Summer in Texas, Winter in Russia
I feel betrayed. Absolutely betrayed. It’s been three whole days in Moscow and I haven’t seen a single bear, a trace of snow or even a bottle of vodka. I flew all the way from Texas… for this?!
To be fair, the first time I came to Russia was by accident. Well, as accidentally as you can come to Russia. My alma mater (UT Austin) requires all liberal arts undergrads to study a foreign language – any foreign language – for four semesters. Graduation snuck up on me, and I’d forgotten about the requirement until only two semesters remained on my degree plan! Rather than staying an extra year in Texas, I decided to study abroad. And when else would I ever have an opportunity to study Russian?
Despite only studying the language for two semesters before my first stint in Moscow, within weeks I transformed from feeling anxiety while ordering food in the столовая to navigating the Trans-Siberian Railway in the dead of winter with confidence and ease. I travelled as much as I could – after all, everyone told me that it’s really difficult to get a visa (it’s not) and I wanted to take advantage of my “only” opportunity. I zipped and zapped from Moscow to St. Petersburg, to Kazan, Smolensk, Krasnodar and Krasnoyarsk – not to mention Kaliningrad, Kostroma and Irkutsk, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, by plane, train and car, and although geographical variety alone justified the time and money spent, memories about the people we met along the way are those I hold dearest. I would never have met the people I’m now privileged to call friends without knowing Russian.
As my visa approached expiration and it came time to собираться for America, I realized how sad I was to leave the city I’d begun to call home. Russian, although foreign, began to feel familiar and I’d become accustomed to my new friends and way of life.
Predictably, my friends and family in Texas asked a lot of questions. Is there food in the grocery store? Does everyone drink vodka? Is it cold in summer? Does everyone wear grey? How many bears did you see? Isn’t Moscow ugly and terrible? I wanted to show everyone the diversity, history and complexity of Russian language, landscape and people after experiencing it firsthand, but somehow fell short.
After spending the summer in the blistering Texas heat, I decided to winter in Russia and accepted a three month internship position with Liden & Denz. I’ll use this time to do exactly what I wanted with my friends and family in Texas: to break barriers, раскрыть Москву, destroy stereotypes and help you (finally) master the великий могучий русский язык.