Aidan Lowe
Aidan Lowe

We Are In Shape: “Round” Is a Shape: SPORT

Written by Aidan Lowe, a Clemson University Sophomore

Our Russian classmates refer to it as “physical training.” We call it “sport.” Whichever name you choose to use, it is our two hours of physical exertion that occurs every Thursday from 10 AM to noon in the main administrative building of MSAU. This class allows us Americans to show off our athletic prowess, or lack thereof.

Sport started this semester with humble beginnings. The first Thursday that we had this class, no one was there to unlock the closet that contained the equipment. Unfortunately, “Can you unlock this closet that contains the soccer ball” was not part of the vocabulary list that we learned those first few days of Russian class. So we decided to make the best of what measly equipment we had: two medicine balls. We spent two humorous hours standing in a circle, passing the weighted balls back and forth. Considering they each weigh about ten pounds, it was a sufficient workout.

Each week, we get to choose between basketball, volleyball, or running. Although we generally stick to shooting free throws or playing “Horse,” this past week we decided to mix it up a little bit.

We met at our usual 9:40 AM and began the twenty-minute trek through the slush to the gym. The crisp March air provided a good wake-up jolt as I had rolled out of bed a mere ten minutes earlier (who wakes up early to get ready for sport?). We were true “fashionistas,” outfitted in our usual blatantly American gym clothes consisting of brightly colored sweatpants and white tennis shoes. We arrived at the exercise room and all started the morning off right with a few brisk laps around the perimeter of the gym.

Enjoying a home-cooked Russian meal
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Chris dominating Aidan in a game of one-on-one. The boys won 21 to 1, a rematch to follow.

The guys grabbed the basketballs and alternated between playing “Around the World” and “Let’s try to hit the girls with basketballs as they run around the track.” After the first hour that we decided to try out our latest genius idea: speakers. This past week, we decided to spice sport up a little bit by borrowing the classroom speakers and plugging them into one of the iPods.  Our theory was that running laps around the gym would be more appetizing if we had tunes.
We searched on Malisa’s iPod until we found the Beach Boys’ Greatest Hits. Then we grabbed the volleyball and decided to give it a try. I could almost imagine I was on some beach—the sun was shining through the window, it was approximately eighty degrees (the heat system in the gym seems to have two settings: OFF and STIFLING), and we were jamming to “Surfin’ USA.” The teams consisted of Malisa and William versus Chris and I. It appeared that we picked the teams based on volleyball skills: Malisa and William were essentially Misty May Trainor, and Chris and I had each played volleyball… several years ago… and were about as natural to the sport as fish out of water.

It soon became apparent why I was cut from the middle school volleyball team. Malisa and William sent perfect serves our way. At first, Chris and I tried to return them with actual volleyball techniques. We soon resorted to “just hit the darn ball any way you can,” using our arms, legs, and even a head or two. It was a good thing that the windows had guards, or we would have broken a few during that game. We did not keep score, but Chris and I would have clearly won—if you were judging based on creativity.

Also in this Issue...

  • Mowgli by Chris Olvey
    "This ballet was inspired by “The Jungle Book,” written by Rudyard Kipling, which reminded many of us Americans of the Disney movie we watched in our childhood. The ballet was held at the Kremlin Palace right next to Red Square. "
  • Lions, Tigers, and Clowns — Oh My! by Malisa Manning
    "My boat shoes, which have no traction on the bottom, provide for excellent slippage, poor moisture resistance for the slush, and also have no insulation for when it’s cold. Blaise opts for a pair of Adidas sneakers, which also have the same poor characteristics of my boat shoes."
  • Everything is Bigger in Russia by William Nelson
    "The Moskovski Company operates the second largest greenhouse complex in the world... covers an area of 148 acres."

  • Issue Photographer: Malisa Manning

  • Issue Reviewer: Blaise Nicklas

Lions, Tigers, and Clowns — Oh My!

Written by Malisa Manning, a Louisiana State University Sophomore

Malisa Manning
Malisa Manning

On the 15th of March, we were given the opportunity to visit the Big Moscow State Circus on Viernadskogo Avenue.  After we passed our jackets to the coat check staff, we wandered around the different activities outside of the main auditorium.  The most popular event before the main show had to be the animals.  Several of the circus staff brought out different and exotic animals that you could take pictures with.  The animals ranged from a large bunny-rabbit, to a Siberian fox, and even a large boa constrictor.  The building that housed the circus seemed to be specifically built for the performances.  There were wires, trapezes, metal contraptions, and a special stage that could lower and change depending on the performance.  At the beginning of the show the ringmaster had all of the performers come out and he introduced each act.  Then the show began.  The crowd was pulled into the first performance by the upbeat music and amazing gymnastic feats executed by an African acrobatic troupe.  As the show progressed we were entertained by high flying trapeze acts that had us on the edge of our seats; the performers swung around the ceiling wires with no nets underneath. 

We gasped and “oohed” at the magician’s show where a young woman stepped into a glass cage and the magician’s assistants pulled cloth over the cage.  The magician spun the wheeled cage in a few circles and when he pulled the cloth from the cage the young woman was gone, but in her place a large white tiger had appeared! Speaking of tigers… an animal tamer awed us as he commanded four tigers and two lions at the same time.  He even tugged one of the lions by the tail as he tried to get the lazy beast to go back into his cage.  The excitement continued as three brothers from Columbia roared out onto the floor with their motorcycles. 

A Cyrillic sign on a Moscow Starbucks, meaning “café.”
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The young and the young at heart enjoying an evening being kids again.

A giant metal sphere was erected in the center of the stage and the brothers rolled into it.  They raced around in a tight circle, close enough that if they stretched out one of their hands they would touch each other.  Then Chinese acrobats and Mongolian gymnasts stunned us with their flexibility and strength as they went through their spectacular routines.  Even the time between acts was entertaining because clowns came out and involved members of the audience in their comedy act.  It was a most enjoyable evening that had us buzzing with excitement all the way back to the dorms.


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