Russia doesn’t believe in Halloween

Halloween. A traditional holiday based on pagan tradition, a harmless excuse for a good party or an insidious subculture of satanic worship that will brainwash our children?

Anyone who knows me will know how much I love Halloween. At this stage in my life, I’d say it is my favourite celebration. Memories of guising, parties, scary movie nights, ducking for apples, pumpkin carving and, of course, planning that perfect scary costume, fill me with excitement each year as the 31st October rolls around. Continue reading “Russia doesn’t believe in Halloween”

Touchy Subjects

“If a girl is fat, guys won’t look at her” – Why should a women’s appearance be dictated by the desire of a man?

“Gay marriage is unnatural, bad for demographics” – So if you prohibit gay marriage, do you think that homosexuality will cease to exist?

“Black Lives Matter activists are terrorists” – In fact, the majority of terrorists in modern-day US are white men, and the Black Lives Matter movement comes as a result of a long history of racial inequality and police brutality against black people that is still present today.

“Have you noticed all the Caucasians here?” – ….

Some words that I’ve heard so far that have stood out to me. Continue reading “Touchy Subjects”

Second First Impressions

Being here in Rostov-on-Don is both totally new and extremely familiar at the same time. Since I have already spent time in Russia, there are many aspects of life and culture here that I don’t find so surprising this time around. Compared to my Spanish colleagues, for whom this experience is their first time in Russia, our ‘first impressions’ somewhat differ. I already feel used to life here, and think the city is pretty great so far, but my comparison is Tver, not the West. It’s interesting to compare my own impressions of the city with those of other foreigners, and reminds me of my initial reservations and culture shock I had 3 years ago. Continue reading “Second First Impressions”

Anushka

I arrived in Rostov-on-Don a week ago now. The journey was long, and something was different from before. Before, when I lived in Tver. I spent 8 months in Russia in 2013 for my year abroad, and since then Russia’s relationship with the West has changed somewhat drastically. When I told people that I was going to Russia then, the reaction was bemusement. Now it’s more incredulity. Why would I go to Russia at all, never mind consciously choose to spend another year there? Continue reading “Anushka”

Russia is calling

Greetings from Rostov-on-Don!

My name is Anna, and I will be living in this city in southern Russia for the next year. Originally from Dundee in Scotland, I recently graduated with a degree in French and Russian from University of Glasgow. Unsure of what to do next in life, a predicament so common for the graduate of today, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go back to Russia. Back to this place where I spent 8 months during my year abroad, a place that continued to hold some elusive fascination for me, one that I couldn’t quite yet part with. Since I was about 15, Russia has existed in my mind as some kind of perfect enigma, a country that has experienced such drastic changes during its recent history, which have shaped it in a way that is unique in the contemporary world. I want to see the real Russia, to meet real Russians, to discuss common, and indeed opposite, values. To live and to understand our differences is, in my opinion, vital for the promotion of international unity or a global community in which we both respect respective values and learn from one another in order to nurture political and social partnerships.

Unfortunately I think that a lot of ignorance continues to exist in the modern world, with many people only accepting one way of life and disregarding others as inferior or even illegitimate from the superficial knowledge that they are fed through the distorted lenses of media and societal bias. I believe that we need to look beyond the borders that divide us, which for the most part exist not on a map but in our minds, and understand why people act or think the way they do, rather than making an initial judgement about what is right or wrong. Russia, for me, is the perfect subject around which to ponder such ideas and world visions.

I will use this blog to write about my impressions of Russia in an attempt to highlight not only the similarities and differences between our societies but also to act as a diary of my personal experiences, adventures and travels here. How does life in Russia today compare with our life in the West? How does the mentality differ here? What do ordinary people have to say about political and global issues? I will discuss these questions and more throughout my year here, and will hopefully show that ignorance is not the only binding trait that we share as human beings.

Пока и приятного чтения!