Surprise tends to be a constant feeling in all of our lives. It’s only natural that we are unable to predict everything that will happen to us. Arriving in Russia has shocked me and my expectations through the incredible culture here. Although, this isn’t a bad thing. Life here in Moscow is a refreshing break from my own in Boston. While one may think that Moscow, Russia is an extremely different culture as a whole, it really isn’t; the subtle differences lie within the details. Details that you would miss unless you truly become immersed by your surroundings.
On my way to the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ (MGIMO), I had the chance to get a small glimpse into the layout of Moscow. The traffic I was caught in for some time reminded me of Boston, but I must say the drivers here are certainly more… daring. Surrounding the highway were usual sights of a city but not the type of architecture I was used to. There were tall gray building, some were colored in neat patterns to make them seem less bleak and stand out more. On the sides of some, there were murals depicting what looked like old Soviet posters. I saw some statues in memoriam to who I assume to be notable Russian figures. Little things such as this made me realize how much the country’s history has become entwined into every small aspect. As someone who appreciates and loves history, this made me eager to experience the rest of the city.
One thing that I noticed right away is how many trees there are in Moscow. Anyone who lives in a city understands how rare it is to see a tree outside of a designated park area. But in Moscow, there are so many trees to the point where it feels like you’re in a forest that just happens to have skyscrapers and an extremely advanced transportation system. Growing up in a somewhat rural area, living Boston has made me miss the simple nature of trees. Here in Moscow, it’s literally a sea of trees. So if you’re looking to move to a city but not ready to forego any natural beauty, Moscow might be the city for you!
Russian people are nothing like the American stereotype makes them out to be (and not that I expected them to be, as stereotypes are always false generalizations). Although they tend to keep to themselves, which some people may interpret as cold and stand-offish, Russians are quite polite in passing and in interactions. Getting to know a Russian is a true joy. Once you become friends with them, they are inviting, helpful, and they keep an eye out for you. Additionally, their humor is dry and witty which always proves for an entertaining conversation. If you’re looking for a good time, just have a talk with a Russian!
These are just my experiences and observations so far. Being able to study at such an amazing school in such an amazing city on a scholarship is an invaluable experience, and I'm incredibly grateful! I look forward to the rest of my time and pleasant surprises in the beautiful город (gorod-city) of Moscow!