Blaise Nicklas
Blaise Nicklas

Not Quite Culture Shock


Written by Blaise Nicklas, an Edinboro University Junior

One morning during the first week of our Introduction to Russian Language class, our professor asked about the transition to living in Moscow.  She pointed out that Russians, like Americans, also have two arms and two legs, so we can’t be that different.  By and large, we have found this to be true.  As the Russian students we interact with on a regular basis are close to us in age, we do share a certain mindset.  But that is not to say that we have not noticed any differences between ourselves and our Russian hosts.

For example, we take a more relaxed attitude toward scheduling when to do our homework.  The Russian students often ask us whether we have finished our homework yet, only to be surprised that we have yet to start it.  Not that we are all procrastinators, but we take no issue with putting it off until after dinner.  Usually following some chiding by our Russian counterparts, we get to work.  They are also very eager to help us with homework, especially our Russian assignments.  We recently began our first class taught by an American professor from Penn State.  As the class will be more similar to one taught in the U.S., we expect to help the Russian students adjust to the new teaching style.

Students from MSAU visit with Russian students learning English at a Moscow school
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Students from MSAU visit with Russian students learning English at a Moscow school.

One day last week, we went to a school in Moscow to meet and visit with students learning English.  We met in their classroom, where they had readied tea, juice, and snacks for us.  While talking with one of the students, a young woman in her eleventh year of instruction, she asked me what I thought the main difference was between Russians and Americans.  This would not have been so significant if I had not already been asked the exact same question earlier that week by a student at MSAU.  At the time, I struggled to answer it, because it is hard to boil down to a simple response.  But I found it interesting that I received the same question from two people, totally independent of each other.  In the same way that many young Americans are fascinated by foreign countries, our Russian friends have showed a marked interest in the U.S. and learning English.  In our first weeks, the culture shock has been minimal but over the next few months, we are guaranteed a deeper understanding of our host country’s character.

Also in this Issue...

  • Americans in Moscow-land by Malisa Manning
    "The rest of the tour progressed fairly quickly, mostly because Dr. Malashenkov tried to speed it up before we all became the newest frozen statue attractions of Moscow..."
  • Americans Bring “Warm” Weather with Them: Moscow Winter by Aidan Lowe
    "The Russians have consistently commented that it is warm for winter and early February. Although the Americans from warm regions of the U.S. might disagree, all of our grit will be tested soon as there is a rumor that temperatures will reach negative thirty near Valentine's Day..."
  • Dom, Sweet Dom by Chris Olvey
    "At first it was a struggle to go to the canteen because of our lack of communication skills with the people that serve us. For our first few days the workers probably assumed that we were deaf-mutes, but we’ve begun to learn the names of the dishes and can get exactly what we like. A lot of the foods at the canteen are foreign to us, but when we venture out to try something different it is usually very good..."

  • Issue Photographer: William Nelson


  • Issue Reviewer: Chris Olvey



Americans Bring “Warm” Weather with Them: Moscow Winter

Written by Aidan Lowe, a Clemson University Sophomore

Aidan Lowe
Aidan Lowe

I hail from South Carolina’s constantly sunny warm weather climate and it has taken some time to adjust to Russian weather. The sun sometimes goes into hiding for a few days at a time. The daytime high usually hovers around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and snow showers occur every few days. The temperature straddling above and below freezing leads to unpredictable conditions on the roads and sidewalks. On a particularly warm day, most of the snow will melt, exposing large patches of grass and resulting in muddy puddles that are difficult to avoid. With an overnight chill, all of the puddles freeze and the sidewalks are covered with an icy glaze that is best described as perilous. Russians use two items to cope with the unpredictable wintry mix: fur-trimmed coats and boots.

The weather has provided us with some laughs over the past two weeks. I once fell twice in one day due to braving the slick sidewalks in my Dansko boots. One night, before a visit to the Tretyakov Gallery, Blaise lost his footing on the ice and grabbed onto the nearest stable object within his reach, which happened to be an unsuspecting babushka!

The clothes that we brought for the semester have been sufficient thus far, although we have only had one or two days where the temperature neared zero Fahrenheit. Layering paired with the essential gloves and hat has been the right way to combat the winter chill.

Frigid weather
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A view of the frigid weather from the Moscow Inter- national Business Center

The Russians have consistently commented that it is warm for winter and early February. Although the Americans from warm regions of the U.S. might disagree, all of our grit will be tested soon as there is a rumor that temperatures will reach negative thirty near Valentine's Day. I am adjusting for now, but nonetheless looking forward to the warm days of spring.



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