Добро пожаловать to Life Abroad written by Natasha Bluth, a Brown University Junior studying this fall in St. Petersburg. Concentrating in International relations and Slavic studies, she has joined the blogosphere to her share cultural, political, and psychological musings, brought to you all the way from Russia with a splash of Soviet humor.
Parents engrain into their newly licensed children that the DMV is one of human adult’s chief inconveniences. Endless snail-paced lines, incompetent government employees, flickering fluorescent lights paving the way to a bureaucrat’s heaven…You grin with your newfound freedom of the wheel now, they say, but soon you’ll be a cynic!
What the typical American forgets, however, is how much he takes for granted. Buying a train ticket in Russia presented a different realm of bureaucracy altogether. We prepared for the purchase like one plans for battle. No English allowed. Inspired by socialist realism, we threw all expectations to the wind and rejected the overly coddled American voice in our minds, reminding us that normally, a ticket can be bought online in under five minutes without human interaction altogether. After about one hour, two different lines and two befuddled cashiers, we finally clutched our tickets to Moscow – not with pride, but relief.
One battle over, it was soon forgotten and replaced with a fresh concern.
Being our one three-day weekend vacation, Moscow served as a serious “treat yourself.” It was like the honeymoon of the honeymoon phase. Which makes sense, considering the godlike power Russians attribute to honey. Snacking in bed on cookies that taste like Christmas, stumbling upon a Baldessari exhibit in a park and meeting inebriated Russians in sushi restaurants begs the question: How much indulgence is too much indulgence? I fear in the near future I will wake up from this Faberge egg I’m living in and have to confront reality.
Even if Moscow presented its own set of challenges (navigation, rain, the guard inside Lenin’s mausoleum who snapped at us for dillydallying), it all was cancelled out by the long-awaited Thai food, the trifecta of drunken natives who taught us an ancient Russian tradition (putting chopsticks in your mouth and pretending to be a walrus) and the new inside jokes. I worry that I should worry that life isn’t more stressful. But the honeymoon might be a semester long.
Questions, comments, concerns? Email Natasha Bluth at Natasha_Bluth@brown.edu to learn more about studying abroad in Russia.