisters; you can see it all! There is one spot on what I believe is old Arbat street where you can literally see all the layers starting from the late 1800s to late 1900s. It's really cool and really beautiful in a quirky way. I didn't initially think Moscow to be all that pretty, but after living there and actually experiencing the city, I learned to look past the rough edges and truly appreciate it. I don't think this would have been possible if I were just a tourist.
Moving on, I really enjoy what I perceive to be the Russian sense of humor. It tends to be sarcastic, dry, and witty all while making fun of a situation which really should not be comical. Finding oneself laughing whilst in a non-comical situation also seems very Russian to me. After all, what else are you going to do? Sit there and cry? No, you laugh. Many Russian authors capture the comedy of Russia in quite satirical manners, and I often found myself feeling like I was trapped in one of Gogol's plays, trying to find the perfect coat or outwit the silly bureaucracy. While this should all be (and was) very frustrating, in the end it makes for a good story and makes you feel oh so very Russian.
I feel like I'm beginning to ramble and will stop here with the realization that I may never be able to explain why I fell for Russia. There's certainly plenty wrong with it, but isn't there something screwy about every country?
For now, I await senior year and my return to Dickinson. Much has changed over the last year, and I'm very excited to see what this year will bring. The blog is going dormant for a while but I would like to post some more pictures in a few weeks. ...I had issues with my computer but will soon have it back and be able to put up my final shots of Russia. Maybe the pictures will explain what I cannot?
Thanks for reading my posts and I hope you enjoyed them. Who knows, maybe another Russian adventure is waiting for me. I do still need to take the train to the east...