Russia is a very interesting country to travel in. Withholding the fact that the geographic area of the country itself is the largest in the world, there are a variety of other factors that debunk a lot of American perceptions of the Russian people and the communities foreigners find themselves in. I have found the Russian people to be quite caring and have helped me on number of occasions. They have helped me when I was lost and even paid for me to take the metro.
I believe, most American perceptions of Russian people based off of Cold War culture. Moscow is just like any other Cosmopolitan city in the world. There are a lot of different personalities in one place, and usually people living in big cities are quite liberal, open-minded, and very curious about America. I have been asked WAY too many questions about the government shutdown, all which lead to Russian students telling me, “Now we can tell you guys to get your act together.” Politicized culture itself only leads to jokes here. The Russian ability to care about national politics is mostly defined by apathy, just like in America!
One example I can remember was our trip to St. Petersburg. We all slept in bunk beds right next to people we did not know, some of us did not speak any Russian before attending this study abroad program. However, everyone was very courteous and even shared their food with us. Most people in Russia travel by train because it is cheaper. I can say being in St. Petersburg and Moscow is as much of a dichotomy as being in San Fransisco and New York. Again, Russia is a very large country and there are many differences between the city one travels to. “There is life outside of Moscow!” One student told me this, and he was right. It doesn’t take smartphones or computers to peak our interest here. There is a vast world of endless experiences surrounding us 24/7. They are hard to miss and experiencing them is a 90% positive way of spending our time.