None of us can believe that we have been here for a month already! The Russian students have done a great job of helping us see the sights. We are quickly becoming better at navigating the city using public transportation, especially the very efficient Russian metro system.
Our first outing was to an ice skating park. People could skate throughout the park through paths and sidewalks that were all surrounded by small cafes and restaurants. As we skated we heard several radio stations playing both Russian and popular American songs.
There is nothing like jet lag and ice combined. We all came back with some bumps and bruises but had an excellent time.
We also visited the All- Russian Exhibition Centre which once highlighted the economic achievements of the former USSR through beautiful buildings and statues.
The main archway into the park shows a statue of a tractor driver and woman representing the area when it was also used for agricultural exhibitions. The architecture still remains but today the area is also an amusement park and shopping area. We did some shopping while there and also took a ride on a large Ferris wheel overlooking the city.
Another highlight was our trip to the Tretyakov Art Gallery. This museum holds the art collection of the millionaire Pavel Tretyakov. It houses the largest compilation of Russian art in the world. We explored both floors of the museum which showed art collections of 18th thru 20th century paintings. Some of the famous paintings there included the “The Rooks Have Come” by artist Aleksey Savrasov showing the famous, crooked birch trees of Russia that symbolize the ending of the harsh Russian winters. We also saw the famous portrait of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Fascinating were the exhibitions of famous church icons such as the Virgin of Vladimir and the Trinity.
One of our most recent trips was to the Kremlin which is home of the Russian president as well as the government buildings. There we were able to tour the cathedral square and see the famous Tsar Bell, the worlds largest. We also went inside the Cathedral of the Assumption where many princes and patriarchs from the Orthodox Church were buried. The cathedrals of the Kremlin were all painted with beautiful color frescoes lining the interior walls. We went outside and walked throughout Red Square where we viewed St. Basil’s cathedral and saw the outside of the Lenin Mausoleum. We hope to tour the Kremlin palace and armoury at a later date as well as other parts of Red Square.
Also in this Issue...
- Turning 21 in the Motherland by Annie Mesavage
"I had known the Russian students not even ten days the weekend before my birthday. Yet, when I came in that day they not only helped me for two hours with my Russian homework but brought gifts.."
- Feeling You are On a Different Planet by Aaron Ladd
"Being unable to communicate is such a limiting factor that we often take for granted when we (Americans) travel to other countries."
- Weather by Ben Crooke
"Each new day brings its own energy to Moscow, where citizens bustle about the frozen streets, clad in dark coats and warm hats, and look forward to what tomorrow may bring. As the semester progresses I expect the weather to also progressively get warmer after a few months."
- Bread is the Head of Everything by Stephen Ratasky
"It is customary in Russia to serve bread with every meal. One of our fellow Russian students named Sergey said that “a meal without bread is not a meal.” The evening meal does not consist of bread but mostly vegetables or salads, chicken if desired, or a dish derived from wheat."
Written by Annie Mesavage, Junior at Penn State
A few days after my 21st Birthday I got an e-mail from a neighbor back in the U.S. It said, “Happy Birthday! Your Mom sent me a picture with you and your gifts.” Now where is the one after the cake got cut?”
True, both Aaron and I turned 21 years old several weeks after coming to Moscow. Yet, both of us received more traditional celebration and hospitality than just partying.
I had known the Russian students not even ten days the weekend before my birthday. Yet, when I came in that day they not only helped me for two hours with my Russian homework but brought gifts. I received an entire box of chocolates, a stuffed animal, and more candy.
Later that weekend, my fellow American students came knocking on my door with more presents. It was so neat that people I had just met were giving me all these awesome gifts. Later that night, they even took me to dinner at a nice little café where we ate a great meal topped off my some extraordinary chocolate and strawberry ice cream.
We celebrated Aaron’s birthday by going out for pizza after spending a day at Kolomenskoe Park, an old country estate of the tsars. We had a tour led by two of our Russian students (in English of course!) that described each of the attractions we saw. Among them was the spot where Peter the Greats’ father had once built an entire wooden palace described as the eighth wonder of the world. Another was a forest of oak trees as old as 600 years!
How could things get much better? Celebrating our twenty first’s in a huge, expensive city almost 5,000 miles from home. Yet, our friends still had one additional surprise. Both Aaron and I received a surprise party in our dormitory classroom that always included the two basic food groups: ice cream and cake! And of course sang Happy Birthday. Thanks again guys!