Seeing the Warmer Side of Russia

Like many students who decide to study Russian, I fell in love with the country’s literature before I began studying the language. The prospect of developing the skills to read that literature in its original format can be a great motivator. However, the pantheon of great Russian writers can also have a chilling effect for … Continue reading Seeing the Warmer Side of Russia


Shuba Hunting

In Russian, the word “шуба” [shoo-ba], plural: шуби [shoo-bee] has two meanings. 1. A fur coat 2. A salad that consists of alternating layers of mayonnaise, beats, and salted herring fish. The full name of the salad is translated as “Herring under a fur coat.” To most Americans, both are foreign and puzzling. Here we’re … Continue reading Shuba Hunting

Host Families in Central Asia

After deciding to apply to American Councils’ Eurasian Regional Language Program in Tajikistan, one of the aspects of the program that made me a bit apprehensive, and about which my friends and family were most curious, was the requirement that all participants live with a Tajik host family. Of course, the reasons were clear and … Continue reading Host Families in Central Asia

No, Not the Telephone

Not every memorable moment abroad is related to an eye-opening experience or an event that changes your understanding of yourself or the world around you. Those moments happen, of course, more frequently when you’ve just arrived in a new country and more sporadically as time passes by and you become more acquainted with the new … Continue reading No, Not the Telephone

A Californian Braving the Russian Winter

I was warned that Russia would be cold but I guess I didn’t quite understand what it means to be cold. When I was home in California before I left for Russia I bought a coat, a pair of gloves, and my mom showered me in sweaters and hats concerned about her little California girl … Continue reading A Californian Braving the Russian Winter

Winter, Colds, and Healing

Moscow in winter is quite an interesting place to live. Russians have lived in Moscow for centuries, so one would think that Russians would love, or at least tolerate, the cold. From my experience, the reality is quite the opposite; Russians passionately hate the cold. Of course, this is a broad generalization. I think they … Continue reading Winter, Colds, and Healing

A Vegetarian in St. Petersburg

There is no tofu in St. Petersburg. Or if there is, it is remarkably well hidden. I have searched the aisles and corridors of supermarkets across the city, and the closest thing I’ve found is white fish that looks vaguely like tofu (if you squint a lot). I had an all-too-fleeting moment of excitement when … Continue reading A Vegetarian in St. Petersburg