Written by Marie Vogler, a Virginia Tech Senior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011
Going to Russian soccer games is as close to American football as Americans can get in Moscow. And although I consider myself an avid American football fan (I’m the girl screaming at the television or in the stands when my team messes up), I found that soccer is just as exhilarating—and certainly when you’re surrounding by thousands of screaming Russian fans!
This month, Shelli and I had the opportunity to go to a Spartak versus Portugal soccer game in Luzhniki Stadium, one of the major stadiums in the city. This stadium was the primary complex for the 1980 Summer Olympics and the 1957 Ice Hockey World Championship. It’s an impressive stadium and although it was filled only to a fraction of its capacity, that didn’t in any way diminish the fervor of the Spartak fans as they rooted against Portugal. Red and white scarves and giant team flags waved throughout the entire game, regardless of the score, and bare-chested fans proudly painted their skin with team colors despite the cold weather. We didn’t need any help translating a lot of the colorful Russian language around us! The fans were proud to support their team, despite an ultimately disappointing score of 4-1. The stands didn’t empty until the final score, despite the cold and disappointing teamwork. No fair-weather fans there!
Even though it was a relatively unimportant game—if there is such a thing—security at the games was very tight. We went through a security checkpoint to get into the stadium vicinity right outside the metro, passing several lines of militia and mounted officers. We passed through a checkpoint before going up the steps to get to the stadium, and again at the top. Our
bags, tickets, and clothes were checked several times. In the stadium itself, guards lined the field and the entrances to seating sections, even areas that were not being used for that game. But the most impressive part was after the game was over. After we exited the stadium, we were essentially funneled directly to the metro by a line of guards on foot and horseback from the stadium to the metro entrance. There was no going to the left or right, only to the metro. It was a long line of stern, unsmiling faces. I have never seen security quite like that before, especially not at a sporting event. Russians take their soccer very seriously!
It was a lot of fun to be surrounded by avid sports fans all cheering together. I felt like I was back at a Virginia Tech football game as they chanted, cheered for their players, and yelled at the ref. One time, I even almost yelled, “Let’s go Hokies!” Luckily, I remembered where I was and caught myself. Instead I cheered along with the entire stadium, “Periyot Spartak!”
Also in this Issue...
- Metro Adventures by Shelli Danjean
"Let me briefly explain how the metro system works. You either have a frequent users card to be filled each month, or you buy passes at the desk each time. To enter the metro, you need to swipe your card before passing through the stalls, otherwise it will slam closed against your legs. These are supposed to be the two metro options; however, lack of money or perhaps laziness has led to a third option..."
- Apartment Buildings in Russia by Miles Atkinson
"There was no effort expended to beautify the buildings and the concrete seams that hold the buildings together are in full view. It doesn't help that most of the cubicles are grey to start with; there couldn't be a drabber color scheme. These box apartments are usually no more than five or six stories high and of course, there are no elevators or garbage chutes in them..."
- You Know What They Say About Assumptions... by Karlie Tucker
"I think it's better to avoid having any preconceived notions. It kept me from being disappointed, or truly experiencing culture shock. It allows me to see Russia as it is being presented to me, here and now, not the Russia presented in a history lecture or via the History Channel. It allows me to form my own opinions, to not get upset when things aren't as I thought they should be (except for bear wrestling), and to not continuously compare the Russia I experience to the fairytale Russia in my imagination. "
Written by Shelli Danjean, an LSU Senior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011
One of my most prevalent Moscow experiences is riding the metro, and I must say it is always an adventure. Whether it is busting out in random dance parties, having conversations (in Russian) with strange drunk people, or getting lost, it is never just a simple trip. What I find most interesting though is Russian Metro security – or should I say, lack of. Let me briefly explain how the metro system works. You either have a frequent users card to be filled each month, or you buy passes at the desk each time. To enter the metro, you need to swipe your card before passing through the stalls, otherwise it will slam closed against your legs. These are supposed to be the two metro options; however, lack of money or perhaps laziness has led to a third option.
Many (and by many I mean a whole ton of younger people) simply jump the stalls, or they stick to the person in front of them and go in as one.It’s a free metro ride to anywhere from there. Are these metro “rabbits” (as they are called) reprimanded by the elderly female standing guard? Yes, of course they are. They receive the “harsh” punishment of a whistle blow and an under-the-breath mutter. Sometimes, if the guard is especially ferocious, she will wag a finger in their direction. The perpetrator then usually looks back with a sly grin and raises his/her hands as if to say “I jumped over it on accident”, and then continue on to wherever they are going. It seems the gate security at the metro station serves no real purpose other than an easy job for the grandmothers of Moscow. So, if you are broke do not worry. Simply hop the gate, endure the whistle blow, and enjoy a free ride to Checkovskaya or wherever you want to go.