Written by Glen Adkins, a Freshman at Clemson University

Weather improvement
A view of the improved weather from our Hostel

Finally, after two months of harsh winter conditions with temperatures of – 20 degree Fahrenheit and a constant layer of ice covering all of Moscow spring has arrived. 

Although the Russian spring consists of temperatures around +25 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant river of mud water flowing through the streets from all of the melting snow and ice it is still a relief to know that “warm” weather is on its way.  For the first time we are actually able to see the color of grass and that there really are sidewalks in Russia, and they are made of concrete not just ice.

I never thought I would be happy to see 20 degree weather nor would I have imagined that I would be comfortable going outside in only a sweater but surprisingly our bodies have adapted to the cold climate very rapidly.  But do not be deceived, this forthcoming of warmth does not mean that we have escaped mother cold for good. 

Russia is known for its mid March freezes that turn the rivers of mud water right back into slippery sidewalks of ice.  Just last week the temperature in the mid afternoon was
+8 degrees Celsius and that night it feel to –15 degrees Celsius.  So winter is not gone by any means and every now and then you can still feel Mr. Frost nipping at your nose.  Needless to say we are taking it as it comes and praying that the weather will continue to improve.

Also in this Issue...

  • Women's Day ...Celebrate! by Allison Justice
    "Women here really take this holiday serious.  As properly stated by an English newspaper here in Moscow, The Exile,”forget to give her a flower on Valentines Day she’ll be mad for a month, forget to give her a flower on Women’s Day, she’ll be mad for a year.”
  • Special Smell by John Weston
    "Last week we visited the Moscow zoo and the circus...The giraffe, warthogs, and tapir were housed in a tiny little building with barely enough room for them to even walk around.  Julia warned us going in to expect a “special smell”.  The smell was incredible!  I had to leave the building for fear that my clothing was picking up the stench.  "
  • Reflections by Dustin Peffer
    "John had the mullet experience firsthand.  Instead of going to the barber shop, he recruited some students to give him a haircut.  He got a mullet:  “Oh yes, we will give you a haircut,” they said, and out came the clippers without any extensions.".

Special Smell

Written by John Weston, a Junior at Clemson University

Bear at circus in Moscow
Bears performing acrobats at circus

Last week we visited the Moscow zoo and the circus.  The circus was, for the most part, very entertaining.  The smell was enormous!  I guess that’s to be expected though considering there were so many animals.  It was pretty small as far as circuses go, but this means that we were that much closer to everything.  Glen, Allison, and Dr. Buffington were even able to get front-row seats!  They were so close that Allison and Glen were actually a little afraid.  I’ll never forget watching Glen bravely hide behind Allison when they released a 4 foot long porcupine into the arena.  It seemed like the clown was intentionally provoking the beast, so when it came out of its crate it immediately flushed out.  I thought Glen was going to have a heart-attack!

They had many other animals including trained bears, elephants, hedgehogs, and some deranged guy with lots of cats.  Everything was pretty cool, except the cats. I mean seriously…they’re cats, big deal.  I was expecting more clowns, but there were only 2. 

There was one act that we saw that was downright amazing.  They called themselves “The Adam’s Family” and they did some amazing magic tricks.  I spent the entire time trying to figure out how they were doing them and I still don’t know.  You really had to see it for yourself, they’d be doing a trick and something completely unexpected would happen.  This was followed by an acrobatic troupe that was flying all over the place!  There was so much happening that it was hard to follow all the action. 

Then the next week we visited the zoo.  This zoo is awesome.  If you flash your student ID, admission is free! 

Even though it’s still basically winter, there were many animals out and about.  We saw everything from tapirs to kangaroos.  I was honestly surprised at how they kept the animals.  Most of the cages were situated so close to the human walkways, one could easily lose a finger if not being attentive.  Our friend Julia was actually able to reach into a cage and pet this horse-like creature. 

Some of the conditions, however, were deplorable.  The giraffe, warthogs, and tapir were housed in a tiny little building with barely enough room for them to even walk around.  Julia warned us going in to expect a “special smell”.  The smell was incredible!  I had to leave the building for fear that my clothing was picking up the stench. 

SIberian Tiger at the Moscow Zoo
A Siberian Tiger poses for onlookers
at the Moscow Zoo

We left there and walked around the rest of the zoo.  There were many animals that I had not seen before.  They had condors, eagles, otters, and many others.  Most everything was very similar to American zoos I’ve visited.  One strange thing I noticed, however, most of the animals were crying out.  The Siberian tiger was continuously roaring, and the wolves were howling non-stop.  They also had the typical mascots that walk around entertaining the children.  There was even the squirrel from “Ice Age”, who we saw digging through the trash in typical squirrel fashion!  After walking around the entire zoo, we ate at “Yolkie Polkie” and had a delicious traditional Russian meal.

All in all, both of these trips will remain memorable.  I’ll never forget either of these experiences or the “special smell” that accompanied both!

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