Can you imagine taking medicine from a bottle which you can’t read? Or being subject to Russian traditional medicine? I did! When you are thousands of miles away from home all you can do is have complete trust in your native friends.
Getting sick in Russia is quite an adventure! It started off one morning with my throat being extremely sore. By midnight I was up to 102F and not knowing what to do or where to go. To begin the adventure, our friend Julia let me borrow a thermometer. The way this thermometer worked was to put under your arm for ten minutes. This was really unusual for me, but it did its job regardless, and it could have been worse, if you know what I mean J. After one extremely long night of no sleep and shivering and burning up at the same time, morning came. I went straight to tell the other guys that I needed a doctor right away… thinking that someone would take me to the American Hospital.
John went to get Julia and Nadia, our Russian classmates. They stayed on the phone for thirty minutes trying to find a doctor. After much confusion the girls frantically began to clean my room… a doctor was on his way! All of a sudden two people in blue suits bust through the doors with a large toolbox (I guess for the medicine). They were extremely serious and made the guys leave immediately. Here in Russia medical service is free so calling the ambulance for something this minor is not a problem. This was the first time in my life I was not able to speak to a doctor myself…it was completely broken translation. So I got my diagnosis and the guys went off to the Apteka (pharmacy) to get my medicine. Pharmacies here do not require a prescription, so you can literally get anything you want.
The interesting part of few days had only begun. Because I was so sick the Russian girls wanted me to stay in their room, which was great! They cooked for me and gave me many of their “home remedies.” For example, they put iodine on my neck in a crisscross manner to help the “glands” Every thirty minutes they made me drink hot tea with jam. Actually, everything I drank had to be warm. When you are really thirsty hot tea and hot seltzer water (could you imagine how much that burned going down!) just does not do the job. It’s pretty hard to do anything but sip warm liquids! Even though I was extremely hot, because I had a fever I constantly had to wear a jacket. They believe it is vital to eat fresh garlic and place chopped garlic on a plate in the room. Needless to say it did not smell or taste pleasant, but they said it helped to kill the germs. So even though these practices were quite unfamiliar, they did seem to help, and the care that the girls gave was much appreciated in my time of need.
Also in this Issue...
- First Impressions by Dustin Peffer
"Moscow does not become bland to the eye ... museums for just about anything imaginable, and generally cost next to nothing for student admissions."
- Schooling in the Eastern Hemisphere by John Weston "A typical student’s day would consist of going to school at around 9 a.m. and perhaps staying until about 4 p.m. Unlike back in the States, however, they only have one school. "
- Brrrrrr!!!!! by Glen Adkins
With temperatures reaching a freezing 32 to 5 F without a wind-chill factor and to 0 F with the wind blowing, going outside is not an easy task...it is best not to run but to carefully think out every step you take otherwise your backside and Mr. Sidewalk will have a nice quick introduction.
Writen by Dustin "DP" Peffer, Junior at Penn State
When in Moscow, take every step as if you were stepping on ice, because more than likely, it is ice. The natives tend to not shovel much snow, instead allowing it to become packed down over time. There are many things to be aware of in this large and beautiful city, and adjustments to be made in the way one operates in his day to day business. For example, do not bring colorful clothing. Black is in and in a way that makes people wearing anything brighter than grey or brown stick-out. Likewise, don’t hand out free smiles unless you know the person or someone has been kind, gracious, or funny. Don’t expect people to hold doors open as heat is a precious thing.
And there are a few more words of advice that I can offer. Even if you are a good card player, try not to count the deck, because Russian decks start at six instead of two. When buying footwear, do NOT take them for a test sprint in the store: they will think that you are trying to make a run for the door. Unless you are a girl, never apply chap-stick where people can see you.
Taking the metro is the thing to do. It is fast and efficient and gets you very near to anywhere you would like to go. And what can I say, it was even fun when there were so many people that one could barely breathe.
Besides that, traveling by wheeled vehicles is a bit precarious: Russians enjoy driving at 100 km/h regardless of whether they are weaving through traffic or if there are no lines painted on the road.
Look Ma, 4 lanes and no lines!
Considering the combination of icy sidewalks and speeding traffic, look both ways and step nimbly to cross the road.
But do not let this give you a bad impression of Moscow. It is a beautiful city full of culture and monuments. Unlike most of the American cities that I have visited (admittedly just a few) Moscow does not become bland to the eye. Fantastic architecture lines the streets that are strolled by gorgeous women walking arm-in-arm. There are museums for just about anything imaginable, and generally cost next to nothing for student admissions. The nightlife is a happening scene full of happy young folk, but it’s not vulgar or obscene. Everyone keeps sensible and tries not to be obnoxious. And all in all, despite Russians not looking outwardly very cheerful, they are kind and very hospitable.