Since June I have been working alongside three other Americans at a lab in Moscow. The FabLab is a fabrication lab that supports several programs hosted at the Moscow Institute of Steels and Alloys (MISIS, including the Master of Digital Fabrication program. Though day to day projects vary, the general schedule of life stays the same throughout the week.
My day in Moscow begins later than it does in America. It seems as though the general attitude in Russia is that the day gets going later and continues later into the night. Work starts at 1100, so I leave the dorm around 1015. Being an early riser (enforced by the sun rising at 0315), I usually have a lot of spare time in the mornings. In this time, I make coffee, read, catch up on messages from home, listen to music, and just relax. When it’s time to leave I make my way to the metro station, about a five-minute walk. The metro in Moscow is expansive, you can get almost anywhere on the metro and it is a flat rate. For my time in Moscow I invested in an unlimited monthly pass for the metro, about $30 but worth it for how much I ride the metro. I take the metro for about five stops, transfer to another line, and ride for a few more. MISIS is situated right on top of the Oktyabrskaya (Октябрская) metro station, a very convenient location. When we arrive, we head down to the FabLab, say good morning, grab our key and head up to our ‘office.’ We were given a room on the second floor of the university to be our headquarters, affectionately labeled ‘American Ground.’ Daily tasks in the FabLab vary. Some days, we are melting recycled plastic to create new, useful objects, other days we are put the 3D printers to good use making project components, and some days we use the CNC router to cut large pieces of wood for art installations. No two days are the same in the FabLab! At about 1400 we go to lunch at the school cafeteria. Don’t picture American cafeterias when you think of this one, though. The food is always delicious and the selection of bakery items never disappoints. Not only is the food good but it is pretty cheap too, a filling lunch costs about 260 Rubles, less than $5. After lunch we work until about 1900. It’s difficult to work so late in the day, but the office espresso machine and the late setting sun of Moscow help keep productivity high after lunch. After a day of creation in the lab we take the metro back home. Our dinner stop is one stop away from the dorm on the metro, there is a large mall that has many delicious and cheap options for dinner. Among our favorites are the buffet, the Italian gelato place, and the Georgian place. At dinner, me and the rest of the other three living in the dorms debrief, share a good laugh, and process our daily experiences. By the time I make it home, it’s close to 2100 but the sun is still up. Sometimes I stop at the grocery store on the way home to get jugs of water, breakfast food for the upcoming days, or sweets to share with my roommate.
Overall, each day feels long. There are things I really enjoy, like listening to music on the metro or the way the woman in the cafeteria remembers what I order each day, that I will miss when I leave in a few weeks. When studying abroad in an environment so different than what you’re used to, it’s important to appreciate the little things of each day and remember that sometimes those are the things you’ll look back on and smile at.
By: Ellen Carpenter
Program: Overseas Professional & Intercultural Training Program, Moscow, Russia
Term: Summer 2019