Miles Atkinson
Miles Atkinson

Frowny Faces


Written by Miles Atkinson, a Clemson University Freshman

Russians radiate unfriendliness to all unknown peoples on the street. They carry a perpetual scowl as if it were painted on their faces. In all of the cities and countries that I have visited, the Russian public persona is unparalleled in its projection of indifference.

Even the most boisterous and outgoing Russians display the scowl when they are in unfamiliar territory. We have all speculated as to why this behavior persists, and our reasoning has ranged from the dull weather to a desire to maintain anonymity in a political and social atmosphere that for years restrained the individual.

-	The Moscow River frozen solid.
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3 out of 4 Russians don't smile.

Of course, the underlying psychological motivation is probably no more complex than “I don’t smile because no one else does.” However, as soon as the metaphorical ice is broken, Russians are some of the friendliest and warmest people one could know. We Americans probably have it easier because people are curious about us, and they are always surprised when we speak to them in Russian (even though it’s not very good). The guards at our hostel are notoriously unfriendly, but every single one of them recognizes us now because we always make a point to introduce ourselves and say good day and goodnight when we come in. In stores, the employees are stern-faced until we blurt out some broken Russian, upon which they can’t help but crack a big smile.

From what I understand, having guests is a source of pride in Russia. When we visit our friend’s rooms, we are always welcomed with an offer of tea and sweets, and sometimes other beverages. In fact, Russians don’t even have to know you to treat you like their best friend who just returned home after years at sea. Recently, I knocked on the wrong door while I was going to visit my friend. The guys inside didn’t speak a word of English and I barely speak enough Russian to explain to them that I was there by mistake. But that didn’t faze them a bit, they were excited to have a visitor and no language barrier would stop them from inviting me in for a drink. So, I stayed for a few minutes and chatted.

The American girls have an especially good time over here because many of the Russian men see it as their chivalrous duty to cater to and service every need that may arise. For the first couple of days, none of the girls were allowed to lock their doors because there were two Russian brothers handy who would insist on performing every minor task. Our girls were like Orthodox Jews on the Sabbath! Of course, for our independently minded ladies this constant doting was tiring and it has subsided a bit now.

Russians are nice, warm and welcoming folk, and I have really enjoyed getting to know a few of them. The best summary of the Russian people that I have heard came from a friend of my cousin who lived in Russia for a while: “Russians who don’t know you will be total [jerks], but Russians are the best friends to have because if they say something like ‘I’ll help you move out of your apartment,’ then they’ll be there to help right when they said they would.”

Also in this Issue...

  • Ice Skating in Russia by Katie Moore
    "On my second night in Moscow, we ventured into the relatively unknown territory (for me at least) of ice-skating. We don't ice skate very much in South Carolina, shocking I know. However, after a few tentative laps around the rink, my fellow southerners and I got the hang of the sport and began to try new tricks..."
  • A Brief Tour of MSAU by Shelli Danjean
    "The university has worked hard over the years to establish relationships with American companies, such as John Deere, as well as companies in France. They have successfully developed exchange programs in several states and countries for several years now. The leaders of the university seemed to recognize foreign corporations' increasing interest in establishing companies in the Russian market...."
  • Issue Photographer: Karlie Tucker


A Brief Tour of MSAU

Written by Shelli Danjean, an LSU Senior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011

Joe Kingerski
Shelli Danjean

Early Wednesday morning, we buttoned up our coats and headed over to meet Dr. Chumakov for a tour of Moscow State Agro-Engineering University (MSAU). It started with a brief presentation of the University and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. This university is certainly on the rise. Not only does MSAU provide an abundance of hands-on local experiences for students, they also create international opportunities. The university has worked hard over the years to establish relationships with American companies, such as John Deere, as well as companies in France. They have successfully developed exchange programs in several states and countries for several years now. The leaders of the university seemed to recognize foreign corporations' increasing interest in establishing companies in the Russian market. In response, they have worked to develop these relationships so that their students have opportunities in these businesses. Many corporations fund the training of the MSAU students, and in return, the students will work for that company for some amount of time. It is a beautiful image of agricultural expansion, as well as international relations.

Not only is the reach of the university impressive, but it's attention to each student is as well. Each student's ability is calculated and taken into consideration, as well as their interests. The school offers a wide variety of studies (though its main specialty involves machinery and engineering). Each class is designed to provide students with the optimum experience of learning. The classroom we went into was very aesthetically pleasing and definitely fosters an active learning environment. Around the walls were visuals to capture student attention, and models for hands-on learning. Along with the highly evolved classrooms is highly evolved training equipment. We saw devices used to measure the amount of pull of a tractor, a model to study the mechanics of machine steering systems, as well as fully functioning replicas of gas and diesel

Touring the MSAU Tractor Lab
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Touring the MSAU Tractor Lab.

machines. The professor "breaks" the machine replica, and the students must work to identify and fix the problem. The coursework seems very vigorous and specialized. It is quite clear that most students that enter into this program at MSAU will leave as experts in their particular field. If it is true that the future lies in the hands of our children, then agriculture in Russia certainly has a bright future.



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