Due to a logistical change, we will be staying with our gracious hosts during this initial jaunt to Russia and transitioning to life with a Russian family in the early fall. We were so thankful for our new room, recently converted from Chris and Liz's office, and our full sized air matress, especially luxurious after 30 some hours of travel!
Bright and early this morning, I woke full of energy, ready for the big city! Having the apartment primarily to myself - as nobody else seemed quite as energetic at 4:30 this morning, I collected some thoughts about our first day that I'd like to share with you now.
It's been a long time since Dan and I have been in Russia. Our full half day in the city yesterday brought back so many memories. On a quick trip to a corner market, smells and flavors bombarded me, reminding me of the foods I ate, the things I bought, some things I even missed, from almost four years ago. Quite a walk down memory lane...
Boarding our flight from Chicago to Moscow, we heard Russian voices all around us. After adjusting from the surprise and delight of so much Russian at once, I realized that Russian is no longer an interesting and unique hobby of mine, it's now a job requirement.
Landing in Moscow, we were greeted by two of our teammates waiting to drive us home. What a wonderful surprise, warm friendly faces eager for our arrival! It was so nice to see familiar people in the midst of so much change. Even in the short time we've been in the US, Russia, Moscow in particular, has changed dramatically.
Constant noise. Horns, car alarms, jackhammers (inside and out,) children playing, adults shouting, cell phone cocaphony, trams rumbling, busses pulling in and out of stops, pipes creaking as hot water flows thoughout the building, music blaring from the apartment below, an argument ensuing between neighbors... wow.
Last night we joined our team for a student meeting. I eagerly (perhaps too eagerly) introduced myself to the Russian students who came. They were not impressed. They politely answered my questions about where they study, what they do here in Moscow, but all as if to say, "Don't take this the wrong way, but don't get attached. I'll probably never see you again." This is the big city, where it all happens, where Russia's future hangs in the balance. People are busy: Places to go, people to see (not me, aparently.) No more small towns. No more villages. No more simple life. Russia has lost some of its Russianess here. Ironically the cultural, economic, political, entertainment, educational, etc., center of Russia, Moscow seems very different from the Russia I know and love. "Просто нужно привыкнуть" (You simply need to adjust,) a student told me last night. Let's hope she's right...