Having been in Russia for a full academic year, and currently continuing my study over the summer in Moscow, I have witnessed and endured all the various facets of Russian weather. From the piles of filth that accumulated in the winter on the steps leading to the metro, which caused not a small number of embarrassing wipe-outs for me, to hot humid thunder storms that sent my host mother and I frantically running around the apartment unplugging outlets and closing windows, I feel like I have experienced every major weather event that can hit this city.
However, my favorite times in the city are when it rains. Moscow, much like any other major, large city in the world, is not particularly clean. Walking outside of my apartment I am often greeted by an impressive cocktail of olfactory terrors as the exhaust from the multitude of cars on Noviy Arbat mingles with the pervasive aroma of human waste. The rain washes those foul odors away, which makes it pleasantly cool and clean smelling the next day.
I love wandering about the city, as many of my compatriots have noticed when I, perhaps intentionally, get us lost on little side streets or lead them in giant circles while trying to find a metro station. While this was rarely a problem during the long winter months due to the fact that the freezing temperatures and snow made walking a punishment instead of a joy, now that the weather is warm my pile of homework grows more and more menacingly large as I choose to wander around the city for a few hours instead of practicing phonetics. So the gentle pouring of rain not only provides a nice noise backdrop, but also a great excuse not to go exploring the nooks and crannies of the city and visiting fascinating museums.
So that is how life found me early this morning, when I woke up to the pleasing sounds of rain falling on the surrounding rooftops. I immediately grabbed a book and started reading while curled up in my couch-bed. I sat in bed, in the comfort of my room, reading a short story about Cthulhu, translated into Russian from English, while the rest of the city whirled around me. This is why I like the city best when it is raining. I feel that it is very important while in the chaotic, different world of being abroad to find calming activities. Moscow especially is an immensely huge city and there is always something interesting happening in the city, so it can be hard to convince oneself to stay at home and read instead of hopping about the city.
Luckily, the rain, which provided the perfect time to finish my homework, has stopped and now I can complete my cultural immersion and experience more of everyday Russian life!
By: Chantal Taylor
Term: Academic Year 2010-2011