When I first applied for the Overseas Professional and Intercultural Training Internship Program through American Councils, I was looking for an adventure. I had never been overseas before and I wanted to immerse myself in a new culture. I chose Moscow, Russia despite not knowing a single word of the Russian language, so I knew this would be complete immersion. Oddly enough, it intrigued me because I knew so little about the country and its people. I was truly coming into the experience blind and had no idea what the next two months would have in store for me. I was expecting absolute culture shock and did my best to prepare for it, but what truly shocked me was the lack of it.
What did shock me was how immensely beautiful the city is. I felt like I’ve been living under a rock my whole life. Even the metro stations could be made into a museum of fine art. Learning the seemingly endless amount of history Moscow offers has been fascinating. From the magnificent Bolshoi Theatre, to the golden roof of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and down to the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy, Moscow truly is a sight for sore eyes and full of rich history. With a population of over 12 million people, I fully expected a New York City-esque concrete jungle. But to my surprise, there was an extreme abundance of green throughout the city. There seems to be just as much nature attractions to see as there are museums and cathedrals.
The only thing more beautiful than the architecture and arts are the people I’ve encountered during my stay. I haven’t met someone yet who hasn’t been passionate, kind, and curious. Muscovites are not only friendly and approachable, but they embrace the opportunity to share their city with visitors like myself. I was amazed at how many Russians were able to speak English, at least out of the younger generations. They’re happy to show you the copious amounts of entertainment to be found throughout the city. We flew in on a Friday, and soon found out that weekends in the summer here are quite a spectacle. Music on seemingly every other street corner, dancing in Gorky Park along the Moskva River, the smell of delicious food filling the air, and tasty craft beer around every bend, there is no shortage of activity here.
As you might have picked up on by now, my first impressions and early experiences of Moscow have been extremely positive. I’ve only been here for two weeks and I’m already bummed that I only get two months to live here. There is so much to see and do that I am already going to have to start picking and choosing between my many, many options, in order to make the best of my time here. The beauty of this city resonates in its people, and the people of Moscow are more than willing to share it with you. Not one of the last 14 days has been a let-down and not one of those days had I experienced any form of regret coming blindly to this country.
By: Bryson Feser
Program: Overseas Professional & Intercultural Training Program, Moscow, Russia
Term: Summer 2019