I had already fallen in love with St. Petersburg when I visited the city 3 years ago. My second trip, in late March of this year, proved that there was still much more to see and experience. Although I have decided that Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two capitals, do not deserve to be compared and fought over, there really is something a little magical about St. Petersburg. It is whimsical, fresh, modern, classical, trendy and timeless at once. Stories of tsars and artists intertwine and diverge along canals and over bridges and you cannot fail to feel inspired by the beauty that surrounds you. On this occasion in particular, I was really able to appreciate the juxtaposition of modern life against the background of a city that truly breathes history. Continue reading “St. Petersburg”
I stumbled across the Moscow Museum of Modern Art [MMOMA] one snowy day in December. That day happened to be New Year’s Eve, a national holiday in Russia, but I felt so drawn to this place that I made the effort to return a few days later, when I was lucky enough to get free entry (for a week during the New Year holidays many public museums and galleries in the city offer free entry, and entrance to MMOMA is also free of charge on the 3rd Sunday of the month). Having previously explored the big names like the Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, I wanted to find somewhere that branched away from the vast murals and gilded icons that featured on the walls of such classical galleries, and MMOMA did not disappoint.
I have been converted. Having visited Moscow on several occasions when I lived in nearby Tver, I never felt particularly drawn to the city. I tried to love it, but each time I went I was let down. Face-control snobbery, expensive food, too big to properly get to know in one weekend, grey… Moscow had always seemed to me to be a very superficial and money-driven capital, the antithesis of the beautiful and culturally superior St. Petersburg in the North. But a recent visit to Moscow over the New Year completely changed my mind. Continue reading “Re-exploring and re-evaluating: Moscow”
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”
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!