Russian Home Remedies

Writen by Allison Justice, Senior at Clemson University

Allison's Treatment

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 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.

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Schooling in the Eastern Hemisphere

Writen by John Weston, Junior at Clemson University

When it comes to higher education some things are simply universal. Classes, exams, seemingly endless semesters; they’re all part of the school and university experience. Here in the Russian Federation they do things a little differently than we’re used to. Even so, the education system seems to follow the general template that everyone is accustomed to back in America.

student studying
Russian studentka, Julie, hard at work

Russian students begin their education at about the same time that we do, around 6 or 7 years of age. They stay in primary school for 11 years, generally graduating at about 17. 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. Questions like, “Where did you go to high school?” evoke looks of open confusion. The Russians typically stay in the same primary school for all 11 years. In fact, while we may use the words “school” and “university” interchangeably; to a Russian “school” means primary education only. They usually study general subjects and always study at least 1 foreign language. When they graduate, almost every student attends a university. They take an exit exam, and if they do well they get free school. Higher education is taken very seriously in Russia. They use a grading scale similar to ours, and will actually expel students if they do poorly on their exams. University attendance is regarded so highly that Russians actually celebrate 2 state holidays honoring students, one in November and one in January. We were here to see one of these holidays on January 25. There were free concerts, free ice skating, everyone painting their faces and generally just having a good time.

We were actually given the opportunity to visit a school in the Moscow region. Our first visit to the school started on a bad foot.

We were told to go to the school by the MSAU administration and were given no explanation or description of what to expect. Allison, our American classmate, had fallen very ill and we had to leave her behind. So we three Americans met up with three of the Russian students and debarked across Moscow. In transit, the bus we were riding slammed into a car and sent everyone aboard flying. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and we walked the rest of the way to the school. On our way we got lost and had to ask for directions a couple of times. When we finally got there, the building resembled a prison. There were guards, cameras everywhere, and only one security gate. I can’t speak for my 2 companions, but from the accident and not knowing what we were actually supposed to be doing there, I was a little nervous. When we got inside, we were introduced to the students and asked to simply talk to help them improve their English. They were about 15 students all about 14 years old, and at first I was a little skeptical about what level they knew English. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they spoke better English than I did! At one point I had to admit that I couldn’t help them with their homework because it was beyond me. They served us cookies and tea and we talked about all types of subjects. I talked to 2 young girls that had actually read stories by one of my favorite American authors. I also overheard one of the Americans getting into an in depth political discussion with a couple of the students. All in all, I found these young Russians very pleasant and incredibly intelligent. I can’t wait to go back and talk these guys again; maybe I’ll learn something about the language I’m supposedly fluent in.

From what I have seen, the Russian education system is top of the line. Every student seems very intelligent and very friendly. Taking classes with these people is going to be quite an experience.

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