Catherine wrote this blog during her travel in July of 2018.
July 14th, 2018, 23:00
At the moment, I am on the Russian equivalent of the Polar Express from Moscow to Kazan. We are on our way to the RANEPA Summer Campus. It’s 11:00 at night, and the lights are off in our train car. I am talking to three girls from Montenegro, Spain, and Russia. We are going back and forth answering questions about our respective countries and cultures. It is so strange to be in a place where people are amazed at me being from the USA. Normally, it is me being amazed that someone is from somewhere else.
The girl from Russia asked me what Americans think of Russians. She began listing Russian stereotypes and asked if Americans truly believed them.
[ July of 2018 was in the midst of several scandals involving the Russian Federation and the current Administration of the United States].
If you ask my close friends about me, they would tell you that I am fairly good at reading people. I had two impressions from the expression on her face when she asked me this question. First, my answer was going to be important to her. Second, she was preparing to hear the worst. This hit me really hard. The world right now is too caught up in the politics/stereotypes of nations to remember the actual group of people they are supposed to represent. I have been in Russia for two days and have observed that yes, at first, Russians, like the majority of populations, can seem more serious compared to the culture of where I am from in the United States (The South). However, they are also incredibly hard working, kind, funny, and willing to help a lost foreign girl who cannot read Cyrillic food labels in supermarkets.
July 26th, 2018, 10:00
The last bus of Russian students left the campus. Only the foreign students remain to take a train back to Moscow later in the day. From laughing until the point of tears during the campus to trying to keep the tears at bay as the last bus left, these people will forever have a place in my heart.
During the campus, they taught me many things including essential Russian phrases.
To get around:
Привет “Privet” = Hi
доброе утро “dobroye utro” = Good morning
Спасибо “Spasibo” = Thank You
я не говорю по-русски “ya ne govoryu po-russki” = I do not speak Russian
To confuse people:
Я не говорю по английски “YA ne govoryu po angliyski” = I do not speak English
To get people to leave you alone (or to make your Russian friends laugh):
Пошёл вон! “Poshol von!” = Go away!
To say goodbye:
Я люблю Вас “Ya lyublyu vas” = I love you all
We come from different countries, speak different languages, and believe in different things.
Я люблю Вас.